JR Auto Detail

April 2, 2019 | Case Studies

Revving Up

The thought of working in the automobile industry had never crossed Joel Razo’s mind. It was 1991 and Joel was working in the Philippines, his native country, as a sales representative for IBM where he specialized in selling mainframe computers to large corporations. However, when his wife received word unexpectedly that her employer, Bank of America, would be transferring her to the United States, Joel and his five-year-old daughter went along for the ride. Little did Joel know that within a few short years, he would be pursuing the American Dream – owning his own small business.

Joel’s first job in his new homeland was at an automobile dealership where, unbeknownst to him, he would spend his days washing car after car – often washing, waxing, polishing, and drying up to 40 vehicles each day. Though the work was physically demanding, Joel enjoyed it and he never tired of seeing satisfied customers speed off on a shiny set of wheels. So, after passing the workweek as a human car wash, Joel decided to channel his extra energy into building his own auto detailing business on the side during weekends and holidays.

One evening after work in the middle of 1994, Joel came across an ad for a used trailer and some discount supplies in Auto Laundry News – the preeminent publication in the car wash and car care industries. He picked up the phone, made an offer to the seller, and, by the time he hung up, he was the proud owner of JR Auto Detailing.

Building the Business

By 1998 – less than four years after it started – JR Auto Detailing had built up a sufficient customer base for Joel to turn his hobby job into his full-time gig. Unlike the high-volume wash jobs Joel was required to do at the dealership, he focused JR Auto on providing unparalleled quality and service. Every vehicle was put through a rigorous three-step detailing process that included first repairing paint damage and light scratches, then waxing and buffing the wheels and exterior, before finally putting the interior through a deep shampoo and vacuum clean.


Joel detailing a customer's vehicleHis attention to detail was rewarded in the form of a growing and loyal customer base – so loyal, in fact, that more than 75% of Joel’s clients became (and still become) repeat customers. Soon,

he could no longer keep pace with demand through mobile detailing alone, so he opened his first physical location in the vacant garage of an office building in downtown Sacramento. There, he and his employees would make everything from classics to clunkers look like the best cars on the block.

Despite Joel’s success, business wasn’t always easy, as it seldom is. And, after getting through some tough times alone, Joel decided that he needed a funding partner that could give his business the financial safety and security it deserved. Joel wanted a financing source that he could trust and rely on but wasn’t quite sure where to start looking.

Finding Funding

“It’s funny,” says Joel, “I’ve been with the same bank since 1994, but they’ve never given me a loan. They never really helped me.”

Unfortunately, while he was unable to obtain a loan from his local bank, by chance, Joel stumbled across alternative lending one day while listening to a business financing seminar provided by his daughter’s professional development group. (A knack for business must run in the family.) The concept of getting financing – at least fair and transparent financing – from any place other than a bank was a new one to Joel. But, as he learned about additional financing solutions available to businesses like his, Joel decided to act.

After contacting a broker, Joel was presented with a few financing offers, but it was Forward Financing that provided him with a far better offer than he’d ever received before. After submitting a couple documents and verifying some financial information over the phone, Joel received a $5,000 advance. “The process was easy, there was no hassle, and, most importantly,” Joel exclaims, “I didn’t have the stress of wondering if I was going to be approved.”

While he kept a few dollars aside in case of a “rainy day,” Joel invested the remainder in supplies and equipment that would enable JR Auto Detailing to deliver a superior experience to its clientele. And the results speak for themselves. Of its dozens of online reviews, all but one is five stars. Three out of every four customers come back again. And, Joel and his business are beloved in the Sacramento area.

What’s Next

Since its first advance with Forward Financing, JR Auto Detailing’s funding limit has increased from $5,000 to $15,000 and Joel has his sights set on opening a second location within the next couple years. Though he continues to invest in his business, Joel is cautious about growing too quickly or simply growing for growth’s sake. Having put his daughter through college by scrubbing cars, Joel is more interested in maintaining a focus on “quality over quantity” and on building lasting relationships with his customers, while also leaving himself free time to enjoy the fruits of his years of hard labor. With Forward Financing as his partner, Joel knows he can do both.