Self Serve Carwash News May 2017

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• SPRING 2017 •

CONTENTS Letters to the Editor................ 4


ICA Show..................................... 6 WashIdeas: Interview with Frank Hutchins.......................16 Industry Dirt............................30 Extra! Extra!.............................34 Innovations...............................38 Association News & Calendar...............................42 Tricks of the Trade................46 Southwest Show......................60 How to Handle The Jerk......................................66 Darwin at the Carwash........82

The stories started to trickle in as this issue was going to press: Reports of data breaches at carwashes around the country. (You can find two such incidents detailed in our “Extra! Extra!” news section.) It was too early to speculate whether or not the first two reports were related as we were filing articles off to the printer, but as other accounts were published, it was becoming more and more of a rational conclusion. As if the credit card conundrum could get more convoluted and worrisome! I was planning to address some pretty hefty acronyms in this issue’s cover story (hello, EMV, PCI and BIN!) when it became obvious the article needed more time. We quickly swapped out topics to give ourselves the room to research a whole bevy of credit card issues (some of which -- like MasterCard’s new Bank Issuing Numbers -- are touched upon in the industry panel discussions we’ve transcribed here from recent trade shows). Other issues, like deciding if you want to embrace EMV or near field technology, require a more nuanced approach. As I laid out in last issue’s “Letters to the Editor,” our piece will seek to compare your various options for credit card acceptance in the carwash industry, while also highlighting the relative risks and rewards of such an endeavor. If you have suggestions for the article or want to offer a personal point-ofview, please contact me at In the meantime, while reports of a potentially widespread data breach are still hot off the presses, it’s a good idea to go through this checklist one more time...

VOL. 44, NO. 1, WINTER 2017

Publisher Jackson Vahaly Editor Kate Carr Design Katy Barret-Alley Editor Emeritus Jarret J. Jakubowski Editor Emeritus Joseph J. Campbell Editor Posthumous Julia E. Campbell Self Serve Carwash News is published 4 times per year and is independently owned by Jackson Vahaly. Web address is All inquiries should be directed to:

Self Serve Car Wash News 110 Childs Ln., Franklin, TN 37067 Copyright 2014. 2 Dollar Enterprises/SSCWN. All Rights Reserved

PCI DSS Requirements: The Checklist ❏❏ Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data ❏❏ Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

❏❏ Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know ❏❏ Identify and authenticate access to system components ❏❏ Restrict physical access to cardholder data ❏❏ Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data ❏❏ Regularly test security systems and processes ❏❏ Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

Ask your POS vendor about the security of your system with the following suggested questions: • Have default settings and passwords been changed on the systems and databases that are part of the POS system? • Do you access my POS system remotely? If so, have you implemented appropriate controls to prevent others from accessing my POS system, such as using secure remote access methods and not using common or default passwords? How often do you access my POS device remotely and why? Who is authorized to access my POS remotely? • Have all unnecessary and insecure services been removed from the systems and databases that are part of the POS system? • Is my POS software validated to the Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS)? (Refer to PCI SSC’s list of Validated Payment Applications.) Does my POS software • Store sensitive authentication data, such as track data or PIN blocks? If so, this storage is prohibited: how quickly can you help me remove it? • Does my POS software store primary account numbers (PANs)? If so, this storage must be protected: how is the POS protecting this data? • Will you document the list of files written by the application with a summary of • Does my POS software enforce complex and unique passwords for all user access? • Can you confirm that you do not use common or default passwords for access to my system and other merchant systems you support?

❏❏ Protect stored cardholder data

• Have all the systems and databases that are part of the POS system been patched with all applicable security updates?

❏❏ Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

• Is the logging capability turned on for the systems and databases that are part of the POS system?

❏❏ Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

• If prior versions of my POS software stored sensitive authentication data, has this feature been removed during current updates to the POS software? Was a secure wipe utility used to remove this data?

❏❏ Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

What is PCI compliance? The PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of rules meant to ensure that all companies safely accept, process, store, or transmit cardholder data (i.e., credit card information). PCI DSS is managed by the PCI Security Standards Council, an independent body founded by the five

largest credit card brands — American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa. It was launched in 2006 to improve the security of the transaction process and payment technology life cycle as a whole. *Source: {continued } • SPRING 2017 •



Reader Input & Feedback

Kate, I have sold my carwash and have one last story to share. I only wish I had the picture or video of it. I was working around the carwash last December and looked up just in time to see the door to the automatic going up and a large SUV starting in with a Christmas tree on the top. I hollered but of course she (a blonde I noticed when she came out) paid no attention to me. I had a Mark VII with the rotating wands and figured I would be picking up brush for a while. The tree and vehicle both came out clean and unharmed. This could be a new marketing idea. Retired Jim Moran, Alanson, Mich. Jim, Congratulations on your retirement! I wonder if we’d be able to have similarly happy results if the trees were fully dressed and ornamented? There’s a potentially lucrative niche in a clean and press for Christmas tree and decor storage… Also, I don’t believe you for a second that that could be your last story to share. Please keep them coming. Especially now that you’re retired and twiddling your thumbs in your rocking chair. (I’ve included some humorous Christmas -themed photos here in hopes they might inspire some memories…from you or any other entertaining reader. Enjoy!)

Cheers, Kate

Carr’s Corner


What is EMV? EMV -- which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa -- is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. In the wake of numerous large-scale data breaches and increasing rates of counterfeit card fraud, U.S. card issuers have migrated to this new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud. What makes EMV more secure than traditional cards? It’s that small, metallic square you’ll see on new cards. That’s a computer chip, and it’s what sets it apart the new generation of cards. The magnetic stripes on traditional credit and debit cards store contain unchanging data. Whoever accesses that data gains the sensitive card and cardholder information necessary to make purchases. That makes traditional cards prime targets for counterfeiters, who convert stolen card data to cash. “If someone copies a mag stripe, they can easily replicate that data over and over again because it doesn’t change,” says Dave Witts, president of U.S. payment systems for Creditcall, a payment gateway and EMV software developer. Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. If a hacker stole the chip information from one specific point of sale, typical card duplication would

never work “because the stolen transaction number created in that instance wouldn’t be usable again and the card would just get denied,” Witts says. EMV technology will not prevent data breaches from occurring, but it will make it much harder for criminals to successfully profit from what they steal. Experts hope it will help significantly reduce fraud in the U.S., which has doubled in the past seven years as criminals have shied away from countries that already have transitioned to EMV cards, Conroy says. “The introduction of dynamic data is what makes EMV cards so effective at bringing down counterfeit card rates in other countries,” she says. Counterfeit fraud rates have already decreased in the U.S. as a result of EMV adoption, according to Mastercard and Visa. In 2016, chip-enabled merchants saw a 52 percent drop in counterfeit fraud compared to a year earlier, according to Visa. Mastercard recorded a 54 percent decrease in counterfeit fraud costs among its EMV-ready merchants from April 2015 to April 2016. Conversely, Mastercard also saw a 77 percent increase in counterfeit card fraud year-ov er-year among merchants who had yet moved to EMV or were in the process of doing so. *Source:

What’s the deal with MasterCard’s new BIN? MasterCard® has announced that it is creating a new BIN (Bank Identification Number) range for MasterCard®, which will effectively double the number of available MasterCard® credit cards worldwide. This will enable growth in card products as well as accommodate the need for new card numbers made necessary for card brand payment tokens when cardholders load a payment card into a digital wallet on their personal digital device (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, etc.). The BIN (sometimes referred to as an IIN — Issuer Identification Number) is the first 6 characters of a card number or PAN (Primary Account Number). The new BIN will start with 2, and the full new BIN Range will be 222100-272099. This will supplement the existing 5 Series MasterCard® BIN range. In basic terms, a merchant and integrated POS/ PMS must be able to support this new BIN range by June of 2017 or potentially be subject to penalties by MasterCard® or the merchant’s processor. What you need to do: Ensure your Point of Sale (POS) is able to support the new MasterCard® 2 Series BIN. Changes to a BIN range configuration file or table, or software update, may be necessary. Confirm your POS/ PMS compatibility with the new BIN range and related requirements with your POS vendor. *Source:


• SPRING 2017 •

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• SPRING 2017 •


The Self Serve Safe Space in Las Vegas Self serve operators gathered for our chance to talk shop and share knowledge at a panel session just for our segment of the industry at Car Wash Show 2017. What follows is a transcript of the Self Serve Panel Discussion, hosted and facilitated by the Western Carwash Association.

KRISTY BABB: Good morning! I’m very impressed with how many people showed up for the keynote at 8 a.m. in Vegas! Also, I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m Kristy Babb, director of the Western Carwash Association. We’re really excited to be able to offer this educational session directly to self serve carwash operators. I don’t know how many of you did listen to the keynote -- but I think he did a great job of explaining why the associations, like the Western Carwash Associations and the ICA exist, and to be a member of our association not only gives you access to great benefits that you can utilize everyday in your business -- like employee handbooks, safety manuals -but also, we bring together operators and vendors and provide a marketplace for you to learn and to see new products. I’d like to invite you all to our next road show which is taking place in Napa on May 1st; what a great excuse to come visit wine country! We’re going to see some pretty cool self serve operations out there. It’s a great opportunity to network and to receive some education. With that, I’d like to introduce our panel -- if our panelists could please come on stage. We want this to be very informal, free flowing. Please feel free to ask any questions at any time. I do have some questions that I’ve prepared just to kick things off, but if something comes to mind at any point and time, just please raise your hand. We are recording today’s session so we’ll be able to offer it to our members online who weren’t able to come to the carwash show. If you do have a question, please stand up and use the mic. If you don’t feel comfortable using the mic, I can repeat the question for you into the mic. We’ll let everybody get settled here. Hi. This is a very fancy set-up for our group here. (Laughter.) If you guys want to move up front and fill up some of these seats -- there’s plenty of seats up front. And like I said, this panel will be available on the WCA website afterwards.


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After the panel discussion, we’ll break for about 5 minutes,allow everybody to use the restrooms, and then we’ll move into our roundtable discussions. So with that, if our panelists could kick it off by introducing themselves and letting us know where you’re from and what wash you’re with… JERRY WEISS: Good morning. My name is Jerry Weiss. I’m an old guy. I’ve been doing this for quite a while. I’ve been in the carwash industry for 57 years. I’m from Phoenix, Arizona. I started out in the full service business. Now we have self services. I’m been very fortunate to be working with my brother and my daughter -- and this young man right here, my partner. He’s very young, but he’s been with me a long time, so that’s why he looks the way he does with the gray hair. (Laughter.) And I’ll turn it over to Terry…

The panel talks panels: Cleaning bay walls KRISTY: Okay, so first question: What are using to clean your Extrutech panels in the bays? TERRY: We use a product called Vision Chemical (from Ver-tech Labs). It’s a very light acid. No hydrofluoric acid in it. If you keep ‘em up right away when you put them in, it works fine. If you let them get bad, you’re going to be forced to go to a strong sulfuric acid. I don’t like hydrofluoric acid, so I try to stay away from it. MARK: Us, also. We use Klean-Wall (from AP Formulations), that’s the brand we use. We’ve used Stinger, too. They put out a pretty good product. Also, Scotch Plaid.

TERRY MCDONALD: I’m Terry McDonald. I’ve been working with Jerry for about 36 years. And yes, I did have very nice hair when I first started.

SYDNEY: I use Aradian’s Nu-Wall. I only have one Extrutech wall, all the rest of them are block. Which get just awful. Nu-Wall cleans both pretty well.

MARK MIKESELL: I’m Mark Mikesell with Country Corner Car Wash and Snake River Rapid Wash. We have three washes in Idaho.

LARRY: We use Vision, as well.

SYDNEY KING: I’m Sydney King. I own the Good Spray Car Washes in Utah, just north of Salt Lake City. We have two self serves. LARRY NELSON: Larry Nelson. I’m 90 miles north and west of Seattle. We have three self serve bays and a 100’ tunnel. KRISTY BABB: Awesome. Thank you all for being here. Like I said, I’ve prepared some questions just to kick off the discussion, but really this is an opportunity for everyone to exchange ideas and learn, so please, at any time, if you have a question that comes to mind, raise your hand and ask the panel so we can get that covered.

JERRY: Just to comment, though, some of us will notice you get holes in the walls and it’s quite expensive to replace the panels. Well, we’ve gotten a little piece of plastic to cover the holes, which is white, and saves you the cost and the aggravation and the work and will still cover up the holes and keep it looking pretty good. TERRY: And actually I saw Karen with Extrutech yesterday and she said they’ve now come out with a patch - like a plug patch -- that you can put on it and some sort of another covering. She’s going to send me some samples. They haven’t really had anything like that in the past. What Jerry’s referring to is like a white vinyl tape that you can get from like a sign shop or something. You know, you can check with Extrutech if you use them to see if {continued } 1-888-439-5740

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• SPRING 2017 •


ICA Show AUDIENCE: Do you have an attendant? AUDIENCE: Yes. We do. SYDNEY: I’ve had to gently go out and say, “If you’re not going to utilize the facility -- and pay for what you’re utilizing -- then I ask that you would leave the bay.” Especially when you’ve got people waiting.

WCA’s Self Serve Panel Discussion with Executive Director Kristy Babb, Terry McDonald and WCA Board Members Sydney King, Larry Nelson and Mark Mikesell!

you can get that patch kit and try it.

AUDIENCE: I know Jerry, so I know he can’t answer the question -- but anyone in the room now?

Shine bright: Tire shiner in the self serve bay

TERRY: I think you could call Simoniz. They’d probably know.

KRISTY: Any questions or comments on that point? Okay. Does anyone have the Simoniz Tire Shiner in their bays, and if so, did you remove a function to replace it with or expand the meter? Also, how is that selling?

Hangin’ ‘em out to dry: Spot-free or Air Shammee?

JERRY: I’ll start off. We put, in one location, four bays. And we did do some changing -- and Terry is much more knowledgeable about all that. I just aggravate him to do things and he gets it done. He’s very talented. I’ll just say he took our company another step. TERRY: If you ask me, it’s in one of our more higher/upper class neighborhoods. And I found in that neighborhood that people were using the spot-free rinse more than the wax feature, so we made a decision to remove the wax feature. Now, mind you, we have 11 carwashes, so I don’t stay at one all day long to watch every customer use every function -- but in the next couple months, around September, the attendants there said, “Everybody’s asking, what happened to the wax?” So, we’re gonna put the wax back in and we’re gonna couple our tire/ engine cleaner with our pre-soak -- we basically use the same citrus-based product for that -- and just have one product for that and put our wax feature back in. It’s working pretty good. I’ve put it in the third location here in the last couple weeks. That’s the last one I’ve done and it seems to be the most successful one so far. It’s done pretty well for us. (Murmurs among panelists. “Maybe I should put that in.”) KRISTY: Does anyone else out there in the audience have that feature or that product that they want to share? AUDIENCE: Is that available with freeze protection? JERRY: We live in Phoenix, Arizona. (Laughter) I don’t think I know what that word means.


AUDIENCE: So, what’s the difference between customers using spot-free and the Air Shammee? TERRY: We have both in our places and we find that people are using both functions. That’s why we have the 10-position meter plates. Unless we wanted to invest in meter plates, I’d go to 12-position if I could. Everything you did -- you could have people sitting in that bay all day long. They’re spending money. You only have a very small group of people that are hand washing in the bays and taking up that bay on a busy Saturday anymore. AUDIENCE: What’s the hose size like on the Shammee? TERRY: It’s a 2-inch vacuum hose. There are 2 or 3 different manufacturers who have different style guns. One looks like a bazooka, one air dries a different way with a different color. Diskin has one that looks different than the other. AUDIENCE: Do you have people steal those? TERRY: Yeah, unfortunately. Not too often. But yeah, unfortunately. They steal vacuum nozzles, also. We use a 2-inch to 1.5-inch hose, so we have a 1.5 inch vacuum nozzle, and that fits on your one at home -- your wet/dry. And they turn up missing now and then, too.

Bucket busters: How do you handle bucket washers? AUDIENCE: We have a new wash and people are utilizing the bay space to bucket wash without paying for the services. How do you handle that?

LARRY: But at the same time, they’ve got to use the rinse function to get their car wet, and they have to use your service to rinse their car, too. So if there’s not a line… You should get the signs up. And you can buy signs pre-made that say, “No bucket washing if someone’s waiting.” You go out, point to that sign, say, “Hey, there’s somebody that wants this bay.” That’s our policy, also. If it’s Wednesday and you’re not really busy, you can politely defuse the situation by going up and saying, “Hey, I don’t mind today, but if you come by on a Saturday and I’ve got people waiting, I’ve gotta ask you to pull forward.” And 9 out of 10 times, people are pretty compliant. We don’t like to have our attendants approaching anybody in case there’s any confrontation. JERRY: When I’m on the property, I usually walk up and say, “Would you mind spending some money? My wife likes to go shopping.” (Laughter.) Put a little humor into it, it’s respectful, and you try to make them a raving fan. It works pretty well.

Put a rivet on it! Preventing claw/nozzle theft at the wash KRISTY: Going back to an earlier question, one of our prepared questions was: Has anyone experienced repeated theft of the vacuum claws or airdry nozzles or what have you been able to do to prevent it? TERRY: I don’t have an answer. It just depends on the location -- we have 11 locations. So some of our other locations are worse than others. At some, I never miss one. At some, they take out four a week. And just for your knowledge, at one location, I had to go up on the roof to fix something and I found 10 of them up on the vacuum canopy! So, you might wanna look up there on your vacuum canopy. MARK: Especially, people will unscrew them and try to get at some of the big stuff in their car, and then rather then screw them back on, they’ll throw it out in the garbage. So when we have one missing, we always look through the garbages as we’re dumping ‘em. JERRY: We’ve tried to rivet them to the cuffs and you can write your name on it. It’s hard doing business. TERRY: But like he said, if you’ve got to take them off now, man, if they suck up the heavy wrappers or whatever, now you’ve got break all the rivets loose. MARK: Yeah, and I’ve tried silicone, too, and it just makes a big mess and it’s gonna ruin your claws, too. AUDIENCE: We use some screws to screw ‘em in; that kind of helps. AUDIENCE: 3M puts out a spray glue; you spray it on there. It’s a heavy duty glue and it bonds very {continued }

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ICA Show own car and his own safety, but if you’re promoting it and if you’re overseeing it -- well, I don’t know. I just wondered.

Jason Johnson, WCA President, speaking at The Car Wash Show’s Keynote Presentation with David Begin, ICA President and David Haney, AOCA President.

well. We’ve been very successful with that. JERRY: Let me ask you a question -- do they cut the hose, then? Or do they just not mess with it at all? AUDIENCE: We lose a few, but not many. KRISTY: It’s amazing what people will take, huh? Exciting to some. Stuff you can bring home to your wife -- vacuum nozzles. (Laughter.)

Break out of your cocoon; become a social butterfly... KRISTY: So, next question, what advertising or promotions do you use to draw in the neighborhood customers? Sydney -- why don’t you kick this off? This is your area of expertise. SYDNEY: Several different things. I have a secondary business that I do -- social media marketing. So, of course I do social media marketing. It’s as simple as Facebook posts. There are 1.5 billion people in the world are on Facebook, and it seems like a silly thing, but if you just stick your business on Facebook and continually post -- even if it’s just going to your carwash and taking some pictures of the kids helping mom vacuum. I threatened one time -- I’m sorry, but I really wanted to do a series of photos of -- oh, sorry, but the butt cracks on the vacuumers! You know what I’m talking about -- you’ve got a carwash. These guys come, and they’re crawling around. But the point is, when you put stuff out there, you’re more easily found on the Internet. And staying active is important. The other thing I did -- just at the (WCA’s/ICA’s) Splash show (last year, I joined the Thanx rewards program. It’s very slowly building up. I’m hoping that’s another avenue to get your customers back in the door. The first thing you want to do is make sure that you’re able to be found. Go on all the different directories -- your Googles, your Yahoos. Make sure you’re easily found, especially on a mobile format, because that is how are trying to find you -- they’re in a car looking for a carwash. They’re on their mobile device, and if you’re not mobile enabled, it puts you down the list in the search capabilities. Keep your stuff active. KRISTY: What about community involvement?


• SPRING 2017 •

Are you involved with the local Chamber [of Commerce]? Have you found anything to be effective that’s more grass roots in the community? SYDNEY: I do at one of my facilities. They have a business-to-business community that other small businesses are a part of and just interacting with them is a huge deal. But that’s all right now. KRISTY: Well I know for my sons, their school has a Teacher Appreciation Week and the school actually partners with a local self serve carwash and the kids wash their teachers’ cars as a sign of appreciation. I think that’s been a really good partnership, and it’s fun and it gets people out to your carwash that maybe wouldn’t have been your typical self serve customer. But it exposes to them to that type of car wash and also gets the kids out there to learn how to wash a car. I think that’s been a really good way to market without really having to market and to get people out to your wash that wouldn’t normally be there.

Putting the ‘fun’ in ‘fundraiser’? Or how to “insure” a good time... SYDNEY: Yeah, and fundraisers are another great way to reach out to the community -- cheerleaders, soccer teams, or whatever. You can show support. Just turn over a bay or two on a Saturday and let them do the washing and then let them have a drying station. I’ve done that for a few teams. AUDIENCE: And how’s the liability on that when you’ve got these young teenagers using your facility washing these other people’s wise? SYDNEY: I have (inaudible) carwash insurance. KRISTY: You call Sam Furno with the Western Carwash Insurance Program! (Laughter) SYDNEY: That’s a pretty good information to have. Fortunately, we haven’t had any issues. AUDIENCE: See, I always viewed it as if the consumer is using the facility he’s responsible for his

MARK: We do an awful lot of fundraisers also and that’s how we run it. The kids from the organization come in and help people vacuum or help them put their money in the machines. There’s just a presence there -- you know, the cheerleaders might be out front on the sidewalk with their signs in their jerseys or whatever. And then we donate a percentage of the proceeds from the carwash from the time that they were there. So if they’re there from 9-5, we take a reading when they get there at 9 and then one at 5 and then we donate the percentage. We make them sign a disclaimer -- I don’t know that it would hold up in court so much, but it says we’re not liable for anything that the sports team is doing. And I guess if you had a kid that scratched a car, I’d probably be the one that’s stuck on the line for it at the end of the day. Fortunately, we haven’t had that happen. We don’t let kids wash cars or anything like that. We just let them help slide the credit cards and a few things. It’s been very successful for our business, I feel. And another thing we do -- I have some convenience stores, so at my gas pumps, I’ll give cents off a gallon (if the customer buys a carwash). I’ll put signs on my gas pumps. It’s less money for me to do that than to discount my car wash. I don’t make any money off people anyway. So at our Chevron station, that’s been a pretty good placement. It pops up and asks, “Do you want to purchase a car wash today? You’ll save so many cents off a gallon of gas.” That works very well also.

“Thanx” for your business, come again! Is this reward program worth it? KRISTY: Sydney, you mentioned the platform “Thanx?” It’s spelled T-H-A-N-X, correct? Do you want to just give a brief description of what it is for everybody? SYDNEY: Have any of you heard of it or seen it? Thanx is a company based out of San Francisco. THey basically run the entire program for you. Your customers will sign up with an app on their phone or online and they register their name with their credit card. Which, I kind of go back and forth with -- especially if you have a senior population that don’t necessarily trust the system -- and as of this morning, maybe we shouldn’t. But they claim that nothing is stored in their computer system. So when they first sign up, you’ll reward them with a $5 reward or credit, so that they can literally get $5 off that wash -- right when they go in the bay that first time. I set my limit for $50. So for every $50 they spend thereafter at the wash, they’ll get a $5 credit. It’s tied to their credit card, so every transaction they do with that credit card is instantly credited to their account and tracked by Thanx. Then they send me the bill -- the invoice for every $5 credit or sign-up fee -- and then there’s a monthly fee that is...I think it’s like $95 per location for the management of the system. So I’m still paying for everything that my customer is getting, all those rewards points, but it’s bringing them back in and hopefully they’re spending more time in the {continued }

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ICA Show bay knowing they’re going to get $5 off. AUDIENCE: Are you able to track those customers? SYDNEY: Yes. AUDIENCE: Can you tell if it’s more than a customer that doesn’t have the program or one that is using cash? SYDNEY: Hopefully it’s turning them into credit card customers, spending more time than the $2 washers who literally run around the car to get their wash done before their $2 is up. AUDIENCE: And is your system count up or count down? SYDNEY: The credit card payment is count up. AUDIENCE: How often are you posting on Facebook? SYDNEY: Three times a week.

But seriously, Facebook works... AUDIENCE: I just wanted to echo what you’re saying about Facebook. I’m looking to invest in carwashes and I live in Connecticut and I work in an animation studio. I’m actually an artist, so I’m new and learning from everything. It’s great. But as a side business, I do teaching. I do Facebook and Instagram to advertise. And what’s really cool about what they

have there is -- and you’ve already mentioned it -but you can target people by age, by region, by state -- and it’s really effective. Like, extremely effective. And you have insight into the customers and you can learn things. I’ve seen things on there that I think you could use for carwash promotions. SYDNEY: Yes, and you can boost and advertise on Facebook very effectively. And if you’re going to be running a fundraiser or if you’re looking to support a PTA organization or something like that, you can do it very easily on Facebook. KRISTY: Yeah, and another really cool thing about Facebook is you can set your own budget. You can say, “I’m only going to spend $20.” And once your $20 is up, it stops. So it’s a really inexpensive way to target certain audiences. AUDIENCE: So my question is, well, I’m skeptical -- how useful is it to get somebody to download an app and register a card just to save some money on a carwash, and is that what I want them spending their time on? And a follow-up question, how successful have you been at integrating the Facebook presence with the app, because it seems like there’s two Internet-based type things there and they don’t match nicely. SYDNEY: The only step that I have taken with that is that every couple of weeks I go on my Facebook page and post the app and put in a link to get to the website. It’s really a quick download, so if they were to take an extra 30 seconds or a minute to do it, it’s not gonna slow me down too much. They also sent

a crate of business-sized cards, so on a busy Saturday, we might wander down the line and hand out the cards so they could do it while they’re waiting. KRISTY: Any other questions on just general marketing? Or anything? AUDIENCE: We went to a Thanx seminar yesterday, and my husband heard the whole thing and he said, “There’s no way I’d give someone my credit card data.” That was sort of his response to the whole thing. Do you get a lot of people like that? I know he said you could take a picture of the receipt or something like that, but you don’t get the reward right away. SYDNEY: No, you don’t. I haven’t. That was my concern as well. I have had a couple customers who just tell me they don’t’ use their credit cards here. The younger generation -- they use cards and they’re used to it. There’s not a fear of that. So it hasn’t been too big of an issue for us. AUDIENCE: So, I’m wondering with Thanx -what’s your price point? SYDNEY: I’m a $2 minimum start for 4 minutes and a $10 max on the credit card. AUDIENCE: I’m just wondering. You can do whatever you want, but I know for me, the credit card says “spend.” I’ve got the count-up and with those credit cards they just spend. One guy came down with his tractor, he was getting ready to sell it. Bam. Spent $43. So it works. I think it works.

We want your stories! Do you have a funny story from the bay? Maybe an inspiring tale from the wash? Try something new that worked well? is lieve what th “You won’t be y wash…” m Darwin did at I ever made “The best decision was…” s es sin bu my for e to…” “On rainy days, I lik

June 19 - 21, 2017 Detroit

“We were struggling with low volumes when we decided to…” “The funniest thing a customer ever did at my wash…”

Some n conversartsio starte :

A complete show schedule and registration materials are available at Reach out to Editor Kate Carr to share your story with our readers.


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Frank Hutchins on WashIdeas:

How He Earned Those Stripes In an interview with Perry Powell for, industry veteran Frank Hutchins reflects on nearly 60 years of washing cars and fixing equipment -- and talks about that famous tiger, too.

GETTING STARTED THE OLD FASHIONED WAY… “I was just trying to find a job that would take care of my family.” PERRY POWELL: Good morning! This is Perry Powell with WashIdeas ( and I am in the office of a legend of our business today, Mr. Frank Hutchins of Frank’s Car Wash. Mr. Hutchins, welcome to the show. FRANK HUTCHINS: Thank you, Perry. PP: I’m going to kind of throw out a few things here. What year did you get in the car wash business?

FH: Oh, I’m sure it did. What I was looking for, what I was trying to do was to find a job where I could take care of my family after coming home. It wasn’t easy to do. I had worked at service stations, I worked steel construction, I worked a lot of things trying to make a living. And then a brother-in-law of mine -- he was in service at the same time I was -- he had also went to university and he had met some people and I got with the South Palmetto Employment Commission looking for a job. He had pointed me towards Stan Smith, who at that time only had two carwashes: one on Main Street, one on Gervais Street. PP: In Columbia, South Carolina?

FH: 1958. PP: So just a few days ago. (Laughter) And how did you come into the business? FH: I was looking for a job. See, I was drafted back in the 50s for the Korean War and then when I came back, there wasn’t a lot of jobs available. That was in 1955. I tried a couple jobs to get going. I had one child; Mike. And he was born when I was in service, and I saw him one time, and when I came back seven years later, the boy was a few years old -- and I hadn’t seen him once! PP: And that happened a lot in those years.


• SPRING 2017 •

FROM A CRAWL, TO A WALK, TO A RUN … “I needed a job I could depend on for a long period of time.” FH: Yes. And the one on Main Street was slowly dying, but I didn’t know. What happened is, if you go back to then, they opened I-26, and peo-

ple coming out of Columbia, instead of going up Broad River Road, would take that. And that part of Main Street just died. If you weren’t there, you wouldn’t remember. It killed it when they opened up 26, so people would take the super highway to get out of the city. And that’s where I started.We did that for 6-8 months, or a year. I had built it up by doing a lot of reconditioning on cars to keep my people busy. We got it to the point where it was a big part of the company at that time. But then we closed that place, and I went to Gervais Street. And then Stan and I had a long talk, I told him at that time that what I needed was a job that I could depend on for a long period of time -- not just a short period of time. But what I was going to do, I was gonna give it 110 percent. And I needed to know that that company was gonna stay stable -- I was looking out for Frank. PP: Being solvent. FH: But it worked out. He said, “Yes, I’ve been wanting to grow, but I don’t have anyone I can depend on.” And I told him, “It’s up to you. It’s your business. But I need to know that you plan on doing more than this one place, because I don’t think you could do what I want to do (here).” And he said, “We’ll do it. Let’s work it.” And we did. We started working and we built two more carwashes in Columbia -- so we had three. And we washed a lot of cars. We washed probably 30,000 cars a month at one location. {continued }

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A TIGER IN THE TANK” - AND AT THE CARWASH! “They never thought we could do that.” PP: My wife is from here, and we moved here shortly after we got married in 1984 and in riding by the car wash, she was always excitedly talking about and remembering it as a child -- Happy the Tiger. What can you tell me about Happy the Tiger?

PP: This was full service. FH: Yep. And what happened was, when we opened up three carwashes -- we were still washing over 30,000 cars a month, but it was at three locations. But at Gervais Street, the volume went down, and at the other two, it went up. So it worked out well. That’s when we started growing -- we built a couple more washes in Charlotte, and Raleigh, and Durham, and Falls Church, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland. We had carwashes everywhere. It’s been a long ride. A long ride. We had some

success, and we had some great people working with me and for me. And today, the majority of those people are somewhere in the carwash business of their own. One of ‘em, is still with me today on Forest Drive: Harry Jones. He’s a graduate of East Carolina University. That’s where he went to school. He was with Exxon Corporation -- and then I had two or three other people who were with Exxon that I had hired in management positions all around -- in Fayetteville, Durham, Raleigh, everywhere. We had a good crew of people.

FH: Well, it was back when Exxon started -- actually, Esso -- started [a promotion] with “Tiger in the Tank.” That’s where it came from. We bought the tiger from Marlins Parker (of TV’s Wild Kingdom) in Chicago. He and the other guy -- I forgot what his name was. PP: Jim? Wasn’t it Jim? FH: We bought the tiger -- he was a cub. 12 pounds. We had her shipped here. We built him a place to stay and a trailer to house it. When we got it, we had to feed him every two hours like a child. That went on for a while. (Editor’s Note: Happy the Tiger was a female tiger, although the pronouns “he” and “she” are both used interchangeably to refer to Happy throughout the conversation.)

• SPRING 2017 •




capitalize on that cat. PP: Marketing is something that owners are always looking for an angle. But there are probably only a few that are that expensive. It sounds like that was an expensive proposition.

“I just put the word out that I was looking for a job.”

FH: It was, it was.

PP: So you eventually left Constans and how did you end up owning Frank’s?


FH: Well, at that time we were doing -- we had a good business. PP: How did you transition to actually being an owner at that point?

“If he thinks I’m going to tell somebody to get out of that line, he’s crazy!” PP: But it was very successful. I have a copy of a video on my website, that I believe was either a Hanna, or maybe it was Sherman -- I think it was Sherman, actually -- of a video from about 19611963 called, “Success in Carwashing.” And Constans -- that location on Gervais -- is one of the places that they are in the video. The thing that strikes me about that is there is a whale of a line at that car wash, and if you’re washing 30,000 cars full service a month, you are a busy operation. To then have, what was really ironic, was most of the people were dressed. I mean, we dress so casually today, but there were kids in coats and ties. It was really interesting to watch that video and see that. FH: Yeah, that’s us. It was different. We had snow occasionally. And we’ve had snow when I was there and one time we had some good snow while I was working, and I only had 90 people working. That’s all I had: 90 bodies there. Now, see, we had 60 feet going to the tunnel, so we had 60 feet as you enter the tunnel -- so we had plenty of room to sweep cars out, because of how the location was. And at one time, I remember my mother-in-law came to the car wash. I was, of course, on the line somewhere taking care of something -- moving all the time. And she said, “You know where I got in line, don’t ya?” And I said, “No, ma’am. Where was that?” And she said, “I got in line at the Statehouse. I’ve been in that line for fifteen minutes.” You see, it didn’t take long now. It didn’t take long because we were moving cars at 100-300 cars an hour. PP: 300 cars an hour, full service? FH: Yes. Yes. PP: And for those of you who don’t know, the Statehouse from that location is what -- 2 miles?

that I’m going to tell somebody to get out of that line -- go down three blocks, five blocks whatever it was -- and tell them to get out of the line because they’re blocking the stoplights, he’s crazy.” The stoplights going across the street were what he was talking about -- because if they were in line, and the light changed, it would be tough. Because they’d stay in that line, they’d fight for that line. They wouldn’t want anybody to jump in their place. But as soon as he left, I went back to doing what I was supposed to be doing: Washing cars. PP: In your recollection, what’s the largest volume day that you can recall? FH: 3,300. PP: 3,300 cars, full service. That’s impressive. That is impressive. How many feet was the conveyor? FH: 160 feet. PP: So you had a good distance. You could put ‘em in there. Had plenty of equipment in there to wash the car. PP: You were using hooks?

FH: Yes. Five or six blocks.

FH: Yup. At first.

PP: It’s a ways.

PP: People in the pits?

FH: Back then we had motorcycle policemen and they used to come down and tell me to get them cars off the street! “They’re blocking the stoplights! If you don’t get them off the street, I’m going to close you down!” And I’d say, “Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I’ll do that.” Soon as he left, I said to myself, “If he thinks

FH: Yup. PP: Cutting edge technology back then, huh? FH: Oh yeah, oh yeah. But it worked. Made a lot of money for him, sure did.

FH: I did not. I was out looking for another job. I just put the word out that I was looking for a job and I had some good offers. I had offers as far south as Peru. But I went to Charleston. There was a guy that had four carwashes. He was having some trouble. So I went down and signed a five-year contract with him. He was trying to figure out a way to make sure I made enough money. I said, “Let me tell you what we can do. Right now you’re making money, aren’t you?” And he said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Okay, well then what we’ll do is I’ll come down here,” -- and he had offered me a salary already -- and I said, “that’ll be fine, I can live off of that, and what I would do is ask for a percentage of everything above what you’re making now. You continue what you’re doing, but I want a percent of everything that is an increase over what you’re doing.” And I did well. I made a lot of money. He was a Citadel graduate, but he wasn’t much of a carwash man. PP: So when did you build your first wash? Or buy your first wash? FH: Oh, I did that five years later. I think about ‘78, or somewhere around then. PP: How many washes do you own today? FH: I don’t own any. I sold all my carwashes to my son. I had six carwashes and I sold them to him -- now he’s got 13. PP: And he just opened the new mini tunnel? FH: Oh no, that’s old. We just remodeled that. PP: So you’ve had that mini tunnel for a long time? FH: Well, he’s had it. Yes. I’ve had carwashes in Greenwood, Forest Drive -- well, I had five carwashes all around. Bush River Road. All around. PP: How did you make the transition to buying and selling equipment? FH: Well, through Sonny’s I had been doing that in my spare time. A lot of times at night as a distributor for him. Before that I was doing it for Sherman. And I was in Hanna for a while until that blew up. Then I went to Sonny’s -- I don’t know how many years. It’s been 30 years. I have been in the carwash equipment business for a long time. Even when I was doing other things, I always had the equipment business on the side. {continued }


• SPRING 2017 •

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WashIdeas PP: Milk? FH: It was a formula. I had to take care of him -- I took care for him for a long time. It was just like a child. And the mortality rate on cats at that time, was like 90 percent. So for us to raise the cat, and to make it survive, was phenomenal as far as they were concerned. And they’d call -- Merlin and Jim -- they’d call all the time. They didn’t expect the cat to live. They never thought we could do that. They just thought because of the mortality rate in the past that it wouldn’t work. But we got to the point where we could feed him food. It was beef -- real beef -- five days. A chicken, one day. And then one day he had to fast. And then I had to give him vitamins and minerals and a couple pills, I forget what they were for -- they were prescribed. And I’d take the cavity of a chicken, a raw chicken -- no feathers, but a chicken -- and I’d stuff the vitamins and stuff in the cavity of this chicken. He’d take his medicine like that. PP: I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never talked to a car wash guy with your experience. So how long did this go on? FH: Til the 70s. PP: Til the 70s?! So he lived what -- 15 years? FH: Yep, yep. And he lived about four or five years

after we had given him to the zoo. That’s what we had done with him. We raised him and then we gave him to this zoo (Riverbanks Zoo) that was being built back in the early 70s. We had a drawing to name the tiger’s place at the zoo. So there was a drawing and we named the contribution to the zoo in her name. It was an older lady, Heddy... something like that. It was an experience.

HAPPY EARNS HER MARKETING STRIPES “It was worth the effort because we were really able to capitalize on that cat.” PP: As a marketing scheme, do you think the tiger was successful? FH: It was wonderful. All the schools would bring their children there as a day trip. We had bus loads and bus loads, on and on and on, as long as we had him. We had a cage that he was in at night, that I closed him in, but during the day, he was enclosed in a place where he could sit out there. She was just -- it was a difference. She was used to people.

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People would talk to her; it would never bother her. She would just lay there sleeping. But when she went to the zoo, they put her in a cage -- an enclosed cage, glass -- and she, well, I think she grieved herself to death is what I think. PP: Now, did you get in the cage with her? FH: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I’d play with her when she was smaller, 55 pounds. Yeah, I played with her everyday. PP: I certainly remember the “put the tiger in your tank” promotion. FH: Oh, yes. And we used it. We’d give out glasses -- buy so much gas and we’d give you a glass. We’d give you a picture. We’d give you a tiger tail to hang off the back of your car. And we’d get a picture on the front page of the state paper every year that we had that cat. Happy would wish everybody a “Merry Christmas.” We used the cat. The cat was great -- it really drew the people in. And all the kids -- you can remember, and it didn’t have anything to do with the car wash, but you remember. And that’s what happened; everybody knew about that cat. But you had to take care of that cat. You had to clean the cage every day. We’d have to wash it and clean it with septisol to kill any germs that might be in there. I mean, she was using it every day. But it was worth the effort because we were able to really {continued }

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WashIdeas FH: She could tell you about that, though. I was in the car wash -- let’s see, she suffered through it while I did. We’ve got four children. Mike is...he’s done a great job. When I had the carwashes and I had certain people that I was trying to take care of, and I’d taken care of them for many years, but I never had a desire to own 15 or 20 carwashes. I wanted carwashes enough to support my family and have a good living and that’s all I require. I didn’t have any thoughts about 15 or 20 carwashes. Mike is just different. He’s totally different. He’s doing well. I’m proud of him. I just didn’t have that desire. When I had all those different carwashes -- well, that was damn plenty. And besides that I had other things I was running. I used to own a rental car company. We had a gas hauling company, servicing all these Exxon stations in a big area. I had two trucks that hauled gas. I’ve had a lot of management experience in different fields, but it’s because -- well, because Stan would get involved with all this stuff. He’d buy this or start that. But once he got it, he’d hand it to me, and I’d have to swim or sink, you know?

Back then there wasn’t that many people that did carwash equipment and installed it and stuff like that. There just wasn’t that many people that did it. I used to make a lot of money just working on carwashes that were put in and weren’t working. There just wasn’t a lot of people that did it. Like, say, Sherman. When Sherman was in business, you used to buy a piece of equipment from Sherman and they’d deliver it to your yard, your car wash, and then you put it in. They didn’t have installation people like we’ve got today. They just dropped it on the ground. And back then, a lot more equipment was sold at the big carwash conventions. Back then a lot of it was sold at the big shows. People didn’t travel around like they do today.

THE MAIN ATTRACTION “[They all] used to come to see us because [we were] the biggest thing on the East Coast at that time.” Now when we talk about Goo Goo Car Wash and them boys, and, let’s see --- we’ve got Benny Alford. Benny Alford’s father was in business in Florida, and then they moved to Baton Rouge. Well when they moved to Baton Rouge -- well, back then we had the big carwash everybody would come to -- that was Constans -- they’d come to see what we were doing and how we were doing it. It could be raining, and they’d come up there. The difference with Constans was when I was working at Constans, I never closed for rain. We had a big canopy out there. And you talk about people dressed up! Let’s say it was Thursday, people from Saint Matthews or Orangeburg or Swansea or Irmo --everybody would come to town on Thursday, all the ladies, to do their shopping. Well what else they’d do is they’d wash their car. And they didn’t give a damn about the rain, they came in the back door -- it was clean. They’d come up the aisle and we had 60 foot of covered stuff out front. So they never had to get out in the rain. And they’d get their car vacuumed, they got the windows cleaned, and anything else they might ask for, and then they’d get into their car under a canopy and they left. It became a kind of ritual. I’d come to work on Sunday morning and I could tell you -- before I even got to work -- who was in line. It was a ritual. But Benny’s father used to come up and spend a day with me. He had a sister in Spartanburg. And once a year he’d come to see his sister and then he’d come to see my carwash -- I say mine, I mean Constans. And then he’d spend a day and a half with me there just watching and seeing what was going on. Benny remembers it. And then he’d bring Benny up there and same thing with Goo Goo Car Wash. His daddy was the same dang way. He’d bring him up there to visit with us and see what we were doing. But all these old guys used to come up there to see us because we were the biggest thing around -- the


• SPRING 2017 •

biggest thing on the East Coast at that time. PP: When you were washing 30,000 cars a month, what was your price point? FH: We was probably -- it started at $1.25, way back. Course, you’ve gotta go back...labor wasn’t... well, there wasn’t any labor laws on labor. So we would pay $1 or $2 a day for labor. Cash. I would stand at the door and pay my people, all the people, every day, $2 or whatever it was. It wasn’t much. I’d pay them cash. But then when the labor laws came, well, then the price was changed at the same time. See, my labor was walk-in labor. At that point and time, all the labor lived around us at the time. It was all walk-in labor and I knew where most of them lived and if they didn’t get their butt to work, I’d go get them and knock their butt outta bed and make them come to work. It was a fact of life. Or maybe I’d send somebody, “Go get him! He’s in the damn bed, still asleep, I guarantee!” So I’d send somebody to go get him because we had to have ‘em. It was a different ball game. It was different. That’s my opinion. Just different. We had some good people working for us, of course. There’s a lady called Margie Hutchins. She could tell you how many hours at night that I would spend working on that equipment, so many nights and weeks. Just went on and on. God bless her. We’ve been married a couple weeks now. (Laugther.) Let’s see, next month will be 65 years. PP: Congratulations. FH: She’s been feeding me and taking care of me for all my time. PP: Bless her.

SINK OR SWIM? FRANK WOULD SWIM. “I got a helluva education.” PP: You got a real education. FH: I got a helluva education. I went to Chicago and trained to run a rental car business. Went to Charleston, West Virginia, and knew some people up there who happened to be in it. What happened was, way back, he’d go to these conventions and there’d be certain things that these people would be trying to franchise. And he’d get it. Now, the thing that he missed and the things that he couldn’t do because of his daddy -- his daddy was still alive back then -- was he almost had McDonald’s. The first in state of North Carolina. But his daddy said, “Hell no. We ain’t getting into no hamburger business.” I’ll never forget it. Stan hated that. We’d have meetings and he would have to pattern -- we were gonna build these carwashes and we were gonna do it just like McDonald’s. If you go to a carwash in Falls Church, VA, we want it to be exactly like the one in Columbia. And visa versa. And it worked on his mind for years because his daddy wouldn’t let him do it. But I would always show up to work in my work clothes because I knew that every day, there was gonna be something that would happen in that car wash and I’d have to go in and fix it. That was because my duties -- as far as I was concerned -- was getting that sonovabitch working. Keep that line going, that’s how you make money. And then we built another tunnel right side of the tunnel we had, so it was a dual tunnel a little later on. There was always {continued }

• SPRING 2017 •


WashIdeas something you could do on this equipment. Like I tell people today, they ask, “Are we gonna have trouble with this equipment?” And I say, “No, but what you do when you buy it and put it in -- we’ll put it in for you -- but don’t crank it up.” They’d ask, “What do you mean?” Well, I’d say, “If you don’t want to have trouble with it, don’t crank it up. It’s machinery. I don’t mean that tomorrow it’ll break down, or the day after, but sooner or later, something’s gonna happen to it. And somebody’s gotta work on it. It’s just a fact of life, being equipment like it is. You look in it and see all these brushes and what not moving, they got bearings, they got this, they got that. Something’s gonna happen.” And people would say, “Dang, I didn’t know you had to work on it!” And I’m sorry, but it’s just a fact of life. It ain’t gonna go away. It’ll never stop as long as you run it.

LOOKING BACK ON THE INNOVATIONS “You’ve got to maintain the equipment.” PP: Speaking of equipment, in your experience and in your mind -- what’s the greatest carwash

innovation of yo ur lifetime? FH: The wraps. And next would be the conveyor. When we didn’t have to hook a damn chain to it to drag it down the line. PP: So did you have the return on the wall? FH: Yes, sir. PP: You’ve seen it all, haven’t you? FH: Yes, sir. PP: If you had to talk to someone new getting into the carwash business, what would be the one piece of advice you think they need to know? FH: Just like I said, it’s a good machine -- but it has to be taken care of. You can’t just buy it, put it in and forget it. PP: Maintain it. FH: Yes, you’ve got to maintain this equipment. That’s your dollars. That’s where your dollars come from. You’ve got to take care of it. And I tell people that when they build. It ain’t just gonna run forever. I can’t tell you when it’s gonna break down or what it’s gonna give you for a problem, but I can tell you something’s gonna happen. Especially with these expresses -- when people are in the car. They get in the car and they panic when they’re going through the damn carwash, and hell, I’ve had people get out in the middle of the dang tunnel and try to walk out

in that dang water and I’m scared they’re gonna get their foot caught in there and get their leg caught off or something. But it’s something, something’s going on in it all the time. PP: There’s so many stories I hear like that and you always think, I just came to work to wash cars this morning and all this other esoteric stuff just happens. FH: Yup, but I’ve always been honest with people when we go out there. If you don’t want it to break down, just leave it there. It looks good. Let it sit there. Don’t crank it. And I love to see the looks on their faces. It’s like, in all the years I’ve been in the business I’ve never said to anyone -- not today, yesterday, or ever -- never said, “I own a carwash.” I just tell them I wash cars. People know who I am here because I’ve been here so many damn years. But I’ve never said, “I own a carwash.” I’ve never done that. I won’t. PP: Mr. Frank, it took me about a year and a half to run you down and get this interview. It’s been a pleasure to sit with you and hear your story and your experience in the business. FH: I appreciate you coming down. PP: Maybe we’ll do it again some time. FH: It’s been fun. Thank you.

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INDUSTRY DIRT Happenings In & Around Self Serve Carwashing

In this issue’s edition of “Industry Dirt,” SSCWN mourns the passing of an industry leader; SONNY’S announces a recapitalization; Bob Schrum hands off the Flagstop baton, Splash Car Wash fights a P.R. battle in the front pages, and the U.S. auto market give carwashers a reason to celebrate ... and a few reasons to worry.

IN MEMORIAM Jeff Jurkens Octopus Car Wash CEO Jeffrey John Jurkens, age 65, passed away Sunday, February 26, 2017. Jurkens was born November 21, 1951, in Chicago, the son of John and Alice Jurkens. John founded Octopus Car Wash (called Speed Queen, at the time) in 1956, and Jeff, along with his brother Joel, joined him in the family business as a teenager. Under the direction of John, Octopus would eventually become one of the largest full service car wash chains in the nation during the 1990s, and Jeff went on to own five Octopus locations in the Madison, WI, and Illinois areas. The washes were known throughout the industry for their iconic signage, and the Jurkens family was similarly well-regarded and admired. Jeff was united in marriage to Irina Dolgopolova in Las Vegas in 2008. As his obituatary noted, “He was completely devoted and dedicated to his business. Jeff enjoyed time with friends, to travel, and spending time with family.” Jeff is survived by his wife, Irina, son Jonah, step daughter Yulia, brother Joel, sisters Jill and Jody, and his mother Alice. He was preceded in death by his father, John Jurkens. Horace“Hod”Hamel Horace “Hod” Hamel, father of Hamel Manufacturing founder Michael Hamel, passed away on January 24, 2017. He was 88 years old. Horace was preceded in death by wife Betty. He was a long time member of the Masonic Lodge in Elkhorn, NE, and is “remembered fondly as a loving father and friend.” He is survived by his children, Michael and Carol Hamel of Craig, NE (and founders of Hamel Manufacturing), and Peter and Mark Volenec-Hamel of Omaha; 2 grandchildren (Chris and Mark Hamel of Hamel Manufacturing) and 3 great grandchildren.


• SPRING 2017 •

In the News... National Carwash Solutions (NCS), the nation’s largest manufacturer of commercial carwash systems, cleaning fluid solutions and maintenance services, announced its management team has partnered with AEA Investors in a strategic recapitalization to accelerate the growth of the company and expand the products and services NCS provides its customers. AEA Investors is a global private equity firm that focuses on industrial products, chemicals and consumer retail sectors. Previously, NCS was owned by Trivest Partners. BlackArch Partners was retained by Trivest Partners and NCS management to serve as their exclusive financial advisor. “We are excited to have partnered with AEA Investors. This transaction will allow us to continue to strengthen our leadership position within the industry and best position us for growth in the coming years,” said Michael Gillen, CEO of National Carwash Solutions. “We had an immediate connection with AEA. It was apparent there was a great fit between our two companies. We found their expertise ideal for our long-term vision to provide innovative solutions that make our customers successful.” “We truly enjoyed working with NCS and being a part of their growth strategy,” said Russ Wilson, partner with Trivest Partners. “We are happy that AEA Investors is on board to continue the growth of NCS at this juncture of their history.” A definitive agreement has been signed and the closing is subject to HSR and standard closing conditions. This February, Connecticut carwash owners provided written and verbal testimony to their state legislature’s finance committee in order to seek a repeal the sales tax on carwash services. “Our industry is a discretionary purchase within a price-sensitive market,’’ Todd Whitehouse, owner of Connecticut Car Wash, which owns and operates four locations in central Connecticut, told The Hartford Courant. According to the article in The Hartford Courant, Connecticut first started collecting taxes on carwash sales for about four years in the early

1990s. The state later rescinded it because ti was too costly to track and collect, and did not yield the revenue it was predicted to bring in. Senate Bill 187 would repeal the sales tax, which was reinstated in 2015. Paul Ferruolo, operator of the Mr. Sparkle Car Wash self-service carwash in East Hartford, said collecting the tax is especially cumbersome for coin-operated car washes. “The sales tax on the coin-operated car wash industry has created an extraordinary burden on many small family-run businesses throughout the state,’’ Ferruolo said in written testimony. This is due to the fact that we are forced to pay a sales tax when we have no mechanism to collect it.” The committee is expected to vote on the proposal to rescind the tax at a later date. ISTOBAL USA has appointed Ian Burton as the new North American Director of Sales.

In this position, Burton will be responsible for further developing sales, customer service, and nurturing direct sales relationships. A press release about the appointment further noted Burton would be “a key member of the management team,” and “will develop and execute new strategies and initiatives that expand distributor and brand penetration in North America.” Burton is a veteran of the wash industry having worked in many capacities for various manufacturers and distributors and most recently worked at PD McLaren Limited, Canada. “Ian’s career includes over 20 years in the Vehicle Wash Industry. He brings a diverse background from both a manufacturer and distributors perspective that makes him the perfect candidate. We look forward to Ian’s arrival at such a vital time when ISTOBAL is seeing consistent growth in North America,” CEO Jimmy Sisk stated in the release. Istobal USA’s parent company, Spanish-based Istobal, had additional news this quarter, the company announced it closed its 2016 accounts with a €17 million EBITDA, 16% more than the previous year. With ten subsidiaries in Europe and America, the {continued }





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INDUSTRY DIRT group has increased its turnover by 5%, totalling 124 million euros in 2016 thanks to the good results of the main markets - Spain and France - and a relevant rise in sales in countries like Italy and the US. International sales accounted for 80% of the group’s overall billing in 2016. Together with France and Italy, the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom rank among the top five export markets. In Denmark, sales rose almost by 50% while in Britain and the United States, sales increased by 40% and 30% respectively, compared to the previous year. DRB Systems will open a West Coast Service Center to provide sales and service support for customers throughout the western region of the United States. The announcement of the new service center follows DRB’s announcement in September 2016 that it had acquired Unitec, the Baltimore-based producer of advanced hardware and software for the car wash market. The new DRB service center will be located in the Los Angeles area. In addition to locations in Akron and Canton, OH, and Elkridge, MD, DRB Systems has sales and service personnel based in 10 states. “Today we are thrilled to announce that customers from the Atlantic to the Pacific are completely covered by DRB and Unitec representatives who set the benchmark for industry knowledge, insight and expertise,” said DRB President and CEO Bill Morgenstern. “Our new Los Angeles-area location enables DRB Systems to more effectively deliver to West Coast customers on our commitment to serve them as the industry’s innovation leader.” He also indicated that DRB growth plans include additional sales, engineering and technical personnel in the Akron and Canton locations. “We expect to grow our workforce by approximately 25 percent this year,” Morgenstern said. “We are adding human capacity as well as technological and physical capacity to support our West Coast growth.” DRB Systems is a point-of-sale software and business solutions company in the car wash industry. D&S Car Wash Equipment Company announced in an April press release that the company’s IQ® In Bay Automatic Car Wash System has surpassed the 5 million wash mark. The release said there are over 226 IQ Systems now in operation in carwashes and auto dealerships across the US and Canada, and “wash counts continue to grow rapidly.” According to the release, the IQ 2.0 was introduced in 2011. “Lightweight construction, low cost of transport, ease of installation, simple preventive and corrective maintenance processes, and low-power electric motors driven by variable frequency drives offer car wash owners efficiency and durability.” “The IQ cleans better while consuming less,” says


• SPRING 2017 •

Jon Jansky, D&S President and CEO. “We build every machine with pride, and we build them to last.” D&S Car Wash Equipment Company provides the professional car wash industry with innovative, quality products designed with simplicity and built to perform. Dosatron International, Inc. has named Matthew Wellage as Regional Sales Manager.

According to a company press release about the appointment, Matt brings to the Dosatron team six years of experience working for a manufacturer of chemical dispensing equipment. He also spent over eight years’ gaining experience in industrial pipe, valve, and fitting distribution. “Five minutes into my visit at Dosatron, I knew it was where I wanted to be. A customer-centric, family owned business, with the best people and service in any industry,” explained Matt. “I consider myself lucky to continue doing what I enjoy. Meeting and helping customers in the many different industries Dosatron serves.” Dosatron International, Inc. is an industry leader in water-powered, proportional chemical injectors. Cleaning Systems, Inc. (CSI) has a couple hiring notes for this issue … First, the company announced the promotion of Tia Russell to the position of Marketing Communication Manager. Tia has been with CSI since 2003. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin, BS Biology / Environmental Science, she began her career at CSI in the lab and transitioned to positions in sales and marketing. In this newly created position, Ms. Russell will oversee all communication aspects, including advertising, the website, and marketing programs for CSI’s distributor partners and customers. Ms. Russell was quoted as saying, “I am excited to have this new opportunity. I believe communication is key in a business and will take pride in making sure all our communications are properly addressed internally and externally. I look forward to enhancing our Sales & Marketing communications with the CSI team.” Soon after, CSI also welcomed Andrew Schille to the position of Lustra® Regional Sales Manager covering the Northeastern United States. Andrew, from Boston, MA, brings 6 years of experience as a District Sales Manager in the Car Wash Industry. “I am really excited to join the CSI and Lustra team. They have a great reputation within the industry and the knowledge and passion to constantly produce the most consistent chemistry and dispensing equipment is contagious. I look forward to this opportunity and I am honored to be a part of it.”

They didn’t stop there -- the company soon announced the hiring of Dr. Sangwook Lim to the position of Research Scientist in the company’s Research and Development Lab. Dr. Lim, from Chicago, Illinois, has over 7 years of experience in experimental and theoretical work related to colloid surfactant science and nanotechnology. As a chemical engineer and surface scientist, Sangwook has dedicated himself to the study of surface science, interfacial phenomenon, and polymer chemistry. Dr. Lim was quoted as saying, “I’m very excited to be a part of the CSI family. I firmly believe that my research experience and skill-sets as well as my hardworking and team-oriented personality can bring value to CSI. I look forward to developing and improving our valuable products to continue making CSI an industry leader in quality products and technological innovation.” Finally, CSI appointed Jake Craanen to the position of Lustra® Regional Sales Manager covering the North-Central United States. According to a company press release, Jake is from Green Bay, WI and brings 3 years of experience as a National Sales Manager with CSI in the Commercial Transportation Wash Industry. “I am really excited to join the Lustra team. CSI has a great reputation and is known to be very progressive in developing the most advanced solutions and chemical dispensing equipment in the industry. I look forward to the opportunity to grow relationships and serve our customers across the North-Central Region.” Cleaning Systems, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of cleaning and protection chemical products, as well as chemical application technology, for the transportation industry globally. Thought we were doing with CSI news? You thought wrong! Just a week before this issue went to press, the company squeaked in one more announcement: The establishment of a Key Account Partnership(KAP) chemical supply agreement between CSI-Lustra Car Care Products and Terrible Herbst Oil, Inc. dba Terrible’s Car Wash based in Las Vegas, NV. Terrible’s Car Wash operates over 40 wash facilities throughout the southwest, with the majority being in the greater Las Vegas market. Founded in 1959, the company now operates over 100 gas stations and convenience stores in Nevada, California, and Arizona. They are in the beginning steps of an extensive car wash expansion. “We are very proud to have been selected to fill this important role for such a great car wash operator.”, stated Dave Krause, President/CEO of Cleaning Systems, Inc. “Terrible’s Car Washes are known nationwide and have a great reputation throughout our industry.” {continued }

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EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it ... Well, this is exciting...and also perhaps a little nerve-wracking. “A self-healing, water-repellent, spray-on coating developed at the University of Michigan is hundreds of times more durable than its counterparts,” according to Michigan News, a publication of the University of Michigan.

According to the report, the breakthrough has the potential to be applied to a plethora of surfaces, including clothing and rooftops, in addition to vehicles. It features a mix of a material called “fluorinated polyurethane elastomer” and a specialized water-repellent molecule known as “F-POSS.” “It can be easily sprayed onto virtually any surface and has a slightly rubbery texture that makes it more resilient than its predecessors,” the article noted. What’s more? If the coating is scratched, burned or chemically attacked, it can “heal itself” hundreds of times. The researchers responsible for the discovery recently published a paper about the coating in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. No word yet on how the coating feels about pollen or road salt -- or what color options this miracle mix comes in.

Well, of course it had to be Texas. The new carwash at Buc-ee’s convenience store in Katy, TX, hopes to be the “longest in the world” with a 255-foot-long tunnel. The site will also have about 120 gas pumps. It should be open by the Fall.

This isn’t the first carwash to fall victim to point-of-sale system hacking, and it likely won’t be the last, but I think we could learn a thing or two from how carwash owner Jon Oppenheimer handled this potentially nightmarish public relations incident. (United Airlines -- are you reading??)

Upon learning that the credit card payment system at Waterworks Car Wash in Denver, CO, had been compromised, Oppenheimer reached out to his customers -- and to local media -- to explain the findings of the investigation and to offer one year of complimentary credit monitoring. “To date, the investigation indicates that the intruder placed malware on the point-of-sale system,” the business said in a news release. “And by doing so (the intruder) gained access to our customers’ payment card data, including the cardholder’s first and last name, payment card number, and security code.” An estimated 3,000-4,000 customers were at risk from the attack between Feb. 18 and Feb. 28. “We suggest that you remain vigilant and review your banking and card statements as well as credit reports,” the release said, “and report any suspicious activity to the relevant financial institution.” So, yes. These hacks hurt, but getting ahead of them and addressing concerns before they start calling is always a good idea. Editor’s Note: It is believed this hack may have affected other carwash companies throughout the United States. Was yours one of them? Let us know how you’ve handled the aftermath by emailing Editor Kate Carr at


• SPRING 2017 •

The business has already contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to see where they stand. They didn’t initially set out with the goal in mind, but during the planning process realized they might have some Texas-sized bragging rights on their hands. “When we started looking at how long it really is, we said, ‘You know, it may be the very longest one in the world,’ and if that is the case, and we’ve proven as such, that would be kind of neat,” said Buc-ee’s general counsel Jeff Nadalo. “The International Carwash Association told local reporters it doesn’t keep track of the largest, biggest or longest, but did mention Mr. Wash, the $40 million, two-story full-service wash in Germany which reportedly washes a half million vehicles a year and is sometimes referred to as the largest carwash in the world. {continued }

• SPRING 2017 •


EXTRA! EXTRA! The carwash industry’s largest chain of tunnel washes is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC), which claims the company denied promotions to a class of black employees because of their race.

Here’s a neat marketing idea for next year: Jacksons Car Wash in Scottsdale, AZ, offered free carwashes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 18 (Tax Day) and also offered customers the chance to use a Cutters Document Destruction truck on hand to offer free paperwork shredding.

According to a news announcement about the promotion, there was no limit to the amount of paperwork a person could bring to destroy. The announcement also mentioned the earth-friendly nature of the event -- all of the shredded paper will be used as recycling material -- and tied to upcoming Earth Day.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Car Wash Headquarters, Inc. d/b/a Mister Car Wash d/b/a Mister Hot Shine Car Wash, repeatedly refused to advance qualified African-American employees to management positions at its Birmingham, Ala.-area locations. According to a press release from the EEOC: “Antonio Purdom, Walter Gibson, Marcus Kidd, and Anthony Graham, along with a class of black employees, repeatedly expressed interest in management positions that became available from 2013 to the present. The men had been working in various positions at the company’s two Birmingham locations since as early as 2003 and were qualified for promotion, the EEOC said. However, despite their qualifications, the company rejected each of the black employees for management positions and instead promoted less qualified and less experienced whites. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from using race as a factor in making employment decisions. EEOC filed its lawsuit in filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (EEOC v. Car Wash Headquarters, Inc. d/b/a Mister Car Wash, d/b/a Mister Hot Shine Carwash, Case No.2:17-cv-00503-JEO) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief. Mister Car Wash is a national company headquartered in Tucson, AZ, operating full-service car washes and lube centers. Car Wash Headquarters, Inc. employs approximately 7,000 people in over 200 locations in 20 states throughout the United States, including two locations in the Birmingham area.

The police officer at the center of a controversial shooting death that happened at a carwash in 2015 has been found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The jury has recommended he spend three months in jail and pay a $1,000 fine, although formal sentencing will be passed down by a judge at a later date.

David Cobb (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

Paterson Brown Jr.

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• SPRING 2017 •

Richmond Police Officer David Cobb had faced a second-degree murder charge after he shot and killed 18-year-old Paterson Brown Jr. Cobb had been waiting to use a carwash at a Sunoco gas station when Brown entered the car in a possible carjacking attempt. Cobb said he shot Brown in self defense because he believed him to have a weapon. He was actually unarmed. Cobb was off duty at the time. “Members of the Richmond Police family were saddened today to hear of the manslaughter conviction of Officer David Cobb. The judicial system has taken its course and we will respect the outcome. The Department will now begin an internal, administrative investigation into the incident. Officer Cobb remains on administrative leave status.”






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From EnduroShield Windshield rain repellent Treating windshields with the ultra-long lasting EnduroShield repels water and improves visibility in wet weather conditions. Improved visibility in wet weather conditions reduces driver response time by around 1 second* and improves visibility by around 34% in many adverse conditions, allowing you to see further ahead. Night time vision is also improved, making night driving vision as clear as daytime driving with an untreated windshield. EnduroShield’s water repellent nature also reduces the adhesion of dirt, grime, and bugs, and

allows for easier removal of snow and ice. EnduroShield Windshield Rain Repellent is quick and simple to apply, one simple application repels for up to 1 year, manufacturer backed by a 12-month performance warranty when applied by trained detailers. This product is also suitable for car wash glass. Featured by top automotive magazines Auto Express UK and Motorpress Iberica Magazine Spain, and recognized by Driver Safety Australia.

From CSI Self-closing and selflatching reservoir lid Cleaning Systems, Inc. proudly introduces the first self-closing and self-latching lid in the carwash industry. The lid was designed to be used on the industry award winning Ultraflex® reservoir system. CSI’s newly redesigned Ultraflex® reservoirs will now ship with the new advanced body style and new combination receiver/latching-lid. The new Ultraflex Reservoir is the most secure product containment system in the industry, while it continues to allow the full ease-of-use benefits of the Ultraflex® systems quick-load design. When an empty product bottle is removed, the lid automatically closes and latches in a clipped position to protect the contents of the reservoir from any outside elements.

From ISTOBAL New rollover carwash equipment The new flexible rollover FLEX5 switches from three to five brushes (and vice versa) to adapt to needs at the car wash without changing machines. By incorporating more brushes, a greater number of services is possible, responding to demand peaks. This rollover is targeted at all types of customers - oil companies, dealers or private car wash stations, etc.- needing faster wash processes. Conforming to US regulations and adapted to American vehicle features, FLEX5 offers different wash types: by friction only (brush wash), hybrid (incorporating high pressure to friction for a thorough wash) and combined function (with a choice between the above options or a completely touchless wash using high pressures and chemical prewashes only). ISTOBAL also debuted the company’s new tire-shiner for tunnels and rollovers: T’Shiner, a system that ensures a lasting shine thanks to a brush with soft polypropylene bristles. {continued }



From Mark VII New tunnel equipment and triple foam chemicals Mark VII Equipment Inc., the North America subsidiary of WashTec AG of Germany, the world’s largest manufacturer of vehicle cleaning systems, introduced its new SoftLine2 tunnel and ShineTecs Tri-Foam products at the International Carwash Association’s annual trade show. SoftLine2 brings Linear Technology, developed by WashTec, to North America for the first time. Linear Technology moves the brushes with the vehicle as it’s pulled by the conveyor, allowing extended brush contact time on the hardto-clean front and rear of the vehicle. Linear Technology is also combined with contour-following high pressure and a contour-following dryer to give the same extra attention to the front and back of the car during the pre-wash and drying phases. The result is unprecedented cleaning quality, while also reducing dryer energy costs by about 40% compared to conventional tunnel dryers.

ShineTecs Tri-Foam brings new technology to one of the most popular up-sell options found on retail carwash menus. Other triple foam chemicals on the market are topically applied and rinsed off for “show” without having any impact on turning out a clean, dry and shiny car. In contrast, ShineTecs Tri-Foam is ap-

plied through any standard rollover or tunnel triple foam system, but its shine polymers penetrate the paint and are buffed in by the soft foam brushes to create a hand wax quality shine, creating happy customers when they immediately notice the difference. “We’re excited to debut these new products to the industry,” said Chris Andersen, CEO of Mark VII. “SoftLine2 brings a completely new approach to cleaning to the North America tunnel market segment, giving operators clear differentiation from their competition based on cleaning quality. And ShineTecs Tri-Foam changes a common up-sell feature from being all show and no substance to being an extra service that truly impacts vehicle shine.” Both new products are on display this week in Mark VII’s booth number 210 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information visit www. or call 800-525-8248.

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Association News & Calendar CALENDAR

2017 Calendar of Events Submissions can be made to Editor Kate Carr at

APRIL 25-26

Heartland Carwash Association (HCA) Product Show Des Moines, IA


WCA Road Show: Napa, CA Hampton Inn & Suites Napa, CA

MAY 24

SWCA Wade Welch Memorial Golf Classic La Cantera Golf Club San Antonio, TX

Car Wash Show has highest attendance in a decade The International Carwash Association continued the upward trend in show attendance this year when they welcomed more than 8,100 attendees to The Car Wash Show 2017 in Las Vegas in early April. With nearly 400 exhibitors on hand, the show marked one of the Association’s biggest in the last decade. SSCWN Publisher Jackson Vahaly and incoming editor Debra Gorgos tell me I missed a spectacular three days, including more than 70 education-

al sessions (the most important of which -- the WCA-hosted Self Serve Panel Discussion -- we have transcribed for you int his issue) and an excellent keynote from The Association has also made video recordings of its state-of-the-industry address and awards presentations available online at thecarwashshow. Mark your calendar for The Car Wash Show 2018 in Las Vegas, April 26-28.


Carwash Associatino of Pennsylvania (CAP) Annual Dinner and Table Top Show Hollywood Casino, Penn National Race Course Mechanicsburg, PA

JUNE 19-21

MCA Expo & Bus Tour


JULY 23-26

SECWA Expo and Convention Swan and Dolphin Resort Hotel Orlando, FL

SEPTEMBER 25-27 Car Wash Show Europe (ICA) Amsterdam, Netherlands


Atlantic City, NJ


• SPRING 2017 •

SCWA celebrates record attendance at Expo 2017 The Southwest Car Wash Association (SCWA) had record-breaking pre-registration numbers which turned into record-breaking attendance numbers (over 1,700) at their annual Convention and EXPO, held at the Arlington Convention Center from Feb. 26-28. The event featured more than 300 exhibitors.

Award-winning journalist and Fox News Commentator John Stossel gave the keynote address. The Association bestowed its highest recognition, the SCWA Lifetime Achievement, to Jim Coleman, founder of the Jim Coleman Company, and (posthumously) to John Jurkens, founder of Octopus Car Wash Chain.



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Presenting some of the best discussions of the self serve industry’s headaches and solutions from ACF. You can find more discussions like these on

This issue’s topics from Counting coins -- what’s your bank’s policy? And renovating a 1984 wash. Depositing Quarters mikempls: Hello, so I was told the other day that my bank (Wells Fargo) will no longer have coin counters at any branch locations. My options for depositing coins are to roll my quarters in the paper tubes or purchase plastic coin bags, count the quarters and bring them to the bank where they will charge me $8.00 per bag to deposit them. If my coin count is off by more than $10.00 there will be an additional charge. I use tokens at my site for security reasons so recycling them in my change machine is not a good option. I told my branch manager that I will be switching to a new bank. He said he understood, but recommended I ask questions because all the large banks will be removing coin counters? What are you guys doing with your quarters? Do your banks accept them? Anyone else dealing with this same issue? Thanks.

Wells Fargo does away with coin counters at the poster’s local branch -- and now they want $8 just to deposit coins. Branch manager claims this will become widespread practice at large banks. Solution? Get a coin counter. Get a new bank. Go local.

Jim L.: I’ve been rolling my quarters for 18 years. It takes an extra 10 to 15 min. a big deal.

copperglobe: Get a new bank.

to be submitted (bags of $1,000). Even if I roll the quarters the bank still has to remove them from the rolls, count the quarters I’ve given them, adjust my account if necessary and send them on in bags of $1,000. Now, I just take a 5 gallon bucket of $1,000 in quarters to the bank and dump it in the bank’s bag. They count it at some point and adjust my account if necessary. It sounds like Wells Fargo doesn’t want to deal with quarters/change or they want to make money doing something that they should be doing as a bank. Seems to me that counting change for deposit shouldn’t be any different than counting cash or checks for deposit. This ****es me off.

loewem: Definitely find a new bank. I have a coin/token sorter/counter. Makes life much easier. When I first started depositing quarters I would roll them. After a couple of months a teller told me that she could give me some plastic bags that I could put 4,000 quarters ($1,000) in and bring it in for deposit. She told me that this was easier for them as this is how the federal reserve bank requires quarters

copperglobe: I posted earlier “find a new bank”, as others have done. In my area I’ve got four banks that want my business of my car washes. They send me letters, gifts during Christmas, come by the washes wanting to know if there’s anything they can do to get my business. Why? We’re a cash business with large cash deposits. This cash the banks love because they don’t have to order, and pay a fee to, the Fed so that they can

mikempls: Thanks, Jim. Are you using a machine to roll your quarters? boywonder: Find a different bank! Wells Fargo is nothing but a bunch of crooks. washnvac: I have a counter. So I deposit to the bank $1,000 at a time in the heavy plastic bags. No charge; it is just like a regular cash deposit. It is a local bank. I get the bags from eBay. They cost 40-50 cents each, depending how many I order at a time.



have cash in the drawers to give to customers when they come in to cash their checks. They also love my merchant deposits because they’re simple and don’t involve employees. They also love that I don’t have hardly any checks in my deposits that bounce, cause paper trails hassles, fees and interactions with other banks. So don’t forget that you’re the customer and that you’re a very good customer that doesn’t cause them, the bank, problems and that you make their life easier and more profitable because you give them cash, paper money, that they need. That cash that I deposit also goes out to their other customers that have stores and those stores need cash to operate each and every day. If you’ve got a bank that doesn’t want your quarters, get a new bank. There are plenty out there. Try the Ma and Pa banks, for sure not Wells Fargo. Ma and Pa want your business. MEP001: A lot of local banks here will accept quarters bagged and counted at no extra charge. Wells Fargo does have a lot to offer, but you pay for it. They have fees for everything - I was making {continued }

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Depositing Quarters a deposit yesterday and the guy in front of me was charged $7.50 to cash a check written by one of their customers because the guy it was written to didn’t have an account there. Overachiever: Chase started doing the same thing with me so I switched to a local branch... My new bank has a machine where I just pour my coins in myself and hand them a ticket with the total on it and they put it in my account. It almost never rejects a coin.. previously I would sometimes have to deal with the teller telling me some of my coins were too dirty and they wouldn’t allow me to deposit them. They also have this cool bill counter where you can give them a stack of bills that haven’t been faced or sorted (but I still usually sort them while counting) and it processes them all in a couple minutes vs waiting 30+ minutes for the teller to take care of it.

Upgrade/renovations tehachapicarwash: Hello, new to the forum. My dad owns a car wash in CA. It was built in 1984, and while mostly everything works, it is quite antiquated and needs some upgrades. I am not sure where to start, and my dad is already shooting it down, but I think if I can put a plan together I can convince him to start. We have 6 bays - 5 are self-serve, one was a touchless wash that we took out. Out of the 5 self-serve bays, 2 have digital dixmor timers. 2 Vacuum islands, and sodium lights all around that give a green creepy look at night, and the whole place is literally brick and mortar. Hard stuff to work with. Where do I start!?

mjwalsh: mikempls & others, IMHO it seems like there is a real danger of at least some banks having an agenda of wanting to put as many impediments to coins & eventually currency (all cash) as possible. Think about it ... no matter how bad inflation gets ... they will always get the “going rate” for merchant fees from electronic transfers. Cozy for them but NOT GOOD for us operators at all. If enough momentum or resistance (political will) can develop ... I honestly believe that this mindset that is happening within some of the banking community can be stopped. loewem: Did a little checking on this. Definitely agree with getting a new bank. I also agree with mjwalsh regarding banks requiring a premium for depositing coins and coordinated resistance would be good. I’d also suggest that this sets a bad precedent. When will the smaller banks decide that they need to charge a specific amount for depositing coins? When will banks decide that they need to charge more to accept $1 bills? Our business is the opposite of most in regards to cash. Most businesses are depositing larger bills or exchanging larger bills for smaller bills. It is a decent amount of work for the tellers to count my $1 bills every week. Not much different than counting the quarters. I spoke with someone at the consumer division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today. They said that what wells fargo is doing isn’t illegal, but that a complaint can be submitted and an investigation will take place. is responsible for overseeing “national banks”. I’m going to submit a complaint just to see what happens. chaz: Here’s a thought....send all your quarters my way! My bank provides the plastic bags, and credits my accountant immediately for the deposit $1,000 per bag. Only once was there a correction made after the fact, for $50.00, entirely my fault, I dump $50.00 at a time in the bag, and I sealed the bag too soon. Jeff L: Like the others have said, get a new bank. Go local, a lot of benefits to knowing the bank president and staff. Especially when needing a loan and {continued }

Car Wash Guy: Looks like you have some newer competition next door. Looks like an EE and in a town that small, you might have the deck stacked against ya. How has this affected your wash?

Perhaps work with the Jiffy Lube? robert roman: Start at the beginning. Is renovating the subject property commercially viable? Viable means a business is able to compete ef{continued }

Poster’s father has a 1984 self serve -- functional, but desperate for renovation. Dad is hesitant, poster is eager. What follows: Some good ol’ Robert Roman pragmatic (pessimistic?) practicality (delivered, as usual, one line at a time: What’s your local competition? Is the market viable?), and some fantastic ideas for the more optimistic operator: Clean it up. Focus on fixing existing equipment for reliability and functionality. Look for ways to reduce expenses and improve the customer experience. Then -and only then -- consider the flashy upgrades.


• SPRING 2017 •


Depositing Quarters such. Usually you can negotiate away other fees they normally charge for commercial accounts too. cma wash: our bank was bought out and a new set of fees we just received cost are due to company that picks up $ from the bank and they process coin and $ bills fee’s are currency/coin deposited $1.85 per$1000 checks paid 0.20 per item currency order $1.85 per $1000 this used to be a great bank, but since it was bought we switched, bulk coins is a must for us. tehachapicarwash: We accept tokens and quarters, only tokens are changed to the customer. Every 3 days we empty the safes, take the mix home and hand sort, count the quarters into a cloth bag provided by the bank using a coin counter and make $1000 deposits. The tokens go back to the wash and are recycled. Staurt: Wow, most of you guys are really having to jump thru hoops. I collect my coin and bills. Sort and Count my coins (qtrs., tkns, $coin) and sort & count my currency. Make a deposit slip and take to bank as one deposit--coin and bills. Does not matter {continued }

Upgrade/renovations fectively and make sufficient profit to sustain itself. Since wash is going concern, net operating income can be used to determine how much renovation can be supported. Renovating 33 year old building, installing an inbay, and replacing obsolete SS equipment is significant investment. By appearance alone, it doesn’t look like the wash can support this without borrowing money. Most likely this is why your dad shot the idea down. tehachapicarwash: We are definitely just breaking even right now, maybe $20,000 profit. We have a loan out, still owe a good amount. The wash was put up for sale, business and property for $250k, but we didn’t get many solid leads. There is a newer tunnel wash next door, and they do decent. When they first came in, there was not enough business for both, and we lost a good 70% of our automatic customers. We tore out the automatic, and did self serve only. That part has picked up in recent years, and with a new Dunkin Donuts next door and a super walmart due to begin construction just north of the tunnel wash, I believe

population and growth will come in the next year or so. loewem: You’ve got a good start there and I think you’ve asked the right question. You need to be ready and willing to work hard. If you’ve got a day job, you’ll need to work evenings and weekends. If you put in the time I believe you will see results. You can do a lot without spending a lot of money and possibly prove to yourself and your dad that some additional investment would be worth the effort. As you work towards proving this, give some thought to how you will make your case to your dad. Increase in customers/traffic, additional gross revenue per month, additional net revenue per month, reduced expenses, etc. Take some before and after pictures as you fix things up to show some results to your dad. Patience is a big plus. You don’t need to be in a hurry. Improve your wash day-by-day and week-by-week….but keep improving it. Post more pictures if/when you can. DO NOT purchase any new equipment or do any renovations until you’ve addressed the small and inexpensive stuff. There are forum members {continued }

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Depositing Quarters if I have $200 or $625.75 in qtrs. They take them. This $1000 in qtrs sounds like a real pain. I don’t have to keep coin around waiting to add to $1k. When I need more $coin, I just call and they have it ready no matter how much I need. $20 or $900. They take care of me. I do need to have a certain monthly balance average in my account to cover monthly fee and check fees which is no biggee. MEP001: You have a good bank. Most here charge around $30 for a bulk bag of dollar coins even if you have an account with them. chaz: The $1,000 deposit of quarters is for bulk coin in the bags provided by the bank. The bags hold $1000 max, I assume I could being in batches of $500. I buy my one dollar coins $2,000 to the bulk bag swampdonkey: I’ve always used locally owned bank,so much easier to deal with come loan time.My bank supplies the shotgun wrappers free of charge and when I order $ 1.00 coin i’m not charged for that either. iprb: Get a coin scale if you have all quarters, and don’t need to sort coins. They are as accurate at counter, and much quicker. I’ve never paid money

Upgrade/renovations who have refurbished very old equipment for a fraction of the cost it would take to buy new equipment. Check out posts from 2BIZ and the pictures on his Facebook site. Amazing to me what 2BIZ has accomplished at his wash. Some thoughts to get started: - Swap out the lights to CFLs. LED would be better, but costly. You can probably use your existing fixtures and bypass/remove the ballasts and capacitors. Check out for some CFL bulb equivalents and prices and http://www. to calculate cost savings. One of the senior members on this site (I’m not calling him old, but he is) suggested that to me a little over three years ago and it was the first thing I did. Went from 20 - 400 watt metal halide bulbs to 20 - 105 watt cfl bulbs. Total cost of the effort for me was a little less than $400. In three years one bulb has burned out and the savings has been between $2,000 and $2,500 per year in electricity costs. Putting $100 of so in your dad’s pocket every month would be a nice start. - Keep it clean and nice looking - scrape the stickers off of those meter boxes and replace them

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with new ones. For less than $100 total you can give those meter boxes a fresher look. Put a customer service number on the boxes and be responsive....repeat customers is very important. - Clean the bay walls with clean wall or similar product from kleen-rite. They offer free samples, so get one and try it out. The difference is amazing. Be careful with that stuff and wear safety glasses, respirator and protective clothing or hire someone to do it for you. Once you clean the walls touch up the paint where needed. - You will hear this over and over from the knowledgeable operators on this site…. Make sure that everything works as well as it possibly can. I’ve followed that advice and the customers notice it and appreciate it. The vacs are easy to fix and get working properly. New gaskets, motors and bags for a vac will cost you about $125 per vac at Kleen-Rite. New stickers on the vacs would help too. My customers like the dualer (search on kleen rite’s site for it). Maybe keep that in mind as a future upgrade as it will cost about $150 per vac. Make sure that the chemical comes out of the wand/brush/gun as quickly as possible and in good {continued }

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quantity. Even if the output looks good to you, see if you can make it better. Once you get the hang of producing good quantity you can adjust things so you are not wasting chemicals. - Once you’ve got everything working as well as possible I’d suggest making sure that anything a customer can touch is in good shape. Vac attachments, bay accessories, coin changers, meter boxes (guns/wands, brush handles, etc.). Assuming you have Foam Brush and a High Pressure Gun/Wand you can update those bay accessories for about $125 per bay if it is needed. - Where can you save on expenses? Do you have a water softener? That will save on chemical costs if it is working correctly and the chemicals will do a better job cleaning. How do you heat your water? Do you have a reverse osmosis system? If so, do you capture and use the reject water? Get after the things that are costing you the most operate the wash. - From there I’d start improving the customer’s experience. How can they pay? Coins, cash, credit? If they have it, you should be able to accept it. New meter boxes or meter box doors. Maybe get meter boxes/meter box doors with more options. More options = more chances the meter will run longer. If/when you buy new meter box doors you can go from 8/10 options to 12 options. You don’t need to use them all, but it won’t cost much more for a 12 option meter box/door vs a 10 option and you can upgrade your wiring and add functions as your business improves. Check out Etowah valley equipment as they carry and make replacement doors for a reasonable price. -What is happening in the automatic bay? If it isn’t being used maybe a hand wash operation, rent space to a detail operation or start your own detail operation. When your business picks up maybe consider using the auto bay as a self-serve bay or get another automatic. -Keep everything as simple as possible. The nice thing about self-serve is that you can fix and improve everything yourself. Keeping things simple and consistent will make your life much easier. -Some encouragement for you. I bought my wash and more people were negative than were positive about the chances for success. It was about a 10 to 1 ratio negative to positive. I listened to the helpful operators on this site like Randy, 2BIZ and others. The first month my wash didn’t gross $1,000. Last month my wash grossed well over 10 times that amount. So, listen to the positive comments and ignore the negative comments. robert roman: Someone can spend all the money and time in the world restoring a 1995 Chevy Camaro base convertible to pristine condition and it is still only going to be worth several thousand dollars. In other words, “It doesn’t mean you should just

because you can.” It’s not enough to work hard or be a good carwash operator. You also have to be a wise investor. Part of investing is due diligence. “When they first came in, there was not enough business for both, and we lost a good 70% of our automatic customers.” So, new wash comes in and you got clobbered. Now, wash is limping along and “…..just breaking even right now, maybe $20,000 profit. We have a loan out, still owe a good amount.” “I believe population and growth will come in the next year or so.” Is this just a hunch or based on formal economic forecast and real estate research? “… Dunkin Donuts next door and a super walmart due to begin construction just north of the tunnel wash…” Are they next door? If not, just how proximate are they, and are they more proximate to new wash or your wash? So, I’d be careful of advice that suggests flying by the seat of your pants. robert roman: Just for grins, I Google mapped the site location. You have a very tough situation to deal with. Good luck. Earl Weiss: I would suggest: Meter Box decals Cover the entire Box. Bill Acceptors. Credit Card Acceptors. Could not tell - do you have foam Brushes? Loewem: I’d also be careful of being discouraged by internet trolls.... soapy: A lot of good advise from those who actually own washes. It does not matter what the equipment looks like in the equipment room as long as it works well. Spend your money where customers can see it. Sodium lights are not efficient compared to newer lights as mentioned. Many electric utilities will pay most of the cost for upgrading fixtures. The savings of electricity will usually pay for the new lights anyway. I myself prefer T5 HO lights as they pencil out the cheapest in the long run. When replacing lights try to go with a Kelvin light color around 5000, ( whiter light than sodium and easier for the human eye to use.) You can get custom meter box decals real cheap. ( Kleenrite is one source). CHeck all your costs on chemicals etc. Many times we all settle into rut and do not compare prices enough. You could save thousands of dollars per year on chemicals in some cases.

2017 Northeast Regional Carwash Convention

Atlantic City Convention Center Atlantic City, NJ Host Hotel: The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa Host Association: Connecticut Carwash Association

October 2-4

Call 1-800-868-8590 or visit us online at

NRCC1961_042417.indd 1

• SPRING 2017 •


4/24/17 3:46 PM

Carwash Boom Assembly MODEL 203 Zierco’s Original Swivel and Boom Assembly, with New Rebuildable Cartridge

MODEL 203 FEATURES • Feather light rotating action • Twin compression springs are tension-adjustable for a variety of hose and gun weights • Swivel rotates 360˚ - 12 ft. diameter

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• SPRING 2017 •

Carwash Boom Assemblies

MODEL 204 and 206 FEATURES • Twin compression springs are tension-adjustable for a variety of hose and gun weights • Swivel rotates 360˚ - 12 ft. diameter • Temperatures to 280˚ max., pressure to 2000 psi • Longer hose life as spring prevents kinks • Ruggedly built, satisfaction guaranteed • Optional stainless steel components

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OFFSET Overhead Carwash Boom STYLE D Wall Bracket

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To Convert Model 203 to a 204 Assembly

Remove boom body from hinge plate

Rotate hinge plate counter clockwise to remove seal elbow


Replace O-Rings




Gettin’ down to business in Arlington, TX A transcript of the first 25 minutes of the Idea Exchange Session for Self Serve and Automatic Operators at the Southwest Car Wash Association Convention and Expo.

MODERATORS: IAN HERITCH (Owner, Mr. Sparkle Car Wash, San Antonio, TX, SCWA Board of Directors)

IAN: Is there anything you’d like to talk about today? Well, how about this? Chris came up with this great question: Why do customers choose your wash? CHRIS ALEXANDER: I thought, well, we’re preaching to the choir, and we are -- because we don’t have the magic pill or anything -- but why does somebody drive by one and go to your wash? Or why do they *not* go to yours? Why do they drive down and go to your competitor? What do you do that’s better or what do they do that’s better? Do you go down and check your competition? Do you ever put money in their machine and run their features and say what are they doing better? This is nothing new -- I guess this is my 9th year to come to this show since buying my first wash and we pretty much -- some of the stuff we’re gonna talk about is the same stuff we’ve been talking about since day one. Except for LED lights, that’s come up in the last 2-3 years. So if you haven’t changed your lights to LED, quit waiting around and do it. If your wash is well-lit, you’ll be surprised by how much your evening business will pick up. And


• SPRING 2017 •

you know, a lot of people don’t want to wash during the day, they want to do it at night. So if you do that, get your wash well lit and secure -- so that they feel safe out there doing it -- it will benefit you greatly. So, ya’ll tell me: What have you found? Why do people bypass your wash for another one? Or vise versa. I’ve got another self serve four blocks down the street, I’ll drive down there when I’m full with lines, and they won’t have a car in the bay. Why?


Keep it clean, keep it running AUDIENCE: I’ve got a little five bay carwash in central Texas. I’ve been there for about 21 years and I still have customers that come that I’ve had for 21 years, since I had my grand opening. I still have customers that come in and tell me I have the best wash in town. I do that -- I go to my competitors and I run my car through their wash and see how much pressure they’re running, how hot the water is, how much suds they’ve got. You know, the normal things that wash cars. I think probably the one thing that -well, I’m there practically every day. If I’m not there then I’ve got a young man there -- his dad helped me build the carwash 21 years ago. He’s been around it all his life and he takes care of it when I’m gone. Peo-

ple see me there a lot. I won’t go as far as to say that my equipment always works because we know that pumps break down, electrical, plumbing whatever -there’s so many dang things that can go wrong when you’re not there, but I check on nearly everything that I can nearly every day. I think that’s probably the biggest thing: Make sure it works. You know, I very seldom have anything tore up when it works. You know, people don’t jack up the coin mechanisms trying to get their coins back when it went through and wouldn’t turn the machine on. Things like that. Maintenance, I think, is a very big issue. IAN: Mark, did you have something? MARK: A lot of what he said. Just kind of back to the basics: That it’s clean. That it’s a clean site when you pull up. You don’t want to get a clean car if everything is all trashed up. And then making sure that everything works. The consistency of when they pull in there, they get the same thing every time. Because so many of them break down and people...well, it takes a while for them to get there and fix it, you know? So just back to the basics. CHRIS: That’s exactly what the theory I’m still trying to implement it across every single one of my self serve bays -- whether it be in my hometown or my small market in Odessa -- the McDonald’s theory.

Southwest Show If they go to McDonald’s in this town, they know that when they go to the McDonald’s in that town they’re going to get the exact same product that they like when they’re there. So make it the same at every one and make sure it all works the same. IAN: And any other ideas?


Here comes convenience GARY BARIGHT?: One of the things we do -- we have a lot of booms up. We like to make it easy, so we have four booms on the ceiling and then one on each side. So everything in there is on a boom, so it’s easy to use. You’re not fighting a hose. So if you’re using an air dryer, or using a foam brush or tire brush -- it’s easy. Also, having credit cards in the bay. We’re putting two validators in each bay now, just in case one goes down, you’re gonna have the other one going. The women don’t have to go over to the change machine if they have kids in their car and go get bills or anything -- they can use it right there. We’re taking credit cards. And we take credit cards on the vacuums, the vendors, everything. Convenience.

GIVE THEM YOUR TIME AUDIENCE: Well, what the gentleman said earlier, I think one of the most important thing is time. I think the biggest investment any operator can make in their wash is time. Spending time there and people recognizing that and being seen and being present. At my washes we have a full-time attendant. So there’s somebody there 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customers appreciate that. They know there’s somebody there to take care of it if there is a problem. And they’re going to have problems -- but it will be handled. I think he’s right: being there and being present makes a huge difference. A lot of carwashes build carwashes as an investor, expecting it to put a lot of money in their pocket, but it does a lot better if they’re there and managing the business, too.

WOW THEM WITH LIGHT SHOWS & ... dinosaurs? CHRIS: Although they’re not here, I know of some operators that in an effort to attract a younger, newer customer base to their wash have been adding -what I call -- “a show.” There’s one operator in Austin who’s added mechanical dinosaurs to their wash. The guy’s a welder and he’s obviously very talented, so he’s got some of these dinosaurs and they move their heads and another operator in Austin has added all kinds of LED lighting on the booms -- apparently these are things that are attracting a younger customer base, along with credit cards, because, of course, kids don’t carry cash anymore. Anybody doing those sorts of things at their wash? *Crickets* No dinosaurs? (Laughter.)

It’s really cool. These dinosaurs...and he’s slowly adding to it. I mean, the eyes light up at night and the heads move. AUDIENCE: We’ve got a light bar on our automatic -- the $15 wash -- it’s kind of an LED light show, as the Turtle Wax pours down. I really enjoy it, and I know moms like to take their kids through it -- they can watch it through the sunroof. They’ve told me they enjoy that.

BRACE YOURSELVES: Credit card changes are coming

IAN: You know, the perennial subject: credit cards. I think, like a lot of these subjects, we’ve been hearing about it for years: But do you folks find this is something that’s important for your wash? Or maybe you don’t want anything to do with credit cards and you don’t want to add to your angst as an operator? Or you’re thinking about adding credit cards? AUDIENCE: We’ve had credit cards since we’ve built it. It’s been a huge boom for us. I think probably 60 percent of our dollar line with the whole car wash and vacuum stations, as well. The thing I would warn about it is the new PCI compliance. So we have all our stuff, but now it looks like we’ll have to upgrade. So if you haven’t done it yet, I’d probably hit the pause button until you see where the dust settles. And when that’s going to come into effect and what the truth is behind everything and when we are going to actually get hit by the extra processing fees. SO if you haven’t done it, just wait til the dust settles. IAN: That’s a good point. This whole issue with EMV and the chip card and when we’re supposed to be able to accommodate them and who made that decision and is there really a date out there and is there extra cost if we don’t -- it seems to all be very muddled and nobody really has a straight answer. And in the meantime, MasterCard has run out of numbers -- starting with the number 5 --so they’re starting to issue cards with the number 2, which means upgrading your equipment because your equipment won’t recognize MasterCards starting with the number 2. So it really is kind of a mess now. And then there was some big security change that is supposed to be implemented this year that I don’t fully understand, so it’s just kind of a mess. Is anybody dealing with that? Even just thinking about the chip cards and how we are gonna have to deal with it? I know you have a lot of knowledge in that -- and you sell, and we’re happy to hear about what you know about the issue. LARRY KORPICS: Well, I will agree right now in one sense, we do sell credit card systems, I’m with IDX Incorporated and we have a credit card system -- but I’m going to agree with the gentleman over there that I’d be cautious and really watch what you invest in, including what IDX sells, and I’m not trying to lose my job, but it is -- I’m just going to {continued } • SPRING 2017 •


Southwest Show

tell you, I’ve been in the business 32 years, we sell a lot of Dilling-Harris equipment, PDQ, WashWorld, you know, I’ve done this, I’m a carwash person. I don’t know what’s going on myself. I’m here to try the cracks...find out, what is going on with EMV? PCI? do we need a keypad? Is Cryptopay compliant? Are we compliant? What’s Hamilton doing? What’s Unitec doing? And honestly, I don’t know, and I’m the national sales manager. So, AUDIENCE: If you don’t know, we don’t know. LARRY KORPICS: I just want everybody to know that today. And this gentleman, I hope he doesn’t hurt me on that, but honestly, we are selling active systems -- I have a Unitec door in my booth for sale to replace the old boards so I can take all cards. IAN: I think, Dale, can you enlighten us on that, please? DALE REYNOLDS: There’s a lot of additional changes that you’re looking at as well, and the big thing is trying to understand is the costs that the banks are occurring with credit cards, also. So in the long term, the theory is that they’re trying to move the card business more towards your smartphone. So the biggest comment I wanted to share is that if you are looking at a credit card system or one to upgrade, look at one that has the ApplePay and/or the smartphone-type capabilities to do that and really see that as more of an opportunity in the long term, rather than just the chip. The chip is a very difficult thing to do in the bay because of the wet environment. There are a few systems out there by some manufacturers, having them put covers over the card readers, all kinds of things you’d have to do in the bay to make it adaptable. But whatever you do, try to make sure that you have smartphone capabilities tied to it, I think that will carry you further down the road. AUDIENCE: So irregardless as an operator, whether you’re going to have an exit strategy and sell, or whether you’re going to keep it, you’d better be putting money aside right now, so when it does come time to sell it you do have that 50 or 80 thousand dollars if you have a 4-bay self serve and 2-in-bay automatic, because it’s not going to be a $9,000 deal -- it’s going to be a good five-figures. AUDIENCE: I’m kind of going where he was going with that -- that smartphone technology. I’ve


• SPRING 2017 •

got a deal with Touch4Wash, it’s an all app-based credit card sales. That’s one alternative. But rather than putting in the hardware, you can put that in. It’s starting to catch on. LARRY: Well, I’ll just say one comment to that: It isn’t that expensive. And I’m not here to sell IDX’s product, but I do want to bring that up: we are smart phone-based already with near field communication. It uses a MiFi signal; when you use the Google or Apple product, it talks to that reader. It is not that expensive. We’re doing a four-bay right now, so just a rough figure -- four bays with the NTS gateway -- and that’s under $8,000 and that will retrofit to anybody’s equipment in a self serve. The complication is this: Your autoteller. We do not have a solution for that. Cryptopay is -- I’d say right now -- the most dominant player that has the capability to add their product to your Unitec or old Hamilton system and it work -- but it’s not compliant. IAN: I think for many of us, though, we have some sort of credit card system -- Cryptopay or others -- and we’re going along, it’s working today, taking credit cards, and we know that these chip cards are out there and the credit card processing companies and banks are making noise about additional fees if at some point we don’t switch over and I’m really just kind of confused as an operator -- I have an ancient Jim Coleman system that still works! And, yeah, okay, we can’t take MasterCards that start with the number 2, but okay… LARRY: And on December 23rd, all the GinSan units stop working that were sold by GinSan Industries. So if you have a wash, like, I had a customer purchase one three years ago, and now it’s all obsolete. You put a sticker over the device and he’s trying to figure out -- do I need credit card back? He’s back at that position. Do I need to invest again? Because if I do, am I going to be told in two years to invest again and invest again and again… When are they going to figure it out? And I just left the table with a gentleman from Swipe. And he was very knowledgeable, but he doesn’t have the answers either. And he’s a broker. IAN: I don’t think anybody has the answers. LARRY: No, they don’t.

IAN: What we need is an independent news source to do some research...Jackson-- please? LARRY: Please. For our benefit, yeah. DAVE RICHARDS: Just a couple comments -- and I’m not in sales mode either -- but Cryptopay knows a lot of details. We have partners in the banking industry, we have partners at some of the largest merchants in the world. We have studied this extensively. The MasterCard BIN is coming. If it is Cryptopay on all your credit card swipers, then they are remotely reprogrammable and flashable. We did that so that we could respond to changes that surely come in cashless payment. As far as about compliance, I have some good news for you all: We have no credit card data, and we’ve never had credit card data in the clear. That credit card data, folks, is called PAN. Primary Account Number. When you don’t have that, and you don’t process, store or transmit credit card data, you are, as they say, “out of scope.” Having said that, our key partner -- that is our gateway -- is fully PCI, DSS compliant, so let’s put a fork in that one now, with all due respect. So we do know the details. MasterCard BIN is coming. And the thing I would say to you all is whatever system you have is reprogrammable. Because about May is when MasterCard BIN is coming. BIN stands for Bank Identification Number, and your equipment will need to be upgraded by May. AUDIENCE: I don’t have credit card acceptors -how does the economic level in your community, or the income level in your community, how does it affect credit card business? Because our economic level is not real high. And I don’t know if I want to invest in credit cards at this time because of the economic level. Now, some of you, you’ve got ‘em lined up just trying to get into your bays, but I don’t have ‘em lined up trying to get into my bays either. So, economic level in your area: How is it affecting your credit card business? AUDIENCE: Well, I went to credit cards in all of my bays five or six years ago. I’m in an area where my little town is 85 percent Hispanic, we are below the median income level in that town and my credit card usage continually picks up all the time. We’re probably around 30 percent right now, for the usage. The deal with the credit card is when they use it, you {continued }


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Southwest Show make more money. There are fees you’ll have to pay, yes. But you get a bigger block of time. When they start it, it costs them $5 or $10 or however much you set it, but you get a bigger block up front,. They might not put it in there if they were just using quarters or dollars or anything. And then we actually give them a little bit less time per unit than they would say on a quarter. So we actually make more if they’re using that credit card. And we’re slowly picking up big time on the usage. I mean, just go to your grocery store and watch. There’s not many people that pull out cash. AUDIENCE: No. They’re using Lone Star Cards.

DAVE: Yeah. (One hand raised.) DAVE: Yeah, sure. Typically there’s about one -and I’m not picking on you or anything -- but one nerd in the room. IAN: And I’ll wear that with honor.

IAN: But the Lone Star Card is a card, which means they’re used to using a card, and when they come to the wash, that’s their habit now. I find that a lot of younger folks, that they just don’t seem to carry much cash anymore and they’re just’s just their norm to pay for things with their debit card. Even just a soda at the convenience store, they’ll pull the card out. So maybe by not having credit cards, you’re not being as attractive to your new customer base that is at some point going to come along.

DAVE: That’s what I saw in the last show, there was one guy. So what I told folks was this: When that becomes more of a need, many of the manufacturers that do this, will address that. Please remember that when we all address adding that, there is a cost associated with accepting NFC (nearfield communication). So to accept it now may be like accepting only Canadian currency here in the United States. There just isn’t that many users right now.

AUDIENCE: Going along with that, why not put in an ATM machine in? Does that help you? Hurt you? Would you make money off an ATM machine? I do have requests, “Do you have an ATM machine at your place? AUDIENCE: I have no idea. I have a change machine that acts like a slot machine, I’m thinking about putting a 7-7-7 on top. AUDIENCE: So nobody has ATM machines? LARRY: I think the problem with the ATM machine is there’s a fee to use it, so if a customer or whoever goes there with a card to get cash from your facility, it’s going to cost them $2-3 to get their cash and they’re not going to want to do it. DALE: So the people we have seen who have added credit card acceptors to their washes in low income areas still, the minimum we see, is about 15 percent of transactions, and we’ve seen them as high as 80 percent of transactions in some areas. It’s going great in the low income areas. A lot of people in those areas cannot get a card, but the other thing is there’s a growing percentage of the population today that is just like you’re saying -- they don’t carry cash. And if you don’t offer give them a way to spend money the way they want to spend money, you’re not going to do business with them. Our policy has always been we accept money anyway somebody wants to give it to us at the wash. If you’re not, you’re going to be losing a customer base that’s coming on in the future. AUDIENCE: You were saying that you actually got a different price on your credit card than your regular time -- they get less time. Is that pretty standard? AUDIENCE: Yes, less time. I think so. DAVE: I’ve got something else that might also be • SPRING 2017 •

AUDIENCE: So like ApplePay or something like that?

AUDIENCE: I can’t argue that.

AUDIENCE: And to add to that, if they use a credit card then they spend more than they would if they were going to use cash.


helpful. I spoke recently at a show to about 150 people in the room. It was helpful to ask this question. How many people in this room have actually put their credit card information in their phone and are actually currently using it?

AUDIENCE: So I’ll defend that in that the (inaudible) portal that we have has a fleet card associated with that -- so we have an RF tag that we dispense at the wash ourselves as a fleet or as a gift card. And I know you’re coming out with a gift card component yourself, and that’s a big necessity that we’re not only trying to get the retail customer, but we’re also trying to get that guy that’s out there sweeping up leaves and stuff -- we want to get him on the fleet account. And we want him to spend more and we’re giving them added value sometimes. And it is a higher expense for the operator because the cards are not cheap, the equipment, the administration of the software and then the sales of it...but in the end we’re just trying to drive volume. At the end of the year, we’re trying to get as much volume as possible out of that location. You’ve got to look at it from the operator’s standpoint -- taxes keep going up, water keeps going up, soap keeps going up, Kleen Rite keeps getting more expensive. I mean, your component’s costs keep going up and if we don’t drive retail sales -- at the end of the year, get a bigger dollar figure -- well then we just become less and less profitable every year. And that’s not what this business has been about. This business has always been good. As an independent, small business owner, always been good. We built our first wash in 1984 and we’ve never been unemployed and we’ve never wanted for anything and we have a lot of freedom operating carwashes. I mean, you want to go away, well, the carwash is waiting for you when you get home. It ain’t like a business where you got people working for you, you know? IAN: Okay, well, how about if you guys are okay with it, we move away to a subject that’s not about credit cards? (Laughter.) The second half of the SCWA’s Self Serve/IBA discussion will be published in the Summer 2017 issue of Self Serve Carwash News.

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• SPRING 2017 •

How to Handle

Jerk The

“Somebody hates these bays! Stay away from the bays!” Eavesdrop on two carwash operators talking and it won’t be long before you hear their conversation turn to “The Jerk.” The Jerk might be a bucket washer, someone who “accidentally” damaged the equipment and drove away, a slipand-fall “victim,” a three-minute long rant on your voicemail, or just a plain ol’ pain-in-the-butt regular. No matter the shape or size of the incident, dealing with The Jerk is a daily chore, and one that comes with no easy answer. Just like your carwash has its own character and personality, so does the way you address these pesky incidents. When discussing handling “The Jerk,” there are two areas of concern: • Customer service; and • Public relations. Turn on the evening news and you’ll find you have more examples of what not to do rather than what to do in these matters. United Airlines, Pepsi, Wells Fargo and the disastrous Fyre Musical Festival have all failed spectacularly on the national stage in the last few months. Within the carwash industry, we also have the benefit of seeing {continued }

HOW TO HANDLE THE JERK How you respond to the complaint matters more than the actual complaint. You can rebound from a major screw-up, so long as you know how to handle the situation and the aftermath -- that’s customer service and public relations in a nutshell.



a wide range of different kinds of PR responses to credit card hacking incidents; some reasonable, some a bit lacking. The point being: How you respond to the complaint matters more than the actual complaint. You can rebound from a major screw-up, so long as you know how to handle the situation and the aftermath -- that’s customer service and public relations in a nutshell.


YOUR POINT-OF-SALE SYSTEM IS HACKED. THE SCRIPT: Here’s where it pays to get ahead of the problem. Your instinct might be to try and deal with this problem quietly and discreetly, but you need to face facts, Jack: Word is gonna get out. Put together a well-written press release admitting your mistake, outlining the risks posed to customers, what you are doing to correct the problem and how you will prevent it in the future. Make yourself available to customers and again, practice empathetic listening. Get ahead of the problem and you can show your genuine intention to admit your mistake and minimize the damage caused.

According to Gregory Ciotti, a freelance marketing strategist, there are 15 customer service skills that matter -- and not a single one involves being a “people person.” “It’s not that this trait is outright wrong, but it’s so vague and generic that it is hardly a help to those [dealing with customers],” Ciotti wrote in a recent piece for Instead, Ciotti laid out the 15 traits as follows: • Patience • Attentiveness • Clear communication skills • Knowledge of the product • Ability to use positive language • Acting skills • Time management skills • Ability to “read” customers • A calming presence • Goal oriented focus • Ability to handle surprises • Persuasion skills • Tenacity • Closing ability • Willingness to learn If you’re not a “people person,” that’s no problem. But if you’re staring at this list and thinking, “There’s no way I could be a calming presence at the carwash,” or “Acting skills are for sissies,” it might be worth considering hiring an attendant or allowing a business partner/manager/spouse to handle the more complicated customer complaints and issues.

DEEP B R EA T H I N , DEEP B R EA T H O UT Let’s start by talking about patience; the number one skill on Ciotti’s list. “Not only is patience important to customers, who often reach out to support when they are


• SPRING 2017 •

confused and frustrated, but it’s also important to the business at large,” he explained, citing reports which show “great service” beats “fast service” in customer opinion. This means spending a bit of time with the customer to truly understand their problem and what a positive resolution would mean to them. Don’t rush the customer to the solution you think is best or even one that has worked well before; instead, inquire about their specific issue and get an idea for how they seeing the issue being resolved. If it’s not a customer complaint you’re dealing with, but say, a bucket washer, patience can be the difference between turning the washer into a customer, or letting a loudmouth jerk go out and complain about your business.

SHO W E R THE M W I TH A TTE NTI O N Along with patience, make sure to sprinkle in some empathy and plenty of consistency as you engage with customers. Approach them in a friendly, but non-invasive manner as you go about your daily rounds at the wash. Be sure to read body language and tone to gauge whether your customer wants a simple “Hello!” or is perhaps looking for a short conversation. “Practice active listening so your customers feel heard,” Ciotti advised, adding that it’s not only the complaints or you need to pay attention to, but also your customers having average, everyday experiences at the wash. How can you better serve those patrons?. Your customer interactions will range from the angry guy (“Who the hell puts a bollard there anyway!”) to the annoyingly persistent soccer mom (“What exactly is in these chemicals?” to the always-in-your-business non-stop-talkers (“Wow! Bet this place makes a killing!”) You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.

MA K E I T PE RF E C TL Y C LE A R Don’t leave your customer wondering what’s happening or if you are actually handling the problem -- tell them exactly how you will address the issue and give them a timeline of what they can expect, too. So if you’re going to call them back {continued }

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THE SCRIPT: This one is a personal preference for most washers: Do you or don’t

Clear communication is crucial to good customer experiences. Ensure you convey to customers exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer to think he’s getting 50% off when he’s actually getting 50% more product.

after talking to your insurance company, tell them when they can expect a call back -- no matter what your insurance company has said or done. If you know you’re not going to have that triple foam back in that color or scent -- tell them so! Clear communication is crucial to good customer experiences. Ensure you convey to customers exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer to think he’s getting 50% off when he’s actually getting 50% more product. Use authentically positive language, stay cheerful no matter what and never end a conversation without confirming the customer is satisfied.

you want that $3 a week from the guy who takes up your bay for two hours? And, even if you don’t want his $3, do you want his loyalty -- or more importantly, do you want to keep his loudmouth from complaining about your wash to every Tom, Dick, and Harry at the local watering hole? If you want some good advice, refer to Larry Nelson’s comments at the recent WCA Panel Discussion: “Get the signs up. You can buy signs pre-made that say, “No bucket washing if someone’s waiting.” You go out, point to that sign, say, “Hey, there’s somebody that wants this bay.” That’s our policy. If it’s Wednesday and you’re not really busy, you can politely defuse the situation by going up and saying, “Hey, I don’t mind today, but if you come by on a Saturday and I’ve got people

BE THE MOST K N O W L EDG EA B L E P ER S O N A T T H E W AS H … Ultimately your customers rely on you for their knowledge of your product -- the carwash; your chemicals, your water, your equipment. Stay informed enough to respond to most inquiries and know where to turn if the questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer. But don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” either. Customers will appreciate the honesty and your efforts to find the right answer.

I T ’ S C O R N Y , B UT I T ’ S T R UE: B E P O S I T I VE It sounds like some New Age feel-goodery, but positive language can truly change the customer’s perception of the problem. Instead of hanging a “Vacuum broken” sign on the island, how about “Vacuum closed for maintenance; vacuum will be functional next week.” This kind of positive spin should extend to all of your customer interactions, as well. “How can I be of service?” is a much nicer question then, “Are you having a problem?” Focus on providing solutions and improving experiences, rather than dwelling on what’s going wrong.

waiting, I’ve gotta ask you to pull forward.” And 9 out of 10 times,


people are pretty compliant.” Let’s face it: You can’t make everyone happy. In fact, some people seem to really enjoy being miserable.


• SPRING 2017 •

“Every great customer service rep will have those basic acting skills necessary to maintain their usual cheery persona in spite of dealing with people who may be just plain grumpy,” Ciotti says. How to do you pull it off? Ciotti advises: “Clarify and rephrase what the customers say to ensure you understand them. Empathize with and reflect their feelings by saying things like, “That must have upset you” or “I can see why you feel slighted.”” Sure, it’s annoying and you’ll have to dig deep with some interactions, but the overall benefit is that you haven’t made things worse by meeting the customer at their boiling point -- even if you’re not able to make it better.

W A TC H THE C LO C K As Ciotti notes, most research today indicates businesses need to spend more time with their customers -- but there is a limit. “You need to be concerned with getting customers what they want in an efficient manner,” he writes. “The trick here is that this should also be applied when realizing when you simply cannot help a customer. Don’t waste time trying to go above and beyond for a customer in an area where you will just end up wasting both of your time!”

RE A D B E TW E E N THE LI NE S Pay attention to your customer’s body language, mood, patience level and personality in order to fine tune your response to them. In a society that seems to default to passive aggressive behavior in even their most important relationships, it’s vital that you recognize the underlying tone in “that’s fine.” A customer might tell you they’re fine -- and then write up a nasty Facebook post about your response if you’re not attuned to reading between the lines and addressing unvocalized complaints and issues.

TA P I NTO Y O UR Z E N Keeping your cool will allow your customer to shed some of their emotions without escalating the issue. It can be extremely difficult -- especially if you’re dealing with a customer who wants to call the insurance company/police/media -- but if you’re able to keep calm under pressure, you’ll be {continued }



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• SPRING 2017 •

HOW TO HANDLE THE JERK able to stay ahead of the overzealous reaction, ensuring your response seems reasonable and rational, measured and even.


HAVE A GOAL IN MIND Listen, if you don’t know what your business’s goal is -- you won’t know how to fix the problem. If your carwash prides itself on quality, then every interaction needs to be an opportunity to emphasize that focus. If your carwash is going to be the best bargain in town, then use that to your advantage when resolving customer complaints. You need to know if you’re working on growing loyalty or growing volume, raising the ticket average or simply going for more frequent visits -- these goals will guide your interactions and present some of the answers to “how can I fix this.”

B E R EADY F OR TH E CUR VEB ALLS Not every customer service issue is going to follow the script you’ve built up in your head. As



“YOU CHARGED MY CREDIT CARD $20!” THE SCRIPT: You will be tempted to start explaining about bank holds right away -- but please, take a moment to hear the customer out, recognize and legitimize their concerns, apologize for the confusion, and then outline and educate them on the holding process in a thorough manner, making sure to check for understanding with the customer before getting off the phone. And yes -- make sure you have plenty of signage up in your bays addressing the bank hold/credit card minimums to dramatically reduce the number of complaints you get in this regard.

{continued }

• SPRING 2017 •


HOW TO HANDLE THE JERK predictable as your business might seem, people are weird. They’ll come up with some quirky issues. The important thing, Ciotti notes, is that you have a plan for surprises, starting with addressing who you will call when the problem is bigger than you. Do you have a support team in place -- a lawyer, insurance agent, mechanic, or a person in your life who excels at offering good advice? Be prepared to reach out.

P E R S UADE T H E M ! Some interactions won’t be complaints, per se, but more often just average, run-of-the-mill conversations at the wash. Be ready to “pitch” your wash and turn these customers into fans -- without coming across as a salesperson. As Ciotti explains, it’s not about selling so much as “its about not letting potential customers slip away because you couldn’t create a compelling message/[impression.]”

RO L L UP YOUR S L E E V E S Customers appreciate a business who will see their problem through to its resolution. “A great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) is a key skill when providing the kind of service that people talk about,” Ciotti noted. It’s not just resolving the problem -- but turning it into a chance to “wow” the customer that will turn a negative experience into a positive one. Sure, you could just refund the $2 they lost in the change machine -- or you could refund $5 and offer a free air freshener. It’s not always about money or freebies, either. Sometimes just a simple follow-up phone call after a complaint has been addressed can give the customer a chance to reflect on the effort you’ve put in and demonstrate your empathy. At the same time, keep your time management skills in mind. Don’t spend too much time handling one customer while others are waiting. Stay focused on your goals to achieve the right balance.

CLOS E THE DE A L ! You need to be able to “close” every customer interaction by confirming satisfaction -- or as close to it as you can achieve, Ciotti states -- and with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of (or will be). Not only that, but double check that the customer doesn’t have any other issues. You might think you’ve solved the problem by offering the $2 refund, only to find out they were also miffed because the vacuum shortchanged them on time.


• SPRING 2017 •




”THE AUTOMATIC WASH SCRATCHED MY CAR.” THE SCRIPT: Start with good listening skills. Don’t cut the customer off -- even though you know there’s no way in Hades that your equipment made those light scratches on one small corner of the trunk -- but don’t admit to any blame, either. This one should be handled with patience and empathic listening. This will allow you to decide if you’re dealing with a rational human being or a crazy person. If it’s the latter, you should be able to reason with them -- how could your carwash cause this damage, but not affect any other vehicles which visited the wash that day? When was the last time they closely inspected their *clean* vehicle, reminding them that dust and dirt can cover up a world of imperfections? Offer to take your own vehicle through the automatic wash as a way of showing there is no damage being caused in that area of the vehicle. If you have access to a dirty car, you might consider using a cloth to wipe down a few spots to show the customer how scratches can “magically” appear when the vehicle is cleaned. If you’re dealing with a crazy person, you have two options. An easy, although understandably frustrating choice, is to develop a relationship with a local body shop (if you believe the scratches could be buffed out) just for this scenario. The second, more aggressive approach is to refer the customer to the police station to make a claim. You might explain this is necessary in order for you to make an insurance claim -- all the while being sure not to admit blame. In either case, you should offer the solution in a friendly, agreeable way, with free wash coupons or other discounts to show your intention to keep the customer.

“Your willingness to do this shows the customer 3 very important things,” Ciotti claims. • That you care about getting it right; • That you’re willing to keep going until you get it right; and • That the customer is the one who determines what “right” is. Closing the conversation also means following-up after a problem is solved. Make sure the issue stays fixed and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Making a phone call, sending an email, or even a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re still on their side.

STAY A STU DE NT Finally, the cliche, but necessary advice: Learn from your interactions and share your experiences with your attendants or business partners. Better than that, learn from other operators’ experiences and never be afraid to ask their advice for handling various types of complaints. After all, The Jerk visits every car wash. Not just yours. {continued }

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a customer claiming the foam brush scratched up Customer left me a very nasty message because he didn’t notice that the self service gun was caught on his car mirror and when he backed out of Bay it broke his window and caused damage to his car. I was going to tell him it was user error and to call his insurance company. I need some good wording to send him by text.

that since we hadn’t shown negligence there was no

her car, but both our insurance and an adviser said reason we might be found liable if it went to small claims court. Earl Weiss: FWIW I Foam Brush instructions state that brush should be washed with the gun before

Eric H: “Don’t worry sir, there doesn’t seem to be any damage to my equipment due to your negligence. I don’t need to be part of your insurance claim, but thank you you your consideration. I will keep a copy of your voicemail on audio file should you or your insurance adjuster need to refer to it at a later date” Perfect....thanks BBE: I had a guy a few weeks ago pull into one of my bays and swung his driver side door open and hit the swivel on the swivel saver hose on my high pressure wand, and then come and talk to me about it scratching his vehicle and how we need to put warnings and change the way we have things hanging in there etc... I.B.Washincars: Actually, I would ignore it. I know from experience that most of the time on a BS issue like this you don’t hear from them again. If you do hear from them, refer to Eric’s advice. Earl Weiss: Ignore it. No logical way to respond to craziness and nothing good can come of it. Dcalhoun: I am not usually a fan of ignoring it, seems like a bigger social media problem if you do that. My initial reaction was to respond as Eric has suggested. If it were me, I would probably change “your negligence” to something like: “you accidentally leaving the hose wrapped on your mirror”. But, I think Eric is right on. Earl Weiss: I am not a fan of ignoring stuff either. In my experience when responding to an idiot anything less than you accepting responsibility / paying for their screw up will only make them angrier.

Eric H: To be honest, I was having a little bit of fun here (read as: Being an A-hole). I had expected someone with more tack to offer a better response on how to deal with this situation. Quite frankly, I’m a little disappointed in all of you. Waxman: You can’t say it any better than that (LOL) pgrzes: I try to keep it simple for me and difficult for them. I tell them they need to first go down to the police station and file a report of what happened as an insurance Co won’t listen to a claim without a police report. (the police will shake their head if they come in for this). Then they need to call their own insurance Co. and file the claim with them and if they feel there is fault from my/your facility they will contact me in which “IF” they contact me/you will immediately turn over a video of the event. I have yet to hear back from anyone that has gone through those procedures. I continually have people hit my automatic dryers while exiting. They come around with the mirror hanging off the car and tell me how the dryer moved hitting the car!!! sir/maam, it’s a fixed object it doesn’t move! Would you like to see the video? “Oh you have video in there? Do you have some tape I can borrow to tape it up to get home?” Is how the conversation usually ends. If they get nasty about I wait to hear from their insurance co and have a claim # And I get paid for them damaging my equipment. It usually rips the anchors out of the ground. Carwash ownership is so much fun!! MEP001: I agree with this - had a similar issue with

use. Used that once with a customer.





Make sure you are fully meeting your customers’ needs. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. What special services might your customers like? Set up focus groups, interview customers, or run a survey to get ideas.


No matter how proactive you are, you’ll never be able to get in front of every customer issue. To make sure you learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly experience your customers have, create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback. Whether it’s an email survey or a form on the “Contact Us” page of your website, creating a means for customers to give feedback makes it easier for you to learn what needs improvement. It also helps keep unhappy customers from voicing their displeasure on highly visible places like your social media pages.

Even (or maybe especially) if you discover them before your customers do. This builds trust and restores confidence. It also allows you to control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue.


• SPRING 2017 •


Part of the personal touch is making sure your customers can reach you. If you leave a mobile phone number at the wash or on your website, be prepared to answer phone calls or respond as soon as possible to voicemails.

smallwash: Reply with, “How fast was my building going when it ripped your mirror off?” washnvac: Now that is just funny, right there! Washmee: Had a customer claim we broke the taillight of her car. We had her look at the video of her visit to the wash and it clearly showed the light was intact when she left the wash. A few days later we were contacted by her insurer with a demand for payment of repairing her car. We spoke to them and told them we 32 high definition cameras that cover our entire process from the minute a customer pulls onto the lot. Told them we had reviewed her visit and there was no damage when she left. Asked them if they wanted a copy of the video. They declined and said case closed. mjwalsh: A good argument if it ever came into small claims court ... for some of us ... would be that even with the signs to “spray first both vehicle & brush” we have on rare occasions seen an extremely unthoughtful customer just at the very beginning grab the brush and start rubbing heavy dry dirt on their vehicles. I would think most insurance adjustors & judges would see that the customer can be the one that is the most unreasonable. The problem with ... if adjustors of opposing insurance companies even just talk to each other ... it seems like it is an excuse for higher rates to us even if fault is established on the bad news customer.


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Darwin Carwash at the

Speaking of a man with a plan...this Darwin was foiled by 10 pints of beer and a mistaken sense of direction. “A hungry drink driver who downed ten pints of lager crashed his VW Golf because he mistook a carwash for his local McDonald’s Drive Thru,” according to The Daily Mail. The report said: Christopher Mercer, 26, had an ‘extensive case of the munchies’ after a drinking bout with friends. But he got his routes mixed up when he decided to order a Big Mac and Fries at 4 am. As Mercer tried to steer his vehicle towards the 24-hour ordering machine, he found himself on a car wash drive-thru next door instead. He then ploughed into a fence as he tried to correct himself. Police arrived at the scene at the Ribble Valley Business Park in Clitheroe, Lancs, to find Mercer was three times the drink driving limit. Florida Darwins are the best Darwins. Case in point: Charles William Raulerson. “A naked Pensacola man was tased and arrested Sunday for threatening a sheriff’s deputy with a screwdriver at a local carwash,” according to a local report. Florida sheriff’s received a call of a suspicious person at the carwash around 5:40 a.m. Deputies encountered Raulerson without pants and blaring music from his vehicle. According to the report, deputies asked Raulerson to put his clothes on, to which he responded, “They took off running by themselves without me.” Raulerson allegedly grabbed a screwdriver and threatened the reporting officer after he was asked to sit in his car. The deputy retrieved a Taser and reportedly told Raulerson to stay in his car, but he exited the vehicle and Raulerson was tased. Raulerson was charged with aggravated assault on an officer, a second-degree felony. He is being held at the Escambia County Jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond. Forget about the bucket washers, the most senseless waste of time in the self serve bay

is the increasing number of people shooting up at the carwash. In separate incidents, police in Destin, FL, and in Myrtle Beach, SC, have arrested women who were using drugs in carwash stalls. In the Myrtle Beach report, officers actually found the woman with a needle in her arm. It later tested positive for heroin, and police found an additional 2.4 grams in the vehicle. The woman was charged with heroin possession and police noted it wasn’t her first drug offense; she had previously served time for drug possession charges in 2013 and 2015. In Destin, FL, officers were able to stop the drug use before it happened, a local report said. A deputy knocked on the car window, “startling [the suspect] and causing her to drop the syringe.” After being read her rights, the 36-year-old Freeport woman admitted she’d been about to shoot up K1, street slang for Dilaudid, which is a controlled substance. The deputy found drugs and paraphernalia in the car. The suspect told the deputy she had been a methamphetamine user. And if they’re not shooting up -- they’re drawing expletives and phallic symbols on the walls. Oy vey! You just can’t win. Police in Oak Creek, WI, are looking for a suspect who vandalized the Gold Coin Car Wash with blue and red spray paint to write an expletive on the side of the car wash. According to police, the same spray paint colors were used to vandalize the neighboring house with red and blue penises. The estimated cost to clean the spray paint from the car wash was $200 and the estimated cost to do the same for the neighboring house was also $200. Vandalism. Drugs. Bucket washers. And then there’s these yahoos… “girl fighting” and “just chillin.” Brockton Touchless Car Wash is the place to be for Darwins in Brockton, MA! Action almost any day of the week, it would seem. A “girl fight” at the carwash lot on President’s Day resulted in four women facing charges, followed by an incident two days later at night in which two women were reportedly attacking the carwash owner. After those incidents, police stepped up their patrol checks there which resulted in the arrest of a man who caused a disturbance recently for “chillin.”

He was a man with a plan -- and a stolen trackhoe excavator. Police in O’Fallon, IL, say a Darwin in a dark hoodie sweatshirt stole the piece of equipment from a nearby construction site and the owner of the equipment believes he purposefully chose a local carwash as his mark. Using the 80,000-pound excavator to smash a small area of ceiling on the property. “You look at the size of this machine, and this bucket sitting on the ground and it’s like ‘oh my,’” William Spiller, the owner of Easy Street Auto Wash, said in a local report about the incident. “Only God saved us, I mean, I’m telling you, we just had no chance,” he said. “They knew exactly where the car wash was, had a game plan, they tracked it down,” said David Baxmeyer, President of Baxmeyer Construction in Waterloo, Illinois. “Somebody with some operating skills that do what they need, where they took, they obviously knew what they were doing,” he says. Spiller spent the last couple of days cleaning up the debris. He says he’s not letting the thief get in his way. “We’re open for business and we’re here to wash cars.”

The officers saw a few vehicles in front of the business using the vacuums, but when they went behind the car wash, there were two vehicles. “The BMW was tucked into the corner, away from any of the vacuums and services provided by the business,” a police representative told the local newspaper. “There was another car alongside of it.” Police spoke to the driver, who was identified as Gelson A. Rodrigues. “When they encountered the driver, he immediately became argumentative and informed the officers they ’were just chilling,’” Hallisey said. “He was ordered out of the driver’s seat for their safety and he continued yelling at the officers. They attempted to open the door, but he had locked himself in the vehicle.” {continued } • SPRING 2017 •


Rodrigues eventually exited the car and placed his hands on top of the vehicle, but was still yelling, swearing and “causing a disturbance,” as the people using the vacuums began to watch. Rodrigues, 26, was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. Police searched the car and found legal amounts of marijuana. Go on, take the money and run. And leave your accomplice to take the heat! That’s the case for two Darwins in Wyoming, who left the third member of their dastardly trio charged for the first part of their crime: Cutting the locks off various machines at carwashes in Casper, Mills, and Bar Nunn, Wyoming. Twenty-six year old Danielle Garton has been charged with one count of theft and one count of property destruction. According to the report, burglaries were reported over a two-day period at Sunset Car Wash, Wonder Wash, and Mountain View Car Wash. In each case, someone had cut the locks off either a car wash machine or a vacuum station and remove the money inside. One camera showed a person disconnecting a light bulb before the break-in happened. Surveillance video at two of the three places showed similar events, and showed a dark colored Jeep Grand Cherokee at each scene. On Tuesday, a deputy in the Bar Nunn area spotted a vehicle that matched the description. Investigators learned it belonged to Garton, and that she was with two friends at around the time the break-ins were committed. When they tried to interview her about the events, she requested an attorney. The Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant and when they went through the vehicle, they found a bolt cutter, a camouflaged face mask similar to one seen in one of the videos, and a liquid substance, consistent with the type of carpet cleaner commonly sold at car washes. Charges against her accomplices are pending. An entire month of break-ins at local businesses is brought to you by none other than: Methamphetamine. But it was the attempted burglary at Columbus Car Wash that did our Darwin in… The 27-year-old Fremont, Nebraska,man has been sentenced to two years in prison -- only two days after the defendant was sentenced to five to eight years in prison for two other burglaries he “performed” last year. Dylan O’Brien was also initially charged with drug and habitual criminal charges in the Columbus case. The state’s habitual criminal law provides


for mandatory minimum and maximum sentences ranging from 10 to 60 years. He was previously sentenced to prison in 2009 and 2011, both times for crimes the judge said stemmed from his addiction to meth. “Oh, bother!” Talk about giving the rest of us a bad name! An incidental raid at the “infamous” Pooh Bear’s Car Wash -- a Daytona, FL, carwash which had been “problematic for years,” -netted 16 arrests after two specialized units swept in and caught people with drugs and guns. A newspaper article said local police considered the wash a “plague” and a nearby gas station had been the backdrop for drug deals as well as violent crimes over the years. “It is a legitimate car wash, but there have been complaints on the street that there’s narcotic activity on the property itself,” said a representative of the department. According to the report, the carwash bust was unplanned but fell into investigators’ laps after they chased a drug dealer into Pooh Bear’s. The operation at the nearby Citgo gas station was planned in response to two homicides this past weekend that left a man and a woman dead from gunshot wounds. Police raided Pooh Bear’s about 10 p.m. when a knock at the door and an announcement that police were present went unanswered. When no one opened up, police burst in and found 19 people and various narcotics in “plain view,” Williams said. Once the situation was sorted out and those present were detained, a search warrant was obtained and seven people were arrested and charged with felony offenses. Pooh’s not the only one working double duty! Three suspects have been arraigned in what police say was a long-running investigation into the sale of illicit drugs at a Detroit carwash. The three men work at Masters Car Wash, but are charged with selling heroin while sudsing up. Employees Dejuan Ishmael, Joshua Bowers, and Djuan Butler, 38, face a litany of charges, although police have cleared the carwash owner, who is not under investigation. Seven! Seven felony charges for this Darwin: A knife-wielding Santa Fe man who police say snatched a woman’s purse, slashed a bystander, stole a car and led authorities on a wild chase. Jude Solis, 22 or 23 -- reports weren’t clear -faces charges of robbery, armed robbery, aggravated assault on a peace officer, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two charges of aggravated battery, as well as a misdemeanor charge of driving without a license and three charges of leaving the

Nothing funny about this busy criminal. A 33-year-old man is facing six charges in two separate municipal courts for his alleged role in a multi-day theft spree targeting car-wash vending devices in two Ohio counties, including Zappy’s Car Wash in Painesville, OH, a local paper reported. Thomas P. Riggs is accused of driving around with a female accomplice in a gray Honda Pilot and breaking into the bill changers and other automated devices at car washes in Eastlake, Middlefield and Painesville between Feb. 18 and Feb. 20. If convicted of the felony counts alone, Riggs could get up to nine years behind bars.

scene of an accident involving vehicle damage. Around noon Friday, a man later identified as Solis entered a local Starbucks, grabbed a woman’s Gucci purse and fled, witnesses told police. The woman and two male bystanders followed Solis into the parking lot, where Solis warned them he had a knife. After a tussle over the purse, Solis stabbed at one of the men, leaving two cuts on his arm, police reported. Solis dropped the purse and fled, leaping over a short fence into the parking lot of Squeaky Clean Car Wash. He approached a Subaru waiting in line for a wash and threatened the driver, who refused to exit her vehicle, according to police and a car wash employee. Brandishing the knife, Solis forced the woman out of the car and drove off, crashing into a parked vehicle and nearly running over an off-duty police officer who had displayed her badge and tried to stop him, according to the police report. Solis then led police on a chase in which the suspect ran at least two red lights, collided with at least three vehicles, nearly caused several other accidents and briefly drove the wrong way on a highway before coming to a stop under a bridge, according to the report. The chase speeds approached 100 mph, and when apprehended, Solis asked police if he had injured anyone during the chase. He allegedly admitted to police he had taken the purse and told officers the purse {continued }

• SPRING 2017 •



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owner should not have chased him... “because he was not a bad person.” We can’t make this stuff up! If you thought Solis had a busy morning, let me introduce you to Courtney Jean Smith, a woman facing charges that she stole a vehicle while high on Xanax, passed out in the truck from the drug and -- in order to stay warm after waking up to cold temperatures -- set the stolen truck’s seat on fire. Seriously. When does this crazy story start to involve a carwash, you ask? Well, after leaving the burned vehicle on a county road, Smith stole *another* vehicle and attempted to use the debit card that was inside it at several businesses, including two transactions at the Hurricane Car Wash in Rogersville, MO. I suppose in hopes she might make a clean getaway later that day? No matter, police arrested her a short time later and she gave them a rather descriptive account of the events of the day. Oh! He needed the money! Why didn’t you say so? Send this one back into society, please. A former employee at Fawcett Car Wash in Ashdown, AR, admitted to stealing from the change machine at the car wash “because he needed the money.” Daniel Flores told police he used a crowbar to take the full coin machine, and later hid the machine in the woods. He then went to Ashdown with two one-gallon jugs to cash in the $496.78. Officers later arrested him at a local Coinstar, where receipts showed the exact amount of stolen change that was cashed in. Deputies located the stolen change machine in the woods later that day. Flores is charged with commercial burglary and faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. You guys are always telling me Facebook is a waste of time for self serve washes -- but how about this! Police in Waynesboro, IN, were able to charge a man with “failing to report an accident” at Pinky’s Car Wash after posting surveillance camera images of the incident on social media. Surveillance images from the car wash show someone drove into a bayi and when the driver pulled forward, the truck ripped the business sign off the building. Police say 67-year-old Michael Allen Chandler turned himself in once investigators put images of the accident on Facebook. Damage to Pinky’s Cash Wash was estimated to be $8,000. Here’s a devastating report of “bay rage” at an Albuquerque carwash. Earl Roybal, 59, was shot after an argument in a carwash bay and later died because of his injuries. Friends of Roybal -- who was mourned by members of New Mexico’s motorcycle community at


• SPRING 2017 •

a vigil at the carwash held after his death -- said the incident happened after a man pulled up in an SUV behind Roybal at the carwash. They say he felt Roybal was taking too long in the bay and it led to a heated exchange. Roybal was shot three times and died of his injuries at the hospital. “He’s one of the guys that you could sit and have a talk with, very friendly to anyone who was in the community,” Raymond Gallegos said, describing Roybal. “He was always a good guy, always a good guy.” Witnesses say the suspect stayed at the car wash even after the shooting until police arrived and detained him. APD called it a violent crimes call-out, but are still working with the district attorney’s office to determine criminal charges, if any. As this issue was going to press, it was two weeks after the incident and police still had not released any details or word on any pending charges. Three men who allegedly pried open a coin machine at a Savannah, MO, carwash and stole the money inside are facing a felony charge. John Szesny, Demitrick Chaney, and Jacob Andes, are charged with a class E felony of first-degree property damage. The damage to the coin machine was over $750, according to a newspaper report about the crime. Around 3:52 a.m., a police officer approached Szesny after he pulled into the Nodaway Valley Bank parking lot. He said prior to that, Szesny was circling a truck near the Squeaky Clean carwash, left the area of the carwash, then returned to the bank parking lot and stopped just before pulling into the drive-up lanes and exited the truck. “While speaking with Szensy, he stated that he was attempting to pick up his friend who he identified as John Smith so they could go to his grandfather’s house to work, “ the responding officer wrote. After he searched the truck, with their consent, the men were released. “I then performed a check of the car was and found that the money machine in the back of the building had been damaged and all the money was missing from the machine,” the officer continued in his statement.

Excavator or fire? I think I’d take the excavator… A fire that ripped through a storage building at a Cantonment, FL, carwash Friday is believed to be arson. About 10 p.m., witnesses reported seeing juveniles set the storage building on fire before running away. The building, located at the old Highway 29 car wash across from International Paper, was a total loss.

After the discovery, a deputy was able to stop the truck a few miles south, where the men more or less confessed to their crime. Deputies later received a report of a person, who matched the description of a third suspect who fled from the Savannah Police Department earlier in the night, walking in the median. During his arrest, he was in possession of illegal pills and is facing additional charges for possession of a controlled substance for methamphetamine and 19 Tramadol pills which is a classified as a schedule four narcotic. A Hamden man has been charged with burglarizing the Splash Car Wash in West Haven and also admitted to being responsible for a burglary at the Splash Car Wash in Hamden, according to West Haven Police. Police said that detectives received information early Tuesday morning that the suspect in burglaries of the Splash Car Wash in West Haven, Felix Torres, was on Ferry Street in New Haven. Detectives responded to Ferry Street and located Torres. Torres, 44, was found to be in possession of crack cocaine and placed under arrest, according to police. Police said Torres confessed to the Splash Car Wash burglary and said he was responsible for two other burglaries at the West Haven Splash and a burglary of Splash Car Wash in Hamden. Torres, of Warner Street in Hamden, was charged with third-degree burglary, fifth-degree larceny, third-degree criminal mischief and possession of narcotics. He is being held on a $25,000 bond and police said arrest warrants will be sought in connection to the two previous burglaries.

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