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Mike Black goes cashless; Visit a carwash Down Under; Catch up with your favorite regional associations; & of course, MORE







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CONTENTS Association Roundup ................... 4 Operator Q&A, Richard Davison ..........................16 Around the Wash...........................32 Tricks of the Trade ......................40 Innovations.....................................50 Industry Dirt..................................52 Extra! Extra! ...................................56 Carwash Profile ............................60 Cover story: Mission Impossible....................68 Darwin at the Carwash..............84

VOL. 43, NO. 4, FALL 2016

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


Well, reader. Here we are. We did it. We survived the 2016 Election. It wasn’t pretty and we’ll probably be absorbing the aftershocks for years to come, but at least we came out the other side alive -- and perhaps with some benefits for small businesses! Hats off to all of the carwash operators brave enough to follow in Pat Crowe’s footsteps this campaign season -- I read of at least two of you in local newspaper reports, so I’m happy to report the gimmick is still worth some extra volume during otherwise tedious and exhausting elections. (Many of you will recall how that infamous carwash marketer turned his Kansas City carwash into an “early voting” poll by designating one bay for the Republican candidate and another for the Democratic candidate in elections from 1996 and on. Pat was also the promoting genius behind “Vote for Oprah,” a movement entirely his own that earned him some free press back in 2008.) Speaking of promotional genius: I hope all of you participated in this year’s Grace for Vets program and were able to thank our country’s veterans with free carwashes this year. As you know, Grace for Vets is the thing I love most about this amazing industry and I’d love to feature your stories and photographs in a following issue. Please send me your Veterans’ Day experiences at katec@sscwn.com. While you’re emailing me, I hope you’ll take a moment to offer me some constructive criticism. You may notice a few changes I’ve made to SSCWN in this issue, and they’re all owed to the feedback provided by an anonymous reader who reached out to the folks at Kleen-Rite Corp. hoping that company might be able to use use their influence to persuade me to make a few improvements. I was happy to make those changes -- no corporate backing required! And I’d love to have your suggestions, too. I have always considered SSCWN to be YOUR soapbox and I welcome your input in all manners.

As for the suggestions from our anonymous reader, you’ll notice more photos and captions -- a staple under JJ’s leadership that I have neglected in the past. This should hopefully allow our readers to break down our extra-large pages into more palatable bites. Our anonymous reader also asked for better summarizing in our longer stories. I am toying with one idea that you’ll see featured in our Tricks of the Trade section this issue. “TL; DR” stands for “Too Long; Didn’t Read” and aims to summarize each of our AutoCareForum.com threads in a short paragraph. Depending on how some of our changes are received in this issue, I would be happy to expand the “TL;DR” feature to other sections. Finally, a few of you have reached out to ask where the heck I was during Northeast Regional Carwash Convention this past September. As most of you know, this native Northern New Yorker counts NRCC as her most favorite regional carwash show and I was bummed to have to miss it. Life handed me a few curveballs this summer and I found myself moving into a breadwinner role for my family. This pushed me to head back to school this summer to check off a goal of mine: Become a teacher. After a six-week crash course at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, I finally earned the credentials I needed to push chalk and mark up papers in red pen for third graders in Virginia Beach. This means I don’t have nearly as much time for traveling as before, although I made sure to clear my schedule for the ICA’s show in April, of course, so feel free to hand me an apple and congratulate me on my new post there. Until next time: Happy washing!

Self Serve Carwash News is published 4 times per year and is independently owned by Jackson Vahaly. Web address is www.sscwn.com.


All inquiries should be directed to:

On page 22, the line of Hanna equipment being discussed was in fact Pace Setter, not Bay Setter as transcribed.

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

Our transcription of Perry Powell’s interview with Brown Bear founder Vic Odermat in last quarter’s issue contained a few regrettable errors owing to some mistakes I made when listening to the podcast. Please note the following:

On page 26, the reference to wash trees should be changed to “wash trays.” On page 30, the company that leased Brown Bear in 1996 was Tosco, not Costco. Tosco was acquired and eventually absorbed into the company now known as ConocoPhillips. All references to Costco in the article should be revised to Tosco. My sincerest apologies for those mistakes. Time to invest in new headphones! • FALL 2016 •


Who? What? Where? When? Why? Playing the 5 W’s with our regional carwash associations.

WHO? NYSCA, CCA, MCA, NECA and the CWONJ WHAT? Northeast Regional Carwash Convention 2016: Driving a Brighter Future WHEN? September 19-21 WHERE? Atlantic City, NJ WHY? To walk the floor and talk shop at the industry’s largest regional carwash show.


• FALL 2016 •

This year, the 27th Annual NRCC had a record-breaking show floor with 312 booths and 1,461 attendees. Show chairmen Ron Bousquet, representing NECA, welcomed last year’s chairman and renowned operator Dave Dugoff into the show’s Hall of Fame, and presented Patti Kaplan with the event’s Most Distinguished Person award at the annual luncheon. Organizers also announced the dates for NRCC 2017, October 2-4, and said the event will remain at the Atlantic City Convention Center with the Borgata serving as host hotel. The 2017 show chairmen are Mike Benmosche and Bob Rossini from the Connecticut Carwash Association.

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3901 East 41st Avenue 800.922.1313 (Toll Free) Denver, CO 80237 303.322.2232 (Local) www.hpws.com • FALL 2016 •


Association Roundup

WHO? The Puget Sound Car Wash Association (PSCWA) (with participation from the Western Carwash Association (WCA), too) WHAT? Fall Road Trip WHEN? October 4 WHERE? Lynnwood, WA WHY? To check out some washes and discuss legislative issues!

The group of nearly 50 gathered in Lynnwood before setting off on a tour of five carwashes spanning an area just north of Seattle. A little wind and rain didn’t deter the group from checking out these washes and their equipment, like the new automated pay stations at WCA member Brown Bear Car Wash. A hefty lunch and a discussion of legislative priorities made for one full day. WCA looks forward to participating in future PSCWA events!

WHO? The Southeastern Car Wash Association WHAT? Had to cancel its annual show and expo WHEN? October 9-11 WHERE? Savannah, GA


• FALL 2016 •

WHY? Hurricane Matthew made a big mess of things on the East Coast. Worse than spoiling things for the Association, Matthew also caused some major damage to our industry’s coastal washes. The SECWA announced efforts to turn their bad fortune into a fundraising opportunity for those operators. You can learn more at www.secwa.org.

• FALL 2016 •


Association Roundup CALENDAR

2016-2017 Calendar of Events Submissions can be made to Editor Kate Carr at katec@sscwn.com

NOVEMBER 14-16 ICA Sporting Retreat (International Carwash Association) Camilla, GA www.carwash.org

NOVEMBER 16 Learn More, Earn More by Kleen-Rite Corp. Columbia, PA www.kleen-ritecorp.com

DECEMBER 7-8 ICA Supplier Summit Chicago www.carwash.org


FEBRUARY 26-28 SCWA Convention & Car Wash EXPO

Arlington, TX www.swcarwash.org


Car Wash Show (ICA) Las Vegas www.carwash.org

APRIL 25-26 Heartland Carwash Association (HCA) Product Show

Des Moines, IA www.heartlandcarwash.org

SEPTEMBER 25-27 Car Wash Show Europe (ICA) Amsterdam, Netherlands www.carwash.org


Atlantic City, NJ www.nrccshow.com


• FALL 2016 •

WHO? The Heartland Carwash Association WHAT? 33rd Annual Product and Equipment Show WHEN? April 5-6 WHERE? Des Moines, IA WHY? The annual Product Show, themed “Waves of Change -Oceans of Opportunities,” turned out to be one of the largest Shows the HCA has ever hosted with over 65 exhibitors filling the soldout space at Prairie Meadows Conference Center, Racetrack, Hotel. It was the most spaces the HCA has hosted in many years.

OPEN FORUM AND PANEL DISCUSSIONS Back by popular demand was the show’s one-hour Open Forum Discussion. Instead of having a guest speaker as in previous years, the floor was opened up for questions from the show attendees. Topics ranged from compliance issues to energy saving devices to accounting practices. The Forum was moderated by Allen Hansen, owner of Spotfree Carwash in Des Moines, Iowa, and Past President of the HCA Board of Directors and Pat Shannon, owner of Big John’s Carwashes in Bellevue, Nebraska, and current HCA Board President. The HCA also hosted two Panel Discussions at the Product Show this year. The first Panel Discussion covered the topic: ‘Maximize Your Cleaning- Minimize Your Cost.’ The expert panelists included Jeff Price from Turtle Wax Pro, Paul Kalscheur of DiamondH20 and Kirk Vanscoy of Energyficient. Each panelist brought their own unique perspective to the very insightful Panel Discussion. The second Panel Discussion was titled ‘New Ways to Pay- How to Accept New Payment Methods’ and featured three panelists: Brian Nelson with First Financial Merchant Services; Dave Richards of CryptoPay; and Ryan Rosyth from Heartman Insurance.

CARWASH TOUR Once again, the Carwash Tour was one of the most popular events at the Product Show. Ryko Solutions, Blendco Systems, and Huron Valley Sales/PROPAK sponsored the tours. The tour began with a trip to Ryko Solutions, Inc., to take a look at their new mini tunnel express, the ideal retrofit solution for auto dealers, fleet and C-store operators. The tour also included a review of the SoftGloss Maxx 3, the manufacturer’s new three brush with a combination touch and touchless option. The second stop was at Ultimate Auto Wash Ill located in West Des Moines, Iowa. Owners Mark and Karen Lile purchased the site in October 2015. The carwash features Washworld touch-free automatics, Wash Card Systems on all automatic bays, self-service bays and vacuums, Turbo Towel Dry by JE Adams in serif-service bays, and boilers by HVS. Their distributor support is provided by Professional Car Wash Systems. The third stop on the tour this year was Spotfree Car Wash, owned by Allen and Angie Hansen, and located in Des Moines, Iowa. The wash features four self-service and one touch-free automatic, with a planned second automatic. Spotfree was originally built in 1984, closed in 2009, and purchased and remodeled in 2015. The wash features Washworld touch-free automatic, Dilling-Harris

and National Pride self-service, Diamond Water Conditioning water softner, RO system and pressure booster, HVS Lochinvar water heater and boiler, Fragramatics combo vacuums and Laurel vendors. Their distributor support is provided by Professional Car Wash Systems.

RECEPTION, ENTERTAINMENT AND AWARDS CEREMONY At every Product Show, the HCA gives special recognition to companies and individuals who have been both supportive of the Association as well as instrumental within our industry. This year was no exception. Steve Havens of Steven R. Havens Sales and Service of Wiota, Iowa, was the recipient of this year’s annual ‘Longtime Support of the HCA’ award. Steve has been coming to the Product Show and supporting the HCA since its inception in 1981. Congratulations to Steve for his support of the HCA and his contribution to the industry! The ‘Most Innovative Product or Service’ award went to WashCard Systems out of Hugo, Minnesota. Their newly revamped Baystation for Self-Service Bays is loaded with new features no other manufacturer is offering the self serve carwash industry. Accept cash, coin, loyalty and credit cards, control up to 14 devices and set different prices for loyalty customers. The ‘Best Booth Display’ at the Product Show this year went to Turtle Wax Pro out of Burr Ridge, Illinois.

INDUSTRY BREAKFAST AND ANNUAL MEETING The State of the Association address was given this year by the HCA President Pat Shannon. Pat reported the HCA has continued to show growth over the past several years, from the number of annual members to Product Show exhibitors and attendees. Pat is continuing to drive the HCA in the right direction as he brings many great ideas to our Association. Also at the meeting, several members of the Board of Directors whose terms were up for re-election were voted back onto the board to serve another two-year term. The HCA By-Laws allow up to 19 seats on our Board of Directors and the board still has room for a few members to join. If you are interested in serving on the Board, please contact the HCA office for additional information and to have your name passed on to the Board for consideration once a seat becomes available.

• FALL 2016 •


Association Roundup

WHO? The Midwest Carwash Association (MCA) WHAT? Held its first carwash tour WHEN? October 20 WHERE? Grand Rapids, MI WHY? To check out some innovative washes!

More than 60 attendees met at Founders Brewing Company to visit five carwash locations in the greater Grand Rapids area and learn a bit more about the interesting features and technology found at each site: • Thunder Mountain, a wash making use of limited space with an 80 foot tunnel, vac service and a dog wash; • Waterworks Car Wash, which features a double tunnel system and the latest in both express and full service cleaning; • Southland Auto Wash, the Michigan chain’s newest facility with amazing express wash and reclaim technology; • Jenison Carwash, part of the Joymar family of washes, is a recently remodeled wash featuring many new technologies; and • Tommy’s Express, a brand new fullyautomated facility featuring the belt conveyor system. MCA wanted to give special thanks to their tour sponsors: Belanger, Inc., Motor City Wash Works, Tommy’s Carwash Systems, and Vaughan Industries, Inc.! Stay tuned to www.MidwestCarwash.com and the Association’s quarterly publication, Finish Line, for further announcements!


• FALL 2016 •






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• FALL 2016 •


Association Roundup

WHO? Southwest Car Wash Association (SCWA) WHAT? “On the Road Again” Carwash Tour WHERE? Austin, TX WHEN? October 20 WHY? To walk some bays and discuss ideas.

More than 200 carwash owners participated in the event’s lively roundtable discussions and Idea Exchange sessions covering a variety of car wash topics before hopping on the buses to tour several outstanding car wash locations in the area. The carwashes on the tour included: • Bubble Clean Express Wash; • Soapbox Express Car Wash, founded and operated proudly by veterans of the U.S. Marines; • Mr. Sharky’s Car Wash, including 6 self serve bays and a converted rollover automatic to a mini tunnel; • Big Red Express, a 150 foot arch covered wash tunnel; and • Arbor Car Wash & Lube. Arbor features a wide range of services from the oil change to full serve conveyor to detail and also an express exterior lane. SWCA would like to thank their tour sponsors: DRB Systems, our Diamond Sponsor; Innovative Control Systems, the Bus Sponsor; Exacta and Stinger Chemicals, the Lunch Sponsors; and Events Sponsors – AP Formulators, CSI Lustra, Hydra-Flex, Midlothian Insurance, Motor City Wash Works, Mr. Foamer, SWYPIT, and Zep Vehicle Care.


• FALL 2016 •





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QA &

On the Up and Up Operator Richard Davison from the Land Down Under talks to Perry Powell about moving onwards and upwards in the self-serve industry. By: Perry Powell, WashIdeas.com

PERRY POWELL: Welcome to a new addition of Wash Ideas. I know I say it every week, but we really have a unique treat for you today: we have someone who is going to discuss carwashing with us, kangaroo style. And that’s because I’m speaking to Richard Davison from a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Richard, welcome to the show. RICHARD DAVISON: Pleasure to be here, Perry. PP: I am really excited to talk about what you and I discussed -- what’s different about carwashing in

Editor’s Note: This interview has been transcribed from a podcast originally posted on www.washideas. com. Our thanks to show host and website owner Perry Powell for always being so generous in sharing his content with our readers!

your country than in our country -- but I also want to mention, you are not only a carwash owner, but also a distributor.

RD: Yes, that’s correct. We got into the business as operators, at a time when the self serve side of the industry was just emerging in Australia, and there really wasn’t an industry as such. There was a whole lot of pent-up demand as we found out, when we built our first site, and subsequently, we became the distributor for the company’s equipment that we had at our own sites. It has been a pretty amazing -- and pretty wild ride -- since those early days.

A JACK OF ALL TRADES: RICHARD BRANCHES OUT PP: In terms of your own car washing, how many facilities do you own? RD: We own and operate three facilities. Two are what I refer to as conventional self-serve and in-bay rollover facilities: multi-bay roll over. The third one is an express tunnel style, which also has an in-bay rollover and bays attached as well. PP: There are very few of that style carwash in the


• FALL 2016 •

U.S. In your country -- just to get an idea of the market -- how much is express part of the landscape? Is it new? Is it just emerging? RD: You’d have to say it’s virtually non-existent. We have developed one of our own, and there are a handful of others that have popped up around the countryside around the last few years. I guess as we identified that that was the way the market

was headed in the U.S., it took us a little longer to catch on here. But we still are of firm belief that this is the direction that the industry will head. I guess you asked about the differences between carwashing here and in the U.S. I suppose a primary difference is American kids, from the time they were in a bassinet, have been taken through tun{continued }



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• FALL 2016 •


Operator Q&A nel washes. They grow up going through tunnel washes, and by the time their license age, tunnel wash is just a natural part of what they do. It’s very new here, our market is not really attune to it. We are having to re-educate our market to what a tunnel wash is all about. Part of that re-education is about friction washing. We did an amazing job in the second half of the 90s through the early 2000s of convincing people that they shouldn’t let friction touch their car -- friction was bad -- and we sold a lot of touch free systems. I’m not just talking about ourselves; the industry at large was primarily selling touch-free equipment. Now that modern day friction is not that big bad thing it used to be -- where it ripped everything off your vehicle and left bald patches on the leading edges -- we’re having to kind of learn a new dance step now. I’ve convinced everyone that friction is bad for so long, I’ve now got to change my tone a little bit, without contradicting myself too much. PP: Well certainly there are those in the U.S. that are suffering from that same malady, that they pushed touch-free for so long, and of course the equipment has evolved so much, friction really isn’t the problem it used to be. At your site, the Rapid Wash site, did you build that out of the ground as it looks on the Internet? (www.rapidwashexpress.com.au)

• FALL 2016 18 compass_ad.indd 1

RD: Yes, absolutely. PP: So it was not something you added a tunnel to later? RD: No, no, no. It was a vacant site that had actually never had anything built on it before. PP: Well our listeners should go visit Richard’s website. Its beautifully done, first of all, but the photos really make that site look beautiful.

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: MR. DAVISON, MEET MR. COLEMAN RD: Well I appreciate the compliments Perry, but, there’s motive in our madness. When we developed the site, it was not long after Coleman bought the Hanna company, which ran ‘04 or ‘05, if memory serves. We are the Australian distributors for Coleman Hanna as it’s now known, and that was our introduction to the industry. When we got into the industry and I made my first trip to U.S.A. on carwash business in Au-

gust of 1992 on an exploratory tour, I knew zero about it. I literally arrived in L.A. with a good friend of mine, who became my business partner, and we rented a car at the airport, checked into a hotel in Beverly Hills, and we picked up the Yellow Pages to find a car wash. Of course this is pre-GPS and pre-Internet; I don’t think a lot of people truly appreciate how difficult it is to find things. I suppose it was just the way you did it back then; now you just Google it. Back then -- I shouldn’t admit to this -- but we ripped off all the Yellow Pages that had anything to do with car wash on it, got one of those big ungainly maps of L.A., and literally followed our nose driving in and out of car washes. Eventually, through just a set of circumstances, we found our way down to Houston, TX, and we made our way in Colorado and a few other stops along the way visiting car wash or equipment suppliers. And then when we got to the Colemans, I guess it was one of those “love at first sight” situations. We felt at home, the boys were sort of a similar age to ourselves, and I guess, not knowing any better (laughter), we bought their gear -- which of course turned out to be a great decision. After we got back, we started out and built two self-serve car washes. Back then we weren’t

10/21/16 11:34 AM

Operator Q&A

putting in automatics, it was simply self serves -and that was hard enough for us to get our head around. When I look back at it, at how simple self serve is now, you wonder what all the fuss was about? But i guess it was very new and very different. Really, from that point on we started selling equipment, we found that a major benefit for us selling equipment in this country, was that we owned and operated a business that used the equipment we were selling. We weren’t trying to sell out of a briefcase or pamphlet. We’re hands on: We physically built the building ourselves, we’re physically operating the car wash ourselves. That was really the way my business evolved from that point on, and I guess it gave us some credibility. I don’t ask anyone to buy any-

thing from me that I haven’t invested my own money in. This gives us a great ability to support our customers -- because we are operating the same equipment, we are aware of any pitfalls, or any problems, typically. As things wear out, more issues arise, we’re on top of it. So when we get that phone call on a sunny Sunday morning -- you know, his automatics not working or whatever -hopefully we can get him out of trouble within a 5-minute phone conversation. That’s very much the way we’ve built the business. Getting back to the point at hand, when Coleman bought Hanna, I looked at the whole tunnel thing and could see it emerging each time going to the show, particularly the express tunnel model. So we made a corporate decision that we wanted

to go that direction. In fact, we had been having some discussions with Vince McNeil for the 2-3 years before that, probably even longer, probably 4-5 years. We were interested in the tunnel business, but didn’t know how to go about it. I suppose when Coleman bought Hanna, it made it a bit easier, because it was all part of the known entity, and decided again, with our overall philosophy, if we are gonna promote tunnel equipment in Australia, we need to own and operate our own site. That was the reason we built the tunnel. It just so happens that the size and shape of the land we settled on really lent itself to some additional facilities. It also gave me the ability by putting the latest Coleman roll-over in there, they call it Fusion-X, a combination touch-free and friction machine. All the latest specs and equipment. It just meant anyone I was seeing from anywhere in the country, who had inevitably, come down to talk to us about building a carwash, I could take them to the one site, and really show them absolutely every aspect of what we do, in one location. Part of the reason some of the things are there, is not necessarily because it’s the best business model, it just served me....

{continued }

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Operator Q&A

MAKING THE LEAP (IN HIGH HEELED SHOES?) RICHARD TALKS ABOUT GETTING HIS START IN CAR WASHING PP: Serves other purposes. Yes. What did you do before you got in the carwash business? RD: I designed and manufactured high fashion women’s shoes! So that’s a pretty logical progression isn’t it? PP: Well there is engineering there, brother! RD: It was a business where you had to be a jackof-all-trades. It was a family company that my grandfather had started post World War I. And It had been in my family for three generations. My father died when I was pretty young -- when I was only 10. So when I came out of school, there was management running the company and my

mother was nearly at her wit’s end. So she asked if I would go into the shoe business and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do at that stage. So, I said, “Look. I’ll go in for three months and see what I feel about it.” And 20 years later I was still there. That’s just the way things evolved. And then, through a set of circumstances that I won’t get into, I found myself the CEO and managing director of the company at the age of 22. I was running two plants and employing over 200 people. So I sort of got thrown in at the deep end. As I was getting to the second half of my 30s, I was starting to ask that fateful question: What is this thing called life all about? I was employing a lot of people and doing a lot of banging my head against the wall because we were going through a period in this country of skyrocketing labor rates and other aspects that were making it very difficult to manage labor. So I had been discussing some business options with this mutual friend of mine. Looking into different opportunities that we might dabble in -- not necessarily a replacement for what I was doing, but I was starting to lose the vision for what I wanted. I wasn’t really sure where the business was going to head in the next few years. As it turned out, there was a vacant block of land on my way to and from my factory every single day, and there was this self serve site - the very

first in Melbourne -- that I would get to see as it was emerging out of the ground every single day. Finally, I was at the business -- and I come from an auto sport background, so anything automotive is of interest to me -- and I was there, washing my car, and there was this moment when I thought, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this. I’m actually paying to wash my own car. These guys have got this thing nailed!” There was just one guy running around and lines and lines of cars throwing dollars and coins in the slots. I rang my mate, he was actually doing a development up the road at the time. And I said, “Johnny, I think I’ve found the concept we’re looking for. You’ve got to get down to this new carwash and tell me what you think.” And I still remember getting back to my office, and he rang me straight back, “Dave-O! This is it, isn’t it?” And I said, “Yes, it is.” I had a business trip planned to the U.S. that August (of 1992) to a company out of Cincinnati, Ohio, a U.S. shoe corporation who we had an alliance with, and so I was headed there to go over and visit with them and so I convinced John to come with me and we added another week to my trip and decided to explore the carwash business. The rest, as they say, is history. PP: Are you still in the shoe business?

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• FALL 20163:04:11 • PM 7/20/2016

Operator Q&A RD: No, no. I guess that’s the second part. We bought two blocks of land and we built the first wash that just went bananas from the day it opened. We had people queued up the street. I guess that gave me the confidence that there was a business there -- and it enabled me to sort of let go. We managed to sell the business for, actually, not much more than its asset value, but I waved goodbye to that in October of ‘93. And I got to tell you, I can still hear the click of the door as I walked out of the factory. It was the happiest day of my life. PP: Wow. A real leap of faith. RD: Yes, it really was a leap of faith. It was quite interesting, really. We had people banging on our door at our first wash, saying, “We’ve been looking at this concept for years, but there’s no one that can help us here. But now you guys have done it, now would you help us build one of these?” And here were John and I, and we really didn’t know what we were doing. We really had just zero -- I mean, we maybe knew about 2 percent more than anybody else. Now here we were: The self serve experts for the Australian industry. We’d walk into the pump room and hear all the clicking and the noises, and think, “Hell, I hope this doesn’t stop working. I don’t know how to fix it!” But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And if you don’t have anybody to fall back on -- and we are actually both pretty resourceful kind of guys -- and you learn stuff very quickly when you have to. PP: That was where I was leading -- I mean, you’re on the end of the Earth over here. Not to insult Australia, but you’re a long, long ways away from Houston, Texas. You have this complex piece of equipment -- were there moments of apprehension when you saw something going wrong that you didn’t really have the answer to? How did you overcome that? RD: I think the biggest moment of apprehension was… Well, Russell Coleman came out to install the system for us. The biggest moment of apprehension was when we took him to the airport to say good-bye and we shook his hand and we were gripping his hand so hard and he was trying to pull his hand out to get to his plane and we were thinking, “Russ, don’t go!” Haha. That was pretty scary. There were quite a number of nights, when my ex-business partner John and I would be sitting up, probably staring at the wrong end of a bottle of Scotch, waiting for it to be early enough in Houston for us to put in a call to Russell and say, “We’ve got this problem. What do we do??” As it turned out, it was pretty simple. As we know now -- and as I say to people now when they’re developing a carwash -- you’ll nearly forget the self-serve equipment even exists. It’s that simple and trouble-free and, you know, nearly non-technical. It doesn’t have PLCs and things driving it -- it’s low voltage, turn it on and off. But it was pretty scary for us, because we didn’t know


• FALL 2016 •

FUNNIES DOWN UNDER Out in this suburb of Melbourne where we built our first site -- and I still own it today, it’s going on 21 years now, actually -- but I was down there one day and there were cars lined up literally down the street. It’s a six-bay self serve and we had people waiting 30, 40 minutes to an hour just to get into the wash. And this little old lady had been waiting in this queue and, I mean, God only know how long. She finally got into the bay -- and we would go up and greet everybody that would drive up to the bay and explain how the system worked and have a bit of a chat with them, make them feel at home. So I walk up to this lady, and she had rolled down her window, and she said to me, “Fill it up, please, sir.” She thought it must have been cheap gas or something! I mean, we had some funny, funny incidents in the early days. We got down to the site one morning, and here’s this guy at the front of the site -- and all our vacuums are at the exit ends of the bays, towards the front kind of -- and he’s there with one of the carpet shampoos pressing the button and washing the outside of his car with the carpet shampoo! We had to politely tell him there was a much easier way to do it. (Laughter.) PP: It seems odd listening from this end. I’m 55 years old and I remember being 6 or 7 and going with my grandmother to a full service carwash with my grandmother in the town of West Point, Georgia, and it was called Valley Fast Carwash. And I was absolutely amazed. And remember -- when I was a kid, we didn’t have a dishwasher in the house -- that was mom! And here was this amazing piece of equipment that was actually laundering vehicles. To hear that so recently this is a new phenomenon in Australia, that’s pretty amazing to us. RD: It’s funny because actually tunnels have been around a long time -- even in Australia. There were some very early tunnel operators. The Shell Oil Company actually did quite a job of putting those in, I’m thinking it was probably even the ‘70s. They had conveyorized tunnels at their gas station sites, but for one reason or another, I guess I was too young to even think about it then -- some of them, from what I am told, were even pretty successful -- but I think it was just one of those typical decisions of oil companies that happen from time to time, that one guy who was in the chair made the decision to put in carwashes, and then you got another guy in the chair a

few years later who decides they’re not going to do them, and rips them all out again. Those tunnels were, of course, very archaic. Conveyors with chains where you used to hook the chain up on the front end of your vehicle and God only knows what kind of material was in the brushes. So they developed a bad name. And, of course, the paint surfaces weren’t nearly as good and the chemicals weren’t nearly as good, so it all added up to probably a not-sogood experience for the consumer. I grew up -- from the time I had a vehicle license and probably even before that -- washing my mom’s and dad’s cars. Sunday was carwash day and I would be at it for hours and hours, literally with a toothbrush, cleaning the wheels and things like that. I used to love doing it -- it was therapy nearly. That’s the way most Australians of my era -- the Baby Boomer era -- that’s how we did. And of course, you know the saying -- you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We’ve got consumers who are very stuck in their ways. But, as I say to the newcomers to the industry, think of the kid who’s 10 or 12 today. By the time he gets his license in six years, he won’t know what a bucket or hose looks like. He won’t know any other way. It’s not just that our population growing, but also that a higher percentage of our population are going to be using automated carwashes in some form or another. That’s where the growth will come from. I’m continually asked -- and I’m sure it’s true in the U.S.A., -- that they’re asked when will this business reach its saturation point. But in the end, it’s really never. For a start, the suburbs are constantly growing and we’re getting a higher and higher percentage of the population that are using these facilities. We see a very happy future for our industry. PP: And I think what you’re doing is very smart: Positioning yourself to someone who can’t yet drive pays off in big dividends. There’s a little known U.S. company that I personally in my growing up had experiences with that I think proves the point, and that little bitty company is Coca-Cola. They really did an excellent job of going after the market before they could spend a cent. I think sooner or later, those guys are going to turn a key. At that moment, you want them to come into your place. On the developmental side, do you face challenges in your country that you’ve observed that U.S. companies may not face in terms of getting the development out of hte ground? {continued }

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Operator Q&A

what was going on yet. But once the dust settled, the little problems would arise and we would just deal with them.

AHEAD OF THE TIMES OR BEHIND THEM? AUSTRALIA AND TUNNEL WASHING PP: For those of you listening who don’t understand the time differential that he’s referring to, this recording is taking place on a Thursday, shortly after 6 p.m. Central time in the States, and it is Friday, shortly after 9 a.m. in Australia. Correct? RD: That’s exactly right. We’re always ahead of you guys, and don’t you forget it. PP: So, you’ve got the self service. And talk about being forced into business -- you’ve got people showing up and saying, “Hey, help us build one of these things.” That’s gotta be pretty heady stuff. How long did you have to think about that before you made that leap? RD: Well, I remember, we had just opened, and Jim Coleman -- Mr. Coleman, Sr., that is -- came to visit us. And we were driving him around and showing him the sights and a couple other of these washes -- this entity called CarLovers, which some of your listeners might be aware of, they were really the trailblazers in Australia. It was a Canadian fella who had started a number of McDonald’s franchises here, and he had brought this concept here to Australia in cooperation with GinSan and


• FALL 2016 •

then PDQ, I think. It was a franchise. They ended up with over 80 franchised outlets under this name CarLovers. It built very quickly from the early 90s to the late 90s, when it started to unravel, which is a story I won’t get into. But all of us who are in the industry today have probably got that operation to thank to a certain degree. As I talked earlier about our challenge to educate the market in relation to the express tunnel business, you know, there was a challenge in the early days -- it wasn’t that difficult as it turned out -- but, the average consumer didn’t know what these carwashes were. CarLovers started building all these sites and spending quite a bit of money on TV advertising, and it really did us all a favor because it increased the consumer awareness of what this concept was all about, and very, very quickly, too.

DRIP, DRIP, DROP: RICHARD ON WATER ISSUES RD: I think we all share those same frustrations, Perry. I think dealing with local authorities is a challenge at the best of times. Within our business here, from the time that we first start talking to a potential customer who wants to build a carwash, I mean, we might be dealing with that customer for two or three years before we ever make a sale or make a dollar. Sort of leading them through the whole process of getting things through council and all of those challenges. I would think they’re probably pretty similar. Water is becoming a big issue; but it’s not really a problem, it’s more of an attitude. Ten years ago,

people here would put in recycle systems only if they were forced to. So, if there was a bylaw that said you had to put in a recycle system, they would -- but inevitably those recycle systems were installed and then turned off, probably by the second week of operation. It was just an added maintenance issue and the amount of water that they saved was incidental because water was so cheap. That has turned on its head. Water -- both in and out, because we pay for the cost of the water in and then a percentage of that usage for discharging into the sewage system -- so we’re hit at both ends, and those charges have doubled, quadrupled, and in some instances, even more than that. So all of a sudden, water has become a significant cost. There is now very significant return on investment on installing a recycle system. It does add an additional element of maintenance, and from an equipment supplier’s point of view -- taking any environmental aspects of it out of the equation -regardless of how good the recycle system is, the quality of the water you’re putting through your system is just not as good. It’s as simple as that. It does wear things like seals and pumps and so forth at a far higher rate. So often the customer is a bit unappreciative of the other benefits and savings the recycle system is making and really only sees that it’s increasing his costs on maintenance and equipment. If the recycle equipment is not properly maintained and you’re getting bad water through a CAT Pump, it will chew it up in no time. As far as other challenges, not really any different than the ones that you face. PP: We’re facing some drought issues here in the states. Just recently, in the last few weeks, I interviewed a gentleman who had been shut down two days a week by the city. I think that since that interview, they have resorted to trucking in water just to stay open. So I think for all of us water is {continued }

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• FALL 2016 •


Operator Q&A

far less a present resource than it used to be, and certainly, cities in the States are not well informed. For instance, they wouldn’t think that the restaurant down the street uses far more water than the car wash. I think we all, as an industry, are facing some of those challenges. RD: I really put that back to your industry association. And our association, although it’s very small and primarily voluntary, has been quite effective. Australia went through a pretty significant drought from about 2004 to about 2008. Actually, my favorite joke about it is that the drought broke the day we opened our tunnel in 2008. I think we broke the drought. It was about a five year drought. And there was a time where our industry was threatened to close. There were some country areas where the reservoirs were down to such a small level -- I’m talking about 4 and 5 percent full -- where they did cut water supply off to some regional areas and they were trucking in water. Our industry association went to bat with all the water authorities in all parts of the country and did a very, very good job of convincing them of exactly what you were saying. We’re only being targeted because we’re visual. Have you stopped the hotel from filling their spa baths? All these other industries which are using far more water than a car wash uses. It drove the push to create this carwash rating scheme that is still in use today. You had to prove you could wash a car with a given amount of water -- it was a somewhat complex game, because if you’re talking about self serve washes, then you’re talking about how long does it take to wash the car. But we had a process of saying if you spend X amount of time on this and this function you have to show how you’re going to use less water. And people got innovative showing how to reuse the reject water and putting smaller kits in and, of course, recycling came a very significant part of that, too.


• FALL 2016 •

The reality is that there’s no rule that says you have to recycle. But there are rules that say you have to prove you can wash a car -- typically, in an automatic during non-drought times with 100 liters of water. During drought, that goes down to 70 liters of water. With a touch-free, that’s quite a challenge. But it’s driven our industry down that path and we’re all the better for it, really. We’re now embraced by the water authorities and governments rather than seen as though we’re bad for the environment. That’s something that your industry association has to do for you -- they’ve got to go to bat on behalf of the members. PP: In the U.S., we have the WaterSavers program (from the International Carwash Association). They’re well entrenched in moving that process along. They’ve been very vocal -- I don’t know how much support they’ve done locally, but they’ve been very vocal in getting the word out about the plight of that region. Switching gears, how is your express doing?

HOLDING A CRYSTAL BALL: RICHARD CONSIDERS THE FUTURE OF HIS WASH RD: The express tunnel is doing okay. It’s a 102-foot conveyor with 25-feet of loading space; so 77-feet of washing area. It’s running a chain speed of about 80 vehicles an hour. The best we’ve ever seen is about

50, maybe 55. A lot of that is education. We have to do a lot of talking to customers that drive onto the conveyor -- giving them the correct instructions. It’s one of the things that we really understand and know that inevitably the efficiencies will come from that education. So that when customers know what they’re doing, we’ll get faster. We’re not at the point where we can just sort of wave them on and point at the instructions on the sign -- we’ve still got to talk to people. The bottom line is we’ve been washing in and around 50,000 cars a year since we opened. It’s been up a bit, and it’s been down a bit, but if we took the average that’s about what it is. We’d really like that to be in the 70s or 80s for our model to look like we want it to look. It’s not just that we want the business to be profitable -- of course we do, it’s a business -- but for me to really be able to promote the model to potential operators, we need those sort of numbers to be able to prove that we can do these things. We had a great trip to the show this year in Chicago (ICA’s Car Wash Show 2014). I’ve actually sold a 50 percent stake in my tunnel to a gentleman who will be known to some of your listeners, Leon Buchanan. He developed and operated two extremely succesful full service washes here in the early 2000s. They were conveyorized sort of hand washes -- you might call them full service. He’s a very good operator. He sold out of that business in about 2007 or ‘08. One of those situations where he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse. Our business was sort of bumbling along and I recognized that unlike a self service business where I can keep an eye on them every day and visit them once a week or so, the tunnel really needs someone looking at it and working at it on a daily basis in order to unlock the door to the next level of success. Leon had been a sort of associate of mine for many years and he was dabbling in this, that and the other, and since selling out I think he was mostly just enjoying golf a few days a week. But we had a chat and I convinced him



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• FALL 2016 •



• FALL 2016 •

Operator Q&A to come and buy a stake in the tunnel as a standalone business. It’s now coming on six years old, but Leon only came on about a year ago. So, we’re about to rebirth it, I suppose. We’ve looked at a lot of the interesting things that are going on in the U.S. industry -- particularly the introduction of that, well, let’s call it the lava bath. There’s a million different terms for it, but part of what we’re trying to do is really make it more exciting and more different to what people have been accustomed to, and also driving the ticket up. Part of the problem we’ve always faced is that even with our basic wash, we do such a good job of washing the car, that it’s somehow hard to justify why you’d buy the $16 premium wash from the $9 basic wash. We feel quite excited -- we’re about to install two of these lava arches. One at the very entrance and one further into the tunnel, and we’re also about to install some newer entrance controllers that can give us the ability to introduce wash clubs and other things like that. When I looked at your website the other day, I noticed your interview with yourself on wash clubs, and I found it very interesting. We’re at a really exciting phase, so it will be interesting to see where we end up in 12 months. We’re throwing quite a lot of money at the business just now to try and unlock the door, as I said, to get to that next level of volumes and see if we can make us “the” carwash to use in the area. We’re also bringing out a new cen-

It represents a great challenge, and if we can make it work, it will also benefit our equipment business -- which is obviously a large part of what drives me. PP: Well, Richard, what a pleasure and a privilege this has been. I want to thank you so much for spending some time with us and I think it would be a great idea to check back in with you in another year and see how things are going.

tral vacuum system -- up to now, we’ve had coin-operated vacuums. So we’ll be headed down the free vacuum path. That will be a leap of faith -- we’re talking about $40,000 a year currently in cash out of our vacuums. PP: It represents a commitment, for sure. RD: Yes, apart from just the money we’re spending on the equipment, which is significant, we’ve got to make up the $40,000 in revenue before we can break even on that deal. But we’re very excited about it. We’re both guys that are as keen in the end results for the end results sake as we are in the financial aspect of it. We’re very keen to see if we can make this thing work, even putting the financial side of it aside.

RD: I’d love to do it, Perry. I’ll try not to repeat too many of the bad stories. It has been an amazing ride. I feel like I’ve been able to see so many changes in the industry, now going on 21 years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Maybe not always the Sunday morning phone calls from the customers -- but it’s a great industry and it’s been great fun. I’m on my 22nd consecutive trip to the show in the u.S. and that’s a business trip that I really look forward to every year. If I could just convince them to keep it in Vegas! PP: I think a lot of us would agree with you on that! Thank you again, Richard. RD: My pleasure, Perry.

We want your stories!



is elieve what th b ’t n o w u o “Y ” t my wash… Darwin did a I ever made “The best decision as…” for my business w e to…” “On rainy days, I lik

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

Some n conversartsio starte :

Reach out to Editor Kate Carr katec@sscwn.com to share your story with our readers.

• FALL 2016 •


SSCWN introduces a new column by Dallas operator Tom Scott that sheds some light on the matter of

“Bonus Lighting.” by Tom Scott

Hello. As a matter of introduction, my name is Tom Scott, and I have frequently been accused of being cursed with too many aptitudes. I won’t bore you with all the many enterprises I have been involved in, but through most of it I have been in the self serve car wash business (The Wash Rack) in Dallas for about 50 years. I built my washes myself, and I mean literally, with my own 2 hands. Most everything except for pouring and finishing the concrete. My youth was spent mostly in the oil patch where I was constantly told “If you can’t do it, you can’t stay!” So for the most part, I usually “just do it.”

JUST DO IT ... I started with a 4-bay, then added an 11-bay, and then a 12-bay. That was back in the days of nightmarish “mechanical coin acceptors and timers” -the likes of which most of you have fortunately never experienced. For a while, the 11-bay and the

minimal employee complications, and then somehow went astray. The recession of the 80’s brought me back to my senses, and since then I have focused on self serve. I am bumping on 75 now, and still own and operate my 11-bay on Greenville Avenue here in Dallas. This wash was the first in the market area, which is very heavy on apartments and condos.

Seeing my success as the years passed, at least 8 competitive washes entered the same market area. Most were obviously folks that thought all they had to do was put soap in and take money out; while the trash piled up, the bays flooded, the equipment deteriorated, and vandals destroyed what was left. Still, my washes have always been the highest priced and the most successful. Seems

12-bay both had gasoline and convenience store facilities, which quite frankly ate my lunch. I originally went into the self serve part of the business because of the huge advantages of a business with


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(Editor’s Note: SSCWN was unable to independently verify Tom’s claim to being the first to introduce this innovative technology to the industry, but we’re excited to follow him down the rabbit hole in a future issue as he walks us through the history and process of it all.) {continued }

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AROUND THE WASH that for some reason, customers like a wash that is clean and well lighted, where things work that are supposed to, and there is plenty of soap. Imagine that? I have always found it much easier to learn from other’s mistakes than to make my own, and I have always been prone to share my experiences with others, especially in a win/ win situation. Therefore, considering my many years of experience in this business, the folks at SSCWN agreed there might be some benefit to others from sharing my thoughts on some of the trials, tribulations, experimentations, successes, and failures, etc., that I have experienced over almost a half a century in this business. Just as a quick example: I literally conceived, designed, assembled (on my kitchen table), and installed the very first electronic coin acceptor/counter/timer that was ever in a self serve car wash! Just imagine how much effect that has had on the industry? I and my friend Arlie Collins (now deceased) were the 2 founders of The North Texas Car Wash Association, which went on to become the current Southwest Car Wash Associ-

ation, one of the most influential and powerful in the business.

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT ON THE MATTER Since this month’s focus of the SSCWN has to do with lighting as a function of security, I thought I would pass along something I did recently which as far as I know is unique and has been very successful. It began with a fairly major project to replace the old Metal Halide light fixtures in my 11 wash bays with new LED lighting. The metal halides had replaced the old original fluorescents probably 25 years ago. Nowadays, it has become quite common knowledge to anyone paying attention that LED lighting has numerous substantial advantages over all the previous methods of lighting. Although upgrading to LED involves a fair amount of initial {continued }


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expense, the fixture prices continue to drop as the volumes of production and use grow. And that capital expense is quickly overcome by the savings in operating costs, the huge difference in longevity, much less deterioration of the amount of light output over time, almost total elimination of replacement bulb costs, and a HUGE improvement in light “quality.” This all translates into less maintenance labor changing all those bulbs, better security, greater customer appeal and satisfaction, and therefore greater revenues. I’ll point out some other unexpected benefits later. I initially chose to install four 4-foot, 40-watt fixtures (160 watts total) in each bay (12-foot height). I first bought 4 fixtures and stuck them up in one bay with temporary wiring as an experiment just to see if that would be enough. Compared to the old metal halide fixtures, the difference was amazing! I really never realized how much the output of those MH bulbs deteriorated over time, or how often I had replaced them. Then a friend of mine, Mel Hendricks, made the offhand observation that it would be neat if there were EXTRA lights (I call it “Bonus Lighting”) that came on when the customer had the bay timer running! The idea kept eating at me, and after giving it a little thought, I realized that there might really be something to that idea. Actually a lot more than I first thought!


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Now, none of us like the thought of having more lighting operating on the wash than is necessary to serve the security needs and the “occasional” customer late at night, right? Yet, having good lighting for the night time customers makes sense if you have any hope to build your night time business. So finding that “happy medium” between enough lighting operating all night for security and the customers, and yet not wasting money on unnecessary lighting is somewhat of a conundrum.

THE HAPPIEST AND BRIGHTEST OF MEDIUMS So, after a lot of consideration I decided to roll the dice and invest in 8 fixtures for each bay. Yes EIGHT! For my 11 bays that meant 88 fixtures. I wired four of the fixtures in each bay (two on each side) to the regular photocell operated circuitry that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn. Those were the four originally planned, and which I had already determined were far superior in comparison to the old metal halide lighting. {continued }

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Now comes the good part. I added one fixture to each end of the bays, and one fixture to the middle on each side of the bays. That’s four more total, or DOUBLE the original plan, which I wired to a 24-volt operated relay that is actuated by the bay timer. This circuitry only allows the bonus lighting to operate when the photocell is on, therefore only at night. The 24-volt relay is a very small and inexpensive relay due to the fact that the LED fixtures draw so little current. I actually bought them at an electronics salvage store. Now, when the customers drive in, the bays are really well lighted (better than before for sure). THEN, when they activate the timer (with tokens or charge card) the other 4 fixtures come on (for 320 watts total)! The lighting is AMAZING!

THE BENEFITS OF BONUS LIGHTING First of all, these extra lights ONLY operate when they are being specifically PAID FOR. Secondly, they give the customer the impression that they are getting something EXTRA for their money (which they are). Then - they provide amazing light which means that the customers can SEE the dirt and grime on their car better, which means they will spend more meter time to clean it. Since

I provide copious foam from my brushes as well as the high pressure soap cycle, they can SEE better to spend more meter time making all that soap go away with the rinse. And of course, the customers can better appreciate how clean their car is when they finish. Best of all - they love it! Ever notice how much longer it takes to rinse off really copious rich thick foam? The high pressure rinse seems to make it foam even more! The best part is - the customers love it. Also - the security cameras work better at night with all that light. It’s hard to put a definite $ amount on what increase in sales would be directly attributable to the new “Bonus Lighting,” but I am very pleased. It is not unusual to find all the bays in operation long after “dark thirty.” And - did I mention - “The customers love it!” Next issue I plan to outline a guide to converting to tokens, and cover how I went into the “Token Selling Business.” I now have 3 Rowe “token only” changers at my one wash. Changing from coins to tokens can be a minefield and is something that needs to be done with caution and careful consideration. But if done properly can be the best move you can ever make. I’ll map it out for you next issue. That’s it for this first take on “Around the Wash”. Hope it was of some benefit. See you “Around The Wash.” Tom Scott • FALL 2016 •


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 AutoCareForum.com.

To raise or not to raise the price ... that is the question It’s not the first time, and it definitely won’t be the last time: We’re talking about raising the price in the bay again. (Spoiler Alert: You should definitely raise it.) Also in this issue’s Tricks of the Trade, we revisit a popular thread from 2008 about the Vacitup system, which received glowing reviews at the time, and discover new ideas for maintenance of this time-saving coin collecting machine.

MDrost1: I have been toying with the idea of raising my SS price (actually cutting the time). I am currently at $2 for 4 minutes to start. Thinking about $2 for 3:30 to start and $3 for 5 minutes minimum with CC. A little background. I have a 5 bay SS with an IBA. Everything works properly. Tire Cleaner, Engine Degreaser, Foam Brush, Spot Free, HP Wax, HP Soap, Pre Soak, HP Rinse. If I ever have an issue it is dealt with in a quick fashion, and I don’t let unsatisfied customers leave without a sense of satisfaction. I have spent the first 2 1/2 years of my ownership dealing with a lot of deferred maintenance. I have made a lot of upgrades. Cryptopay on all bays, 2 vacs. New meter doors. I keep everything clean and well maintained as I live a mile from the site. For 16 years this wash has been at $2 for 4minutes to start. As I mentioned above, thinking about $2 for 3:30 to start, and $3 for 5 minute minimum with CC. My only competition is 3 miles away. They operate from a distance. I checked out their wash yesterday and it is $2 for 5:30 to start. They don’t have pre soak(didn’t work), Spot free, HP wax (didn’t work). Only functions that worked were HP rinse, HP soap, FB (very poor show, all air), tri foam, and tire cleaner. They have an M5 that doesn’t accept CC (broken). Would you cut time? Thanks for your advice!

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the result of reader feedback, I’m excited to introduce our new TL;DR feature (that’s internet speak for “Too Long; Didn’t Read”) which will follow every Tricks of the Trade post with a succinct summary of the conversation. You can find the “TL;DR” at the end of each topic.

TL; DR: The minute you start thinking about raising the price, it’s time to raise the price. Don’t bother trying to lower the time per cycle in order to drive profits -you’re always better off making more money with the same amount of time rather than trying to drive volumes (which leads to more wear and tear on your equipment). 40

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chaz: Leave the time as is. Raise the price. I’m $3 for 4 minutes, went up $1 two years ago. Same price cash or credit but credit is count up. If you want to see more $ in your pocket, raise the start price. You will also notice less mess! I’ve been afraid to raise my vac price from $1 for four minutes cause that’s the price most others charge. Well, one vac filled with wet cement made my decision easier. New decals in production $2 for 6 minutes. Randy: My wash is in a small town of about 6500 people. About 5 years ago I cut my bay time from 4 minutes for $2 to 3:30 minutes and lowered my vac time down to 3:30 minutes from 4 minutes for a dollar, not a single complaint. This last January 1st I raised my bay prices to $2.25 to start for 3:30 minutes and raised the vac’s to $1.25 for 3:30 minutes, again not a single complaint. On January 1st I’m going to raise the prices again to $2.50 for 3:30 minutes in the bays and $1:50 for 3:30 minutes on the vac’s. The only thing I’m seeing is more revenue. Mike I wouldn’t hesitate one minute to raise my prices. Waxman: I like a $3 start because it raises the price for those who just want to spend 1 cycle worth of money. You could raise the startup price and slightly lower time per coin and have the best of both worlds. BTW; I can’t believe you have been at $2 for 16

years and you are fretting about raising the price. MEP001: FWIW I like to raise the price AND the time. I routinely creep the time per coin down, then at some point I’ll raise the price and bring the time per coin way up. After a few months I’ll start creeping the time per coin down again. Robert Roman: “…..toying with the idea of raising my SS price….cutting the time….currently at $2 for 4 minutes….” This means base price is $0.50 per minute, $2.00 for 3.5 minutes is $0.57 per minute, and $3.00 for 5 minutes is $0.60 per minute. So, strategy is to increase price plus customers have 30 seconds less time to solve their problems whereas they get more time (1.5 minutes) with credit card purchase but at a higher price per minute. Without knowing what the goal and objective is, it’s hard to determine if this (squeezing more money from existing customers) is a good or bad strategy. For example, it’s very difficult for a mature selfserve (16 years old) to increase wand-bay sales volumes (attracting new customers) without significant improvement like changing business model to pay-one-price, wash-all-you-want. In most cases, the greatest gains today come from improving in-bay performance. {continued }





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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 AutoCareForum.com.

Vacitup? Originally posted March 2008, by Max: Has anyone had issues with Vacitup? I really like the idea but I am curious if it’s reliable. Thanks!

TL; DR: Vacitup system saves time and improves security at washes. When dealing with machines that have had bad clogs, try using a vacuum, compressed air, or even coat hangers/flexible claw tools to loosen the coins. Regular maintenance is encouraged.

big leo48: Installed it in my 8 bay SS three years ago. Would not consider building one without it. I also regret not piping it to my vac islands. MEP001: The biggest complaints I’ve heard about the systems has been with the installations. The coins rushing through the pipes can smash the PVC elbows, so you’d want to use hose or flexible plastic conduit. If I were ever to build a wash with one, I’d install normal vaults below vacs and bays with a removable elbow inside so if there was a clog it would be easy to clear. The only other major item of failure is the motors. billintexas: We have had it on a 5-bay for three years and replaced one motor. No regrets. rzeavy: We had it in our 4 bays for eight years. At our newer 6 bays & 8 bays we have the plumbing, but never installed the system. Unless you are in a high crime area, I would not use the system for three reasons: The motor turns on every six coins (in our case) - cost of electricity and the occasional motor change is too high. When the coins jam, you spend too much time to unclog the system. In 4 bays (2 coin boxes) it takes 60 seconds to collect the coins. easywash: I have it on my 3 vac islands and I wouldn’t build a site without it. Another car wash owner: Love the system! We have it in our self-serve bays and vac is-

To raise or not to raise the price Washing a couple of thousand more cars a year in the in-bay is going to generate a lot more money than incremental changes proposed for wands. One way to improve in-bay performance is with a website and mobile marketing strategy to promote the wash and attract the younger generation. Do you have a website or virtual store? On the other hand, if you want to get existing wand-bay users to buy more, loyalty rewards program is a proven strategy. MDrost1: Great advice from all! Thank you. The wash has been around since 1987 actually. 1999 was the last price hike. This was done by the previous owner. I bought is 2 1/2 years ago, and things are going well. I don’t need to raise prices, but considering the upgrades, maintenance, and 16 years since the last price raise, I thought it might be a good time. I do not have a web site or virtual store. Though, I am tech savvy enough to make that happen soon. Haven’t seen a need for it yet. I have been thinking about upgrading my “Ex-


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lands. Very few problems with clogging due to installation and a couple of motors. Would do it again. Micah Savell: I have installed three (3) Vacitup systems. The last one even does the bills from the auto cashiers. SWEET!!! I agree with bigleo48, I wouldn’t build another without it! In addition, {continued }

{continued }

pressKey” loyalty system to the new CryptoPay System or the “Touch4Wash” system. Anybody have experience with either? Thanks!!! chaz: First thing I’d do, like TODAY is raise the price. I’d go $3 for four minutes. You’ll Likely notice more $ in your pocket quickly, and your customers will not feel like you are cheating them on time. Used to be you could buy a half gallon of ice cream. Now the carton looks the same, but much less product, for I guess the same $. I’m not an idiot, nor are my customers...if you need or want to raise your price, then do so just don’t give me less time for the same money. Good luck. soapy: Here is a way to look at your profit when comparing your price raise. Let’s say you are at $2 for 4 minutes now. A general industry rule of thumb is a 35% variable cost for soaps, water etc. So at $2 you are making $1.30 per cycle. Raise your price to $3 per cycle and your COGS does not change but profit becomes $2.30 for the same cycle. In order to make the same amount of money you have to wash almost twice as many cars to

make the same amount of money. (1.76 X). Factor in all the wear and tear you save on equipment at the higher rate and you are very close to needing double the number of washes to make the same profit. Too many times SS operators look only at keeping the bays full instead of the bottom line. I personally would rather wash 1/2 the cars and make the same amount of profit. Express tunnels are setup so that they need large volume to pay for themselves. I think SS washes need to look at profitability per cycle and not settle for small profits that rely on large volume. rph9168: I worked for a company that was driven in their pricing strategy more by what the market will bear than straight percentages. In some cases they made what many would consider less than a good percentage of profits while on others they tripled the price over the cost. In the end they were extremely profitable. While it is important to know what your competitors are charging it is also is important to make sure you {continued }

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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 AutoCareForum.com.

To raise or not to raise the price


{continued } can live with your wash’s profitability. There are many washes out there that went under trying to be the cheapest in town or thought matching competitors’ pricing was the way to go. Go with pricing you can live with. chaz: Yep. I don’t care if I have the busiest bays....I just want the most profitable! Plus my higher pricing seems to chase most of the slobs away. MDrost1: Update... Just raised my prices. Thanks for the advice! Hopefully all goes well! Chaz: What’s your new price and time? MDrost1: I felt comfortable with $3 for 5 minutes. BBE: So you are 3 dollars to start now? MDrost1: Correct, Sir.

{continued }

Ed and Cheryl from Vacitup have been really great to work with. Their level of customer service takes you back to another time and era. At time when, the customer was important. Dealing with them has been refreshing! Bob Koo: I’ve been operating the Vac-It-Up system since 2001 on 5 Bays of SS and four double vac islands. They all pull to a central vault in an office located in the equipment room. This is a Florida site, so the purpose of the unit is for safety in collection of coins and convenience. I could see additional benefits if it was a colder climate and not having to deal with frozen locks. I’ll have a clog maybe once a year in one of the tubes in the Vac islands but just duct tape a hose to the one of my 3 motor vacs and clear the clog. I think my system was one of the first in Florida and would not build a site without one. I understand that Car Nation can now vacuum bills which would be a very nice feature for my automatic tellers. Cheryl and Ed, just make doing business with

Car Nation a pleasure. Coincarwash.ca: I have two washes; a 12 bay and a 9 bay. I built the 9 bay from the ground up and installed a Vacitup in it because I loved the system in my 12 bay. I had a two timers die on me and a couple of vacs in my 12 bay, it is 6 or 7 years old. Nothing like hearing the coins fly through the tubes and into the vault on a busy day............... sounds a little like a casino. Andy: How does this work for dollar bills? Are there separate vaults; one for coins and one for bills? What is the vault like for the dollar bills, does it empty into a big box, then it’s up to you to sort and stack the bills? washnvac: Agreed, I would not build one without it. I have four locations. BE SURE your installer knows what they are doing. You need access points in the right places, especially within the bays walls, where you can’t get to it easily. When going to vac islands put in a 4 inch sleeve, then use gas line to run from vacs to room. Gas line (yellow

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UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2016 pvc) will give you no problems. SplashJosh: I’ve spoke with Ed and Cheryl a few times in the last week or so. I have taken over the maintenance on the vac it up system at a friends car wash and it has been severely neglected over the last year and a half due to the man that maintained the Va itup system passing away. I have a few islands that have quarters and tokens staked to the top of the collection hose and I have retrieved the first 6” of the hose but cannot get further due to a curve... How do you manage? Any help and suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Mep001: I’ve worked on a couple that had bad clogs. One had 1 1/2” pipe and I was able to run a thin wall 1” hose hooked to a vacuum down the tube and sucked them out. The other had 1 1/4” pipe and I had to use a 3/4” piece of hose with a vacuum and pick them out one quarter at a time.

Earl Weiss: You could also try compressed air. You might need more capacity than the wash compressor can deliver. Some electricians use them to shoot wire down a pipe. SplashJosh: Earl, I rigged up an contraption that allowed me to hook out compressor up to an drain bladder. I popped the first one but I bought the next size up and it held the entire time but nothing broke free. I had a little bit of dirt fall on me from my vault vacuum but other than that nothing. I’m back to my regular job tomorrow and back to the carwash Saturday (next weekend) I’m going to try and do the small shop vac with thin 1” hose and see what I come up with. I do truly appreciate everyone’s input and please keep it coming. I will update next weekend mjc3333: Have 3 car washes with 22 bays all with vac it up since 2002. Best decision ever! Had all the issues. If the clog is really bad, I would end up using a piece of heavy coat hanger wire along with a small shop vac. Also a flexible claw type tool for retrieving a lost nut or bolt. I also have

access to a towable air compressor that can unclog them in a snap, just watch out for projectile coins. When you try then heavy coat hanger, you have to get the wire between some of the coins first, then the shop vac will work. If not, the coins are actually stuck together like a jigsaw puzzle and the vac will do nothing. One mistake I did was had the coins fall down through the flexible conduit in the wall at a very shallow angle like the letter U. I redesigned them to fall out of the bottom of the coin acceptor and now make a fairly hard right hand turn, almost 90 degrees, then immediately start tracking up the wall. This was all done in the wall, not on the outside of course.


SCWA Convention & EXPO February 26–28, 2017 Arlington Convention Center Arlington, Texas www.swcarwash.org • FALL 2016 •



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INNOVATIONS From Cleaning Systems, Inc.: Improved recycling capabilities

Cleaning Systems, Inc. (CSI) has announced the introduction of a new product, Crush-A-Jug™. Designed to complement CSI’s Ultraflex® System, which utilizes ultra-concentrated products in one gallon containers, Crush-A-Jug™ facilitates easy crushing and subsequent recycling of empty plastic jugs. One of the primary benefits of the Ultraflex® System is that it enables wash operators tremendous flexibility. Chemical storage reservoirs can be placed on racks, in cabinets, or mounted on walls. The Ultraflex® system has the lowest carbon footprint in the industry. With the introduction of CrushA-Jug™, CSI® is taking their commitment to the next level. Empty, one gallon jugs can now be easily crushed and then efficiently stored for recycling. CSI’s Crush-A-Jug™ is made in the USA out of high grade stainless steel. It reduces the empty gallon size jug to approximately one third of its size, enabling more plastic jugs to be disposed of and transported to the appropriate recycling facility in the same amount of space.


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Happenings In & Around Self Serve Carwashing

DRB Systems, the point-of-sale software and business solutions company based in Akron, OH, has acquired Elkridge, MD-based Unitec, a producer of advanced hardware and software for the carwash market, according to a joint press release. According to the release, each company will re-

tain their identities, employees and locations under the arrangement, which includes a staff of nearly 300 and a combined install base of more than 14,000 carwashes -- but allows the two companies to “go to market as the largest provider of technology, point-of-sale and payment systems nationwide.” The release said the deal formalizes a collaboration which has existed for “many years” between the two operations. “The long-standing relationship has enabled both companies to benefit from market experience, customer insight, technological innovation and passion about commitment to customers’ success,” the release said. DRB Systems President and CEO Bill Morgenstern elaborated in the release, “Together, DRB and Unitec will deliver the power and energy to continue leading our industry, but now with the combined strength of these two premier providers working in concert with each other to serve our customers’ needs. For example, Unitec has done a particularly great job in developing relationships with distributors, and the opportunity to leverage the large national distribution network is especially exciting.” “Individually, we have been strong for decades,” Unitec President Pam Piro said. “DRB has a sterling reputation on the technological end of our business and Unitec is a world-class production house that has provided advanced hardware and software for more than three decades.” The release noted that the new organization will now be able to serve “literally every carwash segment in the United States.” “Now that we are in the same organization, we can work in sync to dramatically enhance our customers’ experiences and profitability with our products, services and innovation,” Morgenstern said. Valet Car Wash in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, is now the continent’s first self-serve carwash to stop accepting coins and instead allow customers to use their mobile cellphones to start up the bay, according to an article in The Cambridge Times. “The coin-operated machines have been in place for 50 years, but these days people don’t carry


• FALL 2016 •

Are those wedding bells we hear off in the distance? In this issue’s Industry Dirt we’re celebrating two big deal “marriages” in the carwash industry. Please join the SSCWN staff in congratulating DRB Systems and Unitec, as well as Zips Car Wash and Boomerang, as they unite their respective companies. Make sure you take those cans off the car before hitting up the car wash! “I do” think you’ll think this is a big deal, too: Valet Car Wash is now the first carwash on the continent to stop accepting coins in favor of mobile app payments! We’re also celebrating the charitable accomplishments of Benny’s Car Wash, which raised nearly $45,000 for the families of the fallen officers in Baton Rouge, LA.

around cash like their grandparents did,” Mike Black, Valet Car Wash owner, former ICA president, and renowned self serve operator, said in the article. “All they carry now is a cellphone and a debit card.” According to the article, car wash customers now scan a QR code posted in the bay and follow a few simple directions to begin washing. Those who don’t want to use the technology can opt to swipe their cash or credit cards to purchase tokens. “This is standard in car washes in Europe, but it wasn’t until now that the technology is available here,” Black said in the article. He noted the new system is actually a year too late -- last year, Valet suffered a break-in where more than two dozen newly installed windows were smashed as an effort to steal coins from the wash. Valet Car Wash is the largest brand of independent operator of car washes in Ontario and is currently expanding through company-owned locations as well as through licensing agreements with existing operators. Zips Car Wash has acquired Boomerang Car Wash in the largest single-company acquisition in the history of the carwash industry, according to a press release about the trans-

action. The acquisition will create North America’s third largest tunnel car wash company with 57 locations across the southeast and southcentral United States. According to the release, Zips has 23 existing locations and Boomerang brings 31 locations to the combined operation, with three more sites under construction. “With the other deals we have in our acquisition pipeline we fully expect to be the second largest car wash company in the United States by the end of 2016,” Brett Overman, founder and chairman of Zips, said in the release. Overman launched his first car wash in Paragould, AR in 2004, the release noted. Today, Zips Car Wash is headquartered in Jonesboro, AR, while Boomerang is based in Little Rock. Overman says Zips will maintain management offices in both Arkansas cities, with James Burks of Boomerang moving into the role of CEO of the new, combined company. The entire Boomerang management team is staying on board with Zips, according to Overman.

Cleaning Systems, Inc. (CSI) of De Pere, WI, a manufacturer of cleaning and protection chemical products, as well as chemical application technology, has announced an addition to its staff and a promotion, according to two recent press releases. Justin Ruelas has been hired to the position of Lustra® Regional Sales Manager covering southwest regions of the United States. According to the press release, Ruelas grew up in the carwash industry and had experience in various roles. In 2006, he served as the Operations Manager at Cobblestone Auto Spa, before taking some time to pursue a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree “while looking for the right opportunity to re-enter the industry he is so passionate about.” In an earlier release, CSI announced the promotion of Anthony Shifflett to the position of Director of Key Accounts. Shifflett lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife and two children. He has been with CSI since 2013 in the role of Regional Sales Manager in the Mid-Atlantic area. Prior to joining CSI he spent six years in chemical sales with another chemical manufacturer. {continued }

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INDUSTRY DIRT SONNY’S The CarWash Factory, the largest manufacturer of conveyorized car wash equipment, parts, and supplies in the world, has launched a new website, www.SonnysDirect.com, and included a money saving feature for all online orders that will lower delivery costs for operators across the country. “Two years ago, we were able to leverage our shipping volume to guarantee 3-Day ground shipping anywhere in the continental United States,” says company CFO David Shield. “Now, with the launch of our new website, we were able to negotiate an even better deal for our customers. We’re calling it our Ground Guarantee, which basically means that no matter how heavy your shipment is, or where it’s going, you’ll get it in 3 days or less and the freight charge will be fixed not to exceed a set amount.” The new Ground Guarantee rates and restrictions are published on the website, calculate automatically in the shopping cart, and are only available for online orders. Existing Sonny’s online account holders can simply reset their password if they haven’t already done so to activate this new discount. Anyone who does not have an online account can simply request one online.

• FALL 2016 54 drum_ad.indd 1

Brown Bear Car Wash celebrated its 59th anniversary by giving away 29,673 free washes at 22 tunnel wash locations across the Puget Sound area. The total surpasses the previous one-day record of 26,437 set in 2015. Over the past 10 years the family-owned, Seattle-based company (which includes 44 car wash facilities in Washington State, as well as a large network of gas stores and convenience stations) has provided nearly 280,000 free “Beary Clean” washes to celebrate its August “birthday” and to honor former and current service members on Veterans Day. “It’s a big day for us, and a great way to say ‘thank you’ to our customers,” said Brown Bear founder and CEO Victor Odermat. “From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. we added sparkle and shine to thousands of cars and trucks, and generated a lot of smiles among our customers, too.” Odermat opened the company’s first location in 1957 at 15th Ave West in Seattle. Brown Bear now owns and operates a total of 44 car washes throughout the Puget Sound area and Spokane. Widely recognized for its environmentally-friendly practices, Brown Bear uses gentle, biodegradable cleaning detergents at all its locations.

(Editor’s Note: Check out SSCWN’s Summer 2016 for an extensive interview with Odermat.) Dosatron International, Inc., a provider of water-powered, proportional chemical injectors to the carwash industry, has named Juan Emilio Acosta as Vice President, Business Development – Latin America. According to the press release, Acosta brings over 25 years’ experience in animal production in Latin America. His strong experience with the animal health markets as a channel partner manager, brand and product manager, as well as sales and marketing, are the perfect fit to develop Dosatron in the Latin America region. He holds an International Business Administration Specialist Degree and a Marketing Diploma. Benny’s Car Wash, B-Quik and Oil Change raised $44,904 for the Fallen Officers Fund, according to a press release. A check was presented to the families of Montrell Jackson, Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald and Nicolas Tullier Friday, September 2, 2016 at Benny’s Corporate office on Airline, LA. Benny’s Car Wash, B-Quik and Oil Change felt

10/21/16 11:32 AM


connected to each fallen officer through their frequent patronage or partnership in protecting Benny’s seven locations. Being the site of the tragic shootings, Benny’s set out to raise funds for the families of the fallen officers. The Fallen Officers Fund aimed to quickly give support for the families’ immediate needs. Benny’s gave a free wash code for each donation of $10 or more. “We are proud to have raised such a generous amount for the families of the fallen officers. We appreciate each contribution and ask that you continue to keep these families in your thoughts and prayers,” said Justin Alford, Owner. Benny’s would also like to share gratitude with the car wash community for their overwhelming support and generosity.

Carolina Pride Carwash Systems and Solutions celebrated fifty years in the car wash industry with a grand opening luncheon at their new 90,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Timberlake, NC. Carolina Pride President and Owner, Dale Reynolds hosted the grand opening luncheon for over 200 guests at the new facility in Timberlake, NC. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Roxboro Mayor Merilyn Newell, Person County Commissioner Chairman David Newell, Person County Board of Education Chairman Gordon Powell and Piedmont Community College President Dr. Walter Bartlett, were among the special guests. The founders of Carolina Pride, Billy and Kay Reynolds were the honored guest of the event. Owner Reynolds said, “The new facility is an opportunity for us to continue to grow,” and publicly thanked the staff for the current success of the company. Reynolds emphasized the growing need for training, both for customers and future potential employees and was gratefully thanked by Gordon Powell, Chairman of the Person County Board of Education for Carolina Pride’s financial gift to help fund the Electrical Trades Program at Person County High School. Powell spoke about how


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Carolina Pride and The Person County Board of Education have worked together to develop High School training in specific areas that will help train students for employment opportunities in the car wash industry. In addition, Dr. Bartlett, President of Piedmont Community College, announced that Carolina Pride has initiated a student scholarship endowment in honor of Billy and Kay Reynolds. President Reynolds noted how Carolina Pride has grown to 62 employees and evolved over the years with the addition of many new products and services and concluded the event by presenting Governor McCrory with a token of appreciation for his service, support of businesses in North Carolina, and specifically in Person County.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it ... Awesome idea alert: Quick Quack Car Wash, the California-based carwash chain with 26 locations in four states, has announced the sponsorship of a creative writing contest which will simultaneously promote its brand and also celebrate local students. The writing contest encourages students in the fourth to twelfth-grade to invent the biography of the company’s beloved mascot duck named Quackals. The contest has an entry deadline of November 1, 2016 and has a grand prize of $1,000 for the selected entry and eight $100 prizes for one winner chosen from each grade level. The teacher and parent or guardian of each winning student will receive Free Unlimited Car Washes for one vehicle for one year. Winners will be selected by Quick Quack Car Wash and its customers. Winners will be announced on December 1, 2016 and posted on DontDriveDirty.com “For years we have wanted to tell the story of Quackals, the Quick Quack Duck, and share with our fans more of his background and how he became our mascot,” said Travis Kimball, Chief Marketing Officer of Quick Quack. “Now we have the

Well, every bad news story deserves some good news, eh? We’ve mentioned Rising Tide Car Wash in the pages of SSCWN before, most recently when the location was awarded by the International Carwash Association for their work in providing job opportunities to people with autism. The company continues to be lauded by those within the industry -- and now Starbucks is highlighting the business in a six-minute video as part of a “feel good” series on its mobile app,


• FALL 2016 •

opportunity to let our fans participate in that storytelling. We are excited to read all of the creative entries describing where he came from and how he ended up as the mascot of our growing chain of car washes.” Quick Quack Car Wash has an established track record of being an active community partner, sponsoring local events and athletic programs as well as contributing to community groups’ fundraising efforts. Quick Quack is regularly named the favorite or best car wash in the areas where they operate and has been recognized and honored for sustainable business practices and water conservation. Aside from the big yellow duck named Quackals, Quick Quack Car Wash is best known for its unlimited “wash all you want” car wash memberships, tie-wearing cashiers, free vacuums and water conservation practices.

website and YouTube account, according to The Sun Sentinel. The Starbucks spots focus on “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities,” according to a news release. According to the Sentinel, the six-minute video shows a day in the life at Rising Tide Car Wash, which was founded by John D’Eri. He was inspired by his son, Andrew, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 1/2 years old. “He is not going to be independent unless I can

help him to be so,” John D’Eri said in the video, as he explains how he got the idea for the car wash while sitting in one. He thought that such an enterprise could help people like his son realize their potential and independence while making friends. “...I am thinking to myself, ‘Andrew can do this back-end process without a doubt,’” added D’Eri. The video, which features slices of Andrew’s home life with family, also shows him drying cars and polishing tires with fellow employees at the business. Older brother, Thomas D’Eri, who is the company’s chief executive officer, also appears in the video. “A lot of people on the [autism] spectrum embrace structure. We use color coding. We use visual aids,’ John D’Eri said. The car wash, on State Road 7 north of Hillsboro Boulevard, has 35 employees who are autistic. John D’Eri plans to expand with a second location in Margate later this year or early 2017. The total number of employees with autism at both locations would be 90, according to the company.

EXTRA! EXTRA! In case you hadn’t heard, Washington State takes its environmental regulations pretty seriously -- especially regarding its local waterways. The carwash industry has played a major part in proving local water systems are negatively affected by contaminated runoff water from at-home driveway washing and charity parking lot washes (thanks Vic Odermat and Brown Bear Car Wash!). So it’s no surprise the owner of an industrial carwash company is facing charges from the state after he was accused of dumping acidic wastewater into Tacoma’s sewer system and using water from the city’s fire hydrant system. According to an article in The News Tribune, Ryan James Lewis pleaded not guilty at arraignment to charges of reckless endangerment, violation of the state’s hazardous waste management act, violation of the state’s water pollution control act and two counts of first-degree defrauding a public utility. Charging papers obtained by The News Tribune state the following: “Lewis has gotten four warnings, two notices of violations and three cease-and-desist orders from the city in connection with the business at 1820 Portland Ave. “A little more than a year after the company started, the city tried to get the company to comply with water quality requirements, and Lewis got a permit in 2014 to discharge wastewater into the sewer system. “In January 2015, an investigator found puddles of acidic water around the business, and, in May 2015, saw an employee fall into a basin of hydrofluoric acid. The investigator helped the worker wash out his eyes in a nearby bathroom. “The state Department of Labor and Industry fined Lewis $7,000 for the incident. The department says he hasn’t paid the fine. “An employee told an investigator that in summer 2015, the city shut down the business because acidic wastewater wasn’t properly treated before it was discharged. “When Lewis learned of the closure, the employee said, he ordered workers to keep the company open anyway. “The worker said there were several times when the water was more acidic than the permit allowed, but when he told Lewis, he kept discharging it into the city’s sewer system. The worker said he’d also seen the company dump wastewater on the ground when it was supposed to be taken off-site for disposal. “In January, a city worker saw the business take water from a fire hydrant. That same month, when Lewis reported his 2003 Chevrolet van stolen to Federal Way police, he listed a fire hydrant adapter kit as one of the items that had been inside, according to court records.”

Speaking of driving dirty... some carwash customers in McKeesport, PA, are seeing red after a trip through the carwash left their vehicles looking white. According to a news report on WTAE, another customer at Route 148 Car Wash drove a truck with unsecured white paint cans in the back through the carwash and the two following cars were splattered as a result. Not only that, the force of the water jets at the wash actually sprayed the paint all over the bay, including the

equipment and the ceiling, before it dripped on to the next two vehicles to go through the bay. Police are currently checking security camera video to determine the owner of the truck -- who left before anyone could speak to him or her. In the meantime, customer Karen Kuybal wants the carwash owner to take responsibility for the incident, which left her new Lincoln MKZ with white paint bonded to its black finish. The carwash’s owner, however, believe the truck owner should be responsible. Kuybal has yet to get an estimate for any possible repair.

Sound the alarm! We’ve got another awesome idea alert: Mike’s Carwash recently became the official carwash of the Cincinnati Bengals and the chain kicked off its sponsorship by offering discounted carwashes for Bengals fans. After the Bengals defense records 2 sacks on the opposing quarterback in a game, fans can get Mike’s Ultimate Wash for just $14 all day the following day –a savings of $6. “We are excited to be the Official Carwash of the Cincinnati Bengals and even more pleased to be able to pair our promotion with the Marvin Lewis Community Fund. Giving back is part of the foundation of Mike’s Carwash and we feel blessed to be a part of the great work that they are doing,” says Mike Dahm, president of Mike’s Carwash. Mike’s will donate $1 for each Ultimate Wash purchased after 2 sack game days to the Marvin Lewis Community Fund programs that empower youth education. “We have no other sponsorship like this,” says Barbara Dundee, executive director of the Marvin Lewis Community Fund. “We’re really excited

about it and think it’s going to be awesome. We are so passionate about kids and education and know that Mike’s is too, so pairing up should have a huge impact on the amount of money we are able to raise to fund our programs.” Founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1948, Mike’s Carwash is headquartered in Loveland, Ohio. The company is known for its state-of-the-art carwash technology, friendly customer service and its dedication to the communities it serves. • FALL 2016 •




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Former-ICA President Mike Black makes an aggressive push to attract millennials to his self serve carwash with QR pay-by-phone technology. By Kate Carr

If this gamble doesn’t pay off, at least Mike Black will know he went all in. The Canadian carwasher and former president of both the International Carwash Association (2003) and Canadian Carwash Association (CCA) has now positioned himself as the first self serve operator to stop accepting coins in favor of mobile phone pay technology. Of course, Black is not without a backup plan. The QR (quick response) code technology and “no coin” policy is only being tested at one location, and even there, customers have the option to use their cash or credit cards at a token vending machine. Still, passing up the toonies and loonies is a bet on a dark horse that no other operator is currently willing to make -- although that may change after they see how Black pushes his way through the process.

HOLDING HIS CARDS CLOSE When Mike Black first told me he wanted to start accepting payment by mobile phone at his self serve, I was mildly impressed, but not surprised. He is, after all, a resourceful and successful operator well known for being at the forefront of industry trends. Valet Car Wash is the largest brand of independent carwashes in Ontario and is currently expanding through company-owned locations as well


• FALL 2016 •

as through licensing agreements with existing operators. This was no newbie blindly grasping at straws. And while Black has the necessary knowledge and experience to guide him, he also wouldn’t be the first self serve operator to consider courting the millennial consumer with mobile phone payment technology, either. Several U.S. operators have rolled out similar technology to mild fanfare

and tempered success over the last few years. He would have some company on his journey, then. But when he dropped the other shoe, my jaw went along with it: “I’m hoping it will allow me to stop accepting coins,” he told me while pausing to stand for a moment in the middle of the aisle at Car Wash Show 2016 in Nashville. {continued }

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NO COINS AT THE SELF SERVE... In Loonie Toonie coin-happy Canada… Could he really be that crazy? Black made me promise his plans would remain off-the-record until he was able to find the right vendor partner, and I agreed. If nothing else, I didn’t want to be the one to break the news to the the rest of the industry that this prominent operator and former-ICA president had completely lost his marbles. Going after the millennial market was one thing, but passing up on the steady, dependable coin income was a completely different ball game. And while Black’s wash is located in a somewhat metro area (Cambridge, Ontario has a population that hovers just over 125,000), it wasn’t exactly the hustling, bustling, hipster youth-centered city you might imagine for such an important industry first.

COUNTING CARDS -- AND CONSUMERS Black said there were several reasons he became hooked on the idea of pay-by-phone technology. “Well, I think some of it was the trend we saw in the self serve industry itself,” Black explained, outlining changes he noticed, like a drop in visits from Baby Boomers and customers who were “too busy” to wash their own cars, as well as a decline in “value conscious” customers who now opt for inexpensive express washes. “There was a fourth element that I found really interesting, and that is the Millennials,” he continued. “The Millennials today are the largest group of the population, even bigger than the Baby Boomers. They’re a third of the population out there.” Recognizing that the majority of his customers were part of this rising generational group, Black started to pay attention to their habits and preferences as consumers. “Especially in Canada, they don’t carry credit cards and they don’t carry money. They carry a cell phone and a debit card,” Black said. “I thought, ‘How are we attracting these Millennials when we’re using 50- and 60-year-old technology that was developed for their grandparents?’” Following that logic, Black imagined many customers were passing on self serve washes because they seem dated and a hassle to the cashless society members. Then came a fateful visit to his mother’s apartment. “My mom lives in an apartment in an adjoining town -- and they have a visitor parking lot. There were always cars parking in their that shouldn’t be in there, so they put in a parking pay station,” Black explained. “The first time I went to use it, it had a big decal on it that said “Pay By Phone.” So


• FALL 2016 •


I thought, if I can pay for parking with my phone, then somebody can figure out how to turn a bay on with a phone. It was a lot of information and a lot of digging, but finally the pieces all came together.”



From MAHINDRACOMVIVA.COM QR Code refers to a quick-response code. It is a trademark name for the 2-dimentional barcode system containing information and is an example of information matrix barcode. QR codes are often considered similar to barcodes however; a significant difference between the two is that while the barcodes hold information only in the horizontal direction, QR codes can store information vertically as well. Recently QR codes are being used in multiple arenas and the r ecent trends in the payment system have led to the growth of the use of QR codes.

When I spoke to Black at The Car Wash Show 2016, he had only just left the WashCard Systems booth and was still in the process of talking through his plans with them -- plans that he had nearly given up on after a two-year search for such a system had proved fruitless. But as it turned out, that brief meeting in Booth 1016, proved to be just the spark he needed. “I had a hard time finding a company that could do it,” Black explained to me during a phone interview this October, just a few months after he launched the technology. “I spent almost two years looking. I had kinda given up and then I went to the ICA Show in Amsterdam and there were four vendors selling mobile phone apps. That got my enthusiasm back up and I thought, ‘I’ve got to find somebody.’” The mobile phone apps at Car Wash Show Europe were exclusive to European washes, so Black set his sights on the U.S.-based Car Wash Show scheduled for eight months later. “So I went around to all the booths at the ICA Show in Nashville and you know, everybody would say they’re working on it or they’ve got something coming out soon. They’re all developing an app of some sort -- but not the mobile payment system I was looking for,” Black explained. “I was walking by WashCard Systems’ booth and out of the corner of my eye I saw a meter box for a coin-op bay and on the bottom of the meter box there was a little decal that said, ‘Pay by phone.’ So I went in and asked about it and he started explaining it to me and they realized how enthusiastic I was about it and they said, ‘You’re our guy.’ The rest, as they say, is history. Black said the installation was a simple process and local media lined-up to cover the introduction of the mobile pay technology -- along with the “no coin” hook that provided just enough debate for the nightly news. “WashCard had it pretty much ready to roll. I think they had already done their beta testing sites in the States. So it was a very simple installation process. There’s basically a computer that goes in the backroom that’s hooked to the internet and then there’s an electronic device put in every bay box, so that when the customer comes up to that bay and scans the QR code it knows which bay they’re in,” he explained. “It’s pretty neat when you hit that final “pay” button on your phone and the timer comes on. Almost like magic.”

{continued }






Operator Q&A

A MAGICIAN WHO EXPLAINS HIS TRICKS Black said the response to the new technology has been trickling in as customers start to take advantage. “What we’ve found is that like anything new, you’ve got to have a person out there to get them to bite,” Black stated. “On those busy days, we need to be out there, showing customers how to use it. And another side of it, is if we’re standing out there, we can also enter a code and give them a discount. So, we’ll say, “Hey, if you try the new pay by phone, we can save you a few dollars today.” Black said usage of the QR-code technology goes up dramatically when there is an attendant there explaining the process. “I don’t have exact numbers, but I think we’re running about 10 percent right now -- and this is two months after we launched it,” he said. The technology has also attracted a lot of media attention. “We had CTV, the biggest Canadian station, out here. They came down on a Saturday and put me on the 6 and 11 o’clock news. I’ve been in the local newspaper and a couple trade magazines, too.” As for the process at his wash, it’s pretty simple. The customer has the option of signing in as a “guest” or creating an account. “Obviously, it takes a little bit more time to create the account. But once you have that, it’s so fast. You can just pull up into the bay, scan your QR code, select the time package that you want -- we have three options -- and then that’s it. Their credit card is already on file. They can go and look at their account history and see how many times they’ve been in, what they’ve spent, all of that.” It’s not just the customer who benefits from the instant data -- Black is also able to improve his business and market promotions to his customers through the technology, too. “I can see the data, too. And in the self serve industry, that’s an area where we’ve really struggled -- we just don’t have as much data. But now I can look at what my peak times are, who’s washing at night, before or after work, what are they spending. All of that,” Black explained. “And I can send promos right to them. For the first time in the industry, I can reach right out to my customers. We have a promo right now on Facebook: If you come to the carwash and try the QR code, you can use the code “NOCOIN” and get two dollars off.”

CASHING IN ON CARDS Black admits he could easily have kept accepting coins at his wash -- certainly the technology allows for it -- but said the move is a crucial part of his plan. {continued }


• FALL 2016 •

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• FALL 2016 •



• FALL 2016 •

Operator Q&A “I told people I’ll either commit financial suicide or I’ll be a trendsetter,” adding that his decision was based on four factors: Eliminating break-ins. “One aspect was from a business perspective: Break ins. We’re eliminating break-ins. There’s no money in the meter boxes. Last year, we spent $350,000 to renovate this entire coinop, and I didn’t want it vandalized or broken into.” Forcing customers to try the new technology. “Another reason comes from the way our government handled the dollar coin. I think it was about 25 years ago when they introduced it. It was a huge success. Meanwhile, in the United States, I think you’ve put out three different dollar coins in the last 25 years, and they’ve all failed tremendously. But the reason ours was a success? The day we brought the coin out, we eliminated the paper bill. So we didn’t have a choice. We had to accept the loonie. So my thinking was the same thing: If I kept the coin, people would just keep using the coin. Even though the phone presents a better value, it’s safer and more secure, it’s hassle free, it’s faster. But it would be the habit. So I thought, I’ll eliminate the coin and force them into trying the phone.” Solving headaches from bill changer and coin acceptor updates. “A few years ago, we switched all our bills to plastic (polymer) money. (The same as everybody else in the world, actually, except you guys.) But all our bill changers come from the U.S. It’s such a small market that it’s really hard to get these things to work properly. Then when they *do* work, we have to deal with the loonies and toonies. And the government has come up with so many variations of metal content and weight, that it’s virtually impossible to program that many different coins. So it really upsets customers. You might have five loonies you need to put in, and maybe three or four of them work, but the fifth one just won’t go in.” Scheduling some well-earned vacation time. “Another selling point: I can finally go away and not worry about who I’ve got to empty out my self serve bays. It solves those headaches and hassles.

ROLLING OUT Black admitted it was a little too early to plan on rolling the technology out at his other carwash locations, pointing out that his beta-testing location also has a token machine which accepts credit cards and dollars. His hope is to get pay-by-phone payments up to 50 percent of the transactions at the wash before installing readers at his other washes. “Like any new technology, it takes a while for people to come to accept it and understand it,” Black added. “They need to get familiar with it. I mean, honestly, I’ve only ever seen it at that parking lot. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. Not at McDonald’s or someplace big. I’m quite excited about it, though. I think it will catch on quite fast. I think you’ll see a lot more of it in the future -- es-

pecially based on the people and the vendors I’ve talked to in the industry. At the next ICA show, I think you’ll see at least four or five other companies that are dealing with it. “ Another reason to consider QR-code technology at your wash? The wow factor. “I think the self serves, especially, need something new. They need something flashy. I truly believe that if the pay station had not been invented, then the exterior carwash would not be anywhere near as popular as it is now. What changed the exterior wash industry was the payment technology. So can we use the same analogy in the self serve? Can the method of payment change this industry, too, for the better?” As for the future of pay-by-phone at his own self serve, Black has a few ideas: He’d like to add fleet account capabilities and an unlimited plan for the bay, and he knows WashCard would like to add PayPal acceptance, too. “We’re working through the logistics right now. I think we’ll get there.”

QR CODE-BASED PAYMENTS QR-code based payment is technologically the most advanced type of contactless payment. It require consumers to use a smartphone application which enables them to scan, store and share their code scans in order to allow individuals and business to make and accept payments respectively via QR codes on their smart devices.

THE BENEFITS OF USING QR CODES FOR PAYMENTS Ease of use: QR codes can be used for payments anywhere. This versatility makes it useful for the service providers as well as consumers. Security: QR codes eliminate the need of physical wallets helping the customers to complete payments just with the help of their smart devices and digital wallets. Cost-effective: Creating the QR code doesn’t have to cost anything. Trackable: By using unique codes and web analytics, the retailers can gain some valuable information about consumer behavior- what works and what doesn’t. They appeal to the customer’s curiosity: This may change following the novelty wears-off and QR codes become ubiquitous but in today’s time a consumer has an urge to scan a QR code on seeing it, just to find out where it leads.

HOW DOES QR CODE-BASED PAYMENT WORK? At the point-of-sale the merchant enters the payable amount. The consumer then opens the QR code scanning app and displays the QR code in order to let the merchant’s scanner extract the data from the QR code, authenticates the customers and deducts the amount to be paid from the customer’s mobile wallet. This contactless payment process has been successfully integrated by many retailers and every week, approximately 6 million transactions are processed.


The country introduced the $1 coin (commonly referred to as a Loonie) in 1987 and stopped producing $1 banknotes in 1989. The $2 coin (or “toonie” as it is known in Canada) began circulating in 1996; the same year that the government stopped producing $2 banknotes. In 2011, Canada introduced its first set of polymer banknotes. Canada stopped producing a one-cent coin (penny) in 2012. “Unlike several U.S. attempts to introduce a dollar coin, the new coins were quickly accepted by the public, owing largely to the fact that the Bank of Canada and the government forced the switch by removing the $1 and $2 bills from circulation.” SOURCE: EN.WIKIPEDIA.COM

• FALL 2016 •







The last few pages of every issue of Self Serve Car Wash News reinforce one scary, depressing fact: There are a zillion dumb people out there -and nearly every one of them manages to find their way to the car wash. Some of them are robbing your customers. Some of them are cooking up meth in the car wash bay. Some of them are taking a blowtorch to your change machine. Some of them are coming in through the equipment room roof. And some of them are simply driving into your bollards and walls. While the Darwins of the world have provided endless entertainment for the masses, the ticket price for small business owners is more than just a few gray hairs and headaches. The Darwin Show is costing you money. Lots and lots of money. So how to prevent Darwin from landing a starring role *your* wash? There seem to be two proven methods…


Two of the biggest deterrents to crime (and safeguards against lawsuit-happy morons) are cameras and lighting. Casually mentioning that you’ll “go grab the tape” seems to magically stop a lot of slipand-fall victims before they reach the courtroom. And even the dumbest Darwin seems to recognize


• FALL 2016 •

that having his mug plastered around town (or Facebook, as more and more police departments are opting to do nowadays) isn’t the brightest idea. Speaking of bright: Most Darwins also see a disadvantage to being in the spotlight -- or at least they would much rather choose a dark, shadowy location for their late-night hijinks. (I’ll grant you there are those few *extra special* Darwins who don’t seem to be dissuaded by cameras *or* lights. What are you going to do when the co-star is Meth?) So now, the million dollar question: If cameras and lighting are two relatively simple ways to prevent crime, why are so many carwashes entertaining these Darwins at their sites? We presented this query to two specialists in the industry: Allen Spears of Rugged CCTV (www. CarwashCameras.com), a manufacturer and distributor of digital security equipment located near Dallas, Texas, and Michael Call of Mile High LED Systems, a manufacturer and supplier of LED retrofit and replacement lighting solutions. Their advice (and your new mission plan) follows...

SPOTLIGHT ON: LIGHTING Perhaps the first and foremost defense is the most obvious from the street at night: Lighting. As

Michael Call, vice president of sales and marketing at Mile High, explained: “Your ultimate goal, really, is to be brighter than the next guy.” Call used gas stations as an example of businesses that are most often engaged in this lighting battle. “You’ve probably seen gas stations in your area that are switching to LEDs. If you stand on a corner and you have three gas stations there -- and none of them have upgraded, they’re all the same sort of yellow lighting that we’re used to -- well, they all look the same and my choice is going to be whichever gas station is most convenient to me.” But if you have three gas stations on the corner and one has improved their lighting, “all of a sudden those other stations look dim and unsafe. Did anything about the location or the station change? No. Just last week, all of them felt the same; you would feel just as safe going in any one of them,” Call stated. “But as soon as the third one upgrades, then not only will the other two look less safe; they’ll also look darker, dingier, and generally less inviting.” So the goal with lighting isn’t just to be the brighter than you were, but to be the brightest relative to what is around you. As Call said it’s important for you to consider not just your individual site layout, but also your position on a street

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• FALL 2016 •

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compared to other businesses around you. “If you’re next to that super bright gas station, you’re going to have to light your business up two or three times brighter than these other car washes, otherwise you’re going to look dark and dingy,” Call explained. “If you have a car wash next to a general strip mall, or a supermarket, those people are lighting their parking lots at much lower levels, so if you are just brighter than them, you’re gonna look inviting.”

BRINGING DARWIN OUT OF THE SHADOWS Once you’ve established your ultimate goal to light your carwash and compete with other businesses on your street, your wash’s next mission is to light all areas of the wash to reduce crime hotspots. “With security lighting, and all lighting in general, it’s about eliminating shadows,” Call said. “When we talk about shadows, we talk about foot candle. You can have the darkest spot on your property be 2 foot candles, but if the brightest spot is 40 foot candles, then that 2 foot candle is gonna look dimmer than what 2 foot candles would look like in a strip mall.” Or, in simpler terms: Aim for even light distribution around your property, with your darkest spots and lightest spots having a minimal range of difference. “That’s the first consideration from a security standpoint; if you have really bright light in one part of your carwash, and you’re expecting that light to cover a very large area -- say 50-100 feet away -- you can angle that light to do that, but that is actually, in my opinion, causing security risks, because it creates blind spots, it creates glare, which, if you’ve ever been on a property like that, it doesn’t feel safe because you can’t see the whole property.” But yes, you do want to put brighter lights on areas where people are walking around, specifically where they are working on their cars or pulling money out, Call said. Bill changing or acceptor areas, vending machine areas, and vacuum areas or back islands all require brighter coverage, as well as the bays themselves. “It’s not realistic to have 30 foot candles around your entire property, unless you’re a car dealer,” Call admitted. Instead, carwash operators should aim for good general light coverage and then brighter lights in those risky areas for security reasons, “and to allow people to work on their cars.”


• FALL 2016 •

An HD 1080p Video Size

A 960H picture size graphic

QUANTITY VS. QUALITY I posited the age-old “quality vs. quantity” argument to Call and he didn’t hesitate to answer. “As a general lighting rule: The more lighting fixtures, the better,” he said. “If you want a relatable example, consider your living room. Let’s say you have one light fixture with a 150-watt light bulb in it and it’s lighting up your whole living room. Now imagine three 60-watt bulbs placed on tables around the room. What is going to feel better to you?” The problem is that one bright light has a hard time being evenly distributed from a single point of light -- just like our discussion about footcandles. “Generally speaking, more less-powered lights are going to feel better than a single really high-powered lights,” Call explained. With that being said, Call pointed out some new “optics” technology with LEDs which allow “specific optical pattern” -- basically, special lenses which are trapping light, so you don’t lose any efficiency,” Call said. “This is actually a lens which angles or bends the light so you can have a single point of light that is very bright, but rather than trying to point it a certain amount of degrees -which could cause a lot of glare -- you keep it flat and in doing so, it throws the light forward and it throws it out to the side.” As Call explained, the light now has much better coverage over a greater area than a metal halide at a 45-degree angle. It’s safer -- because you don’t have the glare -- and you end up with more even distribution. It’s throwing the light out further -- less is going straight down.

LIGHTING BY NUMBER Call encourages his customers to put together a foot candle coverage map, a square foot-by-square foot, numeric view of what your property currently looks like in terms of light coverage. “Once we have that plan, we can have a scientific discussion

Approximate view of each lens size in a 15’ x 15’ room.

-- at least on paper -- about what the light coverage could look like if you upgraded, increased light output, maybe added a light in a certain area to try to eliminate some of that uneven light distribution.” This numeric discussion about actual light output, coverage and placement makes the process fairly easy and straightforward, Call said. This also allows the customer to consider their ultimate goal: A lot of them are just looking to save power, and some of them want to enhance the property or they want to be brighter than the guy down the street. “If you build a fundamental plan of the property so that we can have a discussion using numbers rather than ideas, ‘I feel like this,’ or ‘I think that would look good,’ it’s easy to know what type of lighting will work well for you.”

ARE LEDS REALLY THAT MUCH BETTER? On the question of LED versus other lighting sources, we knew Call would come out in favor of LEDs. He works for Mile High LED Systems, after all. But we were interested in learning his specific arguments in favor of those infamous light-emitting diodes. Versus Fluorescents: “A lot of operators think fluorescents are the most cost effective, efficient option,” Call said. “Well, yes, they’re more efficient than a metal halide -- but an LED would be 5060 percent -- actually we’ve got a new light closer to 70% -- more efficient, than even fluorescents.” That means operators could see a 2 or 3-year payback in upgrading to LEDs. “Going a bit further, fluorescent output is not a pretty light,” Call cautioned. “As a carwash operator, you’re trying to sell that clean, shiny look. If your lights don’t produce

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• FALL 2016 •


2/15/16 7:36 PM

light that makes things look as good as possible, well, you could have a nice clean car that doesn’t sparkle.” Call said LED lights mimic natural color recognition from your eye, allowing the car’s cleanliness to really come through.

VERSUS METAL HALIDES: I think everyone I talk to now realizes that metal halides are the gas guzzlers of the lighting industry,” Call said. “Not only are they not efficient -- they don’t last very long. “ The benefits of upgrading to LED lighting might be obvious to these operators, but Call explained that far too many of them aren’t getting the correct light output they need or structuring their light fixtures in the most efficient way before upgrading. “I talk to a lot of operators who went to their local supply shop and said, ‘I wanna switch to LEDs,’” Call said. “They end up with replacement lights that are grossly under lighting the carwash.” It comes down to foot candles and lighting coverage, he continued. “The average electrician shop considers a car wash an external, general retail environment,” Call said. “They’ll target anywhere between 1-foot to 2-foot candles for a general parking lot area, and maybe 15-20 feet candles for a carwash bay. In my opinion, that is dramatically under lighting your carwash.” Call said carwashes should have at least 5-10 foot candles in their parking areas, and aim for 30-50 (or even 70) foot-candles for the bay. They just don’t understand how important lighting can be to a carwash owner who is trying to sell the value of a clean, shiny car.” One more mistake operators make: Thinking all LEDs are created equal. LEDs have different lumens-per-watt, Call explained. For instance, some LEDs are 60 lumens-per-watt, others can produce close to 180 lumens-per-watt. If you buy an LED that is producing closer to that lower end, you’re getting 50-60 percent more efficient than metal halides. If you’re putting something in that’s 150 lumens per watt, you’re getting something that’s closer to 90 percent more efficient than a metal halide. “So if they’re upgrading to save power, they need to do a little bit more research, dig down a little bit deeper, and make sure they are getting the most efficient LED possible,” Call said. “On top of that, operators should consider how the LED looks -- and by that I mean if you have a wall pack, or a canopy light, if they choose to put an update kit into one of those fixtures, they really should be looking for an upgrade that is single direction, 180-degrees only. I see upgrade kits that produce light 360-degrees like a normal light bulb, up, down, sideways, backwards. When you do that you lose more than half of the output, so you really aren’t getting that much more efficient. Plus, if you lose half the output, it’s not bright enough. There’s a time and a place where 360-degree light bulbs work great, for example post top lights, where you want light to be thrown in all directions. But if you


• FALL 2016 •

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CCTV BASICS: DVR - WHAT IS IT? First, let’s make sure we are talking about a security-based DVR. These are very different from your home DVR used to record cable TV or movies. A TV-type DVR has one or more inputs, and a TV tuner, to be able to record programs or movies on different channels or from different sources. A security-type DVR operates, and is used, very differently. This type of DVR is used for monitoring and archiving security camera footage from one or more security cameras, and has a separate input for each camera that it handles. Each one of these inputs is a distinct “channel”, and can be programmed to monitor and record either full time, or when an event such as motion is detected in the video picture. Other recording triggers, such as doors opening or alarm activation are also available, and each camera, or channel can operate on a different schedule, different resolution, or even on different time schedules.

Once a user programs the DVR to follow the parameters that they wish, the system is fully autonomous and self-regulating. The operator does not have to be present for the system to do its’ job, because the DVR can also alert or contact one or more people when a preprogrammed event or monitored area intrusion has occurred. This can be accomplished via phone, email or even an audible alert on a remote PC. While a DVR often looks like a VCR on the outside, the DVR is much more useful. The Security DVR offers many more features and introduces a bevy of timesaving tasks that a tape-based

have a wall pack, you don’t need light to back the wall, you need light in the area out in front of the wall.”

THE RED LIGHT IS ON: CAMERAS Want to capture Darwin on Candid Camera at your wash? Rugged CCTV Chief Engineer Allen Spears has some advice for you: Think about customer expectations as you consider your options. “When people see cameras, there’s an expectation of safety and security,” Spears explained. While the legal liability seems to be a hypothetical concern for carwash operators at this point, the customer satisfaction one is real. Just last month, I had to listen to a friend rant and rave about how Wal-Mart should pay to fix her SUV since they had failed to capture a hit-and-run accident on film -even though there was a camera right above her. “When people see cameras, they think they’re working for them. They think they’re making the property safer and they feel entitled to that safety. You don’t want to have to be the one to tell them the camera didn’t actually record the information or that it’s a dummy,” Spears said. “You might end up disappointing customers, or worse, actually deceiving them.” Spears advises customers to design their surveillance systems to make themselves happy first, and then go back and ask if it will work to make customers feel comfortable and safe. Finally, go back and consider the vulnerable areas from a Darwin’s perspective. Spears suggested most operators will record the same familiar areas of the wash: Cash points, first and foremost. Focus on areas where you could become a victim or where the customer could be a victim. If the customer’s hand is going in and out of the pocket, then it’s a risky area. Then ask: What needs to be covered where I’m having problems or issues that I want to be able to closely monitor? This might mean your bays or dumpsters, vacuums or employee areas. You can probably skimp on resolution for these areas, but definitely don’t skimp at the cash points/ safety concerns.


• FALL 2016 •

WHAT ARE WIDE DYNAMIC RANGE (WDR) CAMERAS? Wide Dynamic Range(WDR) Technology uses two shutter speeds in alternative video fields, high and normal, and combines these two fields into one frame. It allows every detail to be captured accurately even if one portion is bright while other portions are dark. As a result, combined fields yield a frame of high quality images. Below is a comparison of camera technologies with its video images of Regular, Backlight Compensation (BLC), and Wide Dynamic Range.

QUALITY OR QUANTITY? When it comes to cameras, quality trumps quantity. “Two things are going to limit your image,” Spears explained. “Resolution and the lens. Getting the right lens is half the battle won up front. If you can’t see what you want to see, then you’ve wasted your money.” The idea is to get the camera zoomed in to tell what’s going on at the wash -- although it may mean you need several cameras to cover a particular area, since you’ll be zooming in on one or more of them. For example, if you zoom in to try to read a license tag, you’ll lose the wide view -- you’ll need another camera to cover that angle.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BIG BOX The biggest mistake Spears sees carwash operators making these days is selecting a big box retail system. Sure, the pics on the box are gorgeous --and you might even get gorgeous images, too --

VCR cannot match. For instance, since a DVR records to a hard drive instead of a low resolution tape, it enables Digital recording instead of analog, like a VCR. The advantages of a Digital format allows for multiple resolutions, quick navigation directly to an area of interest, or directly to a particular time or event. It also allows for various other data to be recorded simultaneously, such as audio, text-based motion or event log, and various forms of meta-data (such as cash register transactions, access control data, GPS coordinates, speed, etc.). A Security DVR is smarter and works harder than a conventional TV-based DVR, and is able to perform many more functions. Truly a propertysaving and sometimes even life-saving piece of equipment. (Resource from www.carwashcameras.com)

WHAT IS AN INFRARED (IR)LED? A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it. The light is not particularly bright, but in most LEDs it is monochromatic, occurring at a single wavelength. The output from an LED can range from red (at a wavelength of approximately 700 nanometers) to blue-violet (about 400 nanometers). Some LEDs emit infrared (IR) energy (830 nanometers or longer); such a device is known as an infrared-emitting diode (IRED). An LED or IRED consists of two elements of processed material called P-type semiconductors and N-type semiconductors. These two elements are placed in direct contact, forming a region called the P-N junction. In this respect, the LED or IRED resembles most other diode types, but there are important differences. The LED or IRED has a transparent package, allowing visible or IR energy to pass through. Also, the LED or IRED has a large PN-junction area whose shape is tailored to the application. Benefits of LEDs and IREDs, compared with incandescent and fluorescent illuminating devices, include: LOW POWER REQUIREMENT: Most types can be operated with battery power supplies. HIGH EFFICIENCY: Most of the power supplied to an LED or IRED is converted into radiation in the desired form, with minimal heat production. LONG LIFE: When properly installed, an LED or IRED can function for decades.

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but it lulls you into a false sense of satisfaction, Spears warned. Good looking for a smaller price tag isn’t ideal if it doesn’t record full time or at high enough resolutions. Not to mention, some big box systems have limited or frustrating options for reviewing footage or transferring footage to the appropriate medium for local authorities to use. Spears cautioned operators to consider their customer service and technical support expectations, as well as the compatibility of the system with other cameras or systems you might already have. Especially IP cameras, Spears said -- very few of them will work well with each other, and even then it’s a complicated business. While ONVIF, “a non-profit global and open industry forum with the goal of facilitating the development and use of a global open standard for the interface of physical IP-based security products” (per Wikipedia’s definition), launched in 2008, the international standard has filed to fix the issues of compatibility between systems. “In the camera industry, we hear it all the time: IP is going to take over,” Spears said, adding, “but since ONVIF isn’t working and the networks and routers are still complicated, it’s just not happening yet. It gets expensive, especially when you consider the outside-the-box costs for maintaining and using the big box retailer system.” So what do you look for in a system? Spears advised operators to choose something high-resolution, but don’t forget to consider the simplicity of operation and use, as well as its compatibility for adding on in the future. Don’t get locked into


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Project Name


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a proprietary system which limits your options down the road.

FUTURE-PROOFING YOUR NEW SITE For new builds, Spears’ advice was simple: Get the right wire in the right places! “It’s paramount to your success,” Spears explained. “Now and in the future.” Some wireless systems might seem tempting, but it will never actually be wireless, Spears said. There will also be some need for a wire -- power or network or whatever the case might be. Instead, Spears said operators should “wire for now and wire for later” on new projects, in order to “future proof” their businesses. “Make sure you have the right power, coax, and network

Project Number

Drawing No.


18/2015 E01construction,” A cable capabilities before you start Scale 1-1/2"=1'-0" Date Checked 02/06/2015 Drawn willMC MC he cautioned. “Most manufacturers work with you,” Spears said. “Show them your plans and discuss them before you put down concrete.” As for technology coming down the pipe, there’s more resolution every year. The ability to have real time viewing on your phone/tablet has been here for a while and most other technological features are available, too. Now it’s a numbers game: More resolution for less money. “They’re just better cameras, the ones that are being introduced today,” Spears said. “They’re also getting better at light handling ability. No matter what kind of systems you purchase, one of the most important questions you can ask is: How does it deal with light?” Spears explained this is especially important in the carwash environment where we’re dealing with the wet apron and the bay, and so light is hitting the wet pavement or the chrome on the vehicle and creating all sorts of glare. “You need to consider how your cameras will handle light,” Spears said. “Sony has a fantastic technology called WDR -- wide dynamic range -- which controls a lot of this glare.” There is a knock-off to the technology that Spears said he does *not* recommend, and that is D-WDR. “It’s just not as good,” he said, simply. If the camera is in a shady spot or indoors -- like the equipment room -- don’t worry about the lighting factor. That’s just for outdoor environments.

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• Avoid putting up dummy cameras unless you are adding to the perceived coverage of your real camera system. Used by themselves, dummy cameras can create a legal liability for an expectation of safety or protection where none exists. Besides, criminals seem to intuitively know when a camera is fake. • Put up warning signs. Highly visible signage lets employees and customers know that their actions are being recorded, and signs can greatly increase the deterrent effect as well.

(reprinted from our April 2014 issue, “Security Camera Basics, by Allen Spears”)

the easiest step you can take is to reach out and send your site plans to a lighting and camera supplier to get their advice before you start to plan your improvement project. Rapid advancements in technologies is reducing the cost of both cameras and LEDs every day and you’ll probably be surprised to see how far your dollar can stretch if you have the benefit of experience and knowledge on your side. No matter what, get your site lit up and have some sort of surveillance system plan in place. If there’s one thing SSCWN knows: Darwin is out there -- and he loves to hit up the car wash.

QUICK REFERENCE: LIGHTING TERMINOLOGY Watt: a measure of the total power output of a light source • Lumen: a measure of the total visible light output of a light source • Candlepower: an obsolete term that has been replaced by “candela” • Candela: a measure of the intensity of a light source in a particular direction Foot-candles and lux: the amount of visible light falling on a surface

ON WATTS AND LUMENS: It is a common misconception that higher wattage equals higher light output—in part due to the fact that incandescent light output generally increases with wattage numbers. With LED technology, this is not the case. LEDs can emit the same, if not more light than a bulb, while consuming less power. Watts are a measure of power consumption, while lumens are a measurement of visible light output. When you want to know how bright a light will be, you need to identify the lumen output, not the wattage—especially when comparing LED and bulb-based lights.

CANEDELA AND CANDLEPOWER: Candela are similar to lumens in that both deal with light output as perceived by the human eye. The key difference between the two is that candela is specifically a measurement of directional intensity. One candela is close to the light intensity produced by an ordinary candle as perceived by the human eye, and addresses how bright a light source is in a particular direction. Although the term “candlepower” was once the predominant unit of measure used to describe the intensity of a light, this term is now considered to be obsolete. The current standard unit of measure to be used is “candela.”

FOOT CANDLES AND LUX: Foot-candles and lux measure the same thing— the amount of visible light that falls on a surface. The difference is that the foot-candle uses the Imperial standard measuring system (feet, pounds, etc.), while the lux uses the metric system (meters, grams, etc.). A single foot-candle is equivalent to the amount of light that falls on a surface that is one foot away from a single candle, and a lux is the amount of light that falls on a surface one meter away from a candle. For conversion, 1 foot-candle = 10.764 lux. *Source: from www.jwspeaker.com

UNDERSTANDING COLOR SCALE A consideration in purchasing an LED fixture is the color temperature of the LED. The higher the temperature, the more blue the light. See to the right. LEDs are easier to produce (and therefore cheaper to purchase) in the 6,000 – 7,000K color temperature range. We think car wash lighting should be a natural white light so we use LEDs in the 4,500K temperature range. This produces a very dynamic, natural color that is very similar to sunlight and doesn’t make your customer feel like they are in a hospital.


• Not every camera must be the highest resolution model available. Depending on where you are using them, many standard resolution cameras will look great on a good quality system. • Use high resolution cameras where you need the clearest pictures and greatest detail, such as: license tag views, cash registers, change machines or other cash points.

(reprinted from our April 2014 issue, “Security Camera Basics, by Allen Spears”)


• Wireless cameras are not usually recommended for car washes. Wireless technology requires lineof-sight and will not go through walls well at all. Wireless cameras are also prone to interference from a variety of sources such as a microwave oven, three phase motors, vacuum motors, nearby WiFi systems or other radio sources. When you think about it, there really is no such thing as a wireless camera – you must run a power wire to the camera in order for it to operate. So, since you must run power wire, then you might as well run video cable right along with the power. • There are some situations where a wireless camera may be your only choice, such as across roadways or where digging a trench or running an overhead wire is not feasible. Rural areas also tend to have less wireless congestion that may cause interference. In these cases, seek a high power wireless system that operates at higher frequencies such as 5.8 Ghz. • Installation of some wireless transmitter/receiver systems may require specific expertise to diagnose problems and fine-tune the setup, so make sure your vendor has experience in wireless technology before buying a system.

(reprinted from our April 2014 issue, “Security Camera Basics, by Allen Spears”) • FALL 2016 •


Darwin Carwash at the

Readers, help us out: Who’s the real Darwin of this story? Washman Car Wash, a chain with a dozen locations in the Portland, OR, area, has numerous signs at its locations warning customers not to leave valuables in their cars, according to an article in The Oregonian. Still, Ed Wallace had never had a problem with the wash before so he felt comfortable leaving a zipped-up backpack with $4,000 in cash in the front seat of his Cadillac while it was detailed. No sooner had Wallace got back in his car than he discovered the cash was missing. As it turns out, a meth-addicted teen with a father serving jail time for a similar problem had taken the money and promptly handed it over to a drug dealer in order to put a dent in the $25,000 his father owed the dealer. At first Wallace thought he had misplaced the money and he returned home to check for it there. During that time, the teen employee told his manager he had “forgot” about his grandmother’s funeral and needed to take off work right away. By the time Wallace got back to the wash to have the staff searched, the teen was already on his way to pay the dealer. Now Washman says it’s not responsible for the missing money, and Wallace says the teen won’t be able to pay him back even a fraction of the amount he owes according to restitution ordered as part of the criminal case. (The teen was also ordered to a year of probation.) Wallace has filed a lawsuit against Washman asking for the $4,000 and legal fees. Washman’s chief financial officer, David Tarlow, told The Oregonian the company isn’t responsible for the criminal acts of an employee who decided to step outside the bounds of his job and steal on his own volition. What’s more, Tarlow said, Wallace should have known better than to leave the cash inside his car. “We have signs all over the place disclosing, ‘Don’t leave your valuables in your car,’” Tarlow said. “... The business isn’t responsible for stolen items.”

Another question for you: Is this Darwin unlucky or just plain stupid? Simon Debillie didn’t know what he was in for when he parked his car next to an El Paso Police investigator with the Auto Theft department at a


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This issue’s Darwin at the Carwash section is brought to you by:


local carwash. While the investigator was vacuuming his unmarked car, he happened to notice Debillie’s car had a steering column and ignition that had been damaged or disassembled. The officer also saw that the vehicle had an improper registration sticker and decided to approach the car’s driver. That approach led to an investigation of the vehicle, which uncovered four individually wrapped packages of crystal methamphetamine stored inside a fake Red Bull drink can inside the car. As a result of the find, Debillie was arrested and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and booked into the El Paso County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond. Don’t have any meth on hand? No worries, heroin or ecstasy will do!

I think the only thing we could say about these two Darwins is: At least it wasn’t meth?!? St. Bernard Parish sherrif’s detectives have arrested Charles Johnson for drug possession and robbery at a local carwash, but are still searching for his “partner in crime.” According to a news report

Leave it to a woman to multi-task at the carwash. Carrie Lynn Mizenko was simply going about her business -- reportedly spray-painting an all-terrain vehicle while cooking up some methamphetamine in a self-serve bay at an unnamed Minford, OH, carwash -- before police interrupted her productive day to arrest and charge her with illegal manufacture of methamphetamine and other drug-related charges. Luckily, our Darwinette is no stranger to the legal system. Mizenko also had an outstanding warrant for a previous meth manufacturing charge. She is being held on $177,500 bond at the Scioto County Jail.

about the incident, Johnson served as getaway driver, while his compadre Albert Reaux approached a carwash customer seeking some change -- and instead robbed the man of $160. Police were able to stop Johnson and in the process found 25 aluminum foils containing heroin, 70 tablets of the painkiller Tramadol and five hits of ecstasy. Anyone with knowledge of Reaux’s whereabouts i asked to call the St. Bernard Parish Sher{continued }



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iff’s Office at 504-271-2501.

*Waves hand.* This is not the meth you’re looking for. One wonders if Daniel Pena was able to use some Jedi mind tricks on Ruidoso, NM, police officers -- or if he really is the victim of a crazy ex-girlfriend. Either way, police showed up with a search warrant ready to disturb the peace at Ruidoso Laser Wash, a pickup/drop off location for local school buses, shortly before 3 p.m. on a school day as parents were waiting to collect their kids -- and discovered their tip was a bust. The night before, officers had pulled over a vehicle for driving without headlights and discovered an “assortment of contraband,” according to a local news report. One of the passengers of the vehicle, Angela Gaylor, was found to have methamphetamine, which she said she had purchased (on more than one occasion) from a “man named Daniel at Ruidoso Laser Wash.” As it turns out, the worker named on the warrant, Daniel Pena, is a “sometime” boyfriend of Gaylor and she would come regularly to his apartment. He was back on the job a week after the incident after police failed to turn up any methamphetamine or instruments used for its production at the carwash, although a search of Pena’s nearby apartment turned up some smaller quantities of marijuana and meth, a pipe and a grinder of the type used by marijuana smokers. Pena said the meth was Gaylor’s. Pena was charged following the search with drug and paraphernalia possession and given a date to appear in Magistrate Court next month, as well as called out for an outstanding warrant on another unrelated charge.

I guess you could say he had an ax to grind… A disgruntled former employee of an Los Angeles carwash had a six-hours long standoff with L.A. County Sherriffs after he refused to leave the business. According to an article in The L.A. Times, the man had been sleeping at the wash for the two weeks after he was fired and the bizarre behavior finally resulted in an argument with the wash’s owner. The former worker showed up with an ax and threatened employees before retreating to a “loft area” on the second floor. Police eventually convinced him to surrender around 6:30 p.m., but not before the barricade had thoroughly snarled traffic in the area.

The most common sense statement you’ll read in the Darwin column this issue: “People should be able to go to a car wash in the middle of the day without bullets flying past their heads. If you’re pulling that trigger, you’re


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going straight to federal prison, it is that simple.” That’s Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer speaking out after a 39-year-old reputed street gang member was sentenced to 4.75 years in prison following his conviction for firing a gun at a Denver car wash where two rival gang members were killed. The conviction stems from a September 2015 incident, when Mayfield and his friend went to a Denver carwash to wash an SUV. But when rival gang members arrived at the same carwash, Mayfield waved for his friend to leave one of the bays and join him in the parking lot. Gunfire erupted between the two sides. Mayfield’s friend was struck while he was firing a gun. Mayfield grabbed his friend’s gun and began firing, court records indicate. Mayfield then drove his friend to Denver Health Medical Center and left him for passersby to take inside the hospital, the records say. Travis Kimbrough-Sanders, 34, and Sergio Evelynmoe, 28, were both killed during the gun fight. “Two young men died senselessly that day, but when I think back to that shooting, I only think

No flippin’ way! Officials here still have no explanation for the “bizarre” incident which resulted in a car flipping on to its driver’s side at Golden Nozzle Car Wash in Northampton, MA. According to the news report, there was only one occupant in the car, who declined medical attention after climbing out of the vehicle’s sunroof. The driver apparently put the car in reverse and hit a concrete post in the parking lot. The incident also damaged a fence on the property, but it wasn’t clear what exactly led the vehicle to flip over with such force.

that Mayfield and the other gang members had zero regard for the lives of the people with them in that busy car wash,” Croke said. “They were far too busy being offended by people who wear the wrong clothes and hang with the wrong people to be concerned with anyone but themselves.”

Speaking of guns at the carwash, a Thomson, GA, carwash manager told a local news station he is “still calming his nerves”after happening upon a carwash customer shooting another regular customer dead in the carwash bay next to the one he was working in at CC’s Car Wash in Thomson. The manager said he heard a single gunshot and walked over to the bay. His 10-year-old son was also at the carwash at the time. “Little Rick came around and I said, ‘Rick please don’t do that! Don’t do that! And his eyes just went and got big and he just started going and started shooting down at him until it got empty,’” he said in the story. The man he’s referring to as Little Rick is Ricquavious Tarver, a 22-year-old from Thomson and son to a local deputy. “Oh it hurts. It still hurts. I can see this guy right now,” Tucker said, adding the shooting was especially odd because there wasn’t a loud verbal altercation beforehand. “If I would’ve heard somebody cussing or somebody fussing I would have jumped in between them, but it’s just like me and you talking now,” he told News 12. He said after the shooting, Tarver was still calm, and he was still on the property when police arrived to arrest him.

Don’t despair if you’re a Darwin without a gun -- a car works just as well. A dispute at a popular carwash in Novato, CA, resulted in a man being taken into custody for allegedly hitting the wash’s co-owner with his vehicle, the Novato Police Department said. Capt. Jamie Knox said police responded to Matt and Jeff’s Car Wash & Detail Center after a customer became enraged and refused to pay for a car detailing job that had been performed. The man reportedly drove away and struck the car wash’s co-owner Matt Broderick with his vehicle. Police said hitting Broderick with the car was intentional. Broderick reportedly declined medical attention. Police identified the suspect as Steven Seaton, 48, of Petaluma. Seaton was found at a Novato residence and arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and theft. He was booked into Marin County Jail.

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Pay from your phone! Pay by Phone is a new feature that allows customers to use their smartphone to pay for their washes. It will help get customers washing faster; it’s easier and more convenient for them, while at the same time keeping their financial information safe and secure.

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Fall 2016 issue of Self Serve Carwash News

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Fall 2016 issue of Self Serve Carwash News

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