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H S A W R A C 1 • WINTER 2016 •

2 • WINTER 2016 •

CONTENTS CT Tax Update .............................................4 When Good Money Goes Bad .................................................... 10 Lessons from Newbies ...................................................... 21


It’s January 1st as I’m writing this, but by the time this letter makes it to print you’ll already be at least a month into 2016. Congratulations! You’ve survived the first month of what’s sure to be a challenging year. A struggling economy, a frustrating political climate and more wacky weather await us. (Are we sure the clock didn’t strike 2008?)

Plan Ahead (of Your Competition) ........................... 32 Tricks of the Trade ................................. 40

Despite all of these hurdles, it seems to me there will be some excellent business opportunities for self serve carwashers in the year ahead. It looks like the market will continue to cut down the number of inattentive and unmotivated operators and provide a pathway for those washers who choose to invest in and grow their

Association News.................................... 48

businesses. Not only that, but the self serve segment has really captured the attention of our suppliers

Innovation .................................................. 52

booms, state-of-the-art payment systems, and undercarriage wash systems which can help capture

Industry Dirt............................................. 55 Extra Extra ................................................. 57

these past few years -- we have innovations for the bays like new styles of self serve tire shiner, LED the interest of customers who are tempted by the new theatrics of in-bay and tunnel washes. With all of these tools at your disposal, I’m wondering: What are your business resolutions for 2016? Let me guess: You’re the strong, silent type who doesn’t fall in for any of this New Age “resolutions” crap. Well, you’re in luck. I’m the kind of hippy dippy flower child who made everyone at the table give

The Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing .............................................. 62

me at least one resolution before serving dinner (including my three-year-old daughter, who resolved

Darwin at the Carwash......................... 88

applied herself) and because you’ve made it this far into my letter -- I’ve decided to go ahead and

to be a dinosaur princess in 2016). Because I believe in you (and also that my daughter really could be a dinosaur princess if she just provide you with a month-by-month guide to 2016. Now presenting:

VOL. 43, NO. 1, WINTER 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 Self Serve Carwash News is published 4 times per year and is independently owned by Jackson Vahaly. Web address is All inquiries should be directed to:

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

Your Resolutions for the New Year FEBRUARY: Resolve to plan ahead. When was the last time you updated your business plan? Heck, when was the last time you even *looked* at your business plan? Chances are it was hastily thrown together back in 2003 before you headed to the bank. Now is your chance to review your business plan and update it according to what your business is “now” -- and where you would like it to be. Also, it’s a good time to carefully consider your mission statement and post it somewhere you’ll have to be constantly confronted by it, like on your office desk or even on the bathroom mirror.

MARCH: Resolve to get online. I don’t care if you hunt down a professional or just ask your computer whiz nephew, but it’s time you build (or update) your website and your Facebook page. Above all, make it smartphone friendly. And while you’re at it, ask your niece who dabbles in photography to take some pictures of your wash. Commit to updating your Facebook page weekly,

even if it means you have to set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to post a new status. (If you can’t manage that, stay off Facebook and focus on your website.)

APRIL: Resolve to improve. Make a list of all the features at your carwash. Now order the list according to which services are making you the most money. Identify three ways in which you could improve those areas of your business. Now make a shopping list. See where I’m headed with this?

MAY: Resolve to be inspired. Attend Car Wash Show 2016. Check off your shopping list and spend some face time with your suppliers. Wake up in time to attend the educational sessions. Write down three good ideas to try in the next six months. Network with some {continued } • WINTER 2016 •


CT Tax Update Connecticut Carwash Association lobbyist shares the progress they’ve made in fighting an extremely unfair sales tax in the state. By P.J. Cimini Following the passage of the new sales tax on carwashes (effective July 1) we have been working aggressively to begin efforts to build support to repeal the tax in the next legislative session. The CCA has been working behind the scenes to coordinate and organize these efforts and prepare strategies for the repeal efforts. During this Interim Phase, a number of things have become very clear: • First, the State Legislature passed this tax, and a number of others, in a hasty, last minute effort with no opportunity to testify in a public hearing process. • Second, since the end of session in July, a number of Legislators have expressed their interest and support in helping to repeal the tax in the next legislative session. • Third, following the conclusion of session, the Legislature quickly encountered slipping

Carr’s Corner

that we are asking all members of the Association to aggressively promote with their customers and collect so we can present them to the Governor and Legislative leadership. (Form provided at www. Also, we are going to ask individual operators to call their State Senator and State Representative to ask them to vote for repeal of the carwash sales tax in the December special session. By the time you are reading this, we will be in preparation for the February 2016 General Assembly session. If the Sales Tax continues to be imposed after the special session, we will be reaching out to you in January to begin our efforts to try and get the tax repealed in the 2016 General Assembly session. Everyone needs to be aware that the budget projections for that show a continuing erosion of revenue which makethe prospect of cutting taxes extremely difficult and challenging. {continued }


operators. Have some beers. (Don’t forget to hunt down the SSCWN booth and say ‘hello!’ Maybe even bring us one of those beers?)

JUNE: Resolve to be grateful. Reward your regular customers with a special promotion. It might just be donuts and coffees set up at the wash, or maybe you’ll hand out coupons -- but if it’s a loyal customer, now is the time to say ‘thank you’ and encourage their repeat business.

JULY: Resolve to get involved. While we’re on the subject of graciousness, it’s time you consider your charity carwash program. How often are you hosting charity washes? Does your program need improvement? Contact local high schools, churches, civic groups or any cause or charity which strikes your interest. Let them know what sort of program you’re offering and ask for suggestions, too. A good charity wash program will not only make *you* feel good, it will also generate a lot of goodwill and positive PR in your community.

4 • WINTER 2016 •

revenues that have led to a formalized effort to come back into Special Session before the next session in an attempt to cut certain state spending programs and balance the state budget. A new report from the Governor’s budget director shows a $118 million budget gap that comes fast on the heels of a $103 million shortfall the Governor had already patched with several budget cuts. • Fourth, the Connecticut Carwash Association (CCA) has begun working with the Department of Revenue Services to both identify the category and which the taxes being collected me which sick colder in AFC is code and to try and determine what the net effective rate of the actual collections are. It is our belief that the amount they feel they are getting is nowhere near what they have projected. Please be on the lookout for both a petition form

AUGUST: Resolve to reach out. Try a new marketing tactic. Talk to the local real estate agents in town. Give them coupons for free car washes to hand off to new home buyers. Try a radio ad. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but now is a good time to experiment and track your results during the last “hurrah” of summer.

SEPTEMBER: Resolve to be frugal. Make a list of all of your expenses at the wash. Search for ways in which you could reduce these costs. Call around town to get new estimates on things like snow removal and trash services.

OCTOBER: Resolve to give back. Start making plans to participate in Grace for Vets next month. Contact your local radio, newspaper and television stations to spread the word. Register your wash at and access the

free promotional materials offered there.

NOVEMBER: Resolve to be heard. VOTE. It’s liable to be a contentious voting season locally and nationally. Make sure your vote is tallied. (Also, consider sprucing up your wash to attract holiday traffic this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. It’s not at all related to your resolution to vote -- but as I prepare to make the drive back to Virginia from New York, I’m reminded of how many carwashes I pass on my drive down the coastline and how my snap judgements occur in the few seconds it takes to pass by a business going 55 mph.)

DECEMBER Resolve to reflect. Take a few minutes to jot down all the changes you’ve made to your business in 2016 and what results they’ve affected. Start to set your intentions for next year. Also, consider making any last business purchases as tax season looms ahead. Uncle Sam can’t be the only one celebrating at midnight!






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CT Tax Update Special Session

State Economic Challenges

are concerned about the state’s economy and business climate, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll. Three-quarters of voters surveyed The state’s dwindling revenues has forced evby the Q-Poll described the state’s economy as eryone back to the negotiating table and all sugConnecticut’s economy continues to face chal“not so good” or “poor” (an 11-point jump since gestions — except tax increases — are being conlenges that are impacting the state’s finances. March), with just 24 percent saying it was good. sidered to stem the red ink deficit. Gov. Malloy Recent Wall Street downturns have reduced exA third of those surveyed said the economy was convened the groups to attempt to close a new pected tax revenues to the extent that the state the most important problem facing Connecticut state budget shortfall and position the state for fuis experiencing recurring shortfalls. And a string today; 28 percent identified taxes as the biggest ture economic growth. The talks could lead to a of five consecutive months of job growth in Conissue; 11 percent said it was the budget; 4 percent special Legislative session this year on the budget. necticut came to an end in September. said education; and 3 percent said transportation. Gov. Malloy opened the door to money-saving Connecticut has regained 83.6 percent of the Connecticut posted four-digit job losses for a ideas from both Republicans and Democrats that 119,000 jobs lost during the Great Recession of second straight month in October, eroding strong would help close the latest gap, shore up Con2008-2010, while the U.S. passed the 100 percent growth throughout the spring and summer. The necticut’s long-term finances, and boost the state’s mark in May 2014 and has now regained 140 perstate Department of Labor reported 2,200 jobs economic competitiveness. “Everything’s on the cent of recession losses. were lost for the month, following a decline of table,” he said, including specific spending cuts and Meanwhile, most Connecticut voters say they 4,800 in September (the department revised its possible state employee concessions. initial estimate of 7,600 jobs lost for Policymakers are looking for ways that month). to plug the $118 million gap and put In contrast, Massachusetts addthe state on better fiscal footing. It’s ed 11,000 jobs in October and has clear that lawmakers should explore gained 62,800 positions over the last restoring state tax policies that help 12 months. That state’s unemploygenerate jobs, boost economic growth ment rate is 4.6 percent, the lowest • We are local, family-owned Connecticut businesses that and provide balanced and consistent in New England. Connecticut unememploy Connecticut workers and provide a discretionary tax revenues. service to Connecticut motorists. Simply put, this reployment fell one-tenth of a point in A number of other interested parcently imposed NEW 6.35% tax on carwashes will hurt October, to 5.1 percent, the lowest ties are starting to organize and coorour industry and cause the loss of jobs. its been since March 2008 – the bedinate because of the policies at the ginning of the recession. The national • A tax on carwashes was put in for a brief 3-year period in State Capitol: unemployment rate is 5 percent. 1989, but it was found by the legislators to be so unwork• The Connecticut Business & InConnecticut has recovered 84 perable, create disparate treatment within the industry, cost dustry Association (CBIA) joined cent of the 119,000 jobs lost in the too much to track and collect and ended up not raising representatives of the Connectirecession, while the U.S. recovery the anticipated revenue that it was repealed very quickly. cut Conference of Municipalities rate is more than 140 percent. Labor and the state AFL-CIO in an• We have many different types of modern equipment department director Andy Condon nouncing a summit to brainstorm all of which make it impossible to have this work fairly. said the consecutive months of losses We have Full Service Carwash Tunnels with employees, the best pathways to a brighter “possibly indicates a softening of the Coin-Operated Automatic Carwashes and Self-Service economic future. strong growth we have seen through Coin-Operated equipment, coin operated vacuums & • There is an ongoing State Tax August of this year.” vending as well. Study Panel and the Commission Half of the state’s 10 major induson Connecticut’s Leadership in • How will we collect 6.35% cents on a $1 coin operated try sectors posted gains in October, Corporate and Business Law has vacuum machine? The automatic collection equipment led by trade, transportation, and utilbeen meeting to review certain used carwashes cannot be programmed to function in ities, which added 1,000 positions, aspects of state tax policy that increments of pennies, nickels and dimes. This type of driven largely by retailers. have helped both build Conequipment does not exist. Information added 800 new jobs, necticut’s economy and generate • CT carwashes hold many charity washes here for local followed by education and health serrevenues and are now being decommunity groups. Will we have to charge them the vices (400); financial activities (200); emphasized. sales tax? Also, will you also then collect the tax on charand leisure and hospitality (200). • The Legislature earlier this year ity carwashes held at town halls, schools, churches and The government sector reportrequired the state’s Office of McDonalds? ed the largest losses for the month, Policy and Management (OPM) • We provide important jobs to our local and state econshedding 1,800 jobs, with local govto study the recommendations omy that will be dramatically impacted by thisNEW tax. ernment losing 1,100 positions. Proof the Connecticut Institute for Carwashes employ thousands of unskilled, entry-level fessional and business services lost the 21st Century. OPM must reworkers and provide a solid paycheck for these employ1,100 jobs, followed by other services port back to the Governor and ees and their families. What happens when we have to (-900); manufacturing (-800); and the Legislature’s budget-writing lay them off and they go on unemployment? Does that construction and mining (-200). Emcommittees by Feb. 1, 2016. save the state any money? ployment rose in two of the state’s • We would respectfully request that you reconsider this four labor market areas, led by BridgeNEW tax on carwashes and would like to work with you {continued } to help make Connecticut a better place to work and live.

Don’t Tax Connecticut’s Carwashes

• WINTER 2016 •


CT Tax Update port-Stamford-Norwalk, with 1,100 new jobs. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford added 300 jobs and leads all areas with 8,900 new positions for the year. New Haven lost 1,400 jobs in October and Norwich-New London-Westerly shed 200.

Department of Labor Changes Two significant changes are taking place at the Connecticut Department of Labor. DOL is currently in the process of implementing the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) that will alleviate the headaches of many businesses when it comes to handling unemployment claims. SIDES is an integrated computer-to-computer interface that allows for the easy exchange of unemployment information requests between businesses, claimants, and state labor departments. The program is currently being used by 46 states and officials at Connecticut’s DOL anticipate it will be fully integrated here by September of 2016. This will be particularly helpful to businesses with locations in multiple states because it will allow them to respond to requests for information related to individual unemployment claims in a nationally standardized format. Any Connecticut business with an Internet connection and an email address can participate in the SIDES program. In addition to being free of charge (although some businesses may need to make some internal IT system changes) SIDES offers many other benefits to businesses, including: • Less paperwork and lower postage fees • Quick, efficient communication between employers and the UI Agency, eliminating delays related to paper mail delivery and • Better information exchange, which will result in fewer improper payments. Further, SIDES has multiple layers of security to protect the sensitive data exchanged between businesses and the state labor department. Commissioner Sharon Palmer recently announced she would be retiring from her position as DOL Commissioner. Governor Malloy appointed Commissioner Palmer to the position in 2012. A successor has not yet been named.

State Rankings Drop Based on Forbes‘ 2015 Best States for Business rankings, there are places in the U.S.

8 • WINTER 2016 •

where the economy is thriving, driven by low costs, strong workforces, and a lack of government red tape. Unfortunately, Connecticut has much ground to cover to join them, falling three places to 39th in the magazine’s annual survey of state business climates. Connecticut’s high cost of doing business, regulatory burden, and the state’s slow economic growth all contributed to the latest ranking. Forbes measures six key areas when compiling its best states list: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Connecticut ranked 45th for business costs (down from 47th last year) which include energy, labor and taxes. Only Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have higher costs. The cost of doing business in Connecticut is 11 percent higher than the national average, Forbes said, due in large part to energy costs, which are 64 percent higher.

Slow Economy Forbes ranked the state’s regulatory environment (including labor regulations, healthcare mandates, licensing, tort system) 41st, down four spots from 2014. Our economic climate, measured by job, income, and gross state product growth as well

A Statement From The Connecticut Carwash Association, December 2015 “The many families that own and operate local Connecticut carwashes are extremely disheartened and greatly discouraged that the Connecticut State Legislature has recently imposed a NEW sales tax on carwashes. The many members of the Connecticut Carwash Association have struggled through the recent economic downturn, and this new tax will directly hurt these family-owned small businesses by increasing the cost of doing business in an increasingly unfriendly business environment. The new carwash tax was proposed in the middle of the night with no public notice and no opportunity for a public hearing. Many local Connecticut operators and members have risked their life savings and made these local businesses their life’s work all of which stand in danger of being threatened by this NEW, unfair tax on their businesses and their customers.”

as average unemployment over the past five years remained unchanged at 44th, second worst among the New England states. The state has added 27,000 jobs over the last 12 months and unemployment fell to 5.2 percent in September, the lowest rate since April 2008. Connecticut’s growth prospects fell one spot to 29th this year. That category reflects employment, income, and gross state product growth forecasts over the next five years, as well as capital investments and business openings and closings. Forbes now ranks Connecticut at 25th for labor supply (down from 20th last year), which factors net migration, high school and college graduation rates, and projected population growth.

Quality of Life The state’s quality of life–measuring crime data, cost of living, education, and health and wellness– was ranked fourth (down from third last year). The Forbes’ rankings follow CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business study, released earlier this year, which saw Connecticut jump 13 places to 33rd overall. Connecticut’s strong performance in the CNBC rankings reflected the cable outlet switching its focus away from the state’s biggest weakness — high costs — to its greatest strength, a skilled workforce. LikeForbes, CNBC ranks Connecticut poorly for the cost of doing business (47th), although Forbes places greater emphasis on costs than CNBC.

Utah Ranked First Utah topped the Forbes rankings for the second consecutive year, finishing in the top six in five of the study’s key categories, based on light regulation, energy costs that are 23 percent below the national average, the third strongest employment growth in the country over the last five years. North Carolina rose one spot to finish second; Nebraska jumped five positions to third overall; North Dakota dropped from second to fourth; and Colorado remained in fifth. West Virginia was ranked last, down from 48th last year. Mississippi, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island rounded out the bottom five. Michigan was the most improved of all states, climbing 12 spots to 30th, while Maryland had the biggest decline, falling from 20th to 33rd. P.J. Cimini, Esq. is the CCA’s Lobbyist and a partner in Capitol Strategies Group, LLC, in Hartford. You can reach him at 860/293-2581 or Petition forms can be found at

• WINTER 2016 •



When Good Money Goes Bad What do you do with badly burned, disfigured, dyed or bogus money? The Feds have policies and methods that can help ... sometimes. Editor’s Note: A reader approached us

Over the years the SSCWN has heard more than a few stories from operators about what

at the ICA Show last year and asked if we

I’ve called “broken” money. Namely, cash monies (usually bills) that had been somehow

could reprint this helpful (and entertaining!) article from our archives. Unfortunately, we neglected to get our faithful reader’s name and/or email address as he was darting off to meet with a supplier right after he visited our booth and it took a bit of digging (he thought the story was from the late 1990’s,

damaged, disfigured, destroyed, or, “exchanged” for counterfeit or what used to be called “queer money.” We’ve also heard tales of coins being “welded” together or semi-melted by very severe lightning strikes. Needless to say, car wash owners are not the only guys who have to deal with such problems. The Feds have an agency called the Bureau of Engraving and Printing which (as the name implies) is responsible for the production of our country’s paper money. But

not Spring 2006, as it actually is), but here it

another part of the BEP’s mission is resolving a wide variety of problems with traumatized

is, in its entirety, for your reading pleasure:

paper money. Some are quite bizarre! Chances are, you’ll find the methods and policies of the BEP and other, similar government agencies instructive and interesting.

THE “COW STORY” The “cow story” has become a legend around the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In the mid 1970’s, a farmer lost his wallet while he was plowing his field. The farmer suspected his cow ate the wallet so he had the bovine beast slaughtered. He then sent the stomach to Washington with a request that the BEP retrieve the wallet and replace the damaged cash! The story has a happy ending for the farmer... if not for the cow. Bureau examiners searched the

10 • WINTER 2016 •

cow’s stomach, found the wallet and mailed the man a check for almost $600! “We always tell people to ‘send currency in the original container’, but that’s not what we had in mind,” said Lorraine Robinson, division manager at the Bureau's Office of Currency Standards. In 2000, the Treasury agency replaced $82 million worth of badly damaged currency, involving almost 30,000 individual cases. The most common causes of damage are fire, water, chemicals, explosives, animals, insects, and rodents. Problems also arise when currency deteriorates or petrified when it is buried. The Bureau’s caseload often increases when there are natural disasters, such as floods and the wildfires

that ravaged some Western states in recent years.

THE RULES The government has rules for paying people the full value for damaged greenbacks: More than 50 percent of a note identified as genuine US currency must be present. Or 50 percent or less can be present, as long as the Treasury is satisfied that the missing portions have been destroyed. Officials do that by looking at the method of mutilation and any supporting evidence. “You can’t just say, ‘My dog ate it,’ and that’s it. That’s {continued }

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When Good Money Goes Bad not going to satisfy us,” Robinson said. “We’ve had people wait until the dog ‘deposited’ out the other end. We ask that you clean it up, and we’ll take it. Otherwise, we’ll send it back to you.” The Bureau of Engraving and Printing handles only cases involving currency in very bad shape. People with notes that are just dirty or worn should exchange them through their local bank. People can deliver their damaged currency in person or they mail them. All envelopes and packages are opened, recorded and stored in a vault. Then the painstaking work beings: identifying something out of what might be fragments, piles of ashes or fused masses, as genuine currency. “Sometimes it’s like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle,” said examiner Lorraine McGill, a 23-year veteran. One of her most memorable cases, she says, involved money that had been found under an outhouse. The money reeked and had to sit in a special solution for several months to be decontaminated before she could start her work. Cases are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the most difficult. A “1” might be currency that was chewed, while a “6” might be currency that was burned to ashes. But how can you identify anything from ash? If it’s a case where no identifications can be made at all, then there is no replacement. However, BEP examiners will search for the very smallest scraps, and might be able to identify just a fleck of printing, or a picture or some other pattern. So most of the time, examiners are able to make sufficient identifications so that people get back at least some money. If the examiners can identify 6 left-hand corners of a $20, then they would count that as six $20 bills. If they find 4 left-hand corners and 4 righthand corners, the best they can do is give you the value of four notes. On some notes that are burned, but have not been reduced to total ash, it is possible to see printing and other surviving details, which can look like the carbon copy of the bill. Examiners are trained to identify patterns for each denomination, what’s counterfeit and specific techniques to deal with, for instance, burned money versus buried money. When fires ravaged Oakland, California in 1991, baseball player Reggie Jackson brought in a safe from his home that was burned. The notes were charred, but Jackson was able to have them exchanged. An operator reported a similar story to SSCWN. He had left a bundle of damp dollar bills under his gas fired boiler. They were too close to the flame and were very badly burned. The examiners went through the ashes and were able to give him virtually dollars for dollar replacements for the burnt bucks.

12 • WINTER 2016 •

Cases are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the most difficult. A “1” might be currency that was chewed, while a “6” might be currency that was burned to ashes. Here’s another interesting story: Several years ago, a man sent the BEP a large trash bag full of what looked like greenish confetti. It was actually cash -- small denomination paper money. The guy’s elderly, demented mother had a “hobby” of feverishly and totally shredding her nest egg savings with scissors. He got $35,000 back. After a case is closed, the currency is held for 45 days and then destroyed. In an all too rare display of governmental efficiency, the greenbacks are burned beyond recognition in a giant boiler that helps to heat and cool the building.

FUNNY MONEY So what should you do when you find counterfeit bills in your changers’ bill stackers? Many operators have been faced with this question when bogus bills come their way: Once upon a long time ago, some changers were susceptible to even the most embarrassingly crude counterfeits in the form of simple black and white Xerox-type photocopies. Then “thanks” to much more sophisticated technologies -- computer scanners and color copiers -- two-sided bogus color bills were produced that sometimes look remarkably like the real deal. The Secret Service is the Federal agency responsible for monitoring such counterfeiting crimes. Call your local/regional SS. You’ll usually find SS reps in your area’s Federal office building. Typically they’ll send out an agent who will take the bogus bucks off your hands and ask for any info that might help ID the perp. Obviously, it would be great if you had a good videotape image of the counterfeiter in action at the changer. And it’d be absolutely ideal if you also had a camera that

snagged an ID of the car and it’s license plate. That would nail ‘em! The “energy” and interest the Secret Service demonstrates in such cases can vary. We’ve heard of SS operators physically staking out $1/$5 changers to catch perps changing counterfeit or “doctored” bills. Other operators say the SS had a “file it and forget it” attitude for small bills. But typically, denominators of $10 or $20 really get their attention across the board. There was a time in the not too, too distant past, when coin-op car wash owners were often specially and successfully targeted by thieves who “surgically doctored” real paper currency. We won’t describe the actual technique other than to say, for example, that one $1 and one $5 bill could be cut n’ pasted together to produce wha stone old changers sometimes read as two $5 bills. Again, Bill changer updates have essentially put the kibosh to such thievery. But in the event that some such bills come your way, the lower denomination bill is still basically legal tender and can be swapped or deposited. The difference between the small and larger denomination is a loss which you should report to your accountant.

WELDED COINS Quarters and $1 coins are obviously much more durable than paper money, but “stuff does happen.” For example, in 1995 it was reported to the SSCWN that a freakish lightning bolt was responsible for fusing a load of quarters all together. Although unlikely -- an extremely intense, sustained fire from the “right” kind of fuel could conceivably {continued }

Still making change. Only now more green.

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• WINTER 2016 •


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When Good Money Goes Bad do the same thing. Such a case would require the services of the agency responsible for production of the coin currency -- the US Mint. Badly damaged coinage should be taken to or shipped to: Superintendent/U.S. Mint Post Office Box 400 Philadelphia, PA 19105

MUTILATED CURRENCY If you have paper money which has been mutilated in some way, you won’t want to mail it to the Mint. As previously stated, under regulations issued by the Department of the Treasury, mutilated United States currency may be exchanged at face value if more than 50 percent of a note is identifiable, or if more than 50 percent has been destroyed, but there is evidence in satisfaction to the Treasury that the missing portion is totally destroyed. You can send the damaged currency by registered mail with a “return receipt requested” to: Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing Office of Currency Standards PO Box 37048 Washington, DC 20013 Personal deliveries are accepted between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through the Friday Along with the damaged currency, include a letter stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how it became damaged. Currency that is brittle or falls apart easily should be packed carefully in plastic and cotton. Try not to disturb the fragments. Place the package in a sturdy box. Bills damaged in a purse, box, jar, can or other container should be left in the purse or container to protect it from further damage. The whole thing should be sent to the Bureau. (I guess this situation is why the farmer shipped his wallet in the “container” -- the cow’s stomach!) If the notes were flat when damaged, do not roll or fold them. If the notes were rolled, do not attempt to straighten them out. To obtain information about mutilated currency shipment, you can call the Mutilated Currency Division at 866-575-2361.

DYED BANKED LOOT Unfortunately, bank robberies are not all that rare -- actually, anything but! Would you believe that

16 • WINTER 2016 •

there are (on average) a whopping 130,000 bank robberies every year in the USA! The FBI says the average take-per-hoist is around $4,000. So, that computes out to an amazing $520,000,000 -- more than half a BILLION bucks -- stolen every year! Quite a bit of it is recovered rather quickly. A lot of it, however, comes our way! Over the years, we’ve heard from numerous coin-op car wash owners who had inadvertently acted as “fences” for stolen bank money. That is, robbers will snatch a bag of loot from a bank teller who has placed packets of bills which have attend a squib of permanent, bright dye. The squib is timed to pop and squirt dye on (and thereby mark/identify) the bills in the bag of swag. The crooks then take the marked money to bill changer machines to get (in every sense of the term) “clean money” in change. Obviously, a fairly tedious process -- almost a job in itself -- but still it happens all too

SOME UPDATED INFORMATION, PER THE FBI’S WEBSITE IN 2016: “Even in this high-tech age, oldfashioned bank robberies are still a cause for concern. In 2009 alone, more than $45 million was stolen and some 140 people injured in nearly 6,000 robberies of financial institutions reported to us from across the nation. The FBI has had a primary role in bank robbery investigations since the 1930s, when John Dillinger and his gang were robbing banks and capturing the public’s imagination. In 1934, it became a federal crime to rob any national bank or state member bank of the Federal Reserve. The law soon expanded to include bank burglary, larceny, and similar crimes, with jurisdiction delegated to the FBI. Now, as then, we work alongside local law enforcement in bank robbery cases.” --

often in this business. So what is the car wash owner’s legal responsibility when finding such a bunch of brightly stained bills in his changer stacker? And/or, what are his, shall we say, “other options” when protecting himself from such thefts? Well, it’s interesting (and frustrating) how inconsistent law enforcement is at all levels about this chronic problem. Bank robbery is, after all, a Federal crime, so one would suppose that there’s just one over-riding Fed protocol for such a situation. And yet, we’ve heard all manner of “resolutions” of instances where dyed stolen bank money is reported or despot iced. Richard Bailey, owner of the Big A Carwashes in the Atlanta area, tells us of his experience: “If the money is dyed from a bank robbery, the FBI will be interested in talking to you. I helped the FBI catch some crooks. I had deposited some dyed money in the bank and the teller alerted the FBI. I then told them that it had come from my changer, which can’t tell the difference between bank robbery money and regular money. “An FBI agent went to my office to get the videotape of the bank robber puttin gate money in my changer. These were some dumb robbers. The FBI told me they had gotten only $3,000 -- for which they could get 25 years in prison. These crooks had masks on in the bank and our tape gave the FBI the vehicle ID and their pictures. Soon after, those pictures were on the TV news which led to tips and a few days later the perps were arrested. “My bank had not credited me the $90 from the bank robbery on my initial deposit. However, I contacted the FBI and requested that they authorize the credit,t hey did, and the bank then gave me full credit! “Altered money (such as cut and paste/tape techniques) or counterfeit money is a case of the Secret Service and they do not give credit. They will be happy to take what you have and give you a receipt, but they will not give you anything for it.”

MORE FROM THE INTERNET WATER COOLER And here are some other examples taken from a thread on Auto Care Forum:

DAN MCHALE: “Today at my wash I found $120 worth of $1’s and $5’s that had red dye all over them -- money that had been stolen from a local bank. I called the police and was told that they {continued }

• WINTER 2016 •



When Good Money Goes Bad have to take this money as evidence. Has anyone had this happen to them before? If so, did you ever get reimbursed for that money? The detective told me that chances of getting reimbursed for this money were not good. Who says “honesty pays”?! I told the detective the robber might come back again tonight? He agreed, and asked me to leave the change machine on all night -- but they weren’t going to have any cops stake the place out. They were just going to do extra patrols in the area. I agreed to put $20 worth of quarters in the machine and leave it on.

CAN I WRITE THIS OFF? BILL PITZER: I’ve been told that you should get a receipt for the money from the cops, and then they have to compensate you for the money. But the best way is to just keep the money, and get rid of it at the stores on eat a time. If a clerk questions the bill, just say, “Yeah, it’s from my last

bank robbery.” They just laugh and take it. And, yes, you can write it off as a loss. Editor’s Note: The SSCWN must distance itself from this suggested method for dealing with dyed bills. But hey -- it’s “your” money!

(NAME WITHHELD): A few years ago, I found about $250 in red $5 bills in my changer. I Calle dither police and they took it into evidence. No call backs. They did not even want to see the video. Two days later -- more red fives -- about $300 worth! So I call the police and said, “They did it again...but this time for only $25.” The next night, I simply kept all the red fives. I did exactly what Bill said -- I spent them one at a time. A cashier might look at me suspiciously and I would real casually say, “Oh, that’s just my bank robbery money...that red stuff is real thought to wash off.” They would either just look at me strange and not saying anything or say, “Really?!” Then I’d say, “No, just kidding.” And start looking over my shoulder and acting all nervous. It was actually pretty funny.

SCOTT SAYVILLE: It doesn’t surprise me that the

cops are no help. But Id’ think the bank would have the ability to exchange it with the government for fresh currency. I’m sure this is a bit of a pain for them. But I’d threaten to make it a real seriousness pain by reporting them for defacing the currency with the dye, and by calling their insurance carrier, who may be real interested to know that the stolen goods were available to reclaim, but the banks couldn’t care less.

MARK FRANCIS: About a year and a half ago, I found $750 in $1, $5, and $10’s in my changers. We counted them up, wrapped the money separately, and took it to the bank. They called local police who took the money and handed it over to FBI... leaving us an IOU. I have video cameras, so the FBI came and downloaded the files. They caught the robbers and used the dyed money (with their fingerprints) and video to help convict. I got the money back 14 months later, with a release from the FBI which I deposited in bank. My only regret is that I did not check for a reward for info leading to the arrest and conviction. Only way to avoid this is by going to tokens.

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20 • WINTER 2016 •

Lessons from Newbies A photo tour and advice from freshman carwash owners.

We’ve talked a lot about the opportunities for experienced operators in the pages of SSCWN over the last few years as the market has weeded out exhausted owners and created more wiggle room for existing ones. But what about motivated newcomers? So much of the positive energy and

excitement in our industry comes from these “newbies” who spread their optimism at trade shows, road tours, and on Auto Care Forum. Too often we pass over their success stories because it seems like there’s not much we can learn from them -- we’ve all “been there, done

that.” Their efforts haven’t stood the test of time. Their path to profits is well worn and trodden. Like the teething puppy, their enthusiasm gnaws our jaded nerves and tries our patience. {continued }

• WINTER 2016 •


Lessons from Newbies

LEARNING FROM THE NEWBIES There are parallels to this story in every aspect of our lives -- parenting, marriage, hobbies, careers. We weigh the advice and knowledge against the years of practice; we toss aside the newlyweds’ enthusiasm and roll our eyes at the intern’s eagerness. But what if we didn’t? What if instead, we tried to capture that confidence and hopefulness and used it to reignite our own fire? It was an experience with mentoring a new runner to my marathon training team that led me to seek out a carwash “newbie” and try to do the same here. I learned so much from her -- even when she annoyed me with her obsession over the Garmin, the pacing, the training guide and nitpicking every long run on Facebook -- that I thought we might benefit from finding some newcomers to our industry and exploring their journeys to see what we might glean from it. Enter the stars of our “newbie” story: Chris and Denise Reed. This couple purchased a carwash back in January 2012 after they spent years driving


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22 • WINTER 2016 • 800.285.6780

Lessons from Newbies

out of town for a wash. Their market area -- like so many other self serves -- is a small one; the population stands just over 2,600. But just like so many other self serves, the net spreads around a wider rural area which attracts plenty of pickup trucks and duallies. And the market is what dictated their first major decision as business owners...

Newbie Lesson #1:


Initially, the Reeds planned to dip their toes in the water before making any major changes to their four-bay self serve. There were three self serve bays in good standing, and a truck bay which did brisk business. They had borrowed some money from Denise’s father to jump start their venture and thought they should pay back the loan before making any investments. Of course, even small markets present opportunities from competition and it only took a few weeks of ownership before the couple realized they needed to play defense as well as offense.

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24 • WINTER 2016 •

1/10/14 4:53 PM

Lessons from Newbies

The new in-bay install included Air Lift dryers mounted outside the bay.

• WINTER 2016 •


Lessons from Newbies

Clearing out the bay ahead of the install revealed some hidden “treasure.” Tarnished coins which had fallen behind the vault.

26 • WINTER 2016 •

Lessons from Newbies

Denise and her father devoted themselves to researching in-bay automatic machines while Chris was working his 9-5. By April 2012 -- only four months after taking over the wash -- they were ready for the install of their new Belanger Kondor. Since that day, the Reeds haven’t stopped making improvements -- bill acceptors in the bays, Cryptopay credit card system, a new vending area (featuring a used, but well maintained snack vending machine), a camera system and new Extrutech panels. The in-bay automatic accounts for 65 percent of their total income, which far exceeded their expectations, and has had the domino effect of encouraging the couple to constantly improve upon the status quo at the car wash. This is an important takeaway for any operator: Don’t ever stop upgrading and pushing forward.

Newbie Lesson #2:


The Reeds don’t talk about their wash for very long before they start thanking a supplier or family member who has helped them build the business up. Chris is quick to credit his wife and his fatherin-law for driving much of their success, as well as their supplier rep, Steve Jordan of Heartland Car Wash Services in southeast Missouri, who has become a family friend. And of course -- Auto Care Forum makes the list. “We couldn’t have done any of this without the help of the folks on the forum,” Chris said. He even posted a YouTube video of the Kondor in action • WINTER 2016 •




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Lessons from Newbies

to seek out their perspectives. The lesson here? Build a strong support network around your wash and don’t be afraid to seek out advice. (Also: Don’t forget to express your gratitude.)

Newbie Lesson #3:


Their market is small and rural, but that hasn’t stopped the Reeds from using Facebook and a customer loyalty program to connect with their customers and strengthen their bond to the community. The Potosi Car Wash loyalty club gives customers access to special offers, discounted prices and other bonuses -- like free birthday washes -- simply by registering the customer’s credit card at the wash (only the last four digits of the card are stored). In addition to their loyalty club and Facebook page, the couple sponsors a local race car. Check out the logo on the car! A lot of operators believe their carwash can’t benefit from a Facebook page, particularly washes in small, rural market areas -but Potosi has 402 likes and 16 reviews! It may seem like small peanuts, but this type of customer contact is priceless (especially considering the “free” price tag of setting up a Facebook profile). Your last lesson: Connect with the community however you’re able and embrace social media. You might find 402 new fans.

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Plan Ahead

) n o i t i t e p m o c r u o y of


By Kate Carr Dan Callihan, owner of Glen Burnie Car Wash with two locations in Glen Burnie, MD, warmed up his NRCC 2015 presentation

Of course, this isn’t the kind of execution Callihan was referring to in his 15-minute talk at the Northeast Regional Carwash

on planning and execution for self serve carwash businesses

Convention (nor was it the kind the reporter was referring to),

by recalling a quip of Coach John McKay, who infamously

but in it’s own way the amusing anecdote is an important

coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers through 26 straight

reminder of just how important it is to have a game plan

losses in the ‘75 and ‘76 seasons. When asked by a report-

-- and to follow through on that game plan. (McKay would

er how he felt about the “execution” of his team’s offense,

go on to lead the Buccaneers through better seasons in the

McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it.”

Get yourself organized for 2016 by following the Glen Burnie Car Wash playbook, as explained by owner Dan Callihan at NRCC 2015. 32 • WINTER 2016 •

late 70’s, including three appearances in the playoffs.)

Preparing for success When Callihan started in the self serve business in 1983, he chose a derelict 4-bay site with four vacuums. None of which worked. “The property was in pretty bad shape,” Callihan recalled. “But I was lucky enough to have Kleen Rite only an hour and a half from where I live.”

So Callihan headed up north to pay a visit to renowned operator-turned-supplier Harold McKonly. (McKonly, you may recall, was posthumously inducted into the Car Wash Hall of Fame at last year’s ICA Car Wash Show.) “I got a great lecture while I was up there: You know, you have to improve every year. You can’t be afraid to raise the price. You’ve got to give your customer some value,” Callihan remembered. {continued }

• WINTER 2016 •


Plan Ahead ... (of your competition) In addition to the free advice, Callihan also got something else: A change machine on loan until he made some money to pay for it. “I told Harold what I had at the wash and he listened and then he went to the back room where he talked to a couple guys, I guess, and when he came back out he said, ‘’Okay, they’re putting a change machine in the back of your truck.’” “I said, ‘Harold, what do you mean they’re putting a change machine in the back of my truck?!’” “And he says, ‘Well, you don’t have a change machine.’” “And I say, ‘Well, yeah, I know that. But I also don’t have any money.’” “And he says, ‘Just take the thing and get it installed.’” “And I say, ‘But Harold, what if it doesn’t work?’” “And he just shakes his head -- and I’ll never forget this -- he says, ‘You know, some people you can’t even help.’ And he turned and walked away.” As bemusing as the interaction was, Callihan said it represented a rather serious part of his success -- constantly improving his equipment -- and his visits to Kleen Rite became a regular habit, taking place every 4-6 weeks throughout the year.

Doubling down for growth Callihan’s broken down 4-bay self serve has vastly changed over the years -- today it’s a stateof-the-art wash with six self serve bays, two inbay automatics and a 60-foot tunnel. There’s a second location, as well, with 5 self serve bays, two dog washing bays, and two in-bay automatics. “We try to offer as many different services as possible to give the customer lots of options,” Callihan explained. It’s a formula that has worked over the years. When Callihan decided to look at the financial data over the past 32 years, he discovered his wash had averaged double digit growth over the decades and the final tally for absolute growth was astonishing: Business was up 3,000 percent from that opening year. “I attribute our success to good planning,” Callihan said. “Every year, we sat down and thought about what we’d do and we thought about what the competition was doing. We make a plan for how we’re going to invest in the business -- because even in the down years, we’ve always invested in the business. And then we write down the specific actions we will take and we try to make those happen.” In the past, those actions have meant invest{continued }

34 • WINTER 2016 •

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Plan Ahead ... (of your competition) ing $50,000 in pet wash bays in order to make a non-profitable SS bay become a money maker (a slow ROI project for sure, but one that has proved incrementally fruitful), as well as investing in creating a “premium package” for the inbay automatics, which represented an immediate uptick in profits. “The point is, every year we did something,” Callihan reiterated.

Develop your plan for 2016 So how can you emulate Callihan’s success? The game plan is actually really simple, but as we learned in the seminar room at NRCC 2015, there aren’t many self serve operators who are actually committing their plans and tracking their results on paper.

STEP 1: CALL YOUR TEAM TOGETHER, SIT DOWN AND HASH IT OUT. Callihan is lucky to have a business partner -his nephew, Fred -- who has a similar work ethic and values as his own. When it comes time to plan for the year, he and Fred sit down to discuss their larger goals -- be it cost reduction or driving volumes or improving profits -- as well as the marketplace particulars which will support their endeavors. For your own sit down meeting, you might need to reach out to a manager or your own business partner or spouse. Have conversations with customers and suppliers prior to the official discussion in order to frame your ideas and give you a springboard for planning. In addition to your goals, your discussion should also address your competition and whatever their potential plans might be. You should plan for routine maintenance and equipment replacement, too.

STEP 2: WRITE IT OUT. Once you’ve identified the goals, it’s time to write down the concrete steps you will take to reach them. If your goal is “cost reduction,” and the thought is that your water bill is too high, your action might be something like: “Invest in/ improve functionality of water reclaim system.” Callihan mentioned his focus for 2016 will be limiting costs and so he is considering LED lighting, water reclaim, and researching concentrated chemical solutions.

STEP 3: PUT THE PLAN INTO ACTION. Of course, this is where we can refer back to {continued }

36 • WINTER 2016 •

Future Succession  Planning   Legal  and  Financial  Restructuring   Re3rement???  

• WINTER 2016 •




A WHOLE LOT MORE! • Aircraft grade anodized aluminum bridge and main rails - Now Standard • New redesigned LaserWash 360Plus Navigation System for improved bridge movement, accuracy, and speed • Non-corrosive materials used – stainless and aluminum • Fluid valves eliminated from the bridge • Air valves now enclosed for increased reliability • New stainless steel pump station design focused on improved functionality and low maintenance costs • 25 gallon water tank – Now Standard • Welded manifolds replacing assemblies of fittings – reduces leak points • Larger low pressure pump that feeds spot free to the bridge, eliminating the need to pressure feed spot free through the main pump, reducing energy/saving costs • Ultimate cover package – Now Standard

38 • WINTER 2016 •

Plan Ahead ... (of your competition) Coach McKay’s follies. A plan is no good unless you execute it throughout the year. To that end, it can be helpful to set deadlines for your action items, to make sure they happen throughout the year. If you’re going to create a premium IBA wash package (like Callihan did with great success,) you might aim to have it unveiled in the spring before your pollen season starts. After that’s done, it might free up your time to focus on another goal -- like installing LED lighting. However busy your action plan might seem, it’s important that you allow yourself to focus on one agenda item at a time so that you can devote your full attention to its execution. Spacing your actions every few months on the calendar will allow you to accomplish more throughout the year.

STEP 4: TRACK YOUR SUCCESS As Callihan explained, it can be difficult to prove the correlation between some actions and their end results -- but it’s important to consider all of your efforts to your overall success and to write down the numbers at the end of the year. For instance, Callihan tracked the numbers on his pet wash and discovered it took two years to realize the return on the investment, but he continues to tally up its profits now because every dollar it earns represents a dollar the severely-underperforming bay wouldn’t have earned as a self serve. On the other hand, after creating the premium wash package for his in-bay automatic, which features Rain-X that he “absolutely paints” on the car, Callihan immediately saw the return. “We charge significantly more for that wash, and our premium wash count went way, way up.”

The final plan Last, but not least, Callihan wrapped up his presentation by discussing his end goal: Retirement. While Callihan and Fred will continue to focus on improving profits at their business, he is also busy planning an exit strategy that will rely on succession planning and structuring the business legally and financially for his retirement. Of course, the key to a good retirement is the same as the key to successful carwash operations: Planning ahead!

• WINTER 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

Advertising and deals - I need some help/guidance. Car_Wash_Guy: I’ve owned my wash for about 6 months. Prior to that, it was closed down for about a year. I’ve gotten most of the major kinks worked out ( Thanks WashCard! ) and am looking to build the business. I’m looking to accomplish 2 things, and they are: 1. Advertise on some form of media. I wanted to see what others have had success with. YES, I’ve read some of the older threads here, but like everything in our lives, technology has jumped by leaps and bounds and some methods emerge while others fall by the wayside. A. I’ve done some slight work with FaceBook. Spent roughly $9/day to promote posts and what not. B. I’ve considered either direct mailing or advertis-

tdlconceptsllc: Here is my advise from my past whatever it's worth to you. First tell us some more information on your site do you have IBA Self serve tunnel etc... For promotional I give away free Carwashes all day like a grand opening make sure everything at your site is in mint condition everything working perfect from remodeling. From 8am8pm you need to be there introduce yourself give them a card with your name and number and tell people all about your site word will spread overnight and everyone will know about your site. Cars will be lined up in the street and everyone in your town will know. Do it like on a Friday and Saturday the two busiest days of the week some people do it for an entire week which works very good. By far the best advertising you will ever do. Put a big sign up several days before you do it. I do buy 5 get one free and I bet I only have sold 25-30 cards like that. To be honest people just want a clean reliable car wash that's going to clean dry and shine there car and very reliable very clean site and there coming back. Good service from the operators. So simple to say. But they're few and far between in this business. Good Luck. soapy: The best thing that has worked for me is to advertise on the Radio on Saturdays. In my town of 60,000 the radio stations offer much cheaper rates on Saturday compared to week days. I end up getting them for about $5 each. I hit country, oldies and soft current stations. I have noticed a big increase in business on the Saturdays I advertise compared to Saturdays when I don't. I know that Saturdays are already the busiest days for most car washes but most are not filled to capacity. i specify between 9 am and 5 pm. rph9168: I like both ideas. Free washes are a no brainer to bring people in and if the radio rates aren't bad I would advertise a free wash weekend. Sometimes you can even get them to do a remote on one of those days which always attracts attention. It would also be a good time to offer a 5 for 4 deal. I would probably also do a banner if it is allowed in your area with the 5 for 4 deal. I think print ads are usually not as good as radio or even banners. I would also emphasize that you be there and make sure the place is spotless and everything is in good

40 • WINTER 2016 •

ing on a billboard approx. 1 mile from my wash on a road that flows ~18K c/p/d. That would be about a $1200/mo commitment for a year. C. Direct Mail - Cost me roughly $6K+ to target the immediate 1-1.5mi radius. D. Invest in a LED 40” x 91” sign facing 3 of the 4 roadways/intersection approving car wash. This would cost me $10K-$20K depending on the display used. I’m on a corner, and the traffic flows about ~18K both avenues. What would you guys choose? I’m also trying of devise some offers to put forward to (A. Draw people to the wash,

working order. Good luck! Randy: In 32 years we’ve tried just about everything to get customers to come in, Radio ads, direct mailings, sponsored youth sports to work. teams, nothing really seems But the best thing we found was to offer a $3 discount on Tuesday’s – Thursday and on the Friday – Monday we give a $2 discount code on the receipt for their next visit. On the Bill changers we give out 23 token for a $20 bill and we get a pretty good number of $20 bills. I don’t think you’ll get much bang for your buck with running an billboard ad. We aren’t allowed by the city to have any banners or “A” board type signs If you decide on a digital sign, check with the city before you pull the trigger on it. There was a guy here who spend big bucks on a digital sign and then found out after it was installed it wasn’t legal and was forced to take it down. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way! rph9168: I think Randy's idea is good for adding on business but I think you need to jump start an old business with something like a grand reopening. I would look into some of the previous ideas to see if they make sense for you then try Randy's suggestions. Car_Wash_Guy: Thanks guys for the advice! We did a grand re-opening about 2 months ago. Advertised it for about a week, and had the radio station onsite live giving away free stuff along with free washes on my 2 autos. Was a pretty good turnout - think we washed almost 500 cars that day, but when something is free, it brings out everyone I have a 4/2 with a dog wash. 5 Fragramatic vacs, mat washer, tire shine, and vending area.. Regarding the radio - I paid $1600 for the grand opening. A week's worth of advertising ( don't remember how much air time I got during that week) and the 4 hour live on site broadcast on my grand opening. They want $900-$1500 per month, for a

and (B. Get them to use the loyalty cards thus becoming from frequent customers. What kind of deals are you guys offering? I was thinking something like: 1. Buy X # auto washes and get the Xth free. Or spend X and and receive X+Y. 2. Something for the dog wash. We’re doing ok, but I feel the potential is pretty good out here to increase it even more. So, how would you spend your advertising dollars, and what kind of deals do or would you offer to draw people into your wash.

year, for ongoing advertising. Not sure if they only have a single day option. I'll look into that. Digital sign is good to go where I am. I was standing right there when the sign guy called the city. They use a formula based off the lot size:total signage. There (as of now) is no exclusions for digital signs. soonermajic: I'm gonna try the "Free Wash" day in next month, on a Saturday. That is, if weather will cooperate. Weather has been awful here for 3 straight weeks, & no shift soon. A LOT of mud, & I freaking hate mud. To save $100's on pit cleaning, sons & myself do it. SUCKS! Car_Wash_Guy: Still undecided as of this point, but I'm leaning heavily towards purchasing a large LED digital display. It'll be facing an intersection which flows approx. 32,000 cpd in all directions. I feel given the nature of our business being pretty much an impulse purchase, I feel that interacting and signaling with potential customers when they are literally within reach of my business is pretty optimal. Plus, I get a sign. Even a static printed sign would cost me $3000. I'll own it for what I'd pay to advertise for a year on a billboard or advertise on the radio. Looking like it's going to cost me $10K for a 90"x40" or $15K for a 144"x48". My sign guy will pay me $225/mo for 1 year to advertise on it. It is only lasts the 3 years it's warrantied, it would cost me ~$250-$300/ mo. My other idea was to pass out loyalty cards with a free top wash to all the local businesses. Earl Weiss: My local Chamber of commerce has a labelized mailing list of 600 local businesses. I printed Free wash tickets and a letter asking them to share with their customers and employees. I think for minimum postage I could put 6 tickets in an envelope with the letter. Paid my daughter to stuff the envelopes. Got a pretty good return.

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• WINTER 2016 •



Rope Lights / Trigger Pull

Waxman: Ready to increase our wash's profile from the street by adding rope lights. How do these look? Is this com/Mounting-Chann...nting+brackets the right thing to mount them in so they don't sag? thanks! BBE: Are you going to be leaving these up year round? waxman: yes i am… sparkey: You will have to post some pictures if you install these. The price looks reasonable enough. Kevin James: Those lights should make the place look awesome. soonermajic: Will those light the place up much, or just pretty much decoration? mrfixit: I think they would be cool around the ceiling in a ss or even iba too... Those clips are nice, or you could use these clips which are less $ and stronger. Only one screw needed each. VFR2101VWD3F33 Ric: In my opinion rope light that sags or is not perfectly straight looks bad. I would carefully select the type of mount I used. I would look into continuous rigid straight mounting track if the cost was reasonable. Randy: I was at Bass Pro Shops last night and they have white LED lights on the outline on the building, looks pretty sharp. I've thought about doing it a few times, maybe it's time The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way! seattleguy: I agree about lights that aren't straight look tacky. I have these up on 4 buildings. The magnets are genius and super strong. Super simple to put up (if you have metal flashings that magnets will stick to). Changing out the LED bulbs for different colors is simple. Expensive but worth every penny. waxman: what magnets do you use? i like this idea seattleguy: The magnets are built into the lights strings. mrfixit: Saw that on shark tank… He linked to it in the last post: litnetics

42 • WINTER 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

Views on IBA life expectancy simone: Just thought I would put this up to get opinions on the expected life of a well maintained Touchfree. Mine is a 5 year old wizard 2.0 it is well maintained ,averaging 20,000 washes per year and going great and very popular with customers. No good asking local distributors as they may be a little biased(Ha Ha ).Maybe some long term operators would like to chip in with their experiences. PEI: Your distributor would probably tell you that the expected life of an iba is 7 years. Realistically, if the equipment is well maintained then it is really

a factor of the number of cars washed. I have seen iba’s that ran for 20 years with proper maintenance. Eventually, however, the stainless wears out and has to be replaced. The real question for replacement of a well maintained machine is when does the cost of repairs and maintenance become too expensive. As they age iba’s take more in parts and have more downtime they also can create the appearance to your customers that they are old. This last point can be remedied by updating their looks every few years.

robert roman: How long a carwash system is useful to the business depends on functional and technical obsolescence. How long a piece of equipment will actually last is another question. Useful expected life for carwash systems in most personal property manuals is 15 years whereas computer-integrated machinery (in-bay) and computerized machinery (POS) are seven years. On the other hand, PC’s, software, smart phone, etc. is three years. Consider in-bay at gasoline sites. Average is 14,500 washes a year. Typically, machine needs minor overhaul 4 to 5 years, then is replaced at 8 to 10 years when building gets skin package (renovated). Could they go longer? Yes, many retailers did after recession and volumes and average revenue suffered greatly. Based on these assumptions, normal maintenance and average of 20,000 washes a year, useful expected life would be about 11 years instead of 15. Conversely, if in-bay is washing less, say, 9,000 or 10,000 cars a year, expected life would be greater. So, it’s possible to have situation where machine is functional (still capable of doing the work) but technically obsolete. Technical obsolescence occurs when a new product or technology supersedes the old and it becomes preferred to use the new technology in place of the old. For example, 3-second credit card processing versus 30-second, foam instead of soft-cloth, hot wax instead of triple foam, customer loyalty program instead of coupons or tokens, and so forth.

owner operator it takes years to know how to solve each problem, and reverse engineer to cure many of the common problems. I have 180,000 on my machine. No major repairs much over a grand. Small maintenance items. I do the work so that makes a big difference in cost.. No signs of stopping yet we will take it to 250,000 for sure.. With repairs it would go 500 I believe. New machine = 100 grand plus, or a couple grand a year for repairs. Once you know the machine, fixes can be quick and downtime minimized. We currently, in the last year, had the lowest down time of any year... A brand new machine will be in the maintenance stages by the second or third year.. That's after the bugs are worked out.. So you only get a few years break. The way I see it new touch less machines aren't a whole lot different than mine, in fact they still sell basically the same machine. Sure there are some newer things like double arms or different designs for speed and improved designs, but that's for when you're ready to spend and upgrade. Many things can be retro fitted to a machine to upgrade it for a fraction of a new machine. Depends on if you want to spend money... or work. An automatic is really not much different than a car along these lines.

Stuart: I agree with the above responses. I have a very good IBA which will have washed at least 18500 this year. It does have lots of idle time. But it is old - 30 years this February - old technology, looks old, uses tons of water. I am looking to replace soon hoping to increase count and profit margin with new features and new look. soonermajic: 20,000 washes/yr...dude, you're killin it! Congrats on the great business! mrfixit: My ryko is going on 12yrs old. Right now it is working better than new! If you're an

rph9168: I think mrfixit has hit on the right formula. Almost any unit will last longer and perform better with good preventative maintenance and making correct repairs when needed. Operators that experience a lot of problems are usually those that wait to fix things until the unit stops working or those that make piecemeal repairs just to stay open. I was involved in an oil company program where we supplied chemicals to 265 washes around the country. What I found interesting that the same brand and type auto in one location would be operating with minimal problems while an identical one in another location was constantly breaking down. Almost always the problem was that the first unit was getting good preventative maintenance while the second only received attention when it stopped working.

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• WINTER 2016 •



Impact of state of the art express wash one mile down the street of 5 bay SS bmfbob: hello I am currently in the due diligence phase of purchasing a 5 Bay SS in South Florida. I just learned a 50 car per hour express wash with 36 free undercover vacuum stalls and a dog wash building is being built one mile down the street. The 5 Bay SS is busy older, well maintained wash with $1.50 for 4 minutes and a $1.00 vacuums, with a local following. Construction of this 1.3 acre mega wash with detail center less than a mile down the road will start next month. Their other location 9 miles away, has a $6.00 express up to 15$ in up charges fed into free vacuums and vending. I assume same model. Question is what impact will this mega express wash have on my 5 Bay SS wash business.

Kevin James: I’m pretty sure the people who you’re buying this wash from know that there is an Express tunnel going in down the road so they are trying to unload it as fast as they can. They probably know that it’s going to hurt them and hurt them bad. Figure on losing 50 – 60% of the business. I’d pay no more than county tax land value for the car wash or walk on the deal, because I think you’re going to get screwed. robert roman: That you are asking the ques-

44 • WINTER 2016 •

tion is enough for me to suggest you walk away. If you want to buy a going concern get someone with industry and market experience to help with due diligence. For instance, consider the values of a seller that would withhold such information. Once upon a time, I bought a Florida lemon. The taste was very bitter.

Earl Weiss: No doubt it will hurt but so many factors come into play I'd say it's impossible to tell how much. For instance. 1. How many SS around. 2. Is it in an area where there is lots of non auto use of the SS? Motorcycles, RVs, watercraft.


rph9168: I would agree with Earl and Bob. If the owner has not mentioned the new wash I would begin to question the whole deal. As far as effect it is difficult to assess it. It definitely would affect the automatic end of the business. In my area and others I am acquainted with EE's have had a damaging effect. When one opened by me three autos within 2 miles of the EE were closed and torn down. Two of those also had SS bays and the other was part of a C-store operation. I knew the owner of another wash with 2 autos and 6 bays of self service. He survived mainly because he had owned the wash for 10 years and his overhead and payments were low enough to make a profit even after some loss of business. After an initial drop in business it leveled out to one that he could deal with. If you are not in a hurry I would wait to see what happens with the wash during construction and after the EE opens. My guess is that the price will go down as construction proceeds and after completion. Unless you can get the wash for a price that takes into consideration less revenue than it currently generates due to the new competition I would walk away. Even then you are probably taking a risk that is difficult to assess.

dumb decision. The location is just bad, but the guys have two others that are kicking butt. Thanks for your thoughts.

JMMUSTANG: When I changed my FS tunnel to EE my SS next door lost 70% the first year. Four years later it was still down over 40%.

MEP001: That's mostly true as long as their free vacuums are accessible to only their paying customers and not wide open for everyone.

So if it was me I would not even think about it. My closed competition less than 1 mile from me closed down in the spring... my numbers skyrocketed imediatley....I would assume that the car washes numbers would drop like a rock....I would cut the value of the wash by a large amount. They are only selling because of the new wash coming , but pricing it as though it was not coming.

I.B. Washincars: I kind of thought along the same lines as Mac. I would think that since it has no IBA that the damage wouldn't be as severe. IMO, most SS customers use the SS because they want to do it themselves, not because of the price. rph9168: I agree that most SS customers are not usually tunnel customers. The impact would be much greater if the SS also had an automatic. While I think there will be some loss of business I think it will be minimal. It would be a good thing to dress up the SS as much as possible and keep in it good running order, well lighted and as clean as possible.

mac: Hello all. I've stayed away from this conversation because I'm familiar with the present owner, but wanted to get your views on this. This particular wash is a 5 bay ss only, no automatic, and it's real tight so it would be hard to add an auto. My thoughts were that self serve and tunnels were two different segments of the market, and mostly did not compete with each other. With the coming of express exterior that seems to be changing. While the new place will definitely do something, I mean the car wash pie is only so big, those of us here in the business see the new place as a


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46 • WINTER 2016 •

• WINTER 2016 •


Association News Keynote Speaker named for SCWA Expo The Southwest Car Wash Association announced Captain Richard Phillips will be the keynote speaker for the 2016 convention in February. Captain Phillips made national headlines after his ship was hijacked by Somali pirates for five days in 2009. The story unfolded on live television as the U.S. Navy negotiated for his release and was later made into a film starring Tom Hanks. According to the Association, “Captain Phillips will describe his compelling story as a floating CEO in charge of the day to day operations and will draw on the lessons from this dramatic event to help us all have a better perspective on how to make our businesses more successful.”

MIE to Manage NRCC In an attempt to further expand the scope of its annual trade show and educational program, the board of the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC) has retained Meeting Industry Experts (MIE) of Schenectady, NY, to manage the 2016 show, according to 2016 Show Chairman Ron Bousquet of the host New England Carwash Association. "We are just thrilled to be working with Brigitte Connors and her team at MIE to grow this show," said Bousquet. "Their level of expertise and experience is unmatched." Since the success of the NRCC's move to the Atlantic City Convention Center (ACCC) in 2015, the board would like to increase the record breaking number of exhibits past the 301 mark hit in 2015 and encourage vendors to bring in more hardware. They would also like to expand their reach beyond the Northeast. The 2015 show boasted a near-record breaking number of 1629 attendees. "MIE can help us get to the next level and strengthen our brand while providing our vendors and attendees with more exhibits and education," said Bousquet. MIE is a professional meeting and conference planning firm that sets itself apart by becoming passionate about the industry for which they rep-


resent. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the NRCC in 2016," said Brigitte Connors, MIE CEO. "We have begun the planning process and we are learning a lot about the industry and the past successes of the trade show and education segments of the conference, and we look forward to learning more."

CWONJ Meeting Highlights the POS, Honors Washes and John Criscuolo Sr. The Car Wash Operators of New Jersey (CWONJ) met November 10 at the Hotel Woodbridge in Iselin, NJ, for its annual Fall Membership Meeting. The event, which attracted nearly 50, included a panel discussion on “How Your POS Can Make You More Money,” according to CWONJ President Mike Conte, who also moderated the event. “We had three great presenters who really know their stuff,” said Conte. “Our members walked away with a lot of good information that will help them increase their bottom line.” Innovative Control Systems’ Brian Bath, Micrologic’s Miguel Gonzalez and DRB Systems’ Todd Davy spent an hour discussing everything from how a POS can save on labor costs, to how its features can help to better market the wash, in addition to much more. Prior to the panel discussion two washes were honored with the association’s first Carwash of the Year Awards. Recipients of the honor were Rt. 130 Car Wash & Express Lube owned by Chris Vernon and 33 East Car Wash of Ocean owned by Jack Aaronson. Aaronson’s son Chad accepted the award on his father’s behalf. The evening ended with a special Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed upon John Criscuolo Sr. of AE Styles Manufacturing. Criscuolo, who has been in the industry for 53 years, was praised for tireless dedication to the industry in New Jersey and his innovative products that have impacted carwashing. Mike Conte read a special and heartfelt history of his storied career before presenting the World War II Veteran with the honor.

2016 Calendar of Events

FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 1 2016 Convention & Car Wash Expo, Southwestern Car Wash Association ARLINGTON, TX

48 • WINTER 2016 •


33rd Annual HCA Product Show DES MOINES, IOWA

MAY 9-11

The Car Wash Show 2016, International Carwash Association NASHVILLE, TN

JUNE 14-16 UNITI expo


SEPTEMBER 13-17 Automechanika


NYSCWA Tours West Point, Area Washes The New York State Car Wash Association’s (NYSCWA) Fall Membership Meeting & Carwash Tour began with a private tour of historic West Point, The United States Military Academy, October 29. An hour and a half tour was led by a seasoned West Point guide and included a wealth of history and a visit to the site’s breathtaking Cadet Chapel, a classic example of gothic revival architecture with a cross-shaped floor plan, soaring arches, ornate stone carvings and abundance of stained glass. “This tour is fantastic,” said attendee Rob Peter with Lustra. The tour was sponsored by G & G LED. After the tour of West Point a full bus of attendees visited five washes in the Hudson Valley including Foam & Wash in Fishkill where they were treated to a bag lunch sponsored by Innovative Control Systems, Foam & Wash in Newburgh, Minute Car Wash in Newburgh, Sheeley’s Car Wash in Walden and Panache Car Wash in Middletown. The Foam & Washes locations are owned by the Baright family. Minute Car Wash is owned by Anthony Pezzo and managed by Robert Brehaut. The Sheeley family owns their wash in Walden and Panache is owned by Anthony Colangelo. Each location included innovation and an attention to detail. The bus tour was sponsored by Micrologic Associates and Simoniz USA. After the toured wrapped up the group enjoyed hors d’oeuvres sponsored by Econocraft Worldwide Manufacturing before partaking in a buffet dinner sponsored by Kleen-Rite Corp. and Motor City Wash Works. After dinner NYSCWA President Walt Hartl held a brief business meeting where the 2016-2018 officer slate was voted into office. The slate includes President Walt Hartl, Vice President Paul Vallario, Secretary Timm Baldauf and Treasurer Mike Benmosche. Operator Directors include Stephen Weekes, Rodney Bronson, Christian King and Gary Baright. Vendor Operators include Jake Collison, Rob Peter and Todd Mills.

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With 40 years experience selling to Car Wash Tunnels, Touch Free In-Bay Automatics, Cloth Rollovers, and SelfService Bays our knowledgeable team has seen it all when it comes to the unique needs of the car wash industry.


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WE KNOW CAR WASHES With 40 years experience selling to Car Wash Tunnels, Touch Free In-Bay Automatics, Cloth Rollovers, and SelfService Bays our knowledgeable team has seen it all when it comes to the unique needs of the car wash industry.


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From Crytopay: GoGreen receipts

From ChargePoint: Electric-vehicle Charging Station

The CryptoPay Go Green Receipt Service is an online way for your customers to track their purchases made using their credit or debit cards. Receipts are available online 24/7, two hours after last usage. The benefits of providing the CryptoPay Go Green Receipt Service at your wash center include: • Security – the CryptoPay Go Green Receipt Service provides end-to-end encryption delivering receipts safely online. • You save thousands on receipt printers. • CryptoPay Go Green Receipt Service costs you only $180.00 per year/per location. • By offering Go Green Receipts to your customers, you're at the forefront of providing "green" technology. • Instruction signs and labels are available for purchase and we recommend placing one receipt sign per CryptoPay swiper or wherever the receipt service is offered.

Here’s a neat idea: Crossroads Car Wash in Highland Park, IL, recently installed an electric-vehicle charging station to allow customers to charge their cars for free while the business performs detailing services. The ChargePoint station was supplied by a local company which works with municipalities and utility providers to place electric vehicle charging stations in public spaces. According to ChargePoint, there are similar efforts in numerous communities throughout America. “Many of our clients have EVs, and the new charger has been very popular with our customers since its installation,” Earl Slavin, owner of Crossroads, said in a news release from the city government about the new station. “[This] fits with our DNA.” “We use environmentally friendly and biodegradable chemicals in our cleaning processes, and our goal is to provide maximum vehicle protection with minimal environmental impact,” Slavin said. “Adding this charging station is another step in our efforts to be both green and to serve our customers.”

From Elertus: Water Leak Detection

From Mosmatic: LED Car Wash Booms

Water leaks that go unnoticed can be catastrophic for a carwash business. The Elertus Smart Sensor with Water Sensor Accessory alerts you in real-time as soon as water is detected, so you can stop the leak and minimize the damage. Receive alerts through smartphone notifications, text message, or email regardless of where you are. The Elertus Water Detection System does more than detect water leaks; it is a comprehensive environmental monitor for your home. With the Elertus Water Detection System, you can customize and receive alerts for: Temperature, Humidity, Movement, Light, Low Battery.

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Why should tunnels and in-bays have all the fun? Dress up your carwash with an LED Boom. The LED Boom can be synchronized with your wash cycle to visualize your wash offerings, creating stunning modern visual effects as well as additional lighting for your bay to offer not only a great “wow” factor, but also improve upon the security and safety of your bays. Stand out from the competition with an LED Boom which customizes and brands your self serve carwash.

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INDUSTRY DIRT Grace forVets,the non-profit program which brings together professional carwashers in four countries to wash veterans’ cars for free, announced it surpassed one million free washes since its inception in 2004. “The total cars washed for free is actually more than 1.2 million with this year’s total topping 268,000 free washes,” said Mike Mountz, founder of Grace for Vets and chairman of the board of the organization. “I couldn’t be more pleased as I pass the mantle over to the volunteer board and the International Carwash Association to see so many operators come together to honor the men and women in the military in this way.” More than 3,300 car wash locations participated in the one day event that washes cars owned by veterans and active-duty personnel at no charge on Veterans Day. Operators from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand took part. Mountz looks to expand the event to other countries as he feels “all veterans need to be honored for their service to their countries.” Grace for Vets saw a substantial increase in both locations participating and the total number of cars washed for free. “I believe that as more operators learn about the program, more will choose to honor our military in this way,” said Mark Curtis, President of the volunteer board. “It’s a small price for us to pay in return for the freedoms we enjoy.” Curtis hopes that with the expansion of the volunteer board in 2016 and the support of the International Carwash Association that the event will easily surpass 300,000 free washes next year.

Warsaw Chemical Co., Inc. has launched a new, updated website, The new design and layout features “enhanced navigation, enabling visitors to find complete information on the

company’s line of Car Choice® Brand car wash products, Maintenance products and Detailing products,” according to a company press release. The website also offers contact information, company and product news, literature, technical sheets and data sheets. Warsaw Chemical Co., Inc. offers over two hundred Car Choice® Brand car wash products and Maintenance products internationally and throughout the United States. The Car Choice® line includes products for self-service, automatic, and conveyor carwashes.

Blue-White has unanimously elected Rob Gledhill to the position of Company President. Rob has been with the company, which manufactures pumps and flowmeters, for more than 25 years and has had experience in all phases of production and marketing, a press release about the appointment stated. “He is highly respected by employees, management, customers and vendors,” the announcement continued, and also helped develop new production methods in the machining and assembly phases of the manufacturing process, as well as more efficient packaging and shipping processes.

Dosatron International, Inc. has launched a new version of their website at The relaunch has a completely new look, new features, and is now compatible with handheld devices, according to a press release from the company, which manfuacturers water-powered, proportional chemical injectors.

“Updating the Dosatron website design, with the intention of making it easier to access products and making it mobile friendly, has been a goal over the past year,” explains Pam Temko, Dosatron’s CEO. “We believe that the redesign will be easier for our customers to navigate. We also added a See How It Works page which can be accessed directly from the home page banner for those who are not familiar with Dosatron. It provides an overview along with information on how to select the correct Dosatron for a specific application.” According to the release: One of the three main features of the website is the new Chat option. Chat allows customers to have instant access to our customer service representatives who can answer questions or help with maintenance. The second exciting new feature is the ability for the website to work easily with mobile phones and tablets. When a customer is in the field and they have a support question, they can easily view the Support page on the website without having to go back to the office. The third feature we are very proud of is our Video Library that is always expanding. The website provides service and maintenance videos under the Product pages for specific Dosatron injectors.

Proto-Vest, Inc. has launched a new custom design division. A release about the division said “the new development team at Proto-Vest, Inc. will leverage its extensive marketing and sales experience to develop innovative, successful outcomes for organizations focused on improving the quality of their products in the U.S. and around the world.” Proto-Vest, Inc. has been providing drying systems for the car wash industry for the past 45 years and its applications worldwide include designing and manufacturing {continued } • WINTER 2016 •


INDUSTRY DIRT systems for motor homes, commuter trains, aviation, ocean vessels, freight liners and buses. With their robust customization division, they are now expanding their services to specialty manufacturing industries such as pharmaceutical/medical device applications, agricultural, aerospace, and automobile manufacturing plants.


breaking system allows recurring plan members to securely draft their fee from an electronic payment method of choice,” the release noted, adding that Tidal Wave owner Scott Blackstock attributes a 20 percent growth in his business to the RFID tags.

SONNY’S Enterprises recently hosted 25 students from Dillard High School’s rigorous engineering magnet program for a tour of SONNY’S The CarWash Factory. Students were able to get a “behind-thescenes” manufacturing tour of the SONNY’S factory and interact with factory employees who explained what the company does -- the intricate, daily manufacturing processes, educational requirements for each position and specific skill requirements that students in these programs will need to master to be successful in the real world. “By investing in the latest technology, SONNY’S is able to avoid outsourcing and keep manufacturing here in this 135,000 sq. ft. facility. We take pride in being a true end-to-end manufacturer of our own equipment. We want to show these students that manufacturing isn’t just some dark and dingy plant, and that there are careers in a number of areas that are required to keep the machines running. From programming our machines, to manufacturing the parts and equipment, developing new products, and all of our supply chain functions needed to get the required materials in and our parts shipped out...Sonny’s has a huge team that makes this all possible,” says SONNY’S Operations Manager Dan Kaiserian. Earlier this year, SONNY’S was selected as a finalist among only 20 other companies for Manufacturer of the Year in South Florida, by the South Florida Manufacturers Association. This recognition was based on a plant visit where SONNY’S exemplified a focus on leadership, strategic planning processes, customer and market focus, workforce and operations focus.

Implementation of the controversial Car Wash Accountability Act in New York City has been delayed after a group of 90 car wash operations filed suit against the city alleging the city gives illegal preference to unionized businesses, according to articles in The New York Times and Politico. The law should have taken effect this past December after it was passed in June. It “prohibits employers from performing background checks before making a job offer and requires that they put up surety bonds to guarantee payouts if they are found guilty of underpaying employees,” according to the Times. The surety bonds are the source of contention among the car wash operators: Non-unionized carwashes have to post a $150,000 surety bond before applying for a license, while unionized washes post only $30,000. “The parties have agreed that it makes more sense to wait until the city promulgates the rules that implement the car wash law before proceeding in the litigation,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department. The Politico article said the Department of Consumer Affairs is expected to put out a new set of regulations this January which will include rules about worker safety to govern the industry in the interim. According to comments in The Times, Michael A. Cardozo, the lawyer representing the carwash owners, said the two-tier system violates past decisions by the United States Supreme Court that limit local governments’ ability to favor or discourage collective bargaining. “Governments can’t put their thumb on the scales of whether a company should unionize or not unionize,” Mr. Cardozo, a former top lawyer for the city, said. “You’re basically coercing them into entering a collective bargaining agreement.”

DRB Systems has surpassed four million FastPass® RFID tags issued to carwash customers following a sale by Tidal Wave Auto Spa in Peachtree City, GA. DRB Systems, a manufacturer of car wash software and hardware solutions, introduced the Fa s t Pa s s ® Wireless Acceptance System in 2006. The system uses RFID technology to automate wash menu selections, payment options, and reduce lengthy wait times for frequent, on-the-go customers. “Convenience and security are key, and like many subscriptions, this ground-

U.S. car sales in 2015 were on track to top their previous record of 17.4 million cars sold in 2000, according to an early December article in CNN Money. Sales had previously bottomed out in 2009 to a near 30-year low after GM and Chrysler declared bankruptcies. According to the article, 2015 sales were encouraged by a number of factors, “including strong hiring, low gas prices, easy access to car loans and continued pent-up demand for cars following years of depressed sales. The rebound in the stock market and climbing home values are also helping consumers feel confident enough to buy a big-ticket item like a car.”

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Interesting operator news and tidbits from around the industry water cooler. The fashion industry isn’t done with us yet! In our last issue we reported about the “carwash skirt” that was all the rage for designers debuting their looks at Fall fashion shows in New York City. All that skirt swishing on the runway seems to have attracted the attention of Project Runway Junior, a spinoff of the popular reality television competition for aspiring fashion designers. In the second episode of its first season the producers of the show sent six young hopefuls (all between the ages of 13-17) on a limo ride through a carwash to gather materials and inspiration for their latest “Unconventional Challenge.” The burgeoning fashionistas had their choice of sponges, car mats, hoses, reflectors and mitts, amongst an array of other car wash materials for their designs. Our favorite outfit had to be this ambitious dress made out of microfiber gloves: We also loved these designs which took inspiration from mops, hoses and -- of all things -- rubber floor mats and sun deflectors. Maybe something to consider for the wife’s next birthday, eh? Photo by Ursula Ruhl, South County Times

Three birds, one stone -- in a 55-gallon barrel. Scott Knight, owner/operator of Rain Tunnel Express carwash chain in St. Louis has found a way to give back to charitable causes in his community, recycle some of those pesky plastic drums for detergents, and generate some good publicity for his business all in one swing. According to an article about the recycling project, Knight saves money by donating the empty plastic drums and barrels to non-profit organizations which can reuse them -- like the local zoo which places the barrels in its Great Ape and big cat areas as toys for the animals. Knight told the newspaper his carwashes turn out about 10 empty containers each week per location. "Traditionally, car wash companies would throw them out, which is not good for the environment,” Knight stated in the article. “These were ending up in landfills. Eventually, disposal companies started to collect them up for recycling, but they charged for

pickup. As a business owner, I thought it was a bad idea to have to pay to dispose of something once I'd gotten the use out of it." A few years ago he realized there had to be a better way to dispose of the containers. "We started to sell some. People would want them to use as rain barrels, planters, trash cans. But we still had a lot of these barrels stacking up," Knight explained to the newspaper. Knight realized he might be able to do more good by donating the containers, including to the Illinois Girl Scout troops, which created showers out of them, and to the Missouri Highway Patrol, which used them in their training obstacle course. The article said he is still seeking out additional non-profits which could use the barrels. "I've got about 60 of them stacked up right now, so I'd be glad to donate them to some not-for-profit group that can find some creative use for them," he said in the piece.

A rendering of the whale car wash used to market to potential franchisees around the country. (Buffalo Stories archives)

A neat feature in The Buffalo News traced the history of “one of Western New York’s most favorite-to-remember landmarks,” a big blue whale carwash which operated for less than a dozen years in Tonawanda, NY. According to the story put together from the newspaper’s archived coverage, the carwash operated for less than a dozen years. Milton Car Wash Equipment Co. constructed the fiberglass building on a steel frame in 1973 as a prototype for a franchise concept marketed as “Whale of a Carwash.” The archives report said the site included “fiberglass palm trees, gas pumps adorned with giant seahorse sculptures, and many garbage cans shaped like life-sized-plus fiberglass tropical animals, including alligators and hippopotamus.” Initially, it was a hit. The first customer was Mayor Sheridan J. Creekmore, and other local politicians and the city’s building inspector all hoped it would become popular with passing motorists. Unfortunately, while the concept was beloved by local children, residents were less enthusiastic. {continued } • WINTER 2016 •



The archives show some called the building “garish,” “monstrous, ugly and completely distasteful.” It was sold a year later and rebranded as “Willy the Whale” car wash for another nine years or so. It was the subject of some political discourse in 1983, when one aspiring alderman said she “would work for the development and beautification of this area” after hearing complaints from local constituents about the “rotting” fiberglass tunnel wash. In 1985, the building was demolished and a Wendy’s was constructed at the site.

Speaking of iconic carwash signage -- in our last issue we reported five Octopus Car Wash locations in Madison, WI, and Rockford, IL, had been sold to Mister Car Wash and would soon be rebranded. Now the new owners of the carwash locations and its former owner, Jeff Jurkens, are working together to preserve the well known Octopus mascot and signage, which is much beloved in the area. “I am working on a plan to display the Ozzies and I appreciate the cooperation I’ve gotten from Mister Car Wash in this effort,” Jurkens said in a Mister Car Wash news release. According to comments made in a local newspaper article, Ruth Rohlich, Madison’s business development specialist, told Mister Car Wash staff that some in the city would like to see one of the Ozzie signs preserved and displayed. Madison Facebook groups and Twitter users “echoed those sentiments,” too, the newspaper noted. The carwash industry in the United Kingdom might be headed for reform soon. Complaints about hand washing operations are pouring in, including from the country’s Petrol Retailers Association, which estimates the government might be missing out on over £200 million (nearly $300,000,000 USD) in tax revenues due to hand car wash operations which accept “cash in hand” without reporting sales and rely on unregistered foreign workers. A report in The Daily Mail said the number of

automatic carwash locations in the United Kingdom has fallen by nearly 50 percent (from 9,000 to less than 4,200) in the past 15 years as these hand carwash services have fluxed dramatically. According to the newspaper, the Association has submitted a report to the government’s Valuation Office Agency which claims hand carwashes account for nearly 70 percent of all retail carwash activities and have over 30,000 workers at possibly up to 20,000 locations. The Association urges the government to consider the danger to these em-

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ployees -- many illegal and unregistered foreigners, as only about 1,000 of these sites are regulated by the government. “They’re using all kinds of horrible chemicals, particularly to clean alloy wheels, and there’s very little done to stop this stuff just being flushed into the local waterways,” Association chairman Brian Madderson told the Daily Mail. The Association isn’t the only one concerned about these illegal hand washes -- Andrew Wallis of the anti-slavery non-profit Unseen also spoke out to The New Statesman about the issue. “You only have to do a simple Google search to work out how big the problem is,” he told the newspaper. Dawn Frazer, managing director of the Car Wash Advisory Service, concurred with Wallis. Telling the newspaper, “Everything bad you can think of with the British labour force is present at a car wash. Slavery, low wages, debt bondage, tax evasion, exploitation. It’s all there.” UK police have conducted some well publicized raids at carwashes recently and distributing pamphlets to workers who may not be aware of their rights in the UK. And while the UK carwash market is struggling with low-priced hand wash competition, the Australian market continues to thrive thanks to gains made during the country’s “once-in-a-century drought,” according to a recent report in The Age.

The article claims “car wash cafes” (sitting areas for full-serve carwash locations which sometimes serve coffee and/or food) have become a popular meeting place for business people, while self serve carwashes still account for 38 percent of all carwashing business -- and manual hand washes have only 11 percent of the pie. Meanwhile, research by Ibis World projects the industry will capitalize off of “more apartment living, love of new cars, and a return of El Nino weather pattern in coming years” to reach revenues of $585 million by 2020. The Australian Car Wash Association says the industry currently stands at 2,500 commercial carwash locations in the country. As many of our readers will remember, the Australian carwash market fought hard for government reforms during the 14-year drought between 1996 and 2010 which allowed commercial carwashes to stay open during extreme water restrictions and recognized the environmental benefits of professional carwash services. The ACWA continues to push hard for consumer education and was recently praised for their video and pamphlet campaign, “The Dirty Truth About Home Car Washing.” No one was injured, but Master Shine Wash and Detail took a hard hit after an EF-1 tornado and following storms moved through Corinth,TX. According to comments the owner made to a local television station, he had just purchased the carwash in March. The storm took out an entire



wall and a bay door, and “sheets of metal and chunks of insulation were littered throughout the front parking lot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning the car wash industry about the dangers of hydrofluoric-acid-based car wash products in a new report based on a dozen years of workers’ compensation injury reports. According to the Associated Press, the data was collected from 2001 to 2013, and included 48 reported burns and one death -- a man who died after ingesting some chemical, “though it wasn’t clear if the ingestion was intentional,” the article noted. “Hydrofluoric acid is insidiously toxic at the low concentrations used in vehicle washing,” Carolyn Whitaker, one of the researchers, said in a news release about the study. “Initially, when it touches the skin there may be little or no pain. That means workers are often unaware of the burn until later and typically delay getting treatment.” Considering the 48 burns, the report said seven workers had to be hospitalized, three suffered third-degree burns, and two needed surgery, including skin grafts. In one account, the worker spilled cleaning solution on his pants and shoes but didn’t realize what had happened until about 90 minutes after. He suffered a third-degree burn and “eventually received permanent partial disability payments due to chronic numbness in the foot.”


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n to this article, We don’t have much space for an introductio h needs no introbut then again, perhaps this is a story whic and waxed nosduction. For decades we have celebrated our industry, and talgic about the “Mom and Pop” culture of ibutions of “Mom” yet, far too often, the hard work and contr Car Wash Hall of have gone largely unrecognized. In a list of one is a woman. Fame awardees since 1962, not a single and still only -- feLisa Lyons notably served as the first -ash Association in male president of the International Carw g events have 2009. Our panels and boards and networkin , too. remained overwhelmingly male over the years and as such, True, this is a male dominated industry ations and trithe majority (in fact, nearly all) of its innov any aisle at an inumphs are attributed to men. But walk

Kimberly Berg, Citrus Heights Car Wash, California

KC: So how did you get started in the industry? KB: So my husband-at-the-time and I purchased two carwashes in February 2003 and ran them together. Over time, I realized he was excited about the purchase -- doing the in-depth research, looking at the financials, doing the due diligence. That’s what excited him. But once we were actually handed the keys he was kind of taken aback by the maintenance part and all the work that went with it.

62 • WINTER 2016 •

y of female faces. dustry trade show and you’ll see plent notes and you’ll Look over the payrolls and ownership on the deeds, see “Mom’s” name signing the checks and ves of this very too. Heck -- check the masthead on archi ed female belov most magazine and you’ll see one of the . carwash owners of our time: Julia Campbell described have ators Over the years, countless male oper ation.” It encomtheir wives to me as the “heart of the oper attention to detail, passes many talents; for marketing, for s and handling for customer service. She’s keeping the book wash events and the Facebook account; organizing charity . And, as Jarchoosing the color scheme for the new signs more!” ret J. Jakubowski would say, “so, so much political correctI don’t want you to think this is a ploy for

And that’s when I started to get more involved. And not just physically involved in their upkeep, but emotionally invested in the business and in my customers. That was really the hook for me. We got the carwash in 2003 and we separated in 2009. We continued to kind of work together. He would go one weekend, I would go the next, and I was also there during the week. It was really my sisters who helped me realize how much the carwash meant to me. When I sat down with my husband and we realized we were really going to do the divorce, we wondered: What will we do with the carwash? Will we sell it? Will we continue as partners with this alternating schedule? Or he asked, do you want me to just give it to you? My knee jerk reaction was to sell it. I was afraid I couldn't’ do it on my own. I was overwhelmed. It was my sisters who reminded me of how much I love my customers and what it does for me as a woman, as a person, and how I’m involved with the community through this business -- do I really want to give that up? I thought long and hard about that. I made a list of pros and cons of selling it, staying on as business partners, and taking ownership. Then I made a list of who I could

ow) or an article ness (you’d be the wrong audience, anyh t time we think motivated by my own gender. It’s simply abou ing a wide array of about “Mom” -- that Super Woman bring bay, many of them skills (and super powers) to the carwash to find a few acseemingly intangible. And so we set out what drives their complished female operators and find out car wash industry. success in this boy’s club that we call the re, it’s one that we Much like our Veterans in our Mist featu e issues. If you hope we can continue with profiles in futur would like to talk know of an excellent female operator who to SSCWN, please email Kate Carr at katec Women of the Without further ado, here are the Super SS Industry:

contact if I had a problem -- electricians, contractors. Even though I already had those people on hand, I wanted to get a little closer. Would they be willing to come out for little jobs? Would they be willing to cut me a deal on those things? I wanted to cultivate those relationships. I called them, told them I was going through a separation and asked if I could do that -- could I call for advice? Could I call for little jobs? And once I got the “yes” from them, I knew I could do this. My husband and I made the financials work -- he gave me the wash, and then he kept this house that he had that he loved. It was a no brainer. I felt good about it -- and it was no longer emotional. It was a good solid decision that would take care of my retirement. KC: I like that approach -- to gather a support team of technical staff. I hope it speaks to some women who maybe consider the carwash industry but are turned off by their lack of technical knowledge or ability. KB: You know, it’s funny -- we all have talents. All of my competitors in the Sacramento area are men. They’re men who are mechanics. THey’re very physical. They have no trouble getting on top of a {continued }

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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing ten-foot ladder and swapping out a hose or a swivel. But sometimes what I see that’s lacking is cleanliness, customer service, marketing, and that relationship with customers. My business is up 50 percent over the last couple of years. Part of it is probably the drought, but I think a lot of it is that relationship I’ve built with my customers. To those women who might be hesitant to come in the industry, I’d say, hey, you’ve got talents. Women really are a secret weapon. I think they underestimate the value that they bring to the carwash business. There are some carwashes I visit, I don’t feel safe. It’s dirty. There’s graffiti. The plants out front are dying. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting my money in these machines -- there’s no decals on the vending machines. Why should I spend my money here? When I came on the lot in 2003, the first order of business was to tear out the weeds and the dead plants. The customers noticed that right away. KC: What other ways have you made the carwash “female friendly?” KB: You know, I really like to be at my carwash. And people who come to the carwash just don’t expect to find a friendly, positive, attractive woman working the carwash. It makes it memorable for my customers. The men are impressed, and the women think, “Oh! I’ve gotta tell my girlfriends about this place. Girl power!” You know, we’ve got to support each other. Women really like that. That’s exciting for them. I hear that all the time, “My mother comes here,” or “my girlfriend told me about this place.” Another aspect of that that’s nice is that I can really talk to anybody. I remember going to a WCA convention a couple years ago, and I was shocked when the speaker warned the men in the audience not to approach women who are washing their cars in the wash bay because they might view it as a threat. But I can do that. I can put a big smile and talk to anybody. We can talk about raising kids, laundry, spiritual stuff. I can relate to my customers on those levels. It goes back to that feeling to making the women feel safe and comfortable. Aside from that, women also like to be informed merchants. They’ll ask questions. “How well does this microfiber towel work?” or “What does this Little Tree really smell like?” So I try to be present on site and I keep open packages around of the air fresheners or the towels or what not so they can try these things out. KC: Do you do any special marketing or promotions for women? KB: I think that’s a great idea. I should definitely do a Ladies Night. Maybe this summer, I might get around to do something like that. My female customers know I’m available and I’m there and I think it builds on that trend right now of women supporting women. So I think that’s been effective so far. It’s important, too, because the statistics show women are the primary purchasers in the household now. KC: That brings up a good point: As more mar-

kets become proliferated with these express carwashes with free vacuums that are very attractive to soccer moms and women on the go, what can self serves do to attract this business? It represents a pretty large piece of the pie. KB: I have now three express carwashes that are within a mile of my carwash. But even if they give out free vacuums -- they’re not maintaining them. If you’re a soccer mom and you’ve got a whole lot of Cheerios and snacks in the back of the car, you need a vacuum that will really suck. I personally clean out my vacuums every week and I replace the insulation tape that goes around the canister so that the suction is good. I clean out the fabric filter. I know that they’re working properly. The express washes around me -- they’re not cleaning them well enough. I have women come in who say they’d rather pay a dollar than use the free vacs. KC: So what’s a typical day like for you? Do you have a favorite chore at the wash? KB: My favorite chore is making change for people. Handing out tokens. A typical day for me, I’ll get out and sweep and that’s what I use to initiate conversations with my customers. I can wander around and see if a customer is frowning or taking a while in front of the menu. That’s my chance to approach them and ask if they have any questions. “How’s your day going?” “Thanks for coming to my carwash.” Or, “Welcome to my carwash.” So, sweeping. Draining the air compressor. Top off the vending. Clean up any dirty bays -- that’s actually usually the first priority. You know: How does my carwash look? I’ll make change for people. Pull weeds. Clean up litter. Do any maintenance. I was there the other day, and one of my brass swivels had split and water was spraying out the sides. I felt so bad. I was walking around sweeping and this guy was talking to his girlfriend and he says, “Oh, I’m getting a shower over here!” I look over and the “shower” is absolutely spraying on the guy. I was mortified. I went running over to turn it off and he says, “Oh, no, no. I’m still washing my car. It’s not bad. I’m okay. I want to get my money’s worth.” I ran inside for a towel, and he’s laughing. He thought it was pretty funny. I was apologetic. Gave him his money back. Gave him a towel. We had a good laugh about it. It was pretty memorable. Then I pulled the ladder out and went up to

check out what was wrong with this stupid swivel -- it had split vertically through the brass. So I replaced it. Ten minute job, no big deal. So that’s kind of a typical day for me. Clean any flooded bays. Pick up trash. I spend a lot of time talking to customers. I lose track of time. KC: Favorite tool? KB: Liquid wrench. I can’t work any harder, I can only work smarter. So, liquid wrench gets in there and loosens those tight swivels or nuts and it makes my work more efficient. You’ve got to have the right tool at the carwash. I’ve got a lot of tools. Fortunately, my fiance is a construction foreman. He’s all about tools. He sets me straight a lot. “If you’re going to use this crescent wrench, get a breaker bar to help you release that swivel. Use your leverage.” That’s very helpful. KC: If you weren’t a carwasher, you’d be a… KB: I’d probably go be an administrative secretary. KC: Is there anything about that lifestyle that you miss? The 9-5 work as opposed to the 24/7, can’ttake-a-vacation type work you’re doing now? KB: There’s probably a little part of me that longs for that 8-5 job where you can go home at night and turn off the light switch and you don’t have to worry about anything. You’re not thinking about vandalism. It’s a safer environment. Maybe that’s my alter ego. I also liked working with technology -- and also, the support. Sometimes at the carwash, I might feel alone. If something happened, who can I call? As a secretary, you’re not on the front lines. You’ve got support staff -- IT will help you with your computer. Need a new chair? Talk to a facilities manager. If you have a question about your work, you can talk to the manager. But as a carwash owner, you’re in the front seat every day. Most days, I can handle it. Some days, it feels a little overwhelming. KC: Speaking of a support network -- how have you attempted to build one in this industry? I know you were involved with the Western Carwash Association. What sort of relationships have you made on the industry level? KB: I use the carwash forum. That’s been very helpful. Especially the archives -- you know, before I go to a post a question, I’ll look back through the archives to see if my question has already been answered. Definitely now having the resources like a plumber, an electrician, a welder, even good rapport with the guy down the street. He’s got a carwash about a half mile down the road from me and I know I could call him for spare parts. He’s also a mechanic which is helpful. So, making an effort to create those relationships around me. Even my local carwash supplier, AquaTech. I know I can call them if I have any qeustions and they’ve got service techs who are in the area who can stop by if I have a problem. In this business, you realize you can’t do it alone. If you think you can do it alone, you’re going to burn out. Especially being a woman in this industry. I mean, and even going back to being a secretary -- I still miss the social aspect of the job. What I do now is arrange coffee dates at my carwash with my customers. I have one customer who comes by every Friday after I’ve finished cleaning the vacuums

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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing and she’ll either bring the coffee or we’ll go across the street to grab a cup. I also do that with the gal who helps me clean my vacuums, Sandy. That was missing. I wasn’t taking breaks. I thought, ‘I’m going to wear myself out here. I need to build in some social time.’ So now I’ll invite my girlfriends down to the carwash and we’ll go out and grab lunch. I also miss the cleanliness, of course. I’d wear my business suit, have my painted nails with my make-up and my hair was perfect. I’d look the part. And not so much anymore. My nails are very short. They’re actually black right now. I was cleaning drains yesterday. I don’t like gloves. A short little latex glove isn’t going to help me with this job -- I guess I need to get longer gloves. But then they get rips in them in these galvanized steel pipes. Staying clean is a challenge for me. KC: Any funny customer stories? KB: The most amusing and funniest -- I guess it wasn’t a customer encounter -- but when we first bought the carwash, I was warned by other carwash operators not to tell your customers that you own the carwash. I think it was the fear that the customer might ask for a free carwash or try to take advantage of you. I took that very seriously. So, I though, I’ll really dumb down. If someone asked if I was the owner, I was always just the manager. So, this was probably around Christmastime. We had the carwash for about a year then, and I was the only person at the wash. I was sweeping up. A small car pulled up to the lot and these two young guys got out of the car in suits and ties. They introduced themselves; they were from the local Church of the Harvest down the street. They were out in the neighborhood giving out bags of groceries to the homeless. And I thought, ‘Oh! That is so nice!’ They popped their trunk and they handed me a bag of groceries. KC: They thought you were homeless! KB: Yes! And I thought, ‘Oh my God, they think I’m homeless.’ I told them I wasn’t homeless. I said, “Oh no, I’m not homeless -- this is my car wash.” They thought I was delusional. They said, “It’s okay, it’s okay. There’s pork in there, and vegetables. There’s a whole meal in there for you.” And I was like, “No, really! I’m not homeless. This is my carwash. I don’t need the groceries.” And they were still trying to give me the bag. I went into the pump room after and looked in a small mirror I keep back there, and I looked at my face -- I had dirt on my face because I had been out cleaning the vacuums. I hadn’t realized it. I thought, ‘I really do look homeless.’ That was pretty funny. KC: That raises another good point -- being alone at the carwash. Are there any precautions you take for your own safety when you’re out at the carwash? KB: Well, I’ve started wearing a ring on my finger. My customers can contact me -- I have my phone number on the side of the cash machine. Well, a few people have abused that. I’ve gotten text messages, like, “Hey, you’re so cute. Do you have time for coffee? Are you married?” And then, going to tokens was certainly a good move. I didn’t convert to tokens for the purpose of making *me* safer, but after I did I felt better. You know -- getting on my hands and knees and literally scooping quarters out of five vaults that are low to

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the ground was my least favorite chore, by far. I felt so vulnerable. I don’t carry a weapon, but I do have pepper spray in the pump room and I always have my cell phone on me. Going to tokens was because I was having break-ins, but now I feel safer. I also try to mix up the days that I take cash out of the pump room. And I disguise it. I don’t go into the pump room with a satchel and then come out and put that in my car. Instead, I might put it in a bucket and cover it up with a bunch of rags or put it in a box with Armor All, so it looks like I’m just transporting chemicals to another car wash. Then I might put it in the car, leave it there in a locked car, and stay a while longer at the car wash. I never grab a bucket and just go. And location is everything. I’m on a corner of a street with a lot of bars, about six of them. They call it “drunk alley.” There’s a lot of police activity up and down my main street. So if there is a problem, I know help isn’t too far away. KC: So let’s talk about things you do to become involved in the industry. When you join a regional carwash board or sit on a panel at an educational session -- how has that benefited you and why is it important to you? Is it more important as a female operator? KB: I got involved because I had received so much from the panels and going to the conventions. I loved the Boot Camp sessions or listening to the panels. The little side networking conversations. I learned so much from other operators who have been in the industry longer than I have. Why would I not want to give back? At first I didn’t think anyone could benefit from my knowledge, though. But I realized I’m coming up on 13 years in the industry this February. I have struggled with decision making or with tools and I’ve made improvements on my carwash. There are people behind me now. But It wasn’t until Lisa Lyons -- she was going to go to ICA show last year and sit on a panel but found out she couldn’t make it. So she called me and asked if I’d be able to sit on there as a female operator to replace her. I said, “I don’t even know what I’d talk about.” And she reminded me that it’s not driven by me, it’s driven by the host and the audience. “If nothing resonates with you, you don’t have to say anything.” Well, as it turns out, the conversation quickly turned to credit cards and tokens, and I had a lot to say about that. (For more about Kimberly’s experiences with credit cards and tokens, see our cover story in the Spring 2015 issue, “So What’s the Deal with Chip & Pin?) KC: Speaking of the female point of view, do you think your management style is different than a male operators? In what ways? KB: Well, after my divorce I decided I was going to embrace life a little more fully. You get back what you put out. I wasn’t going to live my life in fear.

I was going to say, “Yes.” Not to put my ex-husband down -- and this isn’t all men -- but he had a lot of fears. He was overwhelmed by the maintenance of the carwash. If I came to him and said, “Let’s talk about credit cards” or “Let’s talk about installing an in-bay dryer.” He would say, “No.” It was either, “Money’s tight. We can’t afford that” or “People don’t care” or “It’s not a good ROI.” It was always negative. So after nine years of that, I realized it wasn’t fun to own a carwash that way. And after I was on my own, I realized I could make the improvements on my own. I had the money. I had the resources. I could do my own research. I want to make these changes. So my goal was to make everything, “Yes.” “Yes, let’s consider that.” “Yes, let’s ask the customers how they would feel about that change.” “Yes, let’s investigate the ROI on that improvement.” By shifting the negatives to positives, it made it so much more fun. The last three years have been so fun. A lot of carwashers still say no. And they wonder why. I know someone, he’s got five carwashes. They’re all crappy. *He* tells me they’re crappy! His customers come to my carwash and tell me that they’re crappy. I say, why would you own five crappy carwashes when you could own one great carwash and make a living on it? KC: Why kind of plans do you have moving forward? What’s your “next big thing?” KB: Well, I get my next ideas by going to conventions and by talking to my customers. The next thing for me is upgrading my camera system and looking at dryers for the self serve. The ones we want are expensive. We’ve talked to our customers and they’re kind of on the fence. I don’t know when we’ll implement that, but that’s probably next. It has to be worth it. We got a quote of $23,000 to put five of them in. So maybe we’ll wait a bit to see if the price comes down and to see if the customer demand increases. There’s a guy kitty corner for me who is considering putting a motorcycle accessory shop there. And you know, motorcyclists would use those in-bay dryers. If he puts his business in, I’ll jump on the dryers. I’ve also got LED lights that are bought and paid for that I need to install. They’re coming in next month. And the cameras. I want to continue to work on with the local business association here -- I’m the secretary for the Auburn Boulevard Business Association. We’re just starting out -- we’re one year into the Association -- and we’re looking at how to drive more business to our street. Creating a signature community event that would help bring in more business. I also want to get more involved with the WCA Regional Board. That’s on the horizon. Personally, I also want to get better organized. I want to get the maintenance on a more regular schedule. I want to get ahead of the curve on that. That’s where I feel a little vulnerable, because I feel like I’m not on top of it. So that’s a goal. Another goal, especially as I get older -- I’m 50 now -- is to work on maintaining that upper body strength. I met a gym owner through our Business Association, and so I’ve been making sure to add that kind of strength training to my regimen. KC: And what’s your advice for young women or young entrepreneurs to the carwash industry? KB: I think what I just said comes into it: Accept your physical limitations and focus on your strengths. You


Can you give us a brief account of how you became involved in the car wash industry? Myself, my husband and my dad have always had the idea in the back of our minds that we would love to own a car wash. We realized that we were going out of town to wash our vehicle, especially for an automatic wash. Our town of 2,600 people had two self serve washes and one stand alone brush type automatic that wasn’t kept up and had a bad reputation. My dad made the step four years ago to purchase one of the self serve car washes in our town and within a couple of months, we had the Kondor installed as our new touchless automatic (turn to page XX to read more about the family’s renovation project). Since day one my husband and I have ran the business and recently purchased it from my dad. The automatic has been a great success in our town.


In what ways have you worked to make your self serve car wash “female friendly”? Do you think there is anything you understand about the female customer that perhaps a male owner might not inherently understand? What sort of marketing/ promotional tactics do you employ to reach female customers? One of the items I personally purchased to make the self serve portion more female friendly was lighter, easier-to-hold trigger guns. I noticed when I was washing out bays that my hand and arm would hurt and that made me realize that other women probably had the same issue. I also think that good lighting makes female customers feel safer at night while washing their car or vacuuming. We also have

might not feel comfortable or not be able to fix a broken boom swivel ten feet in the air -- but if you think about, “What can I do?” You might talk to your customers, build a relationship with them, thank them for coming to the carwash, showing them that you care about them and their business. I’ve learned that people like to do business with people they like. I like to go up and say, “Welcome to my carwash.” Show my customers that I appreciate them. My favorite quote is from Maya Angelou: “People don’t always remember what you say or do, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” If you leave your customers feeling good, they’re going to return. They want more of that. They want cleanliness and safety. We have nice landscaping, good lighting. We have a nice blue and yellow color scheme, with bright, large letters for our signage -- and the combination is’s happy. I tell customers, “This place is an extension of me.” It’s a happy place for me and I think the customers feel that. That’s a woman’s touch for you, I think. If you want to read more about how Kimberly’s personal brand of customer service has impacted customers, check out this write-up from a blogger who randomly visited her carwash one busy summer day: citrus-heights-car-wash-powered-by-karma/

a car wash club for our automatic where you get a free wash when signing up, for your birthday and for every 10th wash. That’s a really popular program with women, mostly -- but there are some men that sign up for that too.

learned a lot from him.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as a woman in a male-dominated industry? Or, conversely, in what ways have you been pleasantly surprised by your experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry? My main challenge at first was getting repair people or my husband to realized that I did know what I was talking about when it came to something making a different noise or not acting correctly. I am there a lot and I know when something isn’t quite right, but getting someone to listen was a challenge in the beginning. It quickly got better. I also think most customers feel it is a little easier conveying their issues to me when they need something resolved. I have had very few who have given me a hard time.

at the people who go through the automatic while

Favorite chore to do at the wash? Favorite tool? Counting the money! LOL My favorite tool is the hog’s hair brushes....great invention! If you weren’t a carwasher, you’d be a … I’m also the owner of an antique shop, so I would do that full time. I’ve gotten good at balancing both, though. What women do you admire inside the industry? And who are your business role models outside the industry? I don’t know any female car wash owners, but as far as my role model in business adventures I have to say it is my dad. He is a great business man! He has a great eye and is very knowledgeable and I have been watching him my whole life and have


KC: So how did you become involved in the carwash industry? JL: Well, I met my husband and he had one carwash and we kind of built the company up together. We kept thinking, ‘Let’s add another one and it will be easier.’ We ended up with 30 locations, but we’re down to 22 now. Some of them were just too far away -- we’re throughout the state of Kansas -- or they were nonperforming so we closed them or sold them. KC: And they’re all self service, correct? JL: Yes; self serve and the in-bay automatics. We don’t have any attendants.

What’s been the most amusing or funniest customer encounter you’ve had at the carwash? Oh, there have been many! I still have to laugh it is raining and slowly drive through the dryers at the end of the wash expecting it to dry their car in the rain. Do you think your management tactics differ from a male operators when it comes to employee relations? What advice do you have for operators (of any gender) when it comes to hiring and managing attendants and maintenance staff? We don’t have any attendants, but that is something that we may do in the future. My husband is my only employee and I think I manage him pretty well. What goals do you have for yourself and your car wash in the future? I want to keep our car up-to-date and current to all the new technology and in the future we’ve talked about purchasing other locations. Finally, what advice would you give to a young woman (or heck, any young entrepreneur) starting out in the carwash industry today? My advice is to do a lot research and to talk to other car wash owners. We went into the business thinking it was going to be easy, but we quickly learned that we had a lot to learn. There’s so much that is behind the scenes that most people don’t even realize, but after all we’ve learned in the past four years I would definitely do it again.

KC: Do you have a management team in place or are you and your husband doing all of the maintenance and checking in on all 22 locations? JL: We do it all, except for about eight of them. They’re remote locations, so those are managed by other people. They’re too far away for us to get to them daily, but we try to get out there every other week or once a month. And, then, of course I talk to them on the phone to diagnose problems or help fix things. KC: Your chain represents the largest amount of washes of any of the other women we’ve talked to for this article -- was the growth done slowly over the years or how did the washes come together? JL: It was pretty steady between 1989 [when we started] and 2005 -- that was the last time we built -- but then we acquired more in 2006. In 2008 was when we started dropping locations. That was when the economy hit hard -- people just aren’t washing as often as they used to. There used to always be the Sunday washers and the people who were taught as kids to go and wash their cars and keep it clean. Everybody did that. But the economy -- it made food and gas and electricity more important, obviously. {continued } • WINTER 2016 •






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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing someone who’s just lost a quarter. I try to do all the refunds -- even sending out a quarter, which really costs my time, plus an envelope, and a stamp. We’re losing money on it, but I think we keep a customer that way. We’ve had a lot of people call and they were surprised that we sent their money back. But it’s not their fault they’ve lost money -- well, sometimes it is. You know, they put their money in when it’s closed or something like that. But most of the time, it’s not.

KC: How do you and your husband split the workload? JL: We have 22 locations and I pretty much take care of eight of them myself -- I go daily to them. I do a lot of traveling on the road between maintaining and cleaning them and being there. KC: And how do you work to make the carwashes “female friendly?” Do you do any special advertising or pricing specials? JL: As a mom and pop organization with 22 locations, we can’t do as much as we’d like. We are so busy being there and just trying to keep them clean. But I think that’s actually one of the most important things -- keeping them clean and keeping them working correctly. We get a lot of comments about how clean the sites are. Women like that. And then I think that me just being around there -- myself -- the women see another woman there working, shoveling mud or making change or answering questions and it makes them feel a little bit more comfortable. Some women -- if a guy comes up to their door and asks if he could help them guide the car through the automatic, some of them shrink back. Nowadays, you never do know who might come up to you. That’s one thing. We don't have any [special promotions or pricing] implemented right now. KC: And what’s your typical day like? How are you spending your time at the sites? Do your customers recognize you around the site as the owner? JL: Quite a few. I try not to do the same routine every day. I go to eight of them; I usually start up north and head south when I’m doing my routes. Some of them are only 10 miles apart and they’re all in small towns, little farm communities. We’re usually the only carwash in town. I try not to have a set routine, though, because if we get into some of the larger cities we have to be careful. We’ve had some vandalism. We had a gal who had her purse stolen out of her vehicle. So I try not to have a set schedule so that I can just pop in and sometimes even a couple times a day, making sure they’re working correctly. It depends on the business. I don’t think anybody would really know when I was going to be there exactly, though. Did that answer your question? KC: It sure did! I’m just trying to get a feel for the range of your responsibilities. You know, I’ve been talking with other female operators and they show such a wide array of talents and different ways that they’re participating in the management of the washes, particularly for the mom and pop operations. In some cases, mom might be the heart and soul of the wash -- she might have a knack for handling employee management, or she might be doing the accounting. A lot of times she’s not as present as you are on the actual carwash site -- it’s really impressive! JL: Yeah, I think I do all of it. I do the books. I go and I clean. I get out my grinder and fix a bay hose. I’ve got my own tools. I’ll climb up in the rafters. I’ll be the first one to do that -- to run and get my ladder to get up in the rafters. I’m all hands on, even with the remote locations that have managers. If there’s a problem, I’ll grab my tools and I’m the first one there. I’ve been around this for 25 years -- I know what I’m doing. Although, I’ll say, I’m still learning daily. If new problems arise, I’m calling my husband. [Laughter] But I can go in a car wash, and by looking and smelling and listening -- I can tell when

KC: This brings up a good point -- going the extra mile to keep a customer. Showing that kind of empathy over a quarter. This seems to be particularly important (although not unique, of course) to female operators. Do you think your management style is different than your husband’s?

something’s wrong. Of course, I’m still learning daily. Sometimes I could be a carwash for a half hour, kind of depends on the weather and what I need to do there -- or I could be there for four hours. My day’s aren’t set. I’m at the wash cleaning -- we like to keep them very clean. I think that’s what people like about our locations. We maintain them very well. It’s a full day, though. By the time I’ve visited all the carwashes and traveled around and I’m home and I cook dinner and do the books and spend some time with the family and get inventory done -- it’s a big job. KC: Do you have a favorite chore to do for the carwash? JL: Probably blowing the driveways. You get your blower out and you start blowing the driveways and you can see the progress -- as long as the winds not going crazy -- and it makes it look so clean from the street. So, blowing the driveway -- or maybe cleaning the bays, too. KC: Do you have any tricks or favorite tools that help a woman do some of those more demanding chores at the wash? JL: I’m not sure about tools, but I’ve definitely learned how to use my body. You know, I have a grinder and you figure out ways to lay it on the ground and do your hose so that it’s not as hard on your muscles. Or climbing the rafters and getting your crescent wrenches out and how you might be able to use the two together to work so you can loosen something. I don't really have a set way of doing things, but I’ve learned how to use the floor or use my body -- which is probably bad, I come out bruised a lot of times. But I get the job done! KC: You mentioned earlier that every time you acquired or built a new wash that you and your husband thought the management would get easier. Do you still think so? JL: It’s never gotten easier. When we started, we had day jobs. Eventually those went, and we got night jobs so we could do the carwashes during the day. I mean, we worked hard to keep and maintain what we had and keep the family going. None of it’s been easy. To be around, and to answer the phone -- I mean, I could get 40 voicemails a day. It might be someone who's lost some money -- or

JL: I think we probably approach things a little differently, but overall very similar. I know if somebody comes up to me while they’re at the carwash and says, “Oh I lost $2 in this bay and I lost $2 in this bay because everything’s frozen -- although I know they’re not frozen because it hadn’t been that bad -- but I’ll still apologize and refund the money. I might keep a mental note of him, take his name, and what not -- I’ve had someone who's tried to take advantage of us that way, so I try to be careful and keep mental notes. KC: And if you weren’t a carwasher, what do you think you’d be doing… JL: Well, I did a little bit of modeling and I started out working in the fashion industry, but I guess I’ve picked a more glamourous life where I can play in the mud and dirt. It’s more fun, anyway. And this is a terrific job when you have a family. I mean, our kids have traveled with us right from the beginning. They’ve grown up in the car wash business. They started picking up trash at the washes, graduated to where they were cleaning the bays and dumping trash. It’s a great family career. If they were sick from school, they went to the carwashes with us. If they were on vacation, they went to the carwashes with us. And it might be a 365-days-a-year job, but it’s flexible, too. If they had a recital or a soccer game, we were there. For band, for plays, for volleyball -we’ve been to every school function. That’s been awesome. The carwash allowed us to do that. Being your own boss is nice. We’re there for all these small moments that are really big moments. You’ll never get those back. I feel for the parents who are stuck in an office. Children grow up so fast -- it’s crazy to think my son will be going off to college. And it’s been so wonderful to be able to be there for all these moments. KC: Have you met many other women operators? JL: I have not. It’s kind of sad. I’d love to talk to other women and get their points of view, but being a mom and pop company, we just don’t have the time. I haven’t been to the carwash conventions. We just can’t get away. We don’t have the time. But I’d love to. I don’t know how many other women are out there, but it would be nice to talk and get their ideas. KC: Do you do much with charity or community work with the carwash? JL: One thing I do [a bit different than traditional charity wash activities] is check the trash for things {continued } • WINTER 2016 •


Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing that can be donated. You wouldn’t believe what people throw away -- clothes with tags still on them, shoes in perfect condition. Especially things for children, I try to keep an eye out and give that away to people in need. My mom will come up and take some things we’ve found that she can give away because she does work with single women and babies. She makes blankets and things. So, clothing and toys and blankets and towels -- the stuff that people throw away that’s good is wonder, why? There’s a lot thrown away. I wasn’t raised that way -- I hold on to things. KC: Speaking of customers and the kinds of bewildering things they do at carwashes -- do you have any particularly amusing customer stories? JL: Oh yes, yes. We have a carwash in Eureka, Kansas. It’s a small farming community. And so there was a farmer with his trailer load of pigs headed to the barn and he decided he’d stop by the carwash and spray them with the spot-free rinse to cool them down before he took them to the sale barn. So that was kind of interesting -- many uses for spot free rinse, I guess. KC: And what does the future look like for you? Will you continue to downsize? Any major renovation projects? JL: We’ll probably keep it at 22. Just maintaining what we have. Keeping them updated. Fresh. That’s a job in itself. Keeping everything painted. Making sure it doesn't look rundown. That's a huge job. And then we’re doing Cryptopay with Dave [Richards] and Tom [McCormick]. Tom’s a great guy. He’s been really helpful. And his technology, I mean, you can just do so much. We’re working on the Cryptopay. My son and I are installing it and doing it ourselves. I like to be hands on. I don’t like to sub it out. My husband and I do everything ourselves. We manufacture our own equipment even, and have our soap mixed and made for us. We do everything ourselves. Once I get down with the Cryptopay -- putting credit card acceptors at all the washes -- I want to get started on doing the cameras. I need to do my research on that. And I’d love to go to one of the carwash conventions. Walk around and see some of the new technology. I’d love to meet the vendors, put in some time with Kleen Rite and what not. KC: What sort of advice do you have for a younger entrepreneur - or perhaps a female operator or wife in a similar situation as your own? JL: Wow. Well...hard work. You’ve got to work hard. It can be rewarding, but it’s a lot of hard work. Give it your all. And always: Watch, listen, and learn from others. There’s a lot of people out there that you can learn from.


Can you give us a brief account of how you became involved in the car wash industry? My former husband worked at a local copper mine and was looking for a small business to supplement an early retirement. He began doing big game guiding using his days off and vacation time to bring in some extra income. One year he guided an affluent Christian man that listened and offered to loan us money, if we could prove to him it would be a viable business. He knew it could be difficult to qualify for a business loan with a miner’s wages. A couple of years afterward, past president of the ICA, Tom Hoffman, came to go deer hunting. As they left town for the hunt, Tom noticed that we needed a good car wash in Globe. The existing wash was dirt in, dirt out, select wash or rinse, no trigger guns, and the two vacuums did not work. By the time the hunt was over, it sounded like the small business we were looking for. There was an ICA convention that next month in Las Vegas, and we came home enthusiastic to begin our research. We stopped at every car wash we could for measurements and ideas. It took about two years to compile our data, secure a piece of property, and feel we were ready for a loan. We sent it to our former client and he called back saying, “You’ve got your loan.” Shining Times Carwash was washing cars April 1, 1991. Praise the Lord! God is good!! After a few years, we realized that, if we had two carwashes, it would support us without the mine job. That’s when we built Safford Shining Times Carwash and opened in October of 1995. It is about an hour and a half from the house and is a real testimony to the Lord,

even in its construction! Miracles do happen! With an unfortunate divorce after 38 years of marriage, I did not want to battle in court, so agreed to take the “long distance” carwash. Last year, we celebrated 20 years in business! Donna Cox was the first manager we hired and has done a great job taking care of the carwash all these years. She received the WCA Manager of the Year Award two years ago, and it was well deserved. We have made a great team, and I do not know what I would have done without her. In what ways have you worked to make your self serve car wash “female friendly”? Although we have not purposely focused on being “female friendly”, it has come as a result of our way of doing business. Though we are mindful of our finances, our focus is on the concern and care of our customers. How can we provide a clean, safe, and enjoyable environment to make the task of washing their vehicles easier? To me, there is much that runs in our subconscious. We need to feel loved, cared about, and comfortable. You take care of your customers and they will take care of you. Give them an enjoyable experience and they will be back. When something goes wrong, apologize, be empathetic, and work to correct the problem. Two of the slogans we use are “Shining Times Carwash cares about you and your car!” and “Have some clean fun at Shining Times Carwash!”. There is an attendant (manager) on duty every day to keep things clean and have that personable touch while taking care of customers and looking out for their safety. This is appreciated by all of our clientele. At night, we are well lit and have cameras.Women were taken into consideration when deciding equipment. For example, instead of 2” vacuum hoses, we have 1½” hoses. They are much easier for a woman to handle. When it came to purchasing new trigger guns for the bays, Donna and I spent quite a bit of time at a carwash show trying several different ones to determine something balanced and comfortable for a woman to use. Women are not so intimidated by female mangers on duty. Overall, women tend to be more attentive and detail oriented than men, especially when it comes to cleaning. They are more attentive to the needs of customers (when they might need help) and also pay more attention to how the equipment “sounds” or “looks” while it is running – “That motor doesn’t sound right.” “The automatic isn’t moving like it should.” “Can you hear that air leak?” “When I wash down this bay, I can feel a vibration.” Women tend to do better at multi-tasking and don’t get so flustered when several things are going wrong at once. Our marketing pretty much has been coupons in the paper, drawings for special occasions, and giving away free “stuff”- litterbags, pens, sticky notepads, calendars, keychain flashlights, tape measures, tire gauges, letter openers, cups, ice scrapers, phone charger adapters, magnets, etc. And don’t forget about the kids! – candy, little books or toys, especially to those helping Mom. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as a woman in a male-dominated industry? Being that my introduction to the carwash business was with my former husband, many of the companies we deal with already knew my involvement and respected me as an owner. When Donna and I have gone to the conventions, we may not be

72 • WINTER 2016 •

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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing taken seriously by some until we start asking questions. Then their demeanor changes and they realize we are hands-on and want in-depth answers. It has been challenging at times, but overall, praise the Lord, good experiences. Favorite chore to do at the wash? Favorite tool? My favorite “chore” would be talking to or helping customers, especially if they are new to our carwash. I do not actually get the opportunity to be out working the carwash like I used to, but I enjoyed washing “challenging” vehicles, just to see how good our products worked in cleaning. Safford is a farming community and there are loads of bugs in the spring. It is FUN to show a customer how terrific our presoak works Other than the trigger gun being my “favorite tool”, I would say a trowel (I enjoy planting flowers or landscaping) or scraper (getting the gum or grease spots). If you weren’t a carwasher, you’d be a … Stay at home wife and helps meet. Growing up, I had plans of teaching 3rd grade. I did teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for years! I love the Lord and I love His Word!! What women do you admire inside the industry? And who are your business role models outside the industry? At the last ICA Convention, they had a get-together for women, and it was great to meet several wonderful ladies. Unfortunately, I am not good at remembering names, and I have not stayed in touch. There was one, though, that I met during the seminars and we talked some after the convention. I found out that you know Kimberly Berg of Citrus Heights Carwash and she is answering your questions, as well. What a fun, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic gal – a real asset to the carwash industry!! Also, Donna Cox, my senior manager, inspires me and keeps me going. I thank the Lord for Donna! I can think of no better role model than Jesus Himself Most all our advertising says, “Smile…Jesus loves you!”. What’s been the most amusing or funniest customer encounter you’ve had at the carwash? Mostly, it has been what customers have brought in to wash…horses, little chairs for kids, mini-blinds, rugs, you name it! It is amusing when a customer takes “ownership” and brings in their friends to show them all the amenities we provide and how to use them. Others will get upset at customers that are not taking care of the carwash and “watch out” for us. There was one incident where a mother was washing her car while her two young children were inside. The older of the two (probably 3 yrs. old) was sleeping. The younger (maybe one and a half) started walking around in the driver’s seat and hit the lock button. The mom’s keys were in the car and she couldn’t open the door. The toddler was starting to cry and the mother was telling her to wake up her sister to unlock the door. The sister was in deep sleep and not waking. The toddler was crying, the mother was crying, and I was going to call a locksmith when the toddler, in her frantic happen to hit the unlock button and all had a happy ending. Do you think your management tactics differ from a male operators when it comes to employee relations? Being that you deal with both genders across the country, you may be more qualified to answer the first question, but I believe there is a difference in

76 • WINTER 2016 •

how women look at business and people. To me, there is no way to properly run a carwash without having it attended and kept clean.When it comes to hiring an attendant/manager, there are a few things that come to mind. Of course we do an application and interview, but I like to see a “pep in their step” when they walk. If they slowly walk across the lot for their interview, you know it will not get any better. Working to keep the carwash clean and take care of customers takes energy and motivation. Next, they need to have a “happy face” or demeanor. We say, “A smile goes a long way, to have a good day”. Attitude shows and customers take quick offense and can tell when someone is begrudgingly cleaning up after them or annoyed if there is a problem to take care of, instead of showing concern. (In training, workers learn that everyone is fighting a battle, and it may be that jammed quarter that was the “last straw”!) Enthusiasm and excitement are contagious. They need to have a servant’s heart - love being with, helping, and talking to people. Also, a “willingness” to learn, be told what to do, and be a team worker. We ask, “Why do you want to work here?”. If it is only for the money or they just need a job, forget it. It takes a special kind of person to shovel muddy bays and sweep, and sweep, and sweep again. We pay above minimum wage (except for students hired to help on weekends) and are open to hear their input. Shining Times is attended every day 6 to 8 hours a day, with 2 working in Monday (catch up cleaning missed over a busy weekend) and on collection day (one to clean and one to count, also for safety). We have two teenagers that alternate weekend mornings to help get the carwash spiffed up faster and clean bays while the manager takes care of customers and other duties (check bill changers, fill soaps, etc.). There are two repairmen on call that are retired, so repairs and maintenance can be taken care of quickly. The three managers are part-time, rotate weekends, and work with each other to accommodate their busy family schedules and vacations. This relieves burnout and helps supplement their family budgets. We have employee meetings (safety and discuss problems) and keep records when we do need to discipline an employee. This year I am being more adamant with my repairmen to keep a log of EVERYTHING they do. Over the years there have been a few workers dismissed from their job or encouraged to find something better suited to their interests. You have to enjoy what you are doing and the people you are working with. It’s like a family. Living over 90 minutes from the carwash, I have to trust my managers to collect, count, and

deposit the money into the bank. We have a Money Manager system on our meters and vacuums for accountability. Our collection sheet is on the computer and is emailed to the accountant where it is transferred into spreadsheets that are designed to show any discrepancies. The CPA also downloads the Money Manager reports for comparison. Every quarter and dollar are accounted for and where they went. We still need to develop better inventory spreadsheets for our vending and parts on hand. When starting into the carwash business and asking owners questions about accounting and records, I found that there are NO programs out there that I am aware of to do what we are doing. We did have a theft problem at one point and it forced us to design our own. I have thought about marketing or making it available to others, but was told most carwash owners skim and do not want such intricate records. It is amazing what can be done with Excel and QuickBooks. What goals do you have for yourself and your car wash in the future? The first thing that came to my mind is what the Lord impressed upon my heart during my “Birthday Tent Revival” the Lord had us do here to start 2016: For myself is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and lift up the name of Jesus. For the carwash, it is to be a witness to the Lord and draw others to Jesus, as well. People need the Lord. (song – “In Times Like These”)As far as accomplishments, I would like to start with some of the improvements, since taking sole ownership of the carwash in Safford 10 years ago. They are not necessarily in the order completed. My own fear of getting on the roof led me to have a ladder cage fabricated, powder coated, and installed. Later, we also added a catwalk to make it easier to service the trough on the roof that all our hoses and lines go through to the bays. The original automatic needed to be replaced, so I found one on consignment and a stand-alone dryer. We needed more power and we had always had issues with water pressure. It was finally determined that the water meter provided by the city was the problem restricting the water flow, so it was replaced! We added another 400 amp panel, then Mark Janezic and Jim McGill did a great job of replacing our automatic, adding triple foam and a presoak spray onto the grill of the vehicles. This has been much more effective to take off the bugs. The stand-alone dryer and timer work so much better than the previous on-board blowers. (Many years ago, a second RO holding tank had been added.) About that same time, there were some terrific rebate incentives for

Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing

SS businesses to use solar to generate electricity. Both our wash shed and drying shed are filled with solar panels. WOW! That has truly been a blessing You can watch a short video at www. (library) to see the installation process. At the time we did not have internet on site, but now do. The other plus to solar is that whatever we are not using goes back into the “grid” and the electric company “buys” it back from us as a credit on our bill (net metering). Water is a rare commodity, so to insure we will have water, we were able to drill a well in a lot behind the carwash. Unfortunately, it has too many minerals to use it feasibly, so never put the pump in to use it. We also had them double our RO system to keep up with our spot-free water demand. It is great to have a multi-vend machine that also vends snacks, soda, and water, especially in the hot summer. We have put up a few large signs with scripture put up to read while detailing their vehicles under the drying shed or while sitting in the shade and tracts to take home. We needed more storage, so now have two 20’ box containers with ventilation. One we have insulated. That is a luxury many carwashes do not have the room to do. Purchasing a used set of contractor’s scaffolding with the safety rail has helped in cleaning ceilings, awnings, and other and doing some of the overhead repairs. After one of the conventions, we had a hand held blower in one bay installed. It has gotten quite a bit of use. The motorcycle owners really liked the way they could blow the water out of all the crevices after washing. They would wait in line for the bay with the blower, so a few years later we added another one. After another convention, we installed two camera systems – one for the wash area and one for the drying shed and lot. It has cut down on vandalism and helped in prosecuting two thefts. One was a couple that was hitting automatics around in other cities, as well. They would pull up, drill out the locks on the auto cashier and pull all the money in a matter of minutes. We now have better security locks, too. One of the cameras gets the license numbers as they leave the back driveway. Finally, credit/debit card accepters were added in the self-serve bays. This has been a long time coming and something I wanted for myself. Even though I can use tokens, I don’t like the hassle of “feeding the meter”. For safety, especially on icy winter days, it keeps the customer in the

bay and not walking back and forth to the bill changer for quarters. Many people do not carry cash anymore. We have the count up system, so when you are done, remember to push the button to stop the time. The auto cashier also got upgraded from a phone line processing to this encrypted wireless processing. It is so much faster and more reliable. The bay meter faceplates needed to changed out to add the credit card swipe, so a ten position rotary switch replaced our eight position switches to give us options for future amenities and give our blowers their own position. In October 2015, we celebrated 20 years in business! Praise the Lord Boy, did we celebrate! Lots of prizes, giveaways (bottom of page one), the Pepsi truck, balloons, cake, snow cones, and even cotton candy. What FUN!!Now, for what is currently taking place. Our drip irrigation was not working well and the plants and trees had been suffering, because they had to be hand watered. The entire system has been reworked, small brick pavers have been purchased, and it is time to lay them down in our back planting area. Our street planting areas are going to get a facelift, as well. A couple of years ago, a traffic light was installed close to our exit and has made it more difficult to leave, especially turning left and crossing traffic lanes. We had purchased a lot adjoining the carwash with a huge tin shed on it. Recently, the shed was taken down, a pad of concrete was laid, a driveway made, and today they finished changing out a telephone pole to put on a dusk to dawn light for the exit driveway to the side street with the stoplight. Next week, a company will install chain link fence panels, then we will attach the signs, and open it up for a safer exit. Wahoo!! There are also more scripture signs almost ready to be hung.Lord willing and as He provides, here is the to-do list. Twenty years in

business and we have never had a business sign. Things have been so busy that it just keeps getting pushed back (my how the time has flown). Speaking of which, I have always wanted to put a large backlit clock with a neon light around it above our big awning in the center. A rope light or neon around the perimeter of our mansard would be cool, too. There is a second automatic in our back lot to reconfigure another self-serve bay to have two automatic rollovers. In doing this, it would be great to have both enclosed with doors and heaters to keep from freezing in the winter. It is sometimes almost noon before the brushes thaw out enough to wash cars. It would be quite an asset to then have a shade over at least two cars in line for the automatic in the summer months. Windshields get so hot while they are waiting in line! The other item that needs to be addressed is the exterior wall to the existing automatic. The water going through the block wall is starting to deteriorate the structure. After twenty years in business, it is time to redo many areas of our concrete lot, too. This will be a big undertaking. Another project in the making is changing out from fluorescent lights to LED. I believe there are now better retrofit fixtures available. Even though our lights are on timers and not all stay on the entire night and we have solar, electricity is still costly. Another idea, at the last convention, there was a fold down dog wash for inside a self-serve bay. We do not have room for a separate dog wash, but a fold down might work. How many dogs would we need to wash to hit a breakeven point? Another item on the agenda that is long overdue is an inventory system of our shelves for vending and parts. We have “mapped” most of our shelving and cabinets, but nothing has been put into an Excel spreadsheet. This would include part numbers, where and when it was purchased, the price and a reorder alert. It is amazing how many parts need to be kept in stock, especially in a small town two hours from the metropolitan. While at it, we need better operations and employee manuals. As if that is not enough, there is adjoining property that can be developed. A quick lube was looked into, {continued } • WINTER 2016 •


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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing but upon taking some of the “road tours” with the WCA and ICA, it was decided against. There is still a thought about building a laundromat, but that is a big undertaking. Then, I think, I just turned 65! We’ll see where the Lord leads… Finally, what advice would you give to a young woman (or heck, any young entrepreneur) starting out in the carwash industry today? Pray and let the Lord lead….Do your homework….Location. Location. Location….Build it right and use good equipment. Donna says, “Put your heart into it.” Wide bays and vacuum bays. (We designed our vacuums on large enough raised black concrete islands that there is a place to take items out of the car without having to put them on the ground. Also, when the vehicle pull forward, all the doors can be opened without hitting the “island”, and the vacuum hose comes from behind the doors.) Well lit. Quality soaps and waxes. (We use powder soap and presoak that doesn’t waste shipping water and takes less room to store.) Keep the carwash attended with good help (Back to: Take care of your customers and they will take care of you!). Landscape and professional signage. (Atmosphere makes all the difference and keeping it CLEAN!) Have a phone number for problems (even at night) and a box for customer notes and suggestions. Have a logo design that looks good in color and in black and white for advertising and t-shirts, etc.. Go to conventions, network, and never stop learning. (Even a small, dingy carwash may spark an idea for improvement at yours. Carwash owners are usually anxious to share knowledge and experience.) Give back…to the Lord and to others. (Support local charities, organizations, and car clubs. Participate in Chamber of Commerce activities. Join the carwash association.) If it is feasible, when you construct, put in credit cards, cameras, recycle, and solar power. Focus more on providing a good service than on the money. Love the Lord and love others – these are the two greatest commandments! For me, Shining Times is the Lord’s carwash. I am just to be a diligent steward of what He has given me for my provision and the provision of others. The best day of my life was when Jesus found and saved me. I confess Jesus the Christ as my Lord and Savior. (“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John3:16) The Lord took such tender and mindful care of me after the divorce. He gave me Jeremiah 29:11 to stand on. (For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.) When I called out in distress, He answered me. (vs.12 – “Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.”) Five years ago, the Lord gave me a husband that truly loves Jesus and is called to serve Him. Since then, my focus is even more so to Jesus, too. He always gives me a song. For my birthday revival, it was “Jesus Is Coming Soon” (Amen!). Then last week, it was “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God”, and this morning, “Trust Try and Prove Me”. (You can YouTube these and see the words of truth.) It has been amazing to me how the Lord has put everything in place ahead of time for what I have needed! He has proven Himself faithful and real in my life. Jesus

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will do it for you, too. Just call on His name and give your heart to Jesus, our only protection. (“Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6) Praise the Lord…Thank You, Jesus! I am truly BLESSED! Glory to God. Can you give us a brief account of how you became involved in the car wash industry? Mike and I heard of a wash for sale back in 2002. We originally were thinking of buying a pair but



when we learned there was a third the owner wished to keep, we made an offer for them all. In what ways have you worked to make your self serve car wash "female friendly?" Honestly, that has not been a focal point. However, I am able to give great female perspective such as how easy or not so easy the automatic wash can be.

Do you think your management tactics differ from a male operators when it comes to employee relations? If anything, I am too hard and the first to say we should let them go. It's something I have to work on. You’re a past president of the Mid-Atlantic Car Wash Association and stay involved with regional board activities -- why is this involvement important to you? Right after we bought the washes, Mike and I saw where the previous owner had been active in the association. Since we had no idea about the industry, we found that it was the quickest way to learn. We can’t say enough about the associations and have valuable they are. What goals do you have for yourself and your car wash in the future? We hope to update our payment systems and have also just purchased a new vending unit. I would say updating like everyone else that has an older wash. Finally, what advice would you give to a young woman (or heck, any young entrepreneur) starting out in the carwash industry today? Come to an association meeting or try connecting with one of us in the industry before your purchase. We are a pretty friendly bunch. If you want to follow Heather’s Adventures in Carwashing, check out her blog:


What are some of the challenges you've encountered as a woman in a male-dominated industry? Overall, I have been surprised at how mannerly all of the guys have been towards me. Often from a distance you can see how they react to each other in a harsher yet brotherly way. When is comes to women in a leadership role, I wish there was more open dialog. For example, it seems there are “parking lot” meetings on the side or discussions I am not always part of. Because I am a woman I feel like our conversations don't go as deep. They must think I get my nails done and go shopping when actually I have just slung what I thought was mud and empty wet trash. What I mean to say is that I am more hands on than some in the industry may think. Favorite chore to do at the wash? Favorite tool? I love trash detail! It is amazing what you see in the trash, plus I find I am pretty fast at it. I don’t mind at all. If you weren't a carwasher, you'd be... another business owner of some type What's been the most amusing or funniest customer encounter you've had at the carwash? I was working the washes alone one day while MIke was out of town. I was trying very hard to not have to open the one door at the wash that is solid steel and hard even for Mike to relock. As luck would have it, I needed trash bags and had to open that door. I wondered the entire time how I would ever shut it and thought maybe I would walk over to the neighboring business and request a hand. ALl of the sudden a car flies into the wash and I figured it was a rude customer. Once he got closer, I noticed it was Jonathan Braun. He was delighted to help with that old heavy door. Perfect timing!


No piece on women leaders in the carwash industry would be complete without the voice of Lisa Lyons, the only female president of the International Carwash Association and daughter of one of self serve’s founding fathers, Frank Pearsall -- but as many of you know, Ms. Lyons has been attempting to peel back some of her duties at the wash business (in addition to renovating her home and spending more time on her sailboat) and as such wasn’t able to sit down for a Q&A with us for this issue. Lucky for us all, she had recently done an interview with Perry Powell for his WashIdeas (www. podcast and both parties were gracious enough to allow us to provide a transcript of their conversation. The discussion touches a little on Lisa’s time steering the male-dominated Association, as well as her thoughts on social media, the “next” generation of car washers (and carwash customers!), as well as her exit strategy commencing this year.

From interview with Perry Powell

PP: I have a very special guest today and I want you to know that this is special for a lot of reasons. My guest today is Lisa Lyons. Lisa, welcome to the show. LL: Thank you so much! PP: You know, one of the great things about Lisa {continued }

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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing is you are -- as I understand it -- the only female to ever hold the position of president of the Internatioanl Carwash Association. Is that true? LL: Yes, that’s true. Yeah! PP: Wow. What was that like -- I mean, you had to go through the whole board thing and everything to become president, right? LL: I did. I started with the Western Carwash Association and I was on their board for six years and then they asked me to be on the board for the ICA. So, I was on both boards for the first year. So, after six years, then I became president and then one more year after that -- you’re the past president for one year. So, seven years on the ICA board. PP: So, let’s back up. We jumped way out in front there. Let’s back up -- how did you get into the carwash business? LL: Well, in 1964 my dad went back to Oklahoma to visit his family and he saw one of these new self serve carwashes. He came back [to California] and he and a friend of his had wanted to get into some kind of business -- they were looking at laundromats. And my dad had seen this self serve carwash and they thought that was a great idea. The friend was a pilot for Pan Am. So, they became partners and they built a carwash. They ran it together for a while and then the airline transferred his friend, so it was just my dad. He was working at General Dynamics at the time and also doing the carwash. We used to go over there when we were little and help him -- this was when it was 15 cents to start. We would roll dimes and nickels and help him do that and count the money. And of course go in and look for all those fortunes of pennies in the vacuum cleaners and things like that. So that was where I started -- technically -and then my dad went on to build a number of other car washes and he got to the point where he needed some help. And that was where I came in -- I moved back from Minnesota and started helping him full time in the business in 1989. PP: Wow. So you’ve been at it a while. LL: I have, I have. And I think -- you know, I’m on LinkedIn [the online networking website] and I started getting all these messages and they were congratulating me for being in the carwash business for 25 years and I thought, “Man, it’s been that long already!” I mean -- goodness gracious! PP: So do you just have one facility today? LL: No, right now I have five, but I’m selling one. I’m selling it soon; January 15. I’m kind of excited about that. PPP: All right, let’s go back to your presidency. What was it like -- and I don’t mean to be patronizing here -- but what was it like as a female getting into the political side of the associations and its processes with all these guys. LL: I can tell you that they were probably the best support system -- I mean, they were just so supportive. THey really were. They never talked back to me. They treated me as one of the guys, I guess, and I had been in the business for a long time before I got on the ICA board, so I was used to dealing in this man’s world. And I was used to it. THey were all very supportive. And I didn’t really have any problems. It was one of the best experiences

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of my life, it really was. I learned so much from them. One of the good things about being on a board is the expertise of the people there and I learned so much about business and taking risks and doing things different and I just had a great time. It was really, really fun. PP: What year were you president? LL: 2009. Right after the market crashed. Probably one of the worst years ever. PP: Well, it was definitely a tough time in the industry. LL: It really was. PP: I think one of the things that happened was that funds to build were really just not available. LL: Yeah. Yeah. No one was buying equipment. Everyone was just trying to stay afloat. PP: I remember shortly after that, it must have been 2010, that we were in Florida for the ICA show and suddenly the show was exponentially smaller than it had been in previous years. And there had been a lot of internal consolidation -- a lot of people weren’t in the business anymore. LL: A lot ofthem. And the bigger guys were buying up a whole bunch of other car washes, so instead of five operators, you had just one operator with five car washes -- or more than that in some cases. It really did change the industry. PP: Well, not only from an operator side, but also the vendor side. There was a lot of consolidation there, too. LL: Yes, and a lot of businesses that just went away. On the self serve side, you used to see five, six, seven suppliers there and you don’t see that anymore. PP: That’s true. So what were the hot button topics in your presidency? LL: I think just the financial part of it. How everyone, across the board, was having problems. And we, as the board, were trying to figure out ways where we could keep the convention viable and helpful to them. You know, we were reaching out to the vendor community a lot. Talking to them, seeing what we could do. And doing whatever we could to keep moving forward and giving hope to people that days would get better. And trying to come up with ideas to help people keep their businesses going and thinking of the future and things like that. That was really a big topic when I was president. PP: During your times on the board and as president is there one issue not related to that that sticks out as probably the toughest that the board had to work through? LL: Umm.. That was probably

the toughest. I mean, it was looking at how we were going to move forward from that. I mean, that was a big shock to just about everybody. People who had been in the industry forever were hurting. PP: And attendance was off. LL: Yeah. A couple things happened...well, there’s two thoughts. When business is bad you either invest in your business for the future -- that’s kind of the path that I took. I decided, “Okay, I’m going to put in new equipment. I’m going to redo my car washes. I know it’s bad right now, but in five years it’s going to be good again and I’m going to be in good shape.” Or, you pull back and you quit spending money. And you cut costs. And a lot of people did that. They quit coming to the show, or instead of taking four or five employees with them -- they went alone. So, that was a big difference. PP: But what do you think we could do to incent those to come to the show even on the years that they aren’t making those expenditures. How can we make these shows more attractive to them so that they’re coming here in those periods of time? LL: You know, when you’re talking about the investor class -- I know these guys. Several of them came out to San Diego and did that. And they don’t go to the shows. They’re just not interested. And it’s really hard to reach them to get it back to the old days when everyone came to see their friends. And that’s really why I used to go. And to talk to other operators and get good ideas from other operators and things like that. But the Internet -- that has made it more comfortable to stay at home and do that. So I think that’s been a big part of it. But the older generation -- my generation -- we’re like the second generation -- and now there’s the third generation and a fourth generation coming around. We know the second generation is gonna quit coming -they’re retiring or they’re slowing down or they’ve been to so many they don’t feel like they need to be coming anymore. But the third and fourth generation is the question: How do you get them interested in coming to the convention? Maybe something new. I don’t know. I think that’s really the solution. I don’t know if you can get the first and second generation to start coming again. I really don’t. But reaching out to the new generation and see what they need. It’s a challenge. THat’s for sure. I don’t know what the answer is. I know they keep trying and the third and fourth generations are just different -- they think differently, their social [behaviors] are different we just have to figure out what their needs are and go from there to pull them into the conventions. Because I still think there is a need there -- I know for me, when I want to make purchases, I go and touch and feel and talk to the people and talk to the other operators about it and it’s valuable. It really is. PP: Well, I know for me, that solving problems in person is far superior. You go to {continued }

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Super Women of Self Serve Carwashing a trade show booth and they’re all there. If you’re having a problem that is not a sales problem or a tech problem, but some esoteric problem, the guy that handles it is standing right there. It’s easier to just cut through hours of chasing people and just get right down to the issue. LL: I agree. Another thing that can really help -- this is coming from a self serve point of view -- is getting some new things for the self serve industry. Some things are out there. But there’s just not that much. I go to a convention and if it’s just self serve I’m looking for there’s just not a whole lot of booths out there. Self serve people make up a lot of the industry. PP: I think these younger generations are going to be even trickier to reach. What things are you doing in your washes to try and reach that younger set? LL: Well, I have a Facebook page for my business and I have a Twitter account, but I dont’ get the Twitter stuff. I just don’t. I haven’t figured that one out yet. But I’m also doing an advertisement on Yelp. I pay about $200 a month and it advertises my business and it keeps all my competitor business off that page -- my Yelp. And I’m finding Yelp is a great way for the young people to communicate. They come to the page, they’ll make a comment -- and I also put specials on there, I direct them to my other carwash stuff on there -- I direct them to my web page. They have a little button on there where if someone pushes it, it automatically dials me up if they have a question. I’ve been noticing that since I did that I’ve been getting a lot more phone calls asking if I’m open or whatever question they might have -and they’re all younger. And that’s how these young people find businesses. I was talking to my mom about it and she said, “What’s Yelp?!” She hadn’t even heard of it. I kind of use it. I’ll use it to find a restaurant or something like that, but the younger generation really uses it. PP: Yes -- and the relationship between Yelp and Google and the way Google is positioning Yelp in their search engines, it really moves you if you’re a user like you are, it will move you up in the search. LL: Yes, and we also do Google ads. I do that, too. And that’s just been a good, steady -- I don’t do anything crazy with it, I don’t spend a lot of money on it. But it’s been steady. I get calls and I’ll ask them how did you find my business or how did you get my number and they’ll say from Google or that it popped up. So that's been really helpful. Those are the two main ones. I know I should probably be doing more on my Facebook. I do it in spurts. And I’ve done some advertising on Facebook -- you know, you can boost your post. And I got a lot of customers from that, actually. I did. That was interesting. That was the first time I had done that and I will probably do that again. PP: I’m the guy that stood up in front of everybody and said, “I don’t believe in Facebook. Not yet.” I always felt like -- especially after the IPO -Facebook has enough dollars that they’ll figure out a way to make it commercially viable, I just didn’t think they were there yet. And I’m not sure they’re there now. I do think they’ll get there, though.

work at all. They just didn’t have it narrowed down enough to reach my customer base. I don’t want it going out to Timbuktu -- I want it narrow. BUt with the boosting post it got out to local people. But I agree with you. PP: Right, you’ve got to keep that target narrow. It tends to be more expensive the wider the reach is.

need to I can call them and even without an attendant on site I have a connection to my customers. They know they can get ahold of me right away. That has been very helpful. PP: Mmhmm. Where do you see yourself going in the future.

LL: That’s right. And that’s the thing. I think Twitter might work well if you were an attended wash and you did some sort of daily special or something like that -- I just haven’t. Personally, I don’t feel like getting tweets from some business. Maybe they do, but I don’t. I’m not interested.

LL: I see myself getting in a sailboat and going around the Caribean. We bought a sail boat about two years ago. I’m selling one of my businesses -- the one that's furthest away. And I’m going to start backing down. So my husband and I are hoping to spend a lot of time on the sailboat and less time at the car washes.

PP: Do you work the line at your carwash? Do you go out there and shake hands?

PP: Well, first things first -- you know there are pirates down there.

LL: Well, I have self serve -- they’re all self serve.

LL: (Laughter)

PP: But you still have customers.

PP: I don’t want to see a “Made for TV” movie about you!

LL: Oh -- yes, I do! I do! I go out and I talk to them and going over several times a week. I’m still working them.

LL: We’ll go in a big group.

PP: They know who Lisa is. LL: Yeah, they do. I’ve got my regular customers. THey keep an eye on the place for me and let me know if anything's wrong. It’s nice. PP: And I think that you really do want to build a relationship. Again, one of the things that concerns me about the technology in the carwash industry -and I’m not picking on gates or tellers -- but unless you have somebody on site whose practice it is to go out and shake hands and thank people for their business and introduce themselves -- unless you sort of have those ambassadors, as it were, it kind of boils down to service and price. If someone’s offering equal service -- and in many cases, especially in the express market -- in some markets, your competitor has the same exact equipment in the tunnel. You might be running different soap, but the same equipment. LL: I agree. One thing that I found is using technology -- it’s connecting me to my customers. I used to have a sign that said, “Any problems, call this number” and it went to an answering service (my cell phone), but now it says, “Call or text” and I get texts and I can text them back right away or if I

PP: Have you prepared a new generation to take over? LL: No. They’re not interested. PP: So how are you going to be an absentee owner in that case? LL: Well, there’s a couple different ways. For one, I’m going to sell some of them. And I’m probably going to keep probably two and I have two great managers that I am training -- one has been with me for a long time. He knows this business better than me. And eventually I will lease the businesses out, or I have a bunch of that remote management technology that allows me to check in on the business from afar. So I’m going to go that direction and hopefully it will work. We’ll see. PP: There have been an awful lot of people who have been able to do that and retire and have nice retirements after a good career in the business. And I tell people: You shouldnt’ love any business so much that you don’t have an exit strategy. LL: That’s right. You know, my father just passed away last year and it really kind of brought home that I needed to get my ducks in a row. And I started thinking about slowing down. I mean, five business -- that’s a lot! Just counting the money (poor me!) Counting my money takes a lot of work. (Laughter) But I got a lot of really great advice. Some from Bill Sartor, and he said, “When you get an offer, and it’s a decent offer, take the money and run.” And that’s what happened. The guy probably thinks he paid too much, and I think he didn’t pay quite enough, so it’s probably just right. He’s a good operator, so I’ve sold that one. And there’s a couple other people interested in the other washes and it’s just coming on time to turn them over to someone who has more energy than I do. Lisa, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. LL: THank you, Perry! It’s been a lot of fun.

LL: I do, too. I know they started out by asking if I wanted to buy an ad -- and that wasn’t going to • WINTER 2016 •


Darwin Carwash

at the

A collection of the most asinine antics and unusual criminal events to be reported at carwashes around the country. Was she planning to get clean at the carwash? Because this Darwin most definitely missed the mark. Police responding to the call of an unresponsive person at Pinky’s Car Wash in Waynesboro, VA, ended up charging a mother-of-two with a slew of crimes -- including public intoxication and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to an article in the Augusta Free Press, police found the woman passed out in her vehicle around 11:10 a.m. on Dec. 22 after her five-yearold son walked to a nearby restaurant and told customers there he believed his mother was dead. Emergency medical responders found a second child in the vehicle with Jennifer Lee Patrick. Both boys were released to the custody of their father. EMTs were able to bring the woman back to consciousness. Unfortunately, this only seemed to anger her. Patrick “became difficult to manage” after receiving medical treatment at a local emergency room and she acquired two new charges (obstruction of justice and assault & battery of a law enforcement officer) after officers were unable to physically restrain her. To wit, from the Free Press: While the officer was escorting Patrick to his police car, Patrick continued to flail causing her pants to fall down. She also grabbed the officer’s Taser and tried to un-holster it. The officer had to use physical force including a Taser drive stun, which had no effect, to get her under control and restrained in his vehicle. We honestly can’t make this stuff up. Let’s hope this mother-of-the-year finds a way to get clean and stay clean and avoid ruining any more Christmases for those young boys! That’s one way to do it, I guess... Last year’s most brazen and destructive robbery occurred in Yangebup, Australia, where two thieves stole a front end loader from a nearby Naval base and used it to demolish a carwash wall, causing about $100,000 worth of damage. Police estimate the dirty deed was accomplished in about 15 minutes, between 2:45 and 3:00 a.m. An undisclosed amount of money was taken from the business’s change machine and the suspects fled in a white ute (a two-wheel drive coupe utility). The investigation is ongoing. What exactly is in the water in Ascension Parish, LA?! Police had no sooner found and arrested a man for repeated carwash burglaries in the area than they were faced with another string of crimes at local carwashes. Authorities were able to rule out Hubert Bourgeois as he was

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Idiots cause stress. Stress causes depression. Depression causes illness.

Conclusion: Stupid people make me sick. still locked up in connection to repeated thefts at AAA Carwash in Prairieville and Bay Wash and Sail Away carwashes in Gonzales, LA. Police noted that the person responsible for the more recent crime spree had used a different method for tampering with the change machines, too -- it seems Bourgeois favored an electric grinder as his burglary tool of preference. So, while Bourgeois faces a litany of criminal charges (including some for drug possession) in relation to eight different carwash robberies, authorities are still on the hunt for the person who had the starring role in early morning surveillance videos from Platinum Express carwash and Clean Team Auto Spa in nearby Prairieville, LA. The determined suspect caused around $10,000 in damages at both car washes and managed to get his dirty hands on about $3,000. Here’s another reason to encourage your town to restrict charity carwash events: They can attract perverts! Police in Monroe, CT, say a local man was visiting community swimming pools and a football team’s charity carwash fundraiser in order to take video up boys’ shorts without their knowledge. A search of the man’s home turned up “numerous pieces of digital evidence stored on a laptop computer, iphone and iPad,” including video he recorded around town and also child pornogra-

A carwash attendant is charged with murder after he allegedly shot a self serve carwash customer for washing dog feces out of the back of his pickup truck. The man later died of his injuries. According to a local television station’s account of the incident, Leo Molina had previously confronted Gregory Cleto Fernandez about washing dog poop out of the back of his vehicle at the car wash, and had visited the city’s codes department five days before the shooting to complain about the customer, telling department staff that it “needed to stop” and he wanted something done right away. A staff member there said she would send an officer to respond, and Molina allegedly told her, “Well, I’ll tell you what, if this doesn’t go the way I want, I have a gun and I’ll take care of this myself.” Molina was working at the carwash the next week when Fernandez arrived to wash his vehicle. Molina confronted Fernandez about the dog feces and the fight “quickly escalated” into a shoving match. Fernandez tried to walk away twice, but eventually the two were wrestling on the ground and Molina pulled out a gun and fatally shot the man in the torso. We don’t have anything witty or sarcastic to add -- this story is an absolute tragedy -- but we hope our readers will be reminded to let cooler heads prevail during those times when we find ourselves repeatedly tried and disrespected by customers and/ or the public, and to communicate closely with attendants to encourage the same.

phy of victims not in the area. He is charged with first-degree possession of child pornography for some of the files found and a charge of voyeurism in relation to the video he recorded locally. A homeless couple who had been living in an abandoned Chevron station carwash were found dead and a man has been arrested and admitted to the crime. According to authorities in Tampa, FL, Ricky Fitzgerald Hawthorn attacked the man and woman a few days after the woman had rejected his attentions. The woman was found exposed and with a used condom near her body, so Hawthorn was charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery with a deadly weapon and second-degree murder with a weapon. A dog who lived with the couple in the vacant carwash, named Tiny, has been given over to local animal control. We thought that murder was bad enough, then we read about two young teenage boys who have been charged with murder after stabbing a woman to

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Trick or treat...or meth? Barbourville, KY, police responded to a call on Halloween of a suspicious vehicle at a local carwash and found Eddie Gray selling drugs instead of sudsing up his pickup. According to a local television report, police were a bit surprised by Gray’s set-up. “It’s not something that’s all that common... that we find someone that’s just sitting in a vehicle at a stationary location selling meth,” Barbourville Police Detective Steve Owens told WKYT News. “But, we do have several drug dealers that do have established locations that they will go to, to meet their customers.” Detective Owens continued, “[Gray apparently] had finished his meth cook, had gathered up his finished product, and had pedestrians that were approaching his vehicle and was selling the meth from the vehicle.” He faces an array of charges in related to his dirty work at the carwash, including a charge of heroin possession after his vehicle was searched.

death at a local carwash and attempting to flee in her vehicle. Police patrolling the area tried to stop the car for a traffic violation and discovered the woman’s body inside. The 13 and 14-year-old boys were found soon after. At a court appearance a few days later, it was revealed that one of the suspects had apparently confessed to his mother about what transpired at the carwash before they attempted to flee in the woman’s car. In less depressing -- but still aggravating -- news of teenagers gone wild, two juveniles have been arrested in Bloomington, IL, after they damaged hoses and a garbage can at a local carwash. The pair allegedly moved on to a nearby airport and wreaked havoc on private hangars, as well as spray painted graffiti on several planes. A man found slumped over the steering wheel while his vehicle was parked in a self serve car wash bay in Tuscon, AZ, was soon dead, according to a newspaper account of the incident. The report in the Arizona Daily Star said a police officer who realized the man was in medical distress contacted emergency medical crews. “Drexel Heights Fire Department responded to the scene to treat Hernandez, but he became aggressive with the paramedics and ran towards the road,” the report said. “Deputies detained Hernandez again and he collapsed as paramedics examined him.” He was later pronounced dead after he arrived at a local hospital. The pajama bandit made the Surf Thru Express Car Wash the target of

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his third raid in a month. Residents and police in Fresno, CA, are both annoyed, amused and, naturally, a little angered about a local burglar who is making headlines for the unique outfit he has worn for all of his burglaries -- pajama pants, blue latex gloves, gray tennis shoes and a black Raiders jacket. “With a cigarette dangling from his mouth, the suspect tore the cash drawer off a countertop then stole away,” according to The Fresno Bee’s account of the incident that was captured by surveillance camera at the carwash. According to the article, he had earlier donned his pajamas to steal blank checks from an apartment building office and in an attempt to break into a Century 21 real estate office. Lancaster, PA, police say one woman driver managed to turn a cliche joke into criminal charges after she hit a carwash wall and left the scene without reporting the incident. Surveillance video shows the woman accelerating in reverse, causing about $2,000 in damage to the carwash wall with her red Hyundai Elantra before getting out of the driver’s seat of the vehicle so a male companion could drive the vehicle away. “My wife had her driver’s test the other day. She got 8 out of 10. The other 2 guys jumped clear.” In addition to the more amusing and unusually tragic crimes that happened at carwashes over the last three months, we also have some (unfortunately) rather routine burglaries to report. In most cases the investigations are ongoing: • In Evansville, IN, employees arrived to open

the business for the day and discovered the automated control cash entry/access machines pried open and all the cash and quarters gone. According to a local news report, the incident was captured on surveillance video. A pair of thieves walked away with about $1,500. • A ScrubHub Car Wash worker in Huntsville, TX, discovered an outside lock to a small office had been cut and $1,000 in quarters had been stolen after the suspect(s) pried open several coin-op change dispensers. Police are relying on surveillance video to aid in their search for the suspect(s). • Troopers in Beaver, WV, are on the hunt for two suspects who made off with $5,000 in coins and did around $20,000 worth of damage at the Beaver Bath carwash this October. • Authorities in Simpsonville, SC, are looking for a man who carried out two armed robberies on customers at self serve carwashes in the same night. According to a newspaper account of the incidents, in the second incident, the victim being robbed at gunpoint fought back and was shot. The victim was able to drive himself to the hospital, but the suspect remains at large. • Police have apprehended a man in Crown Point, IN, after he caused more than $68,000 in damage during four separate burglaries which all occurred at Auto Spa carwash. Not only did Daniel J. McGraw cause tens of thousands of dollars in damages to the business’s equipment, he also stole $2,500. He was apprehended after a police officer spotted a suspicious truck at the carwash and noted its license plate. A carwash worker later saw the man using a crowbar to pry open a vacuum machine and contacted the police.

Replace or upgrade your ACW. Installs inside an existing ACW cabinet! Accepts Cash, Coins and Credit Cards The most economical 24hr Automatic Entry System! CryptoPay provides secure credit card processing that ‘Simply Stops Fraud’ Features CryptoPay Consolidation reducing Merchant Fees Compatible with CryptoPay In-Bay credit card system*

PayStation Features: l 4 - Selection Large backlit LCD display and voice prompts. l Accepts cash, coins and credit cards securely with CryptoPay! l Connect this Paystation CryptoPay to your existing CryptoPay system or add CryptoPay to your In-bay boxes for one complete credit card solution*. (*CryptoPay Coordinator is required for each car wash location) l Program up to 25 discount codes. Add an “optional” 2nd hopper to vend a bonus token that can be redeemed for a free vacuum or a discount on your next car wash purchase.

CryptoPay Security: Prevents credit card data from being ‘in the clear’ and at risk by encrypting the credit card data at the moment, and point, of the credit card swipe. CryptoPay provides secure credit card processing that ‘Simply Stops Fraud’. CryptoPay Consolidation: Reduces merchant and credit cards fees which are essential for small ticket purchases. Here’s an example of CryptoPay Consolidation: Imagine that a customer visits your carwash. He swipes his credit card at the PayStation and purchases an $8.00 wash. Ten minutes later swipes his card again at the vacuum, and is charged $1.00. CryptoPay combines these two charges into one $9.00 charge that is submitted to the credit card company, which results in only one merchant fee for the purchase. CryptoPay GoGreen Receipt Service: Allows your customers to get their receipts from credit card purchases made at your car wash. Receipts are available online 24/7, two hours after last usage. It provides end-to-end encryption delivering receipts safely online. American Changer Corp.

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• WINTER 2016 •


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Self Serve Carwash News Winter 2016  

Quarterly trade publication for self serve carwash owners and operators.

Self Serve Carwash News Winter 2016  

Quarterly trade publication for self serve carwash owners and operators.