Publication of the Southwest Car Wash Association
Third Quarter 2018
BOISE CAR WASH TOUR
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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE As a longtime member of SCWA - I have enjoyed many of the benefits our association brings to the table. However, having just returned from the SCWA Boise Car Wash Tour I am reminded of one of the best benefits of SCWA - bringing people together. The Boise Tour brought together over 100 car washers from 13 different Tyler Furney states. The opportunity to talk SCWA President with car wash owners from other areas of the country gave me a much broader perspective on the car wash industry plus new ideas to implement in my operation. We often say, “No one has all the answers and no one has ‘the secret’ to a successful car wash operation.” But we can bring together successful car washers and working “together” we can find better solutions and customer centered answers. This is the approach we take through SCWA. Under the mission “we are better together” we work to connect partners across the industry leveraging expertise and resources in the most effective way, for the largest positive impact. That is what enables us to make a difference in the industry. The SCWA events are designed to provide our members with opportunities to network and share information and resources. While members that belong and participate in our association are sometimes competitors, I continue to be impressed with the cooperative spirit and professionalism our industry displays. I am a firm believer in the adage “all ships rise with the tide”. I have seen this to be true in SCWA. The more we promote the car wash industry and help everyone become better operators - the more we all benefit. The result of participating in SCWA and enjoying our events is an improvement in the overall industry's business climate. As business owners, if we get to know one another; find ways to share resources; unite on important issues increasing profitability and create an atmosphere that encourages customers, everyone wins. The goal of SCWA is providing effective leadership with adequate participation making it easier for members to be successful and also enjoy the industry. With this in mind, please mark your calendars now for two more great SCWA events. The next SCWA Car Wash Tour will be October 22, 2018 in Nashville and of course the 2019 SCWA Convention and Car Wash EXPO, February 24–26, 2019. For more information on both of these events visit the SCWA website www.swcarwash.org. Remember you can only benefit if you participate – “we are better together”.
SCWA NEWS In Memoriam - Paul Welch SCWA Past President
“Virgil” Paul Welch, SCWA (1992–1993) Past President, business man and resident of Wichita Falls, passed away after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's and the ensuing complications of this disease on Thursday July 19, 2018. He was in the compassionate care of Hospice of Wichita Falls and surrounded by family.
Paul was born in Meers, OK on April 19, 1931, being the 3rd person born in Meers. He was the fifth and youngest child of David Jefferson and Ruth E. Trimble Welch. Paul attended The University of Oklahoma and graduated with a BA in Business Finance. Before embarking on a carrer in business, he also served and was a proud veteran of the Korean War. Upon returning to Lawton, OK, Paul joined the family business of Welch Enterprise. Included within this family enterprise were the DJ's Car Washes, beginning in Lawton, OK., and later DJ's Car Wash of Wichita Falls, and Kleen Kar Wash of Wichita Falls, and Fort Smith, Ark. Paul was involved with his communitites and was also President in the Rotary Club of Lawton, OK. An advocate on the importance of mental health awareness, he was instrumental in bringing forth the first Mental Health Center to Lawton. He also served as President of the Oklahoma Oil Marketers Association, and first President of the Southwest Car Wash Association. Being known for his gorgeous, friendly nature and smile, he was an asset and strength to all that knew him. Paul was an avid golfer, runner, and also successfully completed his first marathon at age 80. He was a celebrity that day and surrounded by Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. He and his wife, Reba, also enjoyed traveling on cruises and countless trips in the U.S. and abroad. 3
ADVANTAGE Paul is survived by his wife Reba Joye Welch of Wichita Falls, Texas. His daughters Alisa Welch, of OK. City, OK. Stephanie Willis, of Yukon, OK, grandparents, Megan Willis of OK. City, OK. and Devin Daugherty and husband, Mason, and great grandsons, Grady and Lane, of Yukon, OK., and many nieces and nephews. Paul's family also includes step son, Allen Lazenby and wife Denise of Houston, TX., step grandson Robb Lazenby of NY, NY, and step daughter, Carla Fellowes of Wichita Falls, TX. In addition to the family listed above who all loved Paul, are the accrued family of Dr. Grant Cettie of Wichita Falls, Renee Cettie of Lynden, WA, Evan Cettie and wife Erin, and son Tyler of Denver, CO and Alex Cattie of Denver, CO. Paul was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Gene and Billy Welch, and two sisters Betty Hamm and Marjorie Welch. Family Requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to either Hospice of Wichita Falls or to Scotland Park Elementary for uniforms.
PERSONAL 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Retiring Early
It’s no accident that age 65 remains a popular retirement age. By that point, most retirees will have become eligible for both Social Security and Medicare, and any company pension payouts can begin. Even so, many people are drawn to the prospect of early retirement with its promise of decades’ worth of time for travel or other passions. A recent survey found that 15% of adults in the US expect to retire before age 60, and 29% expect to retire between 60 and 65. Early retirement might be wonderful if you can afford it…but there are some very dangerous ways that many early retirees sabotage their own retirements. Making an early-retirement dream a reality requires even more careful planning than with a typical retirement. You have fewer years to save and a longer wait for government retirement benefits. What’s more, recent economic trends could present additional challenges for early retirees. Healthcare costs continue rising… inflation may be increasing as well…and some financial professionals are predicting an end to the stock bull market before long, which could threaten the value of retirement savings. Because of these factors, anyone planning an early retirement must develop a disciplined strategy. Here’s how to avoid five common missteps people make when retiring in their 40s, 50s or early 60s… Mistake #1: Not considering a phased retirement. Many would-be early retirees simply pick an age at which they want to stop working and then try to figure out how much they’ll need to save to reach that goal. But this black-and-white, by-the-numbers approach doesn’t reflect
the reality that retirement comes in many shades and can include a more gradual phase-out from your career, such as downshifting to part-time work…working more hours from home…or switching to a less stressful job. This kind of transition helps bridge the potential financial and psychological gaps between a career and full retirement. To do this, rather than focusing on the day you’ll stop working altogether, think about a period when you’ll start working less, then envision possible scenarios to carry you to full retirement age. Example: A 45-year-old making $100,000 per year is hoping to retire at age 55. To collect larger monthly benefits, he plans to wait until age 67 to start drawing from Social Security—five years after he becomes eligible. (Every year you wait to claim Social Security between age 62 and 70 results in roughly an 8% higher payout. See Mistake #3 for more Social Security advice.) This strategy might provide about $31,000 in Social Security benefits per year, though the exact figure would depend on his salary history. Rather than ceasing work entirely at age 55 and covering all expenses from savings until he collects Social Security, he could plan to gradually reduce his workload, generating wages of, say, $50,000 per year from age 55 to 59 and $30,000 from age 60 to 63. That way, he would have a much shorter period to rely solely on savings before claiming Social Security, and he would still be fully retired by age 63. Plus, he will retire with an extra $370,000.
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ADVANTAGE To get an estimate of your Social Security benefit, go to SSA.gov and search “Social Security Detailed Calculator.” Mistake #2: Failing to establish multiple income streams. Preparing for early retirement involves more than just building a nest egg until it reaches a certain size and then tapping that money to pay living expenses. To maintain the retirement lifestyle you envision, it can be very helpful to have income from multiple sources—not just traditional retirement savings and investment accounts. Reasons: There is a psychological benefit from not having to depend on a single source of income. Also, investors can’t begin taking withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s before age 59½ without facing a 10% penalty on those withdrawals— reducing the net income you receive and creating greater risk that you’ll deplete your savings d uring a long retirement. Instead, develop a plan that includes additional sources of income that you can tap before age 59½. These might include taxable brokerage accounts that hold income-producing investments such as bonds and dividend-paying stocks… part-time work (discussed in Mistake #1)… and incomeproducing assets outside your retirement accounts, such as rental real estate. Caution: Many early retirees tend to keep a large portion of their investments in stocks and other growth investments to help their savings last during a longer retirement. Although this approach can work very well as long as stocks do well, a sharp market downturn during the
first few years of retirement can have a disproportionally damaging effect on your long-term wealth—a phenomenon known as sequence-of-returns risk. Making withdrawals from accounts that have declined in value due to market downturns requires you to liquidate more of your assets to maintain your desired income level. What to do: Early retirees should plan to be flexible, based on market conditions, with the amount they withdraw from investment accounts each year. Mistake #3: Waiting too long to start collecting Social Security. Waiting as long as possible to collect Social Security makes good f inancial sense for many retirees. The longer you wait up to age 70, the more you will collect each month for the rest of your life. (There’s no benefit to waiting until after age 70 because age 70 is when your maximum possible benefit is reached.) For early retirees, however, it can make sense to start taking Social Security earlier to reduce your reliance on your other financial assets. Consider your total income needs. If this amount would require you to withdraw more than 5% per year from your retirement account (which would increase your risk of draining the account prematurely), consider claiming Social Security at age 62—the current minimum eligibility age. If you retire at an age older than 62, consider claiming Social Security the year that you retire rather than waiting until you turn 70 (the age at which you can
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ADVANTAGE collect maximum benefits). Adding Social Security income early in retirement could reduce the risk of depleting your savings from excessive withdrawals even though you’re receiving a smaller monthly benefit. Mistake #4: Failing to visit a health insurance specialist. Most working adults get health insurance through their employers, while those who retire at age 65 or older are covered largely through Medicare. Early retirees fall between those groups and face a bewildering array of health insurance options—made even more confusing by current uncertainty in the health insurance landscape.
Helpful: Talk to your adult children before you retire to establish reasonable expectations for your support To help sort through these options, consider asking a financial adviser to recommend a health insurance specialist who can examine the options available in your state. Examples: If your spouse continues to work, you could join his/her plan. Or you might examine your state’s health-care exchange through the Affordable Care Act, which remains an option for at least the time being. Because your income might be lower after retirement, you might qualify for tax credits that help offset premium payments. Or consider Direct Primary Care, an alternative
model for health insurance that charges a flat monthly fee covering routine primary care services. And you may want to consider buying long-term-care insurance before you retire, as the premiums increase based on the age at which you start a policy. Mistake #5: Failing to factor in the cost of supporting grown children. Roughly 40% of parents are providing adult children some level of financial support. This financial burden falls especially heavily on early retirees, whose children are likely to be younger and even more dependent than average. It’s not unusual for parents to spend more than $1,000 per month supporting their grown children, especially if more than one is dependent on them. If you plan to retire while your children are not financially independent, you must either plan to cut them off when you retire or factor them in as an expense. Helpful: Talk to your adult children before you retire to establish reasonable expectations for your support—both the amount of money you’re willing to give them and how long you will keep giving it. These conversations can help prevent additional requests for money that might threaten your financial plan. Wes Moss, chief investment strategist at Atlanta-based Capital Investment Advisors, author of the best seller You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think and host of the investment and personal finance radio show Money Matters.
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OPERATIONS Renovations - Executing Your Plan
You are about to close the deal on the purchase of an old, rundown car wash. Your construction loan has been approved. You have hired a general contractor, architect, and structural and civil engineers. New car wash equipment has been ordered. All renovation plans are now complete. It is time to execute your renovations plan. Here are seven ideas to help you execute your plan and keep you on budget. Before you and your contractor swing the first hammer, I recommend you complete the following steps:
1. KEEP NEIGHBORS INFORMED
Make sure the surrounding neighbors are aware the renovation project is about to begin. Your neighbors have the potential to make your renovation project much more difficult than it needs to be. An angry neighbor can call the building inspector, which can lead to costly delays or even fines. Even if your contractor is running a tight ship, they do not want a building inspector walking around the project looking for things that only exist in your neighborâ€™s head. Keeping your neighbors happy through the renovation process will help keep your project on time and on budget. It also creates an ongoing relationship for the many years you plan to own and operate the car wash.
Prior Notice Give plenty of notice to your neighbors when different events are going to happen. It helps to give them a schedule of events that may impact their business. Example: On July 15 the access road to the rear of our properties will be closed to replace the storm water drain. Be Flexible Some of your neighbors may have special requests. If they are reasonable, try to accommodate them as best as you can. Example: The business next door receives its weekly delivery every Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the rear access road. Make everyone working on the project aware that the access road needs to be clear of any equipment or vehicles on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Little steps like this can save many headaches down the road. Schedule Let your neighbors know how long the renovation process is intended to take. Let them know the work hours and make them aware of any major changes. Ignore the Maverick Every now and then there will be a neighbor who will complain regardless of how accommodating you are. You have to accept this and work through any situation that arises. It is a part of doing business.
Make sure all permits have been applied for and no permit has been overlooked. There are many permits you
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ADVANTAGE must obtain prior to the start of your project. Have the city planning or building department give you a list of permits that are required for your project. Your general contractor is usually responsible for obtaining these permits, but you want to make sure they are in place. Costly delays can occur if the right permits are not obtained. A few permits are often overlooked because they are not required in all areas. They are: demolition permits, excessive noise permits, environmental erosion permits, etc. Also check to see if the general contractor has to have a business license for the renovation. I had a project held up one time because the general contractor did not have a valid business license issued for the project, so the building department would not issue the building permit.
This allows everyone to meet each other and discuss expectations for the project. Everyone is made aware of the schedule, key deadlines, and project requirements. I usually include the general contractor, electrician, plumber, civil engineer, structural engineer, and car wash equipment supplier in the meeting. This is a good time to invite any questions and clarify any points that may cause confusion. Make it a goal to have everyone involved in the project thinking ahead and identifying opportunities to save time and evaluate potential problems before they arise. The ability to anticipate and prepare for challenges before they occur is one of the defining qualities that separate successful renovations from those that do not finish on time or budget.
3. SUCCESS STARTS WITH THE SCHEDULE
5. LONG LEAD TIMES
Strong organizational skills are an essential element of any successful construction project. Smart scheduling avoids costly downtime by ensuring there are no gaps in between work being performed by the various subcontractors. I recommend scheduling weekly meetings with your contractor to review the construction schedule. Discuss and assess not only what is going on with the build now, but also what the situation is likely to be in two weeks.
4. COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY
Before the initial construction starts I like to have a “kick off” meeting with everyone involved with the project.
Long lead times can wreak havoc on your renovation project. In order for the project to be completed on time and on budget, ensure that all needed materials arrive on site when scheduled. Understand all of the different suppliers’ shipping schedules. If there are any special orders, allow for additional lead-time. It is not uncommon for special orders to take longer than promised. Monitoring progress on the long-lead-time items, particularly as they become relevant to project completion, is essential. I recommend having a contingency plan in place for special order items. This way, if changes need to be made in
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ADVANTAGE order to have the project completed on time, all of the timeconsuming legwork and approvals have already been done.
6. PREPARE FOR THE UNFORESEEN
The start of construction often entails dealing with unforeseen conditions that were not discovered during the planning phase of a project. These include the discovery of faulty wiring, plumbing problems, etc., that do not show up until hands-on construction has begun. Your general contractor should have factored into the construction schedule a period of time to deal with such problems. After the problems have been identified, there is a need to revisit the budget and make adjustments to the scope of work and schedule to accommodate for the changes. Be prepared and plan for potential weather delays. Murphy’s law will hold true. As soon as you start the renovation project, it will rain for three straight months.
7. DESIGN CHANGES
Any number of problems can contribute to a renovation project not staying on schedule and going over budget. One of the biggest offenders is making design changes. Only make changes if they are necessary. Keep in mind that your general contractor is like any other business owner. They have multiple clients and strive to please all of them. Any unnecessary changes you make will delay the project and change the construction schedule, keeping the contractor from his other projects.
based on what the car wash operations required of me daily. I also became very mindful of the loan obligations, and the difficulty in possibly meeting them if I took a turn for the worse. I was, in effect, “getting my affairs in order” based on what this nasty disease can sometimes cast on people who fall victim to it (I’m glad to say that my health remains stable now nearly six years later). Once I decided to move forward with the sale of my flagship wash, I reached out to many current car wash owners in the area. I sent e-mails, I sent out old-fashioned physical “snail mail” flyers, and also ran free advertisements on Craigslist and paid advertising on Loopnet. I was mindful that the selling process could take years. Interestingly, after the word was out that I was selling, I learned from a local banker and friend of mine that a car wash had recently sold in a nearby community to an operator who had multiple locations. This is where I first learned of Chuck DeLullo and his wife Shelly (who also is very active in their business) and their chain of then seven car washes (now nine locations). While Chuck showed some interest in my wash from the beginning, a couple of years had gone by with light negotiations on both sides but with both parties being too far apart regarding what would be an acceptable price for the wash. In December of 2013, Chuck had just secured the purchase of a wash that I had a previously had ownership in, and he contacted me to discuss what might be his final offer for my car wash. In my mind, I was ready. I decided
Once construction of your car wash renovation is underway, make an effort to stay on schedule by not making any unnecessary changes. Be respectful to your neighbors. Stay in constant communication with everyone involved in the project. Try to predict and solve problems before they arise. Follow your renovation plan and, before you know it, your new car wash will transform before your eyes. Wash On! Bobby Willis has been in the car wash business for over 20 years. He owns and operates Cool Wave Car Washes in Virginia.
PERSPECTIVE Conversion - Self Serve to Mini Express
It was right around 2011 or 2012 that I started weighing out the advantages and/or disadvantage of selling my flagship car wash that was built and opened in August of 2004. I had a number of reasons for considering selling, but mainly I was concerned about my health situation. I had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease about two years earlier and I was still grappling with how my overall health would effect my entrepreneurship and my family’s ability to sustain any downturn in my health situation 15
ADVANTAGE that his offer was fair and that it would be a win-win. I never imagined what he had in mind for my wash. I am not sure that he did either. In January of 2014 we closed on the sale of my wash and in October of 2014, Chuck closed the wash for a radical conversion to an express-exterior. To be brutally honest, it left me scratching my head as to what his reasoning for the conversion would be. After all, the wash was only 10 years old, it looked modern, and it performed at a reasonable level. The equipment was in need of an upgrade, but a radical overhaul seemed like overkill to me. I was curious and interested to learn about his reasoning for the radical transformation. The first day he opened his new express exterior, I was privileged to take my car through his newly transformed conveyor wash while he rode in the passenger seat. I was blown away by the experience and the total transformation my former wash had gone through. I knew it was among the best car washes in the Pittsburgh area, something I always aspired to be. Chuck and I remained friends through the sale, the entire transformation of the wash, and even now a few years later. He was kind enough to allow me to interview him for this article. How and when did you get started in the car wash business? I got started in 1996. My dad owned a convenience store with a small tunnel when I was growing up. Shelly
and I bought our first wash in Dubois, PA, then we bought an old shut down Wendyâ€™s location in Dubois. This was our second wash. We continued to buy land and build washes throughout western Pennsylvania thereafter until now we own nine washes. When you bought my wash you decided to convert it to an express-exterior wash. What led you to the decision to convert it? We wanted to try this newer concept for one of our washes and decided this was a good location to do it in. It was a radical overhaul; how long did the conversion take and what were the biggest hurdles during the construction? Iâ€™m not exactly sure. I think the total construction time was around three or four months. The biggest hurdles in my opinion were getting the permitting from the local government based on the meetings they needed to have and the time it takes to get through the permitting process. You own eight other washes, that are all in-bay automatics, and now one express-exterior wash. How would you compare this wash to the others with regard to performance and day-to-day management since converting? Obviously the throughput is much greater, but you also need to hire and manage full-time employees. Managing the full-time employees at this location is more time consuming than managing the part-time attendants at my other locations.
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ADVANTAGE How do you think the free vacuum strategy works for you in this location? I am not completely sold on this as a concept, I know it drives traffic but as mentioned, I am not necessarily sold. If you were to build another wash today, would you build an IBA or an express exterior wash and why? I would consider building another express exterior wash but I would need to consider a few factors before deciding whether I would choose an express exterior wash or an IBA. Mostly, what is the market for the wash, how many homes, and what is the population nearby. Who and what are the competitors in the area, and does the land that I am looking at purchasing have enough room to be constructed as an express exterior wash that requires more room than an IBA. What would your advice be to current owners who were considering upgrading their current in-bay automatics, and would you recommend considering converting to an express exterior? Not necessarily, it depends on the market, the room they have to work with, and whether they want to manage employees at a greater level. What are the biggest advantages that the express exterior has over your IBA washes? Obviously the throughput that it offers. But the quality of the wash is also better with tire shine as an option and better cleaning and drying.
What are the biggest disadvantages the express exterior wash has over your other washes? The requirement for hiring, training, and managing fulltime employees. Managing an express exterior operation can be more difficult than managing part-time employees at my IBA locations. How did you finally decide on an equipment manufacturer when you converted your wash and why? I traveled to manufacturers in both North Carolina and Florida. I finally settled on Sonny’s because my primary local distributor and Sonny’s seemed to have the most experience when it came to tunnel washes. How would you compare the throughput of your express exterior vs. your other washes on those 20 to 30 great car wash days that Pennsylvania winters will allow you? Once again, it’s the throughput. As a general rule you can put about as many cars per hour through your tunnel as you have feet in the tunnel. So if you have a 55-foot tunnel (which is what I have) you should be able to wash 55 cars an hour. My IBAs cannot do nearly this many and the volume I do with my IBAs varies based on the wash package customers choose. How does the reliability and maintenance of your new express exterior compare to your IBA locations? I do not think the express-exterior wash requires much more if any additional maintenance than my IBAs. I have a crew on the road that stays up with routine maintenance
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ADVANTAGE The context of leadership can be polarizing, ambiguous, volatile, and complex. So out of necessity, strong support systems must be in place. A network of colleagues to model the way and offer reassurance along with mentors, coaches, and careful monitoring will serve as the classic challenge/support system to promote a productive transition while cultivating new leaders.
for all my washes, and I do not think the express-exterior wash requires much more maintenance than any of my other washes. How did you come up with a pricing strategy for your express-exterior wash location that differed from your other locations and why? I consulted with my distributor and the manufacturer on what successful pricing strategies were for other express-exterior washes they had built and/or managed. My Innovative Control Systems entry units also gave us quite a bit of flexibility to design wash packages that could have a multitude of upgrades and up-sells for our customers. Chuck and Shelly DeLullo, continue to manage and operate nine car wash locations spread out over a large geographical area in western Pennsylvania. Chuckstates on his website, The company’s quick growth is something the couple did not plan. “We were only ever going to build one car wash. That was the plan. But opportunities for growth to standing out among other car washes in the area, particularly because of the cleanliness of the sites allowed us to grow into a substantial operator in the area.”.
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The biggest difference to grasp for new leaders is the change in role that entails a focused shift in five broad areas: 1. Production to Outcomes The immediate challenge for managers is to shift their thinking and operating from a “making widgets” mindset to an influencing outcomes mindset. It is inherent in the leadership process that the leader influences the outcome. As the new leader begins working with department heads and stakeholders they need to be operating from a new perspective, a long-term view with the idea of short-term, stepping stone implementation. The role of the leader is to influence the long-term with organizational strategy in mind. Rather than making and counting widgets, a new leader must have both eyes toward efficiencies now and necessary adaptations toward the future.
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MANAGEMENT Shift in Focus - Managers Adjust to Become Leaders
Leadership at the headquarters of a car wash chain was entertaining succession planning. What started out as an exercise turned into a sweeping new protocol for transitioning managers into leaders. For an organization, it’s vitally important to get this right. Managers sometimes trip on their way up. Senior leaders can mitigate stumbling with an aggressive strategy. Managers are typically promoted into leadership roles with the thought that their effectiveness will continue; but rather than assume, senior leaders are wise to put into place a two-pronged approach. The first prong is to place the right candidate. The old cliché applies: “Hire for attitude and train for ability.” The second prong is to cultivate the well-selected candidate. This involves extensive training opportunities and environments that promote growth. Transitioning managers into leaders should ideally start long before the switch is flipped. Early on, candidates should be “groomed” through extensive training, cross-program experiences, and leadership development. Preferably the training, experience, and development will culminate by equipping the candidate-leader with a view and an understanding of the “leadership landscape.” Placing an incumbent leader in a productive environment is less precise.
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ADVANTAGE 2. Specialist to Visionary Managers thrive as specialists. They know their department, their people, and their function. That’s not enough for a leader. Leaders must know the language of all departments. They must be able to translate information, patterns, and trends from departments into the language of efficiencies, profit, and direction. The vision of the organization is up to the leadership. No one else will take the reins here. Leaders must harness what is known now with the trends they see in the telescope and provide direction. Vision can be complex and multifaceted, but nothing can beat everyone pulling in the same direction. This is one big advantage that is difficult for competitors to duplicate. 3. From One to All Managers have the responsibility to manage the dayto-day on the ground. They are embedded with the staff. Leaders don’t manage things as much as they lead direction. Whereas a manager focuses on employee engagement, a leader focuses on workforce engagement. A new leader may have lingering “departmental biases” that show up as baggage that slows meetings and other processes down. The classic mistake is for new leaders to over-manage and under-lead, especially their previous function. Colleagues need to give the new leader their patience while he cultivates an open-minded shift from managing one department to serving all departments in the organization.
4. Solving Problems to Seeing Problems Before They Develop Strictly speaking, managers and leaders are keen problem solvers. But one of the finer points of leadership — and where leaders earn their keep—is seeing problems before they happen. If a leader can identify slowed growth or a decline in earnings early on and proactively put things in place to avoid the dreaded “workforce planning,” this “seeing” can save everyone. 5. Worker to Learner Leadership is not about knowing — it’s about learning. New leaders typify the shift from a working manager to a learning leader. As they work to cultivate an open mind and flexibility, they must also demonstrate a commitment to relentless self-improvement — that means applying continuous learning toward competency, excellence, and greatness.
When new developing leaders are hand selected, cultivated, and afforded the organizational backing necessary for success, it’s more than an exercise in succession. It’s a testament to a leadership strategy and the state-of-the-art demonstration of a leadership culture. Over time the effort builds into the ultimate competitive advantage. Brian Braudis is a human potential expert, certified coach, speaker, and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management.
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THE REAL PROBLEM
Marketing - What has Changed Checks And Balances - Avoid in the Last With 100 Years? Downtime Preventative In 1975, the Federal Communications Commission Maintenance (FCC) issued a largely overlooked ruling that allowed
Operating a antennas car wash requires overseeing of earth-orbiting — satellites — to abeplethora used for moving parts,television both literally figuratively. Employee broadcasting overand large areas. Around that schedules, many unique pieces of equipment, a constant same time, a little-known regional broadcasting network stream of customers, and daily business duties can fill any car called Home Box Office (HBO) took notice, and decided wash owner’s schedule and create the potential for headaches. to use the FCC’s landmark decision to begin distributing Compound those concerns with the risk that costly its own programming via satellite. breakdowns and time-consuming repairs will occur, and it HBO’s innovative move would have a ripple effect is understood why mechanical issues can be a wash owner’s that would spill over onto the landscape of marketing. worst nightmare. One way of ensuring that the potential Soon, satellite networks proliferated, and with them, for equipment failure and downtime is minimized is to marketers’ ability to target in ways that were never preuse a preventative-maintenance schedule. viously possible. Before proceeding, it is important to know the distinction Since that time, there has been soand much technological between preventative maintenance reactive repairs. innovation that marketers are faced with choices beyond Too often, putting off car wash maintenance is looked at as measure. It can be blinding for anyone an easy way to decrease costs.and Thisbewildering can be a foolhardy idea. charged with allocating marketingcost dollars behalf While maintenance is an additional to theon business, of a business. very issue is what has caused reactive repairsAnd, that this are caused by damaged equipment marketers to go awry. This is an age of unprecedented can end up costing much more than overall preventative communications, and as yetresulting many still to connect maintenance, as well in struggle profits that are lost with onethe another. during time the car wash is inoperable. But this problem is not the real problem.
Although most manufacturers recommend regular The true problem is that too many marketers have maintenance intervals for their equipment, the majority in failed to recognize that only one thing has changed of breakdown-related issues continue to arise from a lack of marketing in the past 100 years: technology. That’s it. Yes, proper care and consideration for the wash’s preventative you now have social media and tweets and followers and maintenance needs by the operator. The root of this failure apps and branding and re-marketing and analytics and can often be attributed to an inability to perform uniform focus groups and ROI and CRM and customer personas procedures and complete documented tasks on a consistent and digital and so on. It’s all certainly true. But, what has basis. It’s also highly recommended to work with your local enabled nearly every bit of it is technology. distributor to maximize your maintenance routine. So prolific is the role of technology in marketing that it MAINTENANCE CHECKLISTS has become for some an alluring distraction. Panic and peer One way of making sure all service pressure set in, and organizations pursuerequirements the latest andare the covered with regularity is by establishing maintenance greatest technology-based marketing tacticsawithout taking checklist. Creating checklists for various timelines is key, thoughtfully consider a strategic approach. As the time to as operational requirements and maintenance schedules legendary philosopher and strategist, Sun Tzu once put it, can varywithout based on different types and their “Tactics strategy is theequipment noise before defeat.” unique needs. Having daily, weekly, monthly, and semiMarketing must ultimately get the product or service annual checklists will ensure that both everyday tasks and into the hands of the customer — a real person. Marketers more serious maintenance needs are met. need to realize that it is way too easy to distract ourselves While some maintenance tasks need to be performed on (via technology) away from what is centrally important a regular basis, others can be less common, due to factors in marketing: generating a sale to a real person and, such as time of year, geography, or overall robustness of hopefully, repeating that process again and again to her the equipment. It is important for each car wash operator, or his delight. Marketing strategy is not so much about a regardless of the size of the facility, to tailor each maintenance plan, but to a system. Buildbusiness your marketing (including the checklist the specific or location. Even car sale) around strategically customer-centric syswashes that ause the same based, equipment and are under tem, then technology becomes a true and valuable tool, the same ownership can have different needs based on and not a distraction. Training On-Site Training Training Seminars
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ADVANTAGE location, customer base, average daily throughput, or workforce size and experience. Regardless of specific tasks, having a documented checklist will increase maintenance accountability, as well as create a roadmap that will streamline the work process for the employees of the car wash. A great starting point when putting together a checklist for a car wash operation is reading and reviewing the manufacturer’s equipment manual. This will give car wash operators a reference point regarding which items need to be checked when and will give an idea of any “best practices” that will help ensure that any maintenance activities are completed correctly. While the manufacturer’s manual is a great reference to start the checklist-writing process, know that there are other factors to consider that will be determined by each specific location, and that a site-specific checklist will be most beneficial.
The daily checklist is at the heart of business operations, and is central to the wash’s mechanical needs, as well as its cleanliness and the appearance of both the building and wash bay to customers. When building this list of tasks, it is often most beneficial to write a checklist for various intervals of time, specifically: daily, weekly, monthly, and semi-annual checklists. Below are a few common and essential tasks that should be considered when creating each type of list. Remember, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all checklist, and tasks should be added or modified as needed. Daily Checklist The daily checklist is at the heart of business operations, and is central to the wash’s mechanical needs, as well as its cleanliness and the appearance of both the building and wash bay to customers. Daily tasks should be done at the start of the day, as well as during the closing process. This will ensure that any damages that can occur throughout the day are attended to as quickly as possible. Alternatively, these checks can be made between shift changes to ensure that the car wash equipment is fully operational throughout daily work hours. Things to consider when doing daily checks: • Run a test wash. This will help give a first impression of operational standing each day, and indicate if all equipment is functioning for proper operation. • Ensure floors are free of debris, especially the dirt and grime that can accumulate after a number of washes have been performed; checking that drains are not clogged can mitigate this buildup. Also, know that loose debris such as garbage can fall out of truck beds or cars during the wash cycle. This debris can get
caught in the equipment, causing damage and potential shutdown-causing failures. • Check for liquid leaks throughout the system, including in chemical pumps and hydraulics. This extends to the bay, as well as the equipment room. • Make sure the equipment and building are clean and
Having daily, weekly, monthly, and semiannual checklists will ensure that both everyday tasks and more serious maintenance needs are met. free of dirt. Customers find a car wash that is tidy and clean much more approachable than one that is dirty. Also, if equipment is malfunctioning due to lack of cleanliness, the business is harmed through profithampering downtime. Remember the rule: less dirt means less potential for issues. • Check that all blowers on the dryer assembly are working and pointed in the proper direction. Weekly Checklist Weekly checklists generally take a closer look at the electronic system that facilitates car wash operation, and the necessary steps needed to ensure that these parts are kept in working order. While daily checks tend to focus on cleanliness and stocking of essential items such as cleaning fluids and waxes, the weekly checklist encourages owners and staff to inspect and maintain the mechanical pieces of the cleaning system. When creating a weekly checklist, remember to consider the following: • Inspect all lines — air, water, and electrical — for wear and secure connections. • Inspect the motor control center box for loose connections or ground shorts, as well as moisture leaks. • Check the operations of the rollover arches, and bleed down and reset all air regulators that are used on the rollover. Adjust and repair as necessary. • Inspect all fittings for wear and repair, including brusharm bearings and mountings, and check that all moving components are in proper alignment, which will lessen the chances that vehicle damage will occur. • Check any operational or customer-visible signage. If bulbs are burnt out, replace them and clean the signage. • Check for compliance with OSHA regulations, and check that all safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, is in working order. Monthly Checklist When administering monthly checks, it is important to note that, depending on the location of the car wash, seasonal measures may need to be taken to keep the cleaning system in proper operational standing. For example, most car washes in northern, colder climates have doors that are lowered during winter months. These doors are often kept open throughout the summer, causing a buildup of dirt 31
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ADVANTAGE and debris, as well as excess soap. Other considerations that should be taken include: • Check all hardware for tightness and repair/maintain as necessary. This includes items such as gearbox crank arms and parts of the high-pressure pump in the equipment room. • Check oil and fluid levels throughout system and refill if low. • Do a run through of hydraulic systems at full speed range by adjusting the flow control valve; check for abnormalities or any operational issues. Semi-Annual Checklist The purpose of semi-annual checklists is to look at the maintenance and replacement of heavy-wear items, such as hydraulic pumps, crankshafts, drive trains, and chains. Because of the infrequent nature of these routines, it is important to look at each item in great detail and to know that, if something needs to be repaired or replaced, it should be done immediately. Items to incorporate on a semi-annual checklist include: • Drain, flush, and refill fluids as needed. This includes all hydraulic power packs, as well as high-pressure pumps and gearbox oil for mitters. • Grease all electric motor bearings in air dryers and pumps. • Review OSHA regulations. These regulations are updated with regularity (even as often as weekly) and can lead to compliance issues if they are not followed properly. This is also a good time to check additional safety features again, such as fire extinguishers.
Once a checklist is perfected for the specific car wash operation it should be documented and placed in an area that is easily accessible to employees. Each member of the staff should be given tasks and responsibilities from the daily, weekly, monthly, and semi-annual lists that they are required to perform. Completion of these tasks should be documented, including completion of the task, date of completion, and whether further repair or inspection is needed. If additional repairs are required, they should be handled through the appropriate channels, ideally by a certified maintenance professional. No matter what amount of service is needed, it is always recommended to use a certified maintenance technician. Certified technician programs, such as the PDQ University Factory Certification Program, guarantee that only certified technicians with complete knowledge regarding a specific cleaning system and its components are able to complete the work, demonstrating an expertise in repairs and troubleshooting. This ensures that the correct repairs are made immediately, in a safe manner, saving both cost and downtime.
Making a commitment to regular, effective maintenance is a task that — while necessary and recommended — can still seem daunting to car wash operators. But the stresses of and commitment to these tasks can be
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ADVANTAGE simplified and made more manageable with the use of regular maintenance checklists and relying on the trusted experience of your local vehicle wash distributor. By staying abreast of these tasks and working closely with your distributor, unexpected closures will be kept to a minimum, and the expense will be far less than the costs associated with equipment repair or replacement, excessive downtime, and lost revenue. When all of this is taken into consideration, it’s clear to see that preventative maintenance is not only helpful to the car wash operator, but profitable, as well. Todd Klitzke is the technical support manager for PDQ Manufacturing Inc., De Pere, WI.
FINANCE Writing It All Off After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Last December’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allowed many within the car care industry to expense and immediately write-off more — including 100-percent temporary expensing deduction for adding needed equipment, vehicles or even a new car wash, detailing, or fast-lube building. In addition to the increased writeoffs available to help offset the cost of acquiring needed
business assets, changing limits on Section 179, first-year expensing further reduces out-of-pocket costs. Writing-off the cost of much of that newly acquired property in the year it is placed in service has long been possible under the Section 179, first-year expensing rules. The TCJA increased the maximum deduction for Section 179 property while also ramping up the other major write-off, so-called “Bonus” depreciation, raising it from 50 percent to 100 percent of the cost for property placed in service before 2023.
FIRST YEAR WRITE-OFFS
Section 179 is an incentive designed by lawmakers to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in their operations. In essence, Section 179 allows a car wash operator to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased during the tax year. In other words, if qualifying equipment is purchased, the full cost can be deducted as an immediate expense. Under our tax rules — and the new law — an operator can choose to treat the cost of any Section 179 property as an expense and deduct it in the year the property is placed in service. The new law increased the maximum amount that can be deducted from $500,000 to $1 million. The phase-out threshold, after which the Section 179 deduction is reduced, dollar-for-dollar was also increased from $2 million to $2.5 million.
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ADVANTAGE The TCJA expanded the definition of Section 179 property to include improvements made to nonresidential real property after it is placed in service — in other words, improvements to a building’s interior. They don’t qualify if they are due to: • The enlargement of the building • Any elevator or escalator • The internal structural framework of the building
VIVA LA DIFFERENCES
Unfortunately, the new law keeps the general 39-year recovery period for nonresidential real property such as that used in many car care operations. The most important difference between the Section 179 first-year expensing allowance and bonus depreciation has long been that both new and used equipment qualified for the Section 179 deduction. Today, however, used equipment can qualify for bonus depreciation. The Section 179 deduction is usually taken first, followed by the bonus depreciation. Generally, bonus depreciation is useful to very large businesses spending more than the Section 179 spending cap (currently $2.5 million) on new capital equipment. Of course, businesses with a net loss are still allowed to deduct some of the cost of new equipment and carry the loss forward.
THAT “BONUS” WRITE-OFF
For all property acquired by the car wash, detailing, or fast-lube operation and placed in service after September 27, 2017, the TCJA requires a full 100-percent deduction of the cost of eligible new and used property — unless the car care operation formally chooses not to claim the depreciation write-off for any class of property. While the new law eliminates the requirement that the original use of the qualified property begin with the car care operation or business, so long as it had not previously used the acquired property, and the property was not acquired from a related person or entity, it will qualify for the bonus write-off. However, the 100-percent deduction phases out at a rate of 20 percent per year beginning with the 2023 tax year (and extended by one-year for certain long-production-period property and aircraft).
PAYBACKS ARE EXPENSIVE
Although Section 179 is a first-year write-off rather than depreciation deductions spanning a number of years, many car wash operators feel that no records must be kept. The write-off is, however, comparable to claiming all of the depreciation allowed in one year. Should the business asset or property be sold or otherwise disposed of, a portion, or all, of that write-off may have to be recaptured or paid back. Obviously, the best approach is to treat all qualifying purchases like fixed asset acquisitions, retaining all documentation for at least four years after the property or assets are disposed of.
And, above all, don’t forget about the property or assets being replaced. The sale of business equipment or property can generate a short-term loss. A sale that produces a gain generates ordinary income up to the recapture of depreciation after which it produces a capital gain — if held long enough. What happens when equipment, vehicles, fixtures, or other business assets or property are no longer useful to the car wash operation or replaced with Section 179 or bonus depreciation acquisitions? Fortunately, many car care businesses can claim an “abandonment” loss. Of course, in order for the IRS to accept a bona fide abandonment write-off of any business asset there must be an actual intent to abandon it. There must also be an “overt” act to abandon the asset. Not too surprisingly, this two-pronged test can frequently be difficult to document.
Don’t forget about the property or assets being replaced. The sale of business equipment or property can generate a short-term loss. A sale that produces a gain generates ordinary income up to the recapture of depreciation after which it produces a capital gain — if held long enough. SPECIAL RULES FOR CARS AND PERSONAL USE PROPERTY
Several years ago, Section 179 became known as the “SUV Tax Loophole” because so many businesses were writing off the purchase of what were then qualifying vehicles. While that particular benefit of Section 179 has been severely reduced, special rules — and limits — remain on deductions for cars and personal use property used in or provided by the car care operation. New limits on the write-off for the cost of so-called luxury automobiles and personal use property were included in the TCJA. For passenger automobiles and light trucks placed in service after December 31, 2017, where the additional first-year depreciation deduction is not claimed, the maximum amount of allowable depreciation is increased to $10,000 for the year in which the vehicle is placed in service, $16,000 for the second year, $9,600 for the third year and $5,760 for the fourth and later years in the recovery period. For passenger automobiles placed in service after 2018, these dollar limits are indexed for inflation. And for those eligible for bonus first-year depreciation, the TCJA retained the $8,000 limit for additional first-year depreciation for passenger automobiles. Thus, in 2018 the maximum first-year write-off is $18,000. Similar rules apply to not only passenger automobiles, but to any property used as a means of transportation 37
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ADVANTAGE as well as for property used for purposes of entertainment, recreation, or amusement. Computers and peripheral equipment have been removed from the definition of listed property and are no longer subject to the increased substantation requirements. When it comes to leased vehicles used in the business, a deduction is permitted for the part of the lease payment that represents its business use. If it used 100 percent of the time for business, the full lease cost is deductible. So, vehicle leases don’t escape the luxury vehicle limits, a portion of the lease payment must be included in incomeduring each year to partially offset the lease deduction. That amount varies with the initial fair market value of the leased vehicle and the year of the lease. The amount is also adjusted for inflation each year.
LET THE WRITE-OFFS ROLL
Lawmakers are pretty strict when it comes to allowing deductions. The cost of starting a business, for example, can’t be deducted because there is no business. Just as there can be no business until the operation “opens its doors” for the first time, buying new equipment or other business assets doesn’t mean that the cost can be immediately deducted or written-off — they must first be “placed in service.” Determining when property is placed in service for depreciation or other write-off purposes requires looking at the property’s assigned function and when the property
is in a condition or state of readiness and available for specifically assigned functions.
CAVEAT: EXPENSING IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST OPTION
Buying may not always be the best option even with the new 100-percent write-off. Expensing drops the book value or basis of the business asset to zero. If the asset is sold, any amount up to the purchase price will be ordinary, fully taxable income. Spreading the expense through depreciation deductions will reduce taxable income down the road when the car wash may be more profitable and have higher tax bills. Another time expensing may not be the most economic route is when the asset might be sold in the near future and/or the asset is one that holds its value. The changes in the cost-recovery rules have a significant impact on whether newly acquired equipment or business property should be depreciated or expensed and whether to choose bonus depreciation or choose not to claim bonus depreciation for any class of property. Because the new rules interact with other provisions of the law, every car wash, detailing, and fast-lube operator should seek professional advice and assistance in planning to maximize their write-offs for business property and assets. Mark E. Battersby is an Ardmore, PA-based freelance writer, specializing in finance and tax issues.
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AUTO DETAILING Excellence -The Pursuit of Perfection
I have been fortunate to have had dozens of opportunities to provide training at dealership detail centers over the years. An interesting situation arises when I am asked to orchestrate their effort to create a detailing process that delivers near “perfection.” In these instances, I first discuss the concept of “perfection” as it relates to automotive detailing, in an attempt to temper the dealership principal’s expectation. It is understandable that the dealership would want the used-cars inventory to look as good as possible, with the outcome of being able to sell the vehicle faster and for more money. But the reality is that perfect results are typically left to the realm of concourse and collection detailing, where money and time are no object in the performance of the detailer. This level of commitment to results provides us with an interesting case study in auto detailing. I am not suggesting that every detailer and detail shop should take this approach. There are a number of variables that determine what the average outcome will be for a detail operation. Some of those variables include the typical customer profile, the condition of the vehicle coming into the shop, the expectations of the customer, and the price of service that the local market will bear. Nonetheless, I have generally found that with superiority of service provision comes increased business success. So, I thought it would be beneficial for the industry as a whole to discuss this one example of an approach to detailing. Perhaps we can all learn some lessons from the reconditioning center at this high-end dealership.
WHY SUCH AN EFFORT?
Some might question the purpose of such an effort to achieve perfection. After all, if you can make the car look basically clean, and keep most customers happy, what’s the point of going the extra mile for some seemingly unattainable level of outcome? The answer starts with the underlying culture of some dealerships. The foundation of this culture can include the premise of delivering the ultimate customer experience, regardless of the customer’s reason for coming in. This means creating that “wow” reaction from every customer, whether it be during the purchase of a brand new vehicle, or coming in for a routine oil change. Specifically in the detail shop, this means producing detailed vehicles that are as close to perfect as possible. Some dealerships rely on repeat or referral customers and must maintain a reputation that keeps people coming back and sending their friends. Part of that reputation is the delivery of a premier customer experience, and part of that experience is the delivery of vehicles that look as good as they possible can.
Dealerships generally know that the appearance of the vehicle is an important factor to the success of the sale. It is a common notion among automotive dealerships that a clean vehicle sells faster and for more money. So, it stands to reason that a vehicle that is in perfect condition ought to sell the fastest and for the most money. Both new and used vehicles “on the line” (i.e., on display in the lot for sale) are thus immaculately detailed before they are displayed and then regularly maintained until sold. The same level of perfection can be delivered to service customers who request detailing. In fact, the detailing process that I developed for incoming used-car trade-ins is the exact same process that is used for service customers’ vehicles. The customer vehicle can be made to look as good as any new vehicle on the lot, but at a great price.
WHAT IS “PERFECTION”?
It’s one thing to demand that detailed vehicles look as perfect as possible. It’s something else to determine what “perfect” looks like on a detailed vehicle. It is yet something else to figure out how to achieve “perfect.” Determining the definition of “perfect” is essentially establishing a standard. To achieve the standard, a set of procedures must be established.
Determining the definition of “perfect” is essentially establishing a standard. To achieve the standard, a set of procedures must be established. A simple definition of “perfect” might be: “the vehicle looks new and is without flaw.” Why do I add the words “without flaw?” It is because vehicles that are delivered as new are far from flawless. Indeed, you would be amazed at the amount of work that goes into preparing a new vehicle for the line. The interior can have minor smudges from the transport crew. The interior glass can be foggy from vinyl discharge and the exterior coated with some mysterious residue that sometimes can only be removed with steel wool. The exterior is often covered by plastic adhesive sheets that must be removed along with any remaining adhesive from those sheets. And then there is the pervasive issue of leaking cavity wax, which is sprayed into door and hood openings to prevent corrosion. Finally, the paint can have a number of surface issues that require multiple steps of paint perfecting techniques. This is not even a complete list of issues that confront the detailer when preparing a new car for the line. So, for used-vehicle reconditioning and customer-paid details, imagine what’s involved!
STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE
Let’s examine a few of the standards that might be included in a near-perfection detail. 41
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ADVANTAGE All interior panels are clean, spot-free, and appear new. Of course, this starts with a thorough vacuum, followed by basic cleaning with all-purpose cleaner of the vinyl and plastic panels, as well as steam cleaning of seats, carpeting, and headliner. Spots are individually treated with specialized chemicals. Any damage or soil that cannot be removed with these cleaning techniques is referred to the interior repair specialist for re-dying or repair. If repair is not possible, the panels are replaced. All compartments in the trunk or rear compartment are clean, dirt and dust free, and appear new. To achieve this, the technicians are expected to “take apart” the trunk, opening all compartments and removing all items. (This includes the spare tire, which is sometimes removed and thoroughly cleaned in the prep wash area if it is dirty.) All of the compartments are then vacuumed, dusted, and wiped clean. The compartments are then put back together, including re-installing and dressing the spare tire.
When demanding these high standards, there can be no skimping on chemicals and equipment. Windows are sparkling clean with no streaks. It can be frustrating for the person in charge to find streaks in the windows of a “freshly-detailed” vehicle. I have found this to be true with retail detailing clients as well over the years. So it pays for us to develop techniques, combining the best possible glass cleaning chemicals and towels that ensure a streak-free finish. With proper cleaning, the glass really does sparkle, giving the vehicle an extra gleam. The engine compartment is completely clean and appears new. This requires a thorough degreasing rinse; complete drying to a spot-free finish; removal of all cavity wax from typical drip points; application of a satin-finish dressing; and complete wipe-down to remove water spots, excess dressing, and shining of painted panels. All exterior paint is flawless. The exterior reconditioning process begins with a very thorough prep wash, followed by thorough, panel-by-panel application of detailer’s clay. In fact, each panel is clayed in 12” x 12” sections, which are then individually dried and inspected before moving on to the next “square.” Once the car is completely clayed and dried, the paintwork is thoroughly inspected for damage or flaws that may need to be rectified in the body shop. If there are no such major flaws, the hood is used as a test area to determine what buffing or polishing steps will be needed to bring the paint back to a flawless shine. In the case of many silver-colored vehicles, this is simply a matter of a quick polish and wax. However, some black vehicles require several buffing and polishing steps to yield a perfect, swirl-free finish. The detail technicians are expected to do whatever is necessary to yield this kind of finish.
COMMITMENT TO THE STANDARDS
Having an established standard of excellence is fine, but it is nothing if it is not clearly communicated to those technicians who are expected to achieve the standard. Further, the detail technicians must be provided with the equipment, chemicals, and hands-on training necessary to afford them the ability to achieve the standards. When demanding these high standards, there can be no skimping on chemicals and equipment. The technicians must have full access to whatever they need to achieve the standard. For example, it is expected that buffing pads be changed often to reduce swirls. The technicians should be evaluated and re-trained by an outside training consultant on a regular basis to ensure that the standard operating procedures are continuing to be followed or changed as necessary to ensure that they can achieve the standards. Additionally, the shop must be managed by an operational supervisor who’s job it is to ensure that the standard operating procedures are followed and that the results consistently match the specified standards.
My hope in carrying on a discussion of “perfection” detailing is to provide encouraging ideas for the general population of detail operators. Although not all of us have the budget or wherewithal to attempt to reach such lofty heights, we can certainly take strides to improve our own operations with at least a modified version of some of the concepts that have helped one dealership achieve a reputation for excellence. Prentice St. Clair is an International Detailing Association Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer. As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has been providing training and consulting to car washes and detail shops since 1999.
TECHNOLOGY Light - How Much is Enough for Your Car Wash?
Lighting for car washes has always been important. A well illuminated car wash attracts potential customers’ eyes, promotes a safe environment, and allows customers to see dirty spots on their vehicles at night. Historically, the decision on the amount of light needed was balanced with the perceived nighttime washing activity in each location. The first LED light conversions usually matched the light output of metal halide lights, keeping light levels the same. Today, operators are dramatically increasing the light provided to attract more customers, keep customers on the site longer, and improve the overall wash experience. Given this trend, operators are faced with the question of how much lighting is enough lighting? The short answer is: it depends. 43
ADVANTAGE While multiple factors need to be considered when increasing light coverage of a property, the most common criteria include: • Providing adequate light for the tasks being performed • Providing uniform light across work spaces for a cleaner, safer feel • Making the car wash look as bright or brighter than neighboring businesses (less light needed for car washes in the middle of residential areas, more light needed if the car wash is next to a gas station or car dealership) While lighting situations vary based at least in part upon the above factors, a plan can be developed to determine the amount of light needed to ensure your LED light upgrade meets your needs and objectives.
For car washes, the general rule is to err on the side of providing too much light vs. too little light LIGHTING TERMS
To help people understand and compare different lighting solutions, the lighting industry uses terms such as lumens and foot-candles. • A lumen (lm) is a unit of light emitted per second from a light source. The amount of light an LED light fixture produces is measured by lumens. Lumen levels are disclosed on LED light manufacturer spec sheets. • A foot-candle (fc) is how a lumen impacts an area. One foot-candle equals one lumen of light density per square foot. In short, think of lumens as how bright a light is and footcandles as the output of light you have in a room or space. As a point of reference, full daylight typically equals about 1,000 foot-candles, while an overcast day would be around 100 foot-candles of light. Twilight produces just 1 foot-candle, while a night with a full moon has 0.01 foot-candle. Typical offices and classrooms have 20-30 foot-candles. Showrooms will need brighter lighting: around 50 to 100 foot-candles. Very intricate, exacting and detailed work may require 1,000+ foot-candles. For car washes, the general rule is to err on the side of providing too much light vs. too little light. Table 1 outlines the recommended foot-candles for car wash areas. This is the measure of light needed in given car wash spaces. The “Minimal” level of foot-candles is recommended for locations in a lower populated area with low light levels in the neighboring areas (e.g., if the car wash is in the middle of a residential area). Conversely, use the “Brighter” guideline if your car wash is in a busy area with multiple competing light sources from other businesses (e.g., next to a gas station or grocery store), or to create a premium feeling due to the light provided. Table 2 shows an average amount of lumens needed to achieve the foot-candles required from Table 1 in the spaces provided. Keep in mind that the amount of foot candles in an area is directly
impacted by the lumens delivered to the area in addition to other factors such as room size, wall colors, objects within the room, and light fixture mount height. So, this table is a guide, and actual results may vary based on your unique situation.
FIGURING YOUR REQUIREMENTS
To determine if the light system you are considering will deliver the lumens needed, multiply the lumens produced (listed on fixture spec sheet) by the number of fixtures being considered. Then, you can match the total lumens delivered to Table 2 to achieve the foot-candles needed (Table 1). Keep in mind, more fixtures are typically better as you’ll end up with more even light distribution. Evenly distributed mounting locations for fixtures will also maximize and smooth the foot-candle coverage. For example, Mile High LED System’s LEDTUBE-8 product produces 11,500 lm. Four of these fixtures would be 46,000 lm (4 x 11,500). That would provide more than 55 foot-candles to a standard 16’ x 30’ wash bay and result in a “brighter” result in light output. Using four fixtures from a different fixture that produces 8,000 lm per fixture would result in 32,000 lm, or “standard” levels of light for a car wash bay. The information in these tables was compiled based on historical averages and aggregate customer feedback. These are guidelines and results can be expected to be materially consistent for most car wash environments. However, larger remodels and new builds often require a more detailed photometric plan. A photometric plan incorporates other factors (such as mount height, wall color, etc), and where each fixture should be mounted. Some LED systems suppliers offer complimentary photometric planning for their customers, when and where needed. Certainly, lighting upgrades can be confusing. However, through some basic math and the use of the tables provided, the task of determining the amount of light needed can be easily accomplished. Contact your LED systems supplier for a comprehensive evaluation of your specific needs. Michael Call is vice president, sales and marketing at Mile High LED Systems. You can visit the company on the web at www. milehighledsystems.com.
SELF SERVE Doing Self Service Big, Doing Self Service Right
Most of the industry is turning its back on the self-serve concept. Opting instead to build flex and exterior-only locations as self-serve volume and revenue continues to slip across the car wash landscape. But self serve is not dead. It is still a viable and thriving concept. It just requires investment and reinvention. 45
ADVANTAGE “The idea that self serve is dead is interesting to us,” says Dennis Dreeszen, owner of Autowash in Denver, CO. “We see that as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Owners feel like self serve is dead so they don’t invest in it. And then guess what? Self serve is dead.” Dennis and his wife Erin are certainly not afraid to invest in the concept. Since opening their first Autowash location five years ago, the couple has opened six more self-serve and in-bay automatic sites, with a seventh set to open its doors this month. That is some serious investment and a clear dedication to the self-serve model. With seven and soon to be eight Autowash locations under their banner the Dreeszens have certainly put their
But self serve is not dead. It is still a viable and thriving concept. It just requires investment and reinvention. money where their mouths are in terms of the future of the self-serve car wash industry — but they are not done yet. The car wash entrepreneurs are not even half way to their ultimate goal of 25 Autowash locations. “We are looking at aggressive expansion,” Dreeszen says. “Over the next five years, as we are ramping up and beginning to grab scale we are looking to build a couple of locations each year and also take over a couple of sites each year.” With just five years of experience under their belts, the Dreeszens can still be placed in the car wash newcomers’ bracket, but the couple is far from green. The car wash investors have been ardent students of the industry since 2006, when they first became enamored with the industry and began saving and planning for their first location. When it was finally time to pull the trigger and open their first location, the Dreeszens didn’t dip their toes into the shallow end of the car wash pool, opting instead to dive right in head first and swim with the big boys. The couple’s first location in Stapleton features three self-serve bays, three in-bay automatics, and two pet-wash tubs. “When we built the first one we took seven years to think about it, stew on it, and organize,” says Dreeszen. “The thing that changed our entire future outlook on the business was we never got into it to build a car wash. We got into it because we wanted to build a business and our business just happens to wash cars.” With an investor’s mindset the Dreeszens spent years exploring various car wash concepts and the Denver market before deciding to open their first location. While the couple is well aware that their choice to invest heavily in the self-serve model might leave many industry pundits scratching their heads, it was the right decision for their ultimate goal of building a large-scale car wash brand. The Dreeszens are not just opening up a bunch of sites slapping their logo on the front and moving onto the
next development project, they are carefully selecting and building locations that personify the Autowash brand and showcase that the selfserve model can still be vibrant and profitable — if it is done right. “There is always going to be a need for self serve,”says Dreeszen. “There are so many people that we see out here who want to love on their cars themselves. There is still a market for that. Probably 60 to 70 percent of the people don’t want to do that, and that is fine. I don’t think self serve is the primary look of the industry, but for us it is our niche and we do it well. “I would say we do it 60 percent better than any of our competitors. When we look at our revenues, Stapleton is pushing close to a million in revenue and on average our self serve bays are doing $8,000 a month. The industry is nowhere close to that. We have found a way to capitalize on a piece of the market that no one else is really paying attention to.” A major portion of the Dreeszens’ success is thanks to their ability to build Autowash into a brand. A brand that delivers a consistent experience and consistent results regardless of which Autowash location a customer chooses to frequent. That consistent experience starts from the ground up with an ideal mix of three in-bay automatics and three self-serve bays. All Autowash locations that were new builds sport this configuration, while acquisitions are as close to an even split between in-bay and self-serve bays as possible.
A major portion of the Dreeszens’ success is thanks to their ability to build Autowash into a brand. To ensure a familiar and consistent user experience across the growing brand, all Autowashes are outfitted with the same equipment. All automatic bays sport Kärcher equipment, while each and every self-serve bay has the same high-pressure wands, low-pressure foam gun, foam bush, and hand-held dryer. “We have an expected level of service and this goes with the brand,” Dreeszen says. “This is where we think 99 percent of the people in the industry make a mistake. They don’t have a constant experience between locations.” In addition to the dependable equipment array, Autowash has another key weapon in its brand-building arsenal: its unlimited wash club. Traditionally self-serve locations have struggled with the logistics and technology investment unlimited wash clubs require. The Dreeszens have solved both of those challenges with the development of their own unlimited wash club mobile app. 47
ADVANTAGE Dennis has a background in information systems and designed and developed the geo-fenced mobile application. When an unlimited car wash member enters any Autowash location and launches the mobile app they are given a unique code which they can enter into the point of sale to activate the equipment. Membership entitles customers to one service per day — self serve, the top wash in the in-bay automatic, or a dog wash. While most unlimited wash programs limit the customer to just one automobile, Autowash’s solution places no such restriction. As long as the club member is onsite they can use the equipment to wash any automobile, or pet, they choose. “We decided to create the app to continue to perpetuate the Autowash brand,” says Dreeszen. “We wanted to integrate and work around some of the barriers of technology and develop a method that is not dependent on any other service provider to make the app work.” That independent spirt is what sets the Dreeszens and their chain of washes apart from the competition. They refuse to simply follow industry trends. They are blazing their own path to success fueled by a dedication to providing customers a differentiated experience and filling an ignored need in the market.
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Auto Laundry News - June 2018
DID YOU KNOW 13% of people have illegal drugs on their fingerprints despite never using them? As fingerprint testing for drug use becomes more common, thresholds need to be set to distinguish between drug users and nonusers who pick up traces of drugs in the environment – for example, from paper money, on which cocaine is found fairly often. Airline seating is even tighter this year? United is reconfiguring its 777s to have 10 seats across instead of nine. American and some foreign airlines have already done this. There will be more elderly people than children in the US by 2035? That will be the first time people over age 65 outnumber those under age 18. Also: the percentage of Non-Hispanic whites will drop to less than 50% of the US population by 2045. Antibiotic-resistant salmonella is on the rise? In 2015 (latest data available) 12% of salmonella cases involved bacteria with multidrug resistance. That was up from 9% the year before. Resistant salmonella was found to be immune to as many as four first-line antibiotics. Mutual fund fees fell sharply in 2017? They dropped from an average of 0.56% to 0.52% for traditional mutual funds and (ETFs). That was the largest year-over-year decline since at least 2000. The 20% of funds with the lowest fees took in nearly $1 trillion last year – the highest inflows ever recorded in one year for the group.
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ADVANTAGE Young people are more likely to feel lonely than senior citizens? A new study reports that the overall national loneliness score was at 44 on a 20-to-80 scale. Those ages 18 to 22 scored about 48, compared with about 39 for those 72 years old and older. Cash is no longer accepted at a growing number of restaurants? Tender Greens and Sweetgreen, both with restaurants on the East and West coasts, take only credit and debit cards. Starbucks has made one of its Seattle shops cashless, and other chains are experimenting with or considering the option. Bank rewards are taxable if you do not have to spend anything to earn them. Example: If you get a $200 arranging direct deposit, the reward is taxable—you will receive a form 1099-INT from the bank and must report the amount when doing your taxes. But credit card and travel rewards, including ones earned by using bank-issued cards, are not taxable—even if they can be redeemed for cash back. The reason is that you have to spend money to receive the rewards which are considered a nontaxable rebate on your purchase. Caution: There are some gray areas. If you get a credit card bonus just for signing up, without any purchase required, it is taxable. And if you get airline miles directly from a bank, perhaps for opening a new account, their value, as determined by the bank, is taxable, since you did not have to make a purchase to receive them.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS The SCWA members listed below have joined SCWA since our last issue. We Appreciate your Support! Thomas Ayers
SCWA is a growing and dynamic organization representing the collective interests of the car wash operators and the car wash industry. We are the largest regional network of car wash professionals coming together to share new ideas, practical business solutions and innovative industry knowledge. The SCWA Board of Directors is the governing body and provides the vision for SCWA. If you want to give back to the industry and would like to learn more about possible SCWA Board of Directors positions, please contact the SCWA Headquarters.
Preserve West Capital San Mateo CA
Pristine Express Car Wash, LLC Crandall TX
Duke of Suds Ripley WV
James M. McKay
McNeil & Company Cortlad NY
US Business Holdings Murrieta CA
North Major Car Wash & Ice Beaumont TX
Fidelis Development Conroe TX
Royal Laserwash, Ltd. Laredo TX
Four Seasons Car Wash Aurora CO
Whitewalls Express Carwash Kingwood TX
JackRabbit Car Wash Ralls TX
Rinse‘n’Run Car Wash Spring TX
Werrk Wash Cibolo TX
Evolve Bank Carrollton TX
Kiest Development Irving TX
LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD LEADERS!
Lake Fork Boat Wash Alba TX
Chia-Ma Car Wash Systems San Antonio TX
BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Tyler Furney Harker Heights, TX (254) 258-6786
President-Elect: Andrew Zamora Lubbock, TX (806) 543-2775
Vice President: Jeff Blansit Dallas, TX (214) 912-1729
Treasurer: Don Witt Dallas, TX (214) 358-2575
Past President: DeWayne Hall Oklahoma City, OK (405) 414-1489
Vendor Vice President: Bob Kopko Uniontown, OH (800) 336-6338
DIRECTORS John Agnew Fort Collins, CO (970) 485-0287
Pat Kirwan Wixom, MI (866) 362-6377
David Swenson Austin, TX (512) 346-8050
Ronnie Corbin Plano, TX (479) 651-7239
Evan Lorentzatos Stafford, TX (281) 561-0469
Mel Ulrich Weatherford, TX (940) 456-1082
Ryan Darby Lubbock, TX (806) 535-7275
Bobby Story Durant, OK (580) 775-1855
Clay Wilson Lubbock, TX (806) 687-2024
Executive Director: Chuck Space • 4600 Spicewood Springs Rd., Ste. 103 • Austin, Texas, 78759 • (512) 343-9023
800.440.0644 www.swcarwash.org 50
THE ADVANTAGE is the official publication of the Southwest Car Wash Association. It is published four times each calendar year by SCWA, 4600 Spicewood Springs Rd., #103, Austin, Texas 78759. The officers, directors and members of the Southwest Car Wash Association, as well as The Advantage editors, in accepting advertising for this publication, make no independent investigation concerning the services or products advertised and neither endorse nor recommend or make any claims as to the accuracy and therefore assume no liability thereof. The opinions expressed in the articles are not necessarily the opinions of SCWA and its publisher and therefore makes no warranties and assumes no responsibility for accuracy or completeness of the information herein. (512) 343-9023.
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