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One of my favorite books, "A Tale of Two Cities," perfectly poses the dichotomy between two different juxtaposed realities. Charles Dickens prolifically wrote, "… it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness …"
In summing up the year that was 2011, I can only be honest in saying that there were definitely some trying times (don't worry, the rest of my editorial ends on a high note). We had an unusual year in terms of natural disasters; and, the economy, though making a turn for the better, is still not completely healthy.
When I signed on as editor, towards the end of last winter, I knew that there were a lot of hardened hearts out there. I knew our articles were going to have to focus on ways to pinch pennies, maximize ROI expenditures, and I also knew we had to exhibit the ways others have succeeded through our profile in success stories. In attending the Western Carwash Association Convention and the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention in October, I spoke to attendees who seemed to be more than ready to dust off the hard-faced ashes of the past and look brightly towards 2012. Their money had been saved, and, for better or worse, they are looking to spend.
I recently spoke to Chuck Space, executive director of the Southwest Car Wash Association and he said the last couple of years for carwash owners in the Southwest business have been slow, but he said their surveys indicate the outlook for the carwash industry in 2012 is more optimistic. "Our carwash members have indicated they see business levels starting to increase with the third quarter of 2012 being the real turning point," Space said, noting that the four main challenges will be: The ability to obtain financing through commercial financing options; increased regulatory environmental laws; moving the driveway carwasher to the commercial carwash; and controlling expenses. All four challenges can be applied to all regions. And, if 2011, and let's face it 2009 and 2010, have taught us anything, it's that we're a tough industry. We can withstand economic turmoil. We can get through hurricanes, floods, droughts. We can lean on each other. The trying times actually made us stronger.
As the holiday season envelopes us, whether we like it or not, I say it's okay to get lost in the cheer and the buoyancy and give a toast or two to the upcoming year. I know it can be difficult to force yourself to be optimistic, but, if you're reading this, and still subscribing to our magazine, it probably means you're still in business. You weathered a lot of proverbial "storms" and for that, you should be grateful. So, let's look forward and stay focused on what we are going to do and achieve in 2012.
Or as Dickens wrote, "Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
And with that, I wish you all a happy and wonderful holiday and here's to a bright, profit-filled and joyous 2012.