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Business Operations


October 11, 2010
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When the results for the Professional Carwashing & Detailing® Top 50 list of conveyorized carwash sites came out, Tuscon, AZ-based Mister Car Wash rang in with 36 washes, putting it at the number four slot. With number two, Mace Security, likely to soon be out of the picture and number three-ranked Autobell not far ahead, all eyes are on this growing chain.

So PC&D® got the CEO behind the successful chain on the phone to talk about full-service washing, franchising and the secret to good management.

PC&D: Does Mister Car Wash plan to aggressively grow both their full-service and exterior express carwashes?

CEO Ron Peterson: Yes, we are expanding and we remain full-service locations as well as express. Primarily, we’re staying in our existing markets. We will however, be looking into two or three new markets this year.

PC&D: Why is it so important for Mister Car Wash to remain both a full-service and express exterior business?

RP: When a full-service is operated properly, you make a lot more money, maybe two to three times more.

PC&D: When Mister Car Wash looks to expand, does the company focus primarily on full-service or express exterior?

RP: Well, it’s really what suits the market. We buy carwashes where the owner wants to exit. The ones that have prevailed in that market are still operating and the ones that haven’t, either had the wrong model, or simply the wrong demographics for a carwash.

PC&D: Does Mister Car Wash have any intentions of becoming a national franchise?

RP: If anybody really thinks about it, to be able to do it in our lifetime, it’s going to take hundreds of millions of dollars to do it successfully.

To get the kind of commitment from lenders and equity investors, it’s going to require significant operating resources that are already in place.

Also, good available real estate becomes a big factor. So the enterprise would need to be able to do both greenfields and buy and operate existing operations, which means they’ve got to be able to operate and improve a number of different models that are already out there, like full-serves with detail, full-serves with detail and lube, exterior only, etc..

PC&D: What is Mister Car Wash’s secret to operating so many successful washes?

RP: It’s a myriad of things, really. But it all starts with good training, good people that are motivated and who are being paid well. Our managers are paid like owners; that’s how we make the numbers.

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