Frank DiTommaso, president and founder of Car Wash Services & Equipment of Seabrook, NH, has been involved in the industry since 1974 when he worked as a carwash distributor and since then also owned and operated his own carwashes. In 1991 he saw an opportunity to start his own company. Starting in 1992, he, and with the help of his wife Liz, operated a distributorship under the name of Auto Shine Car Wash Systems. As of 2001 it became known under its current name, Car Wash Services & Equipment. In May 2007 Frank partnered with Paul Gaumnitz and Edward “Ned” Goss. He recently spoke to PC&D.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: How is your business doing during this tough economic time?
Frank DiTommaso: There is no question that this has been a challenging year for the industry and, like everyone else, our business has been impacted. We have always stayed close to our customers, but during times like these we’ve tried to stay even closer. Despite the poor wash weather earlier this year, the economy and high gas prices, we still are optimistic that 2008 will end on a positive note.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: What are you doing to make sure your business isn’t negatively affected?
FD: It all revolves around our customers! We visit with our customers on a daily basis, offering support and continued guidance as we all deal with the current economy. We exchange ideas on how to improve operations, share marketing successes we’ve seen elsewhere and generally try to help them make more money. We just had our first open house with seminars focused on ROIs, reducing energy costs and increasing bottom line sales. The event was a tremendous success and it gave us, and the companies we represent, an opportunity to showcase new equipment innovations in a more hands-on setting. More importantly, it allowed us the opportunity to work more closely with our customers in addressing problems they are now facing and offering solutions that actually work.
We are also evaluating our services to make sure we are offering what our customers need today to make their business more successful. We are investing in technology to streamline our operation and to be more responsive to our customer.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: Your business relies heavily on delivering equipment and your consultants have to drive to each location when needed, therefore how has the increase in gasoline prices affected your business?
FD: Significantly! It is not just gasoline, but energy costs across the board. Increased energy and gasoline costs rob all of us! But without question, fuel expense has risen the most dramatically.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: What is the mileage radius for the companies you work with? Or, what is the farthest your deliveries or consultants have to travel?
FD: The average service radius is 140 miles. We provide coverage to all of northern New England and eastern New York State so we sometimes travel as far as 300 miles.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: How much money do you think is spent on gasoline at your company?
FD: $7,200 per month and growing.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: What is going to be done to make up for the high price of gasoline?
FD: We have switched to synthetic motor oil in our vans which yields an average of four more miles per gallon. As well, we have adjusted the air pressure on our tires and we’ve been very aggressive with oil changes, filter changes and regular maintenance. In addition, our team works together to devise more efficient routing and dispatching techniques. GPS (global positioning systems) in our service vehicles is an invaluable tool.
Professional Carwashing and Detailing: Please tell us about the recent open house that was held at your headquarters.
FD: We were very pleased with our first ever open house and the feedback we have received from our customers and our vendors has been fantastic. Our goal was to provide an informative and relaxed venue for our customers, many of whom are unable to attend the national and regional conventions throughout the year. The attendees were given the opportunity to touch and feel the equipment, to attend hard-hitting seminars about reducing energy costs and providing revenue enhancing services and to talk to each other in an informal setting of friends, customers and vendors. People walked away impressed. Many of them, vendors included, had no idea that our company had as much to offer as we do in terms of employees, our facility and our resources. We are committed to offering complete and professional service, long after the initial sale.