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Robert Andre is the new president of CarWash College, an educational institution for carwash operators and managers founded in 2006 and sponsored by Sonny’s Enterprises, Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of carwash equipment. Andre spoke to Professional Carwashing & Detailing® about where the Tamarac, FL-based school is headed and why, and tells us about the role Sonny Fazio, the founder of Sonny’s Enterprises, still plays.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: Is there anything new happening at the College?
Robert Andre: CarWash College is very proud to offer two new courses for 2009.
The first, Management II, is geared specifically to full-serve and flex-serve operators. It focuses on the tough areas to manage that often drive owners crazy, like labor management and the proper production procedures to deliver a quality product every time. And, like all of our programs, we bring in guest instructors with significant expertise in specific subject matters. For example, Khoury Group, a company that specializes in increasing front line profits, will provide instruction on how to effectively raise the ticket average.
The second program being introduced is Production Training. This program will essentially put you in a working carwash for five days. This program teaches several useful techniques such as efficient vacuuming, dry-down, and express detail procedures, just to name a few.
PC&D: Why were the two new courses added to the schedule?
RA: The new courses were added to the schedule to address the needs of carwash operators. Our current management course really emphasizes the express-exterior model and the basics for full and flex-service.
We get requests daily from operators in flex and full-service carwashes that want to streamline their operations and need to be able to deliver the same quality product to each customer every time. The new classes are designed to help the carwash operators succeed during good times and recover from bad times.
PC&D: What is Sonny Fazio’s role at the College now?
RA: Funny you should ask that question. Sonny continues to welcome the students on Mondays and attend the graduation on Fridays. He is the biggest fan of CarWash College and such a motivation for the students.
This is a guy that has been in the industry for 60 years and loves to share his stories of success and really give you an idea of how our industry started. Fortunately, he hasn’t needed to bring his rubber mallet to class even one time this year.
PC&D: Has the economy affected the number of attendees?
RA: The economy has not impacted us to the degree it has others in the industry. In many ways it’s helping us. The fact is car counts are down and a carwash can’t afford to have any inefficiencies or procedures that don’t make raving fans out of their customers.
Attendance at our maintenance and repair classes has grown dramatically in the last couple of months. All the calls coming in from full and flex serve operators is what led us to add the new management course specific to their needs. If there was ever a time that operators need to eliminate labor, eliminate unnecessary repairs, and improve customer satisfaction it’s now.
Spending money on parts unnecessarily because they weren’t maintained properly or paying high chemical costs because a mixture was running too rich are just a few more examples of things that owners must eliminate, and we can help them do so.
PC&D: Do you have a positive story from a recent student to share with us?
RA: Asking me to share one story is like asking someone which is their favorite child. I am so proud of all the students that come to CarWash College.
Just recently I had a student in class that was experiencing problems with his wrap-around washer. When we covered that piece of equipment in the lab he suddenly understood what was causing his issue.
On the next break he was on the phone to his wash explaining to his team how to fix the problem. He came back into class and said the course had just paid for itself.
PC&D: What does the future hold for the College?
RA: The future of CarWash College is bright. We continue to add more information to each course and keep the information up-to-date. In all honesty, the future of the curriculum is up to the carwash operators as we continue to add programs on subject areas that operators request. We’re also seeing the demand for our on-site services grow.
We are proud of the opportunity we have been given to serve the carwash industry and to be able to help old and new carwash operators alike grow, and refine, their skills.
PC&D: How has the structure of the College changed and adjusted over the years?
RA: The mission of CarWash College remains the same — to provide the highest quality information, education, and training to owners, managers, investors, and key equipment personnel in the carwash industry at the lowest possible price. We have a staff of the most knowledgeable people in the industry that truly love to help carwash operators learn new skills and refine old ones.