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Business Operations

News from the Industry

October 11, 2010
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Autobell opens 52nd location

Autobell Car Wash Inc., the third largest conveyor carwash chain in the nation, has opened its latest location in north Raleigh, NC. The site is the chain’s 52nd carwash and its sixth store in Wake County with three others in Raleigh, one in Garner, and one in Knightdale.

“Metro Raleigh remains a strong market for us,” stated Chuck Howard, Autobell president and CEO. “We continue to look for opportunities to conveniently serve all areas of the county.”

The company, based in Charlotte, NC, recently branched out into Georgia and South Carolina cities. Autobell will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

Carwashes across the country honor vets

Carwashes all around the United States thanked veterans for their service to the country by offering free services on Veteran’s Day.

Most notably, Cloister Car Wash, a chain of four carwashes based in Ephrata, PA, helped spread the message through the company’s Grace For Vets program. Grace For Vets, launched in 2004, offers carwash and other retail businesses the tools needed to honor veterans with free products or services.

The program includes a press kit and materials for advertising Veteran’s Day services. The yearly event has grown nationally to include retail businesses and carwash operators in 24 states.

Other carwashes that celebrated Veteran’s Day include:

  • Harv’s Car Wash in Sacramento, CA, where veterans were given “the works” package, including an exterior and interior cleaning, as well as free refreshments. Owner Aaron Zeff, who is retired from the Air Force and who was onsite wearing his uniform on the November 11 holiday, said it was the least he could do. “For me to give a free carwash is nothing compared to the service those have given us,” he said.
  • The Ultimate Express Car Wash, owned by George Heim, in Selinsgrove, PA, gave out free washes to veterans;
  • Classy Car Wash and Top Hat Car Wash in West Palm Beach, FL, also honored vets with free services;
  • In Colorado Springs, three Water Works Carwash locations were saying “Thanks For Freedom,” giving free washes from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., on Veteran’s Day;
  • The Bass River Car Wash in Cape Cod, MA, gave away free washes as part of the Grace for Vets Program on Veteran’s Day;
  • Vets were given free washes at the Magic Touch Car Wash in Ebensburg, PA;
  • New Image Car Wash in Springfield, OR, also recognized military service personnel with free washes;
  • Bill Lawrence, together with his partners Clayton Clark and Bill DeArman, offered veterans a free carwash at any of their chains’ 12 Bubbles Car Wash locations in and around Houston, TX, in a program they dubbed, “Free for the Brave” Day.
  • Madison Avenue Car Wash in Cleveland, OH, also gave away free carwashes for veterans, as well as wives and parents of deceased service members.
Carwash employees win $450,000 in unpaid wages

Sixty Hollywood Riviera carwash employees will get $450,000 in unpaid wages after the California Labor Commissioner reached a settlement with the carwash owner.

Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet represented the employees. “Clearly this case reveals a deplorable situation where employees were being taken advantage of by not being paid their proper wage,” Bradstreet said after the settlement was reached. “This case is an excellent example of why we register carwash companies in California.”

An investigation of the Hollywood Riviera carwash in October 2006 showed that workers were being paid the minimum wage for only three to four hours and would then pay employees with their tip earnings.

Following the investigation, the Labor Commissioner filed a lawsuit against the carwash in September 2007 on behalf of the underpaid workers.

PC&D adds blog to website

Professional Carwashing & Detailing (PC&D) unveiled the newest feature of its website, www.carwash.com, in November when Editor Kate Carr traveled to Seattle to visit carwashes and blogged about her experiences for PC&D’s Travel Blog.

PC&D’s Travel Blog chronicles the journeys of editors Kate Carr and Debra Gorgos as they travel around the country meeting with carwash owners and operators.

The blog will also feature up–to–date coverage from industry trade shows and meetings throughout the year.

Building green is easy

Constructing an environmentally–friendly building doesn’t cost nearly as much as the public believes, according to a new study sponsored by the US Green Building Council and other real–estate and architectural groups.

Through a survey of 150 buildings, most of them LEED commercial buildings, the study found building green costs an average of 2.5 percent more up front, and the median cost increase was 1.6 percent.

The resulting energy efficiency and water savings are not counted in the initial price premium and the study argued these additional savings make investing in a green construction project worthwhile.

Americans hunt for bargains

Here’s good news for inexpensively–priced express exterior and self–serve carwashes: Americans are looking for a bargain.

According to the Associated Press, frugality is making a comeback as more and more Americans turn to thrifty behavior in response to depressing economic conditions that could get worse.

In a movement that could benefit the carwash industry, they’re also looking to stretch out the value of existing belongings. Regular carwashing has been known to improve the value of the typical American’s second most important investment: His car.

The trend is most obvious in financial reports from retail stores and restaurants, which show Wal–Mart Stores Inc., Goodwill thrift shops and McDonald’s Corp. are thriving, while Saks Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Red Lobster are struggling.

Small businesses cut back labor

Small businesses with a staff of 49 or less cut 25,000 jobs in October. The majority of car care businesses fall within that range.

For ideas on how to improve the efficiency of your staff in order to reduce labor costs, turn to pages 34 and 46.

Quiktrip backs out of carwash industry

Two years after building its first express exterior carwashes and four years after deciding to experiment with the carwash industry in general, QuikTrip has found the car care business is not a good fit for its chain of over 500 convenience stores in nine states.

The Tulsa, OK–based company currently operates three carwashes, which it said have been successful, but has dropped plans to continue building any additional washes. The company is considering selling off the existing three in Wichita, KS, and Tulsa, OK.

Company spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh said the company’s return on investment is much greater in convenience stores and gasoline retail rather than carwashing.