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Business Operations

News from the Industry

October 11, 2010
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CA continues sweeps on carwash industry
At least 65 carwashes were found to be unlicensed and fined $500,000 in total (or about $7,700 per business) by investigators from the California Labor Commissioner’s Office during a May raid.

The last state sweep of the state’s carwash industry was conducted in November and included 76 citations and over $900,000 in fines.

This most recent two-day investigation included 247 carwashes and 129 citations were issued to 96 of those businesses. The final tally in citations was $771,050, including fines for offenses beyond the $500,000 issued to unlicensed businesses.

After being unlicensed, the next most costly citation was for failure to have workers’ compensation.

“The law requiring carwash businesses to be registered was extended to 2014 allowing us to better monitor situations where we have traditionally seen labor violations,” explained California Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. “As part of the underground economy, illegal businesses often do not pay state taxes and take advantage of employees by not providing workers’ compensation coverage or paying proper wages.”

In 2009, a total of 623 carwashes were inspected in the state and nearly 470 citations were issued. The state issued fines totaled $3,098,050.

Mr. Clean opens new TX wash
The grand opening of the newest Mr. Clean Car Wash (and the first completely new site in several years) was as impressive and awe-inspiring as the 6,000-square-foot wash multiplex.

At least 20 local organizations benefited when the chain’s newest full-serve carwash opened at 8 a.m. on May 8. Those charities and community groups will receive donations throughout the first two months.

In addition to its charitable intentions, the first 40 customers in line for the grand opening received an entire year of free washes and oil changes. Mr. Clean has continued to draw winners for the prize from a raffle conducted every day for 60 days after the grand opening event.

Like the other Mr. Clean washes before it, this location has a lobby with oversized seating, big-screen TVs, free WiFi, gourmet coffee, and a gift/convenience shop. Children can also use sud-soakers to “shoot” cars passing in the tunnel.

The store joins 15 other Mr. Clean facilities, 13 of which were formerly Carnett’s Car Washes in the Atlanta and greater Georgia area, and two which were built from the ground up in Ohio. Mr. Clean also has six locations in development in the Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta and Chicago markets.

Super Wash names new CFO and COO
Super Wash, Inc., the largest franchisor/operator of self-serve carwashes in the nation, has appointed Jennifer R. Black, CPA, as its new chief financial officer and Susan E. Black-Beth, CFE, as its new chief operating officer. The women are the daughters of co-founders Bob and Mary Black.

“Jennifer and Susan’s skills really complement each other and they make a great team. In an industry where there are few female executives, we are very proud to have our daughters helping us lead the Super Wash team,” co-founders Bob and Mary Black said.

With 315 locations in 21 states, Super Wash, Inc. is the nation’s largest carwash franchisor/operator. Super Wash® facilities are combination self-serve and brushless automatic carwashes.

VISA deadline looms over industry
As of July 1, 2010, new regulations by Visa Inc., are in effect and retailers need to conform to new information security controls and processes.

Business owners and operators who accept Visa debit and credit cards will need to update card-processing equipment and software at their own expense, which may translate to thousands or even millions of dollars depending on the size of the operations.

Visa has yet to define how it will punish those who ignore the deadline, but did note that a noncompliant retailer will bear full brunt of the responsibility for any data breaches.

Steve Palmer, CFO of Car Wash Enterprises, the Seattle-based operator of 40 carwashes (dba Brown Bear), gas stations and combo sites, said it turned to Coalfire Systems, Inc. for advice and guidance before the deadline.

“It’s an evolving standard, and we found that even the so-called experts didn’t understand it,” Palmer explained, adding that the company “went through a couple of companies” in the process of finding the right fit.

David Cincera, vice president of Innovative Control Systems, Inc., a supplier of software and equipment to the carwash industry, agreed with Palmer, and advised operators to get started on compliance early.

“My advice to operators is that they should seek the help of a professional organization and not try to do it themselves,” he said in the article. “It could be a consultant organization, it could be one of the authorized scanning vendors that provide services for a fee, or it could be a payment-application [or software] vendor, which is what we are. But get help, because the greatest assurance of keeping a business running is to make sure ‘I know I am in PCI compliance.’”