How to Start a Carwash: The story behind a successful carwash chain
President Scott Knight shares his tips for success.
1. What is the full name and locations of your washes?
Three in Illinois, three in Missouri
2. What is your title?
3. When did the washes open?
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4. What type of carwashes are they?
5. Number of employees?
There are 8-10 employees per location; currently 60 employees in total for 6 locations.
6. When and why did you get started in the carwashing industry?
My father was a distributor for the nation’s leading carwash equipment manufacturers (most notably Coleman Hanna), so I grew up in the industry. Then in the fall of ‘94 with the help of my kindergarten best friend, Mike Burns, I decided to enter into the industry.
7. What do you like most about running a carwash?
My answer for this one is twofold:
1. Learning from and working with the leaders in the industry
2. Quarterbacking my team in a way that orchestrates success
8. What advice do you have for other owners that are just starting out?
Open your eyes and ears, do quality site visits and observe multiple carwashes, establish an industry network and be aware of the many facets of running a successful carwash.
9. What is the greatest obstacle you have encountered with the carwash?
Weather. In 2008 St. Louis had its wettest year, in 2009 it had its wettest months, and ‘08-’12 were extremely mild winters.
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10. How did you overcome the weather obstacles?
Being well prepared to wash cars when the weather does permit so as to maximize volume.
11. Do you have a lot of competition? If yes, what do you do to stand apart from the competition?
Yes, we do have competition. St. Louis offers a lot of carwashing options, and our Illinois locations have some direct competition in terms of our carwashing style. We stand apart in our quality, value and friendliness.
12. What else do you enjoy about the carwashing business?
I also enjoy the flexibility and freedom that come with owning. I like how each day is different and therefore there’s no monotony. Plus I’m someone who seeks to be a creator or builder, and I enjoy being in an industry in which I can surprise people with our company’s professionalism and polish.
12. What are your goals with the carwash?
Increase car counts, add locations when the opportunity comes about, and take care of my management team so they may have fulfilling careers within the industry.
Carwash: Rain Tunnel Express Car Wash
Type: Express exterior
President/Owner: Scott Knight
Number of locations: 6
Location(s): Granite City, IL, Edwardsville, IL, Pontoon Beach, IL, Sappington, MO, Sunset Hills, MO, and South County, MO.
Number of employees: 60
Year opened: 1995