News from the Industry
OMG! Carwash customers can now pay by texting
Customers at Empire Auto Wash in Bloomington, IL, can now activate a wash cycle using a text message.
The recently launched Text4Wash program lets customers purchase credits online or in person. Then, customers can pull up to the carwash and send a text to begin the wash cycle.
"It avoids the need to pay at the pay station with cash, credit cards or tokens," Owner Jared Tomlin said. "You can do this without rolling your windows down." The system also speeds up the wash process for customers.
Empire is currently selling a $25 credit for new Text4Wash customers for $19.99. Multiple cell lines can be used with one account to accommodate families and businesses.
Tomlin also works as an iPhone app developer, and he plans to create similar features for Android devices.
Battle over banners may cost wash owner $5,500
A carwash owner in Baldwin Park, CA, feels that city code enforcement keeps visiting his business for "nonsense."
Amit Asher, owner of Pacific Car Wash, has had numerous visits from code-enforcement officials who told him he needed permits for virtually every change made to the wash. The current battle is over banners and signage.
First, code-enforcement officers made Asher put any temporary banners inside the wash's bays. Later he was told by a different official that the same banners couldn't remain inside the bays.
In January, Asher was sent a notice of unpaid citations for the unpermitted signs totaling $5,500. Then he received a letter from the city prosecutor saying he must either remove or make legal all unpermitted and temporary signs.
The letter also ordered Asher to remove the wash's roof-mounted sign because installation of the sign would require approval of a building permit. Asher said that the sign has been up for 40 years and should be grandfathered in.
Another AZ carwash declares bankruptcy
Metro Car Wash of Tucson, AZ, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Owner Sean Storer described the bankruptcy as a simple restructuring, and the carwash, which has $1.2 million in liabilities, remains open.
"We just need a new amortization schedule, basically," Storer said. "We had some notes coming due and just needed more time. The plan is to re-amortize some loans to increase our cash flow month-to-month. We're not trying to give anybody a haircut."
Storer is hoping that the bankruptcy will be completed within weeks, and he expects to repay all the debt in full. Also, no employees will be laid off due to the bankruptcy.
As PC&D reported in 2011, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan for another Arizona-based carwash, Danny's Car Wash, was approved last December.
LA carwash property listed for $25 million
For 32 years, a one-acre corner lot has been home to Downtown Car Wash in Los Angeles.
The lot has long been the subject of many unsolicited offers. But the 82-year-old owner, Robert Bush, was never inclined to sell the property until now — for $25 million.
"People have been trying to buy this off him for years," Broker Rod Delson said. "The price kept escalating and he wasn't in a mood or position to want to sell…. It's finally gotten to a point where the land is now far more valuable as an asset to his family than the income from the business."
Delson said he is in talks with an array of potential buyers for the property, but the most likely purchaser is a hospitality investor. Due to a possible NFL stadium, hotel investors have been active in the area.
The carwash property is a half-block from a planned dual-Marriott hotel, and it is situated between the convention center and the financial district.
Customer sues BP over a carwash code
A customer filed a class action lawsuit in Minneapolis against BP America Inc. due to a carwash code.
The customer claims she was sold an illegally short carwash access code last November. After the plaintiff purchased the code, she was unable to use it immediately due to either long lines at the station or cold weather.
The customer tried to use the code over one month after it was purchased, but the code had expired the week prior.
The plaintiff's attorney said that Minnesota law prohibits any expiration of certificates redeemable for pre-paid goods and services within five years of the purchase date.
Owner will give away all money made on Tuesdays
A carwash owner in Princeton, British Columbia, Canada, donated all the money her business made on Tuesdays throughout the month of February.
Tanya Lawes, owner of the Bridge Street Car Wash, donated all of her Tuesday proceeds to BC Children's Hospital. She also dropped by businesses in Princeton to wash cars for donations.
Lawes said that having a child in need of medical attention hits close to home. Her 4-year-old daughter Layna was diagnosed with a heart problem as soon as she was born.
Layna spent time in-and-out of hospitals and now has a pacemaker, but she is in pre-school and in skating.
Last year, Lawes raised $1,150.
Carwash to lure customers with pizza, sweets
A combination carwash and c-store in Grove City, OH, plans to add pizza and sweets to its menu of offerings.
Paulie's Pizza and Sweets will open in the lobby of Buckeye Beverage Bay, and customers will be able to pick up pizza in the lobby or in the shop's drive-thru.
Paul Paige is opening Paulie's Pizza, and the business will also offer sub sandwiches and breadsticks. Paige's wife will make homemade sweets for the shop, and customers can pick up or special order cupcakes, cookies and cakes.
Paige will sublease the space from Buckeye Beverage Bay owner Rob Ranft. Ranft said he surveyed customers about the pizza shop idea, and he received a positive response.
The new pizza shop will "help generate a little bit more business" for the carwash and c-store, Paige said.
Is elbow grease the secret to a perfect finish?
A detailer in London, Ontario, Canada, revealed that the secret to a flawless finish was the time and effort put into a restoration.
Marc Harris' AutoLavish business offers a "pursuit of perfection" package for $1,600 to $3,100 that includes 18 to 35 hours of labor. Still, most customers opt for the cheaper 10-hour to 15-hour package.
"People think the pinnacle of a car's cleanliness is when it's new, but with enough time, we can actually take it a step beyond that," Harris said.
Tony Giorgini, a car enthusiast who has restored close to 60 cars, said he understands what it takes to make a car's finish pop: Effort.
"People ask me, 'What type of wax do you use?' because they don't realize it's not just product. It's a lot of elbow grease," Giorgini said.
Two carwashes in LA agree to Union's terms
Vermont Carwash and Nava's Carwash, both based in Los Angeles, have agreed to the terms set forth by their Union member employees and both will now pay their workers $8.16 an hour, which is 2 percent more than they were being paid previously.
As of late February, there are now three union carwashes in the United States including Santa Monica's Bonus Carwash which unionized last November.
"This is the future of the labor movement," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement to the press. "This should be the headline: Carwash workers make history in L.A., and the labor movement and Los Angeles community stand shoulder to shoulder with them."
It has been an ongoing battle to unionize carwash workers in the state of California after it was discovered many employees were being treated unfairly.
As Professional Carwashing & Detailing e-News has previously reported, the push to unionize was started by the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) under the umbrella of the United Steelworkers. So far the group has organized rallies, candlelight vigils, and pickets outside of carwash businesses. In November 2009, CLEAN designed a billboard on Sunset Boulevard which said, "Wash Away Injustice: Boycott Vermont Hand Wash."
Negative reactions to woman's lawsuit against BP
In reaction to the story in which a Minneapolis woman filed a class action lawsuit against BP America Inc. due to an expired carwash code, many are speaking out against the plaintiff, claiming it's her own fault and the lawsuit is unjust. People emailed the Pioneer Press newspaper claiming discordance with the $5 million lawsuit in which a woman says she was unfairly sold a carwash code that soon there after expired.
Reader Cassie Myers wrote in an email: "Just because you failed to be responsible for letting it expire, you think you have the right to sue!…It is people like this that make me sick!"
And Lorn Manthey emailed: "This is just another example of people who think rules don't apply to them….If there's an expiration date, it's the person holding the ticket who needs to understand that it expires, it's not the responsibility of the offering company to give them something if they screw up."
And, finally, Michael Schmitt e-mailed the newspaper: "Shame on you for promoting such frivolous litigation… This is exactly why our system is broken."
Many comments were also left under the original Pioneer Press story which appeared on Feb. 17.
Josh Jacks was one of those who commented and he wrote: "Congratulations on finding a loophole in the system of hard hitting subjects like car wash expiration dates and suing over it. I hope you feel awesome suing over $12 dollars and your forgetfulness." And, as of today, 40 people said they "liked" his comment.