Like many success stories in the carwash industry, this one begins with a teenager. Also, just like many other tales, it involves a dedicated family, a passion for clean cars, and a relentless drive to grow. But unlike many of his counterparts here in the United States, Ronen Drory’s story started nearly 7,000 miles away at a carwash in Israel.
As a 13-year-old gas station attendant in Jerusalem, Drory took in all that he could, especially when it came to the business’s carwash operation. Three years later, under his uncle’s employ at a car rental facility in the United States, Drory would drive by carwashes and stare longingly, remembering his happiness at the wash in Israel. But this is a story that took time. It wouldn’t be until years later in 2003, when his Oriental rug business started to slow, that Ronen, together with his brothers Yossi and Nir , would finally start to put his dreams and hopes into action.
Jumping the hurdles
It’s a familiar plot line in these stories, but the Drory brothers faced all of the usual bumps in the road on their path to carwash success. Not long after deciding on the location, the permit process presented its typical challenges. Soon after, the brothers were sued by a local business.
While the brothers were focused on making the site in Brockton, MA, work, a run-down full-service carwash in nearby Taunton, MA, went up for sale. “We responded right away,” recalled Yossi, who added that even though the wash was in pretty bad shape, they were ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
The Drorys invested $2 million in construction costs alone for their renovation project and even added TVs in the bathroom before opening what would be the first Prestige Car Wash. All the while, they continued to push ahead on the Brockton site. “We never dreamed this [Taunton] location would be our first to open,” Yossi admitted, but still the brothers were happy with the results of their remodeling project.
In 2008 the Brockton site was ready to open as the second location in what was becoming the Prestige Car Wash chain. It took five years and numerous court battles, but the brothers came out victorious.
The second wash couldn’t have been any more different from the first. With only one employee (the Taunton site has 15) and an exterior-only platform, the brothers were experimenting with the best of both worlds, including operating a convenience store at the first location. Both sites had pet washes, an additional profit center they would continue to focus on.
Good things come in 3s
Almost immediately after celebrating the grand opening, Yossi and Ronen turned their attention to a third location. They had owned land in Canton, MA, since 2005, and it seemed the time was ripe for expansion.
“This time we took a different approach completely,” Yossi explained. Although it relied on the exterior-only style that the second site used, the 120-foot conveyor also offered 16 free vacuums and an automatic pay station. The brothers also continued to experiment with multiple profit centers; the 1.6-acre site includes a touchless in-bay automatic, as well as three self-serve bays, two self-serve pet wash bays and a truck washing bay.
“All of our locations are different,” Yossi said, “but I think we learned the hard way how to build the ideal carwash and what to have in it.”
Building a successful chain
Yossi acknowledged that operating multiple conveyor sites does have its headaches, but also some advantages. For one, the businesses can share advertising and promotional programs, as well as a website and Facebook page.
The brothers have also become very familiar with their equipment suppliers and vendors. Each site uses Econocraft conveyors and Aerodry blowers, except for Brockton which features a Supreme dryer. The brothers have also built a relationship with National Pride, which manufactures their self-serve equipment and pet washing bays.
At the Canton site, the brothers have a Belanger Vector touchless carwash and a VacuTech vacuum system, as well as XPT self-serve pay stations by DRB Systems.
As for their marketing approach, the brothers launched a website after opening their first carwash. “It’s like our business card,” Yossi explained. “We get a lot of searches on the Internet, so we need to show our customers what we are all about.”
Prestige also has a Facebook page for customers who want to see pictures and learn more about the business. “We think it’s a great thing to be able to stay in touch with our customers,” Yossi said. “You can listen to what they have to say and offer them special promotions and news.”
Yossi said there are plans to open a fourth location and they are in the process of adding gasoline pump stations to the Taunton, MA, site. The business already has a c-store and pet wash on location, and the brothers are anxious to see how they can build profits and volumes with this latest profit center.