The 2006 Car Care People of the Year
Every year Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine seeks nominations for Who’s Who in Car Care, a special section where three people from each of the four sectors of the car care industry are honored for their exceptional contributions to the trade.
This year nominations came in for longtime veterans as well as “newbies” in the industry. Longevity is not always a qualifying factor; a point that has been proven with at least one of this year’s Car Care People of the Year.
Determining who should receive this honor is a difficult task and one that the staff of the magazine does not take lightly. PC&D reviewed each candidate for weeks before finally choosing one professional from each sector — conveyorized carwashing, self-service carwashing, detailing and lube — as a Car Care Person of the Year.
PC&D has alerted the person from each category that was selected. Read on to find out what’s exceptional about each individual, their reaction to being named Car Care Person of the Year and their future plans in the industry.
Cressall’s carwash creeds
A strong philosophy and outlook on earning customer trust have helped to build a solid site.
By Lindsey Blanchfield, Contributing Writer
After 45 years in the carwash industry, Randy Cressall has learned the golden rule of carwashing: to be successful, customers and employees must come first and foremost.
Cressall applies this golden rule at all times at his carwash, Valencia Auto Spa, Valencia, CA, and will vouch for its effectiveness.
His belief in the “what goes around comes around” philosophy has finally earned him a just reward: recognition of his superior efforts and dedication to carwashing.
The best customers around
Above the Valencia Auto Spa doorway, hangs a sign that speaks volumes about Cressall’s business philosophy. It says, “Through these doors walk the world’s greatest customers and the best ever employees.”
This approach and mentality toward customer service has helped build substantial relationships at Cressall’s facility.
“Carwashing is a wonderful business,” he said. “And it’s a wonderful opportunity to be with people and to have people entrust their baby to us, which is really what they do.”
According to Cressall, a customer’s decision about what carwash to visit shouldn’t be taken lightly.
He believes choosing a carwash facility should be approached much in the same manner as choosing a doctor, a dentist or a hair stylist. Customers should, and often do, make choices based on comfort and trust levels.
“I believe for people’s second most valuable possession — their automobile — that a great deal of them, especially our customers that care a great deal about their cars, bring their cars to us because of the faith and trust they have in us that we will take proper care of their baby for them, the same way they do,” Cressall said.
It trickles down
Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.” Cressall would probably say, “The buck starts here,” meaning his attitude, actions and responsibility are passed from him down to all his employees.
Cressall likes to use the story about a man who gets stuck in traffic, so he yells at his employee, his employee goes home and yells at his wife, the wife yells at the kids, the kids get in a fight and slap the dog, which bites the cat.
“I use that example because when management treats their employees a certain way — and it all begins with myself — when we set a culture of the way we treat and care about our employees, they treat our customers that same way,” Cressall said.
Cressall said he tries to hire people who seem like “people people,” individuals who truly care about others and seek to make them happy.
He leads by example and says he tries to go overboard to spell out just how important the customer is to the carwash.
According to Cressall, it’s important that employees first understand and empathize with customers who may have any sort of problems.
“I tell them [his employees] to first let the customer know you care,” Cressall said. “When you start out with that groundwork it makes the future solution come so much easier. It brings two people to the table to work together rather than combating one another.”
A little bit brighter
Cressall has put in place the, “10-foot rule”: whenever any Valencia employee comes within 10 feet of another person — be it a customer or another employee — that employee must exchange some kind of greeting.
If they can’t say “Hello, how are you?” because they are in the middle of something or talking with another customer, they must still at least acknowledge the other individual with eye contact or a nod.
“We have such a wonderful opportunity in the carwash business to really ‘wow’ people,” Cressall explained. “When I get in my car after it’s been washed the car runs a little bit sweeter, the radio plays better, it drives smoother and the world’s a little bit bright.
“When we can take that opportunity to build upon it with a really special experience with a customer, we’ve been really fortunate,” Cressall said.
According to Cressall, a carwash is, can, and should be the core of the community and everything that goes on. He has worked hard to make Valencia a staple in his community.
Cressall’s philosophies and outlook on carwashing have succeeded in earning him the title of one of Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine’s Car Care People of the Year.
The queen of detailing
This year’s Detailer of the Year is a woman that floods herself in knowledge, but doesn’t sweat the small stuff.
By Kate Carr, Associate Editor
Standing tall, our Detailer of the Year barely hits the five-foot mark. But don’t let her small stature fool you — Gina Budhai, managing partner of Car Pool Detail in Richmond, VA, has reached new heights in the detailing industry.
Introduced to the detailing business by her father, Garret A. Budhai, Gina has gone from part-time interest to full-time obsession.
Her enthusiasm and unquen chable thirst for knowledge have led her to become one of the most educated detailing technicians in the industry.
Father knows best
Budhai credits her father for teaching her the finer aspects of the business — customer relations.
Budhai’s father has a strict “don’t sweat the small stuff” philosophy that proved to her that customer service isn’t about being serious all the time.
Ten years ago, when Budhai was between jobs, she came to work for her father’s Arlington, VA-based business, Car Cleaning and Restoration Specialists.
“I think one of the reasons why I decided to continue on in this [industry]… was when I started working with my father — I saw a very, very funny man who could instantaneously connect with people in ways that I did not understand.”
This motivated Budhai to adopt a similar attitude, one that emphasized a new relationship with her customers and urged her to connect with them on a more personal level.
“The experience has been really incredible,” Budhai said. “I’ve become friends with lots of my clients. They depend on you for advice. They come in and oftentimes they’re not even talking about their car — they have personal stories to share.”
Her borrowed philosophy has helped her to reach out to customers and build relationships that have become the cornerstone of her detailing business.
Knowledge is power
Aside from her connection to her clientele, Jim Hammill, executive director of the Professional Detailing Technicians Association (PDTA), nominated Budhai for Detailing Person of the Year because her technical knowledge sets her apart from other detailers.
“She really knows everything, almost down to the molecular structures of the materials she’s working with,” Hammill said. “So she’s very technically switched on. She’s really, really clever.”
“I like information. I like to know what I’m talking about,” Budhai explained. “I don’t think that I’ll ever know everything. I don’t think that I’ve even scratched the surface, so I am very obsessive about information.”
Budhai meticulously researches every aspect of a detailing job, and is also constantly studying the newest technology and trends of the business.
“What she doesn’t know about interior repairs,” Hammill stated in his nomination letter, “isn’t worth knowing.”
Budhai said she gets her information straight from the horse’s mouth.
“If I’m dealing with leather, I go to the leather industry,” she said. “If it’s paint, I go to the paint industry.”
Budhai said this helps her to diagnose and evaluate each detailing job (she personally inspects every car that comes through the door), as well as assists her in breaking down and explaining the procedure to her client.
A true professional
Budhai’s expertise is even used at the neighboring Car Pool carwash, where she is often called upon to deal with customer complaints.
“I’m usually there to serve as a liaison,” Budhai explained. “If a car comes out of the tunnel and the client claims that the damage was never there, I go over to the client and explain why the carwash couldn’t have done what they claim it has done. I go over what problems they may be having with the car and how we can help on the other side of the building [at the detailing center.]”
According to Hammill, Budhai’s ability to turn an ugly scene into a potential sale sets her apart from other detailers in the industry.
“She is one of the most helpful people I know,” he stated. “She is a true professional.”
The new member of the board
Hammill and Budhai met in person for the first time at the 2006 International Carwash Association’s Car Care World Expo in Las Vegas. Previously, the two had conversed over Internet forums for detailers and by telephone.
Hammill invited Budhai to become a board member of the PDTA, an association working to unite all detailing technicians, this year. It is a volunteer position that Budhai gladly accepted.
“I really want to impart to members that this is where the industry is going, in terms of the level of technical expertise that you need to bring,” Budhai said. “You need to change how you have sold your services. You need to change how you project yourself to your clients.”
“It’s really good for the association to have a woman on board,” Hammill said. “And Gina’s a great ambassador to the industry as a whole.”
“I want to give [the PDTA] a different perspective; to give a different slant,” Budhai said. “To maybe get across some different concepts of marketing, some different ways of changing and approaching the business.”
For Budhai, that means tackling the pre-conceived notion that detailing services already have a set value. Budhai aims to destroy that notion, and instead emphasize the value each detailer personally achieves.
According to Budhai, this means that the more aware and knowledgeable a detailer is about his or her services, the more he or she is worth to a client.
A group effort
When asked for her reaction to receiving the title of Detailing Person of the Year, Budhai turned speechless and could only say that she was humbled by it.
“I just said to my staff on Friday, ‘I’ve heard that I am the Detailer of the Year, but I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m sorry your names are not in there — but this is about all of us,’” Budhai told PC&D.
“This is not about me alone,” Budhai continued. “I have to be realistic; there are many, many detailers out there that don’t get the recognition. I know for example, my father — who has been in the business for years — has never gotten the recognition he deserves. Next to him, I am really humbled.”
For as far as that group effort has taken Budhai, the industry recognizes the devotion and hardwork of one person — Gina Budhai.
Her attention to detail, her desire to educate herself and her unique relationship with customers all make her more than capable of wearing the crown that accompanies the title, “Queen of Detailing.”
The retiring newcomer
Richard Logan proves that vision can speak louder than experience.
By Kate Carr, Associate Editor
When Professional Carwashing & Detailing® sends out the call for Car Care People of the Year nominations, we normally brace ourselves for the usual list of tried and true industry veterans that have given years of service proving their value to the carwashing trade.
It’s always a tough decision, but we relish the chance to thumb through the pages of deserving names and worthy washers.
What we don’t normally see are newcomers already making giant strides in the industry and paving the road with novel ideas and innovative visions.
So when Richard Logan’s name headlined a nomination from Ted Mayo of Washing Equipment of Texas (W.E.T., Inc.), we took notice.
A retirement investment
Sixty-five-year-old Logan isn’t retired from the financial world of stockbroking just yet, but he has already found the perfect post-retirement activity: self-serve carwashing.
In March 2005, Logan and business partner Carlisle Maxwell Jr. opened their dream wash in Victoria, T.X.; an $850,000 investment of green colored, brick and slate.
While this green investor may not have years of experience to commend him to the Self-Serve Car Care Person of the Year, he does have exemplary vision.
Logan’s fresh and innovative idea for a carwash with a pitched roof and easy access prompted Mayo to nominate him for Self-Serve Person of the Year.
From portfolios to wand bays
Logan said he has drawn upon his professional experience as a stockbroker to create a business philosophy for the wash: the customers’ needs come first, and those needs are for first-class amenities.
“Basically, we’re committed to [the customer,]” Logan stated. He said he is proud that he worked hard to make sure his wash would not only be visually attractive, but also offer customers plenty of pleasantries.
“We wanted it to be clean. We wanted it to be well-lit. We wanted there to be someone there to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you for doing business with us’ and ‘Appreciate you coming by’ and ‘Is anything the matter? Anything we can do for you?”
The wash has a large, well-shaded vacuum area to give customers relief from the Texas sun. It offers four wand bays, as well as one automatic, in a convenient layout.
The well-lit location is on a major thoroughfare with easy access from two streets and attended daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Labor of love
According to Logan, he and his business partner chose self-serve washing for two reasons: labor and labor.
By employing only two part-time workers, Logan is able to ensure that his wash is staffed to his satisfaction, without dealing with the headaches often associated with a large labor force.
“We have two employees and they basically share a one-person position,” Logan said. “The wash doesn’t require a lot of management and a lot of hiring of people, so that part of it we found attractive.”
Logan wanted a unique design to accompany his vision of a self-serve wash with first-class customer service, so he worked with San Angelo architect Jaime Morales to create a plan for the wash that would distinguish it from other carwashes.
Logan said he was unimpressed with the traditional style of self-serve buildings — normally with flat roofs and boxy shapes.
“We had seen maybe one other wash that we thought was attractive and looked good,” Logan said. “So we took pictures of that.”
From there, Logan let his creative vision take flight and worked with Morales to design a wash that would have a pitched roof similar to those found on houses and would use a heavy, metal-ridged surface.
Logan chose a masonry style that invokes the idea of natural rock with several different colors speckled in its design. He wanted everything at his site to emphasize the core idea of an attractive, luxurious self-serve wash.
The design of the wash impressed Mayo so much he recommended Logan to PC&D only a few months after the wash’s grand opening.
“The first year of business has brought a lot of learning as it relates to the operation of the carwash,” Logan said in an e-mail to PC&D. “But also I have discovered that it requires a lot more management than I had anticipated.”
But Logan welcomes the hands-on involvement, which he says will make a truly enjoyable activity for after retirement.
Although this first-time operator has barely dipped his feet in the pool, he’s already making big splashes under the Texas sun.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine commends him for the steps he’s taken so far, and looks forward to the path he’ll make along the way.
From bonds to brakes
Ron Morrow’s decision to change from stockbroker to lube owner worked out.
By Todd Horneck, News Editor
Ron Morrow, owner and operator of ROSBRO Corporation (dba Grease Monkey) based in Longmont, CO, had two words to describe himself when he found out he was named one of Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine’s Car Care People of the Year: honored and humbled.
“I’m not sure I’m worthy,” Morrow said. “There are a lot of great operators out there.”
Making the change
Morrow owns and operates 13 lube sites and two carwashes. He oversees 125 employees and is currently pushing to open four more locations in Colorado.
Before Morrow broke into the car care industry he was a stockbroker. When the opportunity finally arose for him to enter the lube industry he took a chance.
“As my other investor friends got discouraged with the business I got more excited about it,” he said.
Eventually, as he got more involved in the quick lube industry he bought out his other investor friends and retired from his career in investment banking.
Fast-forward and Morrow is now operating 13 successful locations, making him the largest Grease Monkey franchise operator in the country.
Morrow attributes his success to the people who work for him. Growing and expanding at such a rate would not have been possible without Morrow’s dedicated team of employees, something he’s quick to acknowledge.
Morrow’s gratitude and management style must be working because he has some longtime employees of over 15 years.
Morrow’s ability to retain great employees has allowed his workers to build great relationships with customers. These relationships have been the key element to his success as a franchisee.
Morrow insists that the best thing he can do for the success of his business is to take care of his customers.
He counts on his employees to help him in this endeavor and believes that if the customer is satisfied the rest of his business should all go smoothly.
“We’re in the customer service business,” Morrow explained, “we just happen to change oil and wash cars.
“People come back for the customer service,” said Morrow.
Employees at Morrow’s establishments are proud that they’ve been able to develop relationships with customers, which result in customers consistently returning.
Eye on the prize
Morrow has been in the lube industry for a while now. He purchased his first Grease Monkey site in Longmont and revitalized the location; taking it from the worst performing site to one of the best performing franchise locations Grease Monkey has ever had.
Morrow received the President’s Award from Grease Monkey Inter-national as the most outstanding operator in 2001 and 2004.
He has also received Diamond Awards, which are given to a franchiser for sales over $1 million, from 2001 to 2004.
So, what does the future hold for Morrow? This year alone he plans to open two more quick lubes and two carwash locations. On top of that, he’s a partner in a quick lube development plan for Las Vegas.
“I guess right now I have a pretty full plate,” Morrow said.
Morrow doesn’t have any immediate plans to branch out his enterprise beyond Colorado, but hasn’t dismissed the idea if presented with the right opportunity.