Professional Carwashing & Detailing

The kings of clean

October 11, 2010

Nominations poured in for potential members of Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine's annual Who's Who in Car Care list, where three people from each sector of the car-care industry are honored for their outstanding contributions to the trade.

Deciding who would receive this honor, though difficult, was mulled over for weeks before finally being made, and one professional from each sector — automatic carwashing, self-service carwashing, detailing and lube — of the car-care industry has been chosen.

PC&D has alerted the winners from each category and asked them to share what's changed for them in the past six months and their reaction to being named Car-Care Person of the Year.


The customer is always right here
This year's Car Care Person of the Year for the automatic carwashing sector proves that letting the customer win helps you win.
by Stephanie Russo, Managing Editor

"Honored," was the only word uttered by Bob Schrum, president and CEO of the Chester, VA-based Flagstop Inc., when he was informed that he was named Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine's Automatic Car Care Person of the Year for 2005.

Schrum started Flagstop in 1981 and has since opened six locations in the Virginia market. Schrum's newest location is about two years old and he is presently in the process of building another wash.

Close proximity

"We have a very simply philosophy where if we can't get to a store within 30 minutes of our base of operation, or corporate office, then we don't go", Schrum said.

He doesn't feel as though he wants to manage any locations on a grander scale than a 30 minute radius of his home base, and is extremely confident and comfortable in that decision.

Schrum said that he has analyzed where his company is located and they figured that they can probably handle about six of the megastores a multi-profit center car-care site with the infrastructure that they have.

This fits into his cessation plan that he and his 110-120 employees are working towards.

The right way to treat customers

"We do 101 percent. [We do] everything we can to make sure that customer is happy", Schrum said.

Even if Flagstop has a customer come on site who is completely belligerent, according to Schrum, no one is ever allowed to disregard or "blow off" that customer.

In Schrum's 25 years in the business he said that he can only recall two instances where he had to go against his customer-is-always-right mantra, and those were extreme situations.

"We do not ever allow anybody to be disrespectful to our staff nor do we ever allow our staff to be disrespectful to our customers", Schrum said.

Flagstop's employees will go above and beyond to such an extent that Schrum admits to feeling as though they could be taken advantage of, which is something that he looks out for.

But he won't allow a spat over a pre-existing condition to result in an unhappy customer.

The site

Schrum's newer locations are considered car-care megastores, in his opinion.

He was in business for 18 years before he built his megastore, he said, this gave him a good solid base of experience in the industry before diving into a big venture like that.

He currently operates two.

The megastore consists of a full-service carwash, three bay lube center, two detailing bays, a six bay self-serve, a gift shop and lobby and a business center with desks and fax service and, hopefully soon, Internet. All of this is located on a 10 acre lot.

Schrum is a land developer as well as a car-care professional, so he s got the best of both worlds as far as a ground-up carwash location is concerned.

This design, including a business center, is all so that Schrum can provide the best experience to all walks of life, from the busy soccer mom to the businessperson or student, all are accommodated at Flagstop.


A jack of all trades
This year's Detailer of the Year has many endeavors, including his own detail business, a detail forum and a full-time job.
By Nicole Bruno, assistant editor

Jim Hammill is an extremely busy man these days. When he s not working full-time for a GM dealer or running Det-Tec, his own detailing business, he s hard at work with the Professional Detailing Technician's Association (PD-TA), which he co-founded.

His accomplishments and his contributions to the detailing industry made Hammill a clear choice for the winner of this year's Detailing Person of the Year.

Hammill was, "shocked and surprised" when he learned that he was the recipient of the award. "It is very nice to be recognized by a well respected trade magazine."

Humble beginnings

Hammill began his career in his native home of Andover, Hampshire in Britain. He worked in a garage for six years doing general and body repairs, as well as rebuilding old Mini Coopers.

After taking a four year course in automotive technology, Hammill decided to leave the industry. But after being in retail for eight years, he decided that it was time to come back.

Road to success

Hammill got back into the game as a full-time detailer for a GM dealer in Center Point, IA.

He enjoys working for the dealer because the company works at a moderate pace, allowing enough time for detailers to do a great job, as well as allowing time for research on new vehicles.

However, working one full-time job wasn't enough for Hammill, so he started his own successful detailing business called Det-Tec, a business he plans to expand in the next six months.

Founding father

One would think that Hammill wouldn't have any extra time between his job at GM and running his own business. But he managed to find the time to co-found the PDTA, a professional organization for the detailing industry.

PDTA was started so that everyone in the association could have access to the right information — right from the source, said Hammill, "that's what is really lacking in the detailing industry."

PDTA started as a small, grassroots organization with around 200 members.

Since January, the association has welcomed over 50 new members, with more people around the industry signing up every day.

Currently the association is working on offering a hazard management program. The training class was put together by a member of PDTA who gathered information from OSHA on his own accord.

PDTA hopes to offer this class in the NY/NJ area so other detailers will be trained in hazard management, and will create a safer work environment for all.

Hammill and his associates are also trying to start a nationwide program called, "Partners in Pollution," created by the EPA.

"This program will educate detailers about EPA regulations and how to comply," Hammill said.

These training classes and programs offered by PDTA are run by professionals who are willing to give up their own time, without financial reward.


New math, cross-marketing and one great lube location
PC&D’s Lube Person of the Year is a multi-talented businessman with some interesting formulas for success.
by Stephanie Russo, Managing Editor

Keith Brasuell, who is both the owner of the LCar of Ruston, LA, car-care facility and Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine’s Lube Person of the Year for 2005, seems to take a high school curriculum approach to running his business.

He has his cross-marketing formula down to a science and practices new math with his fast lube offerings.

Brasuell’s car-care facility is home to an incredibly successful four bay CITGO Fast Lube, eight self-service carwash bays, 10 vacuum bays, one in-bay automatic, a c-store and a hand wash and detailing service.

A multi-talented business owner

You’d think that with all these offerings there’d be no need for cross-marketing with outside businesses, but Brasuell’s offerings (and business endeavors) seem to be endless.

Brasuell is not just the owner of LCar of Ruston; he also owns a Blockbuster Home Video franchise and a pizza shop, providing him with ample cross-marketing possibilities for his customers, who consist largely of college students from the nearby Louisiana Tech University.

There couldn’t be a better formula for victory: college students plus movies, pizza and a quick lube visit before the trek home for spring break is almost a guarantee for success.

And this isn’t the only math practiced at Brasuell’s location. He truly believes in his new math theory which, he said, is "one plus one equals four."

"Of course, that math only works if you have the right people (working for you)," he said.

It takes so much for a business to find success, and the failure rate of a business is quite high, Brasuell added.

If a manger at your lube center or carwash that is not doing their job like they should be, and taking advantage of the opportunities and education provided to them, then they are basically dragging their feet and slowing your forward movement.

Managers and leaders

Brasuell referred to a keynote speech given by Norman Schwarzkopf at an event he attended for the video rental industry in Las Vegas where Schwarzkopf told the audience that business people amaze him.

Brasuell quoted Schwarzkopf as saying that even though he had been in the military his whole life and only recently joined the business world by performing speaking en-gagements, he has noticed that business people kill and misuse the word manager.

The gist of this statement, Brasuell said, was that mangers manage things, people lead people. So you need to hire leaders to lead people; you don’t just hire managers.

One of the reasons that businesses fail is because they don’t realize that it’s not just about oil and cleaning, Brasuell said, it’s about getting great people to perform those tasks.

And how does it feel to be the Lube Person of the Year?

"I think it’s an extreme honor," Brasuell said.

Recognition means a lot to Brasuell and, though he said that he doesn’t feel worthy of the honor, he was overwhelmed to receive such an award.

"But," Brasuell felt compelled to add, "There’s no way anything like this could have ever happened without the help of CITGO."


It’s not just a wash, it’s an experience
Shel Spivey, of Happy Bays Car Wash, discusses his wash methods and his belief that you can’t get a perfect wash, but you can give a memorable experience.
by Stephanie Russo, Managing Editor

In just five years, Shel Spivey, owner of Happy Bays Car Washes in Bentonville, AK, has already found much success operating his eight themed carwashes, three of which he bought and remodeled in the past year.

The Happy Bays theme includes 50’s music, bubbles, light shows and kiddie rides. All of this is set to entertain the customer while they clean.

All eight of Spivey’s carwashes follow this happy bays theme, "but the latest two are kind of a deviation from our other washes — they’re tunnel washes," Spivey said.

Spivey two newest washes are full-serve and express exterior.

How do you feel being named Person of the Year?

Spivey said that it was quite an honor to be named the Car-Care Person of the Year for the self-serve sector of the industry.

"This is just a great business to be in with some great people," Spivey said.

Spivey credits his accomplishments in the industry to his enjoyment of the business and understanding of customer wants. But for right now, he said, "I’m taking a little breather."

Future endeavors

"One thing that we’ve worked on is franchising this concept," Spivey said.

Though he hasn’t worked on this endeavor in an enormous capacity he said that he has seen a lot of interest in the theme since he’s gotten a lot of notice by industry publications.

Spivey wanted to branch out and show that the Happy Bays concept worked well as a self-serve model, a full-serve model and an exterior-only model. And it does.

He had always planned to franchise this theme but only recently started to put the idea to the forefront. He hasn’t been very aggressive in going after this idea though; he said that if he were about 10 or 15 years younger he would be a little more insistent.

"We’ve proven that this concept works," Spivey said, "and I think that carwashing lends itself to themes."

Spivey continued to say "What we try to do is sell an experience, not just a carwash."

You want a relationship with the customer that goes beyond a perfect carwash, Spivey said. In his opinion, you’re not going to give a perfect wash every time and you need another reason to bring that customer back.