Earlier this year, Derek Miser, President of Speedy Clean Auto Wash, told Professional Carwashing & Detailing his company had plans to branch out and partner with national fuel providers.
This month, we catch up with Miser and see how the company’s plans have panned out.
PC&D: The company started with one wash in 2000. How many washes are you operating now?
Derek Miser: We currently operate 13 carwashes. The majority are in-bay automatics. We have one self-serve and one full-service tunnel.
PC&D: What’s the growth pattern been like?
DM: Over the last three years, we’ve been building one wash every 90 days. That’s been our average build-out. We’ve built three washes in the last six months.
PC&D: In the beginning of 2006, you announced a partnership with Pilot Travel Centers LLC, a national retailer catering to professional drivers and tourists. What’s that relationship like right now?
DM: I wouldn’t consider it a partnership, it’s more of a corporate alliance. We’ve been building washes with them for the last year. Probably our last four washes were built on Pilot locations and we have several in planning stages right now. Our goal is to work with as many large petroleum operators as possible.
PC&D: Are any more alliances being formed right now?
DM: We’re meeting with and discussing that with a variety of fuel companies. I can’t say anything today that’s affirmative on that, but we’re having very good conversations about that at this time.
PC&D: Has Speedy Clean considered building any express exterior carwashes?
DM: We’ve considered it, but at this time we’re more focused on the management of in-bay automatics and trying to build relationships with large national petroleum companies who are looking for third-party facilitators or managers. That’s our primary focus.
PC&D: Were you affected by bad weather this year?
DM: The opposite, really. We had our best summer ever, primarily due to the weather pattern that southeastern Tennessee had. It was just wonderful. It literally only rained probably about 10 or 12 days. We really were fortunate. I have so many friends around the country where it rained every afternoon. That’s typically what it does here, but for some reason we lucked out this summer. It was a great, great summer for us.
PC&D: What about the affect of rising gas prices throughout 2006?
DM: As far as gas prices were concerned, we still had a pretty positive sales growth all over. The month of August might have been affected a little, that was our slowest month and it typically is, but the gas prices were really high then and I think that affected sales.
PC&D: Do you do a lot of cross-marketing with gas sales and carwash sales?
DM: That was our base agreement with the gas stations. We would offer a gas discount with a wash. At our locations we get about 45 percent of our sales coming from the pumps. The other sales come from people coming off the street. Fifty percent or more are not discounted washes, so that helps as part of our business model.
PC&D: Earlier this year you said you wanted to go national. Where are you located right now and where are you hoping to branch out to?
DM: Right now we’re spread throughout Tennessee. We are currently getting ready to embark on projects in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Indiana.
PC&D: When will those projects be completed?
DM: The ones up in the northeast have an extensive permitting process. We’re running into some issues there. They will be 2007 projects, but whether they’ll be first quarter or second quarter, we’re unsure. We have projects in Ohio and Indiana that will open towards the end of this year, either fourth quarter or definitely first quarter next year. Permitting there has been much easier.
PC&D: Will your growth pattern speed up or slow down in 2007?
DM: I think it will probably speed up because we are considering a number of potential sites in east Tennessee. But whether we do them or we become a third-party remains to be seen. We’re trying to diversify our revenue by taking on a consultant relationship as well as remaining an operator as we have been. So that will decide how fast growth goes.