Professional Carwashing & Detailing

What's in your wash?

October 11, 2010

Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine gives a warm welcome to the newest member of the carwashing industry, Tom and Yolanda McGee, owners of City Gate Carwash in Naples, FL.

In June 2004, Tom took the dream of carwash ownership to paper, organizing all the details necessary for operation. Tom’s dream became reality on opening day in February 2007.

Tom is originally a 25-year veteran of the law enforcement industry from Nassau County, NY. In July of 2000, the McGee’s moved to Naples, FL, where Tom started working for a limousine company, where he owned his vehicle. Before going to work one day, he decided to take his limo to the carwash and noted there were no carwashes on the East side of Naples. Taking that long drive to the other side of Naples to get his car washed sparked an idea – open a carwash!

Tom immediately got to work. He called the county for zoning, equipment suppliers and contractors. He purchased a 1.1-acre lot that would feature six self-serves and two automatic washes. The project cost ran a high bill of about $2.4M. The property alone cost Tom and his wife $900,000. The McGee’s were able to start their business with a Small Business Loan.

City Gate Carwash is located in a plaza with two other businesses. The neighboring gas station has an easement with the carwash, allowing customers to easily drive between the two properties. The wash is located between a bank and gas station. Two 125-room hotels are slated to join the plaza as well as two fast food joints and a tire distributor. Behind the carwash will be a light industrial zone, with 75 lots of three acres each. Traffic is currently laid out so that it flows by the carwash exiting the plaza.

City Gate Carwash will implement the use of tokens, and accept cash and credit cards. Because a bank is centrally located, 50 ft away, it allows a unique situation: the McGee’s don’t have to worry about the change machine running empty all the time, and they don’t have to provide an ATM on the property.

In the beginning, Tom and Yolanda will be running the business themselves. Once business picks up, they plan to hire a part-time worker to help keep the parking lot clean, dump trash, and assist with maintenance and pre-spray of cars before entering the wash.

State of the art Nexus Automatic wash prices will be $5, $6, $8, and $9 with $2 for the first five minutes at the 25ft self-serve bays. Vacuum and shampoo islands will be located outside the wash.

To offer the best services, Tom did his homework: he shopped local carwashes and compared price points for various services. City Gate Carwash will offer an additional minute of self-serve over local competitors.

Vacuums, tied into the credit card systems, are offered at $1 for the first five minutes. When a customer uses a credit card at the wash, they have the option to pre-pay for vacuum and shampooing services. That customer may then use the wash, drive around to the service island, type in a few numbers associated with their purchase, and- voila! Vacuum and shampooing services may commence.

Due to heavy water restrictions in the state of FL, Tom has installed three 1,200-gallon basins and will recycle 95% of used water.

Tom’s contractor has implemented many fail-safe features to avoid future problems. Double water lines with valves have been installed: in case one line breaks, flipping a switch allows continued operation of the wash. Double wires have been run for the security system as well.

City Gate Carwash offers a unique service to customers with boats: an engine flush will be available in three bays: $1 for 5 minutes. Credit card services will also be linked to these services, avoiding the old ‘wet-hand-in-dry-pocket digging,’ searching for more money.

Tom will run promotional pieces with the bank and tire distributor, and offer fleet deals to the fire department, police and rental car companies.

City Gate Carwash is located on a very busy corridor with a substantial car count. Tom expects to clear a $400,000 profit after the second year.


If you have a carwash you’d like to see featured in the “What’s in your wash?” section, email Kristen Wesolowski at: kwesolowski@carwash.com.