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Sprinting to the finish line

October 11, 2010
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I ran my first marathon in San Diego last June. It was an incredible experience. Aside from being in one of my favorite cities, I also had the opportunity to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as part of their Team In Training program (

For four long hours and 49 even longer minutes, I jogged towards the finish line – 26.2 miles away. As far as training goes, I did most of it by the book. I listened to my coaches, put in the miles and ate a fairly healthy diet. My only real mistake was thinking that the finish line was at the end of the race. It is a mistake I think many would-be carwash owners make.

As I ran towards the 26th mile, I ignored the importance of the many small moments that led me to the big moment. I didn’t think back on the accomplishment of my 18-mile training run. I didn’t remember how it felt to finish my first 5k road race. Most of all, I didn’t realize that it was a failure — gaining 40 pounds — that led me to the marathon in the first place.

The investment and planning process ahead will provide you with many ups and downs. There will be disappointment as you approach lender after lender, or there will be exhilaration as you hold your final architectural drawings. But don’t make the mistake of thinking your Grand Opening is the finish line. And don’t discount the importance of the learning opportunities presented before, during and after your “race.”

My race didn’t end on June 3. It was merely another accomplishment on my path to becoming a runner. Looking back now, I realize it was as important as the first mile I completed on the treadmill. I’ll grant you it was more exciting than stepping on the scale and realizing I had gained 40 pounds, but it was no less important in the overall scheme of things. Lessons I learned while preparing for the marathon were just as valuable as lessons I learned before I even thought I could run a marathon. And there are lessons I am learning now, as I gear up for my second marathon, that are just as valuable and important.

My hope is that someday soon you will be hiring employees and diagnosing your own equipment failures. You will be planning marketing initiatives and dropping deposits off at the bank. You will have the benefit of hindsight and also the opportunity of tomorrow. And I hope you will savor every moment of it. The before, the during and the after.

As you grow with each experience, plan to turn to Professional Carwashing & Detailing for help along the way. As a subscriber to PC&D’s New Investor Guide you will also receive PC&D’s New Investor e-Guide, an online resource emailed to you four times a year. This e-Guide will provide you with up-to-date information and advice that will aid your investment and planning process from a bevy of carwash experts and industry veterans.

Along the way, you will encounter problems and questions and wish you had a partner in this process. PC&D will be that partner. If ever you have a problem or question that stumps you, please don’t hesitate to email me, Operational success, even before there is an operation, begins here.

Kate Carr is the editor in chief of Professional Carwashing & Detailing® Magazine. You can send your grumblings, compliments and suggestions to

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