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The 2005 Self-Serve Industry Leaders Review

October 11, 2010
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Professional Carwashing & Detailing’s 2005 Self-Serve Industry Leader’s Review is the result of an extensive research project created to compile a list of the nation’s top-performing self-serve carwashes in a variety of categories.

Questionnaires were sent to thousands of self-serve operators throughout the country, and responses from top-performers were verified by PC&D’s research and editorial staff.

The following results represent only those washes willing to participate in the project and share information. We are thankful for the participation of those wash operators, without whom this project would not be possible.

Take a minute to review our lists and see how you stack up!


Roadblocks strengthen self-serve success
When facing high costs, unusable land and a new Wal-Mart, one man rose to the challenge.
By Lindsey Blanchfield, Associate Editor

At a time when many car-care business owners fear the addition of Wal-Mart Supercenters in their area, Tim Jones, co-owner of National Car Wash, a wash chain which has sites throughout Tennessee, is welcoming the large conglomerate.

Jones, who purchased the washes in 1993 with his father and another business partner, now has 47 locations and has spent his fair share of money, put in a great deal of effort, and utilized creative marketing techniques to make his self-serve wash sites successful.

Money, money, money
Jones spent approximately $1.3 million on his site in Murfreesboro, TN, which opened in February 2004, dividing his expenses between the land, the building and the equipment.

The land was an out-parcel of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Jones immediately recognized the benefits of having the large store next door to his wash. He decided that spending more on the land than he normally would have could pay off in the end, and it did.

Lost land
In Nashville, Jones purchased three acres of land for another site, but was then faced with the problem of not being able to utilize all of the area.

A large portion of the land lies underneath high voltage lines, thereby limiting what structures can be housed beneath them.

However, this small speed bump didn’t stop Jones from constructing a high volume wash site with six self-serve wash areas as well as two automatic washes.

To Jones’ surprise and delight, luck struck again when he learned that another Wal-Mart Supercenter was set to be constructed next to his Nashville location.

He plans to capitalize on the numerous new customers that this Wal-Mart will inevitably bring to the area.

In Murfreesboro, the Wal-Mart has a lube and gas site where workers hand out special coupons for Jones’ wash. Jones will now be able to put his previous experience with the large corporation to good use at his Nashville site.

He hopes the same marketing will work as well in Nashville as it has in Murfreesboro.

Using his luck
Although Jones’ three-acre Nashville site turned out to be less than optimal for total usage, Jones managed to make a successful self-serve business from what he had and what he knew.

Jones will continue to take advantage of the customers new businesses such as Wal-Mart and Lowes will bring to the area. It’s Jones’ ingenuity and resourcefulness that has made his self-serve sites successful despite seemingly resilient opposition.


From farming to foam
See how one small business owner moved from the agricultural brokerage business to self-service washing.
By Chris Reach, News Editor

It was 28 years ago this year when Ray Kresyman first started to notice a lull in financial growth for America’s farming industry, and began to ask around about other small business opportunities in the Midwest.

Kresyman, who is now the owner of 10 self-service carwash locations in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, first wielded his business skills while working for a brokerage firm that targeted the farming industry.

During a decline in business, Kresyman made the decision to buy a small self-serve carwash in Joplin, MO, which is now his primary location.

From father to son
Ray & Steve’s Car Wash is operated by Ray and his son Steve, who has progressively learned the trade from his father over the past years, and is the primary owner of their Oklahoma location.

“Steve entered the business naturally as he grew up,” Ray Kresyman said. “I couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s a dedicated young man, and he’s an exceptional businessman.”

All in all, Ray & Steve’s boasts a total 62 wand bays and 10 in-bay automatics at their 10 sites.

Ray Kresyman said that the small chain will be growing this year with another five bay self-serve with one automatic in-bay that is planned to break ground this summer in Columbus, KS.

As an International Carwash Association member, Kresyman said he likes to attend the annual shows to see what new offerings the car-care vendors have in store for the industry, and what he can add to better serve his customers.

Looking to the future
In the past 28 years in the business, Ray & Steve’s has purchased or built a new wash every few years to keep a steady pace for growth, while securing a bottom line through cash flow from his maintained operations.

The prudence in spending has helped expand the carwash chain’s name, especially when a rebuilding process was needed for the original Joplin site after a tornado nearly leveled the facility five years ago.

The Joplin locations now stand rebuilt and expanded servicing customers in the Missouri market.

Like his other modern sites, Kresyman’s Joplin location includes two of what he calls the most innovative technologies so far for the self-serve industry — foaming brushes, and spot-free rinsing.

Since entering the business, he said he hasn’t looked back and loves nothing more than to see his customers satisfied with a clean car from a top-notch carwash.


29 years, 10 bays and an evolving community
This self-serve carwash owner has seen times change in the industry, in his city and at his wash.
By Stephanie Russo, Managing Editor

Joe Battaglia opened his business, Water World Car Wash, almost 29 years ago and, on the cusp of celebrating its anniversary on August 6, 2005, he is considering evolving his location once again in order to compete with new carwashes in his area.

“When we first began there were 11 bays in the entire area, and I had five of them,” Battaglia said. “Now there’s got to be at least 60 or 70.”

Remembering an easier time
Battaglia said that his wash is not the oldest in the area, there is another self-serve location right nearby that is a family-owned facility and it has been in business a few years longer than his wash.

However, he said that his competition comes in the form of new carwash investors building locations a literal stone’s throw away from his wash.

In fact, two new locations within close radius to Battaglia’s location have just opened up in the past year, adding another nine self-serve bays to the area that Battaglia already thinks is concentrated with bays.

Adding to his site
In order to compete, Joe and his wife, Kathy, have made about a half dozen improvements to Water World over the years.

From new menu options to adding five bays to his lot — which rounded out his number to an even 10 — Battaglia has tried to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to business.

Battaglia is currently looking into converting two of his self-serve bays into in-bay automatics, an endeavor that will cost him anywhere from $80,000 - $150,000.

He imagines that he would get a return on investment in just a couple of years and, with the increased competition, he feels that he needs to up the bar. After 29 years on top of his game, Battaglia isn’t about to give up now.


A hefty price tag and a great partnership
First time carwash owner opens $1.4 million site
By Nicole Bruno, Assistant Editor

For the past two years, the Fort Lupton Car Wash of Fort Lupton, CO, has been in the difficult, time consuming and costly planning and building stages, with an expected cost of $1.4 million.

With no previous carwash experience, Dallas Kungel was having some difficulty getting his plans off the ground.

Starting from scratch isn’t easy
He enlisted the help of three carwash owners and formed a partnership.

“My partners recently built their own carwashes, so they knew what I was going through. A partnership also made more financial sense for the long term,” said Kungel.

The four men purchased a 29,000-square-foot parking lot from Safeway, a national grocery store chain, for $353,000. All of the existing asphalt was ripped up and replaced with trees, bushes and grass, so construction could get under way.

The building has been a work in progress for about a year, and the cost of the building and landscaping reached $575,000. Add $350,000 for the cost of the wash equipment, plus a $17,000 security system, and the grand total reaches about $1.29 million.

“We’re under budget right now, but costs can increase by the time we open. You never know what’s going to happen when building a new business,” said Kungel.

Grand opening
Fort Lupton Car Wash was previously scheduled to open on April 1, 2005, but weather problems forced the opening to be held off until April 28, 2005.

The wash boasts four self-serve wand bays, one in-bay automatic, a full reclaim system and 16 security cameras connected to a satellite perched on top of the building.

“The technology in the carwashing industry has changed so much over the years and we’re taking full advantage of what’s available,” Kungel said.