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“Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!”

Tread lightly or go full steam ahead. The choice is yours!


While I have heard this phrase used often, I never really knew the source, so I looked it up.

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The quote is attributed to Admiral David Farragut. But there is question as to whether or not he actually uttered that phrase verbatim while running his entire fleet through a minefield of torpedoes, coming out unscathed and changing the direction of the war. Regardless, the point is that sometimes, reward outweighs any risk.

These days, I liken the business climate to a torpedo-laden minefield. An environment fraught with peril … yet with a great deal of reward possible to those who dare to take risk.

Specific to our industry, I see some of the major players blowing full steam ahead, making more acquisitions and opening new locations. I see others taking a more cautious approach, waiting to see how the dust settles before moving ahead. Who’s right and who’s wrong? It depends: Are you a glass half empty or glass half full kind of person?

COVID is still rearing its ugly head, forcing more folks into unemployment and forcing more businesses to close. The ramifications are being felt in almost all economic sectors. The specter of a new administration in the White House almost always leads to uncertainty in the markets, whether it be an incoming Republican or Democrat. Glass-empty!


While the closing of retail and restaurant businesses across the country is tragic, it has created opportunity for some premium sites that were previously unavailable. Interest rates are still at historic lows, and banks have fallen in love with the carwash industry. COVID vaccines are now available with widespread distribution coming soon. Glass-full!

And if you’re a realist, it’s a glass of water.  Sometimes we do overthink.

So, what side do you fall on? Are you being cautious and standing on the sidelines hoping for better news, or are you bullish and indeed pushing full steam ahead?

I can see both sides of the argument, and they both have valid points; however, what if Admiral Farragut faced a change of heart?  What if, instead of damning the torpedoes, he took the safer route? Would he still have won one of the most important battles of the war?

Will your business win the battle for customers against your competitors if you maintain the status quo while they build additional sites and offer more value through their unlimited wash clubs?  I’m not saying you’re wrong if you’re standing pat and waiting to see what happens. But remember, our country has faced adversity before and always comes out the other side stronger. This time will be no different. Our adversaries have bet against us in the past, always at their own peril.


Opportunity abounds in tough times. Just remember, it sometimes wears a disguise and isn’t always easy to recognize. Also remember, the glass is refillable.

Tread lightly or go full steam ahead. The choice is yours!

Bob Fox has 35 years’ experience in the carwash industry and is the vice president of Sonny’s Car Wash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

This content is sponsored by CarWash College. Sponsored content is authorized by the client and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Professional Carwashing & Detailing editorial team. 

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