Mad world

Mad world

Bob Fox of Sonny's The CarWash Factory gives his perspective on the success of the carwash industry despite negative external factors.

It seems every day lately we wake up to a completely different world. Wars have broken out and gas prices are surging. Inflation is at a 40-year high, car dealerships have almost no inventory and store shelves are empty. Supply chain issues are hitting every industry hard — ours is no exception.

Every time I think things can’t get any stranger, they do, and the folks in Washington seem to be oblivious to it all. It seems their answer to everything is to just continue to print money and we’ll deal with the consequences later. At some point, you must pay the piper, it appears that time is now.  For most working families, while they may be earning slightly more, their dollars are worth less causing a strain on their budgets.

As budgets tighten to purchase necessities, luxury items are usually the first items cut — haircuts, gym memberships, eating out, etc.

Notice I didn’t say carwashes.

I’m sure quite a few of you remember the deep recession back in 2008. It was tough. From a manufacturer’s standpoint, we saw owners shelve new wash projects to the uncertainty and we also saw owners jump at the opportunity to buy real estate at close to a steal. But over the course of the correction, we saw wash volumes around the country staying strong and in a lot of areas increasing. How could this be? Why would people be spending on their vehicles when money was so tight and unemployment surging?

A survey was taken at washes around the country during the recession and the question posed was: Why do you wash your car at a professional car wash?

The number 1 response was, “It makes me feel good”. Not, “I love driving a clean car” or, “they do a much better job than I do,” but, “It makes me feel good.”

The way I read that is, it’s a cheap, legal high that people are willing to pay for even when times are tough. Times are different once again, and while this is no guarantee that people will respond the same, the answer that “it makes me feel good” bodes well for us as people look for an escape from the everyday stresses they are facing, many of which are beyond their control. 

Unfortunately, times of turmoil are usually caused by decisions made by politicians, many of whom have never run a business of their own before. And if history repeats itself once again, it will be American business and American ingenuity that brings us out of this one (with politicians taking credit for its reversal.)

The best way to get through this one is to turn off the news and tune out the noise. Concentrate on making your wash the best. We’re entrepreneurs.  We’re Americans. We’ve been solving political screwups since 1776 …

All the best!


Bob Fox has 37 years’ experience in the car wash industry and is the VP of CarWash College and Technical Support at Sonny’s The CarWash Factory. You can reach Bob at [email protected]

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