Sponsored by Amplify Car Wash Advisors
If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
For Brian Krusz, founder and partner of Sgt. Clean Car Wash and former U.S. Marine of eight years, this phrase is more than just a well-known African proverb. At Sgt. Clean Car Wash, it’s standard operating procedure. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, Sgt. Clean Car Wash is regularly adding more team members — and carwashes — along its journey and mission to go far together.
After a decade in the carwash business, Sgt. Clean now has 11 operating express exterior locations, one site under remodel and 165-plus employees, while maintaining a significant presence across Northeast Ohio.
As the chain scales, it’s not cutting corners along the way. While adding new locations, the chain is replicating the operational excellence and customer service that its foundation was built on. As a result, the business has been awarded several recognitions and its founder recently joined a panel of carwash experts at Amplify Car Wash Advisors’ Executive Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Exemplifying operational excellence
The first Sgt. Clean Car Wash opened in March 2013 and now with double-digit locations, Krusz and the leadership team are continuing growth and finding success through building and strengthening operations.
“Once we reached our sixth site, we felt like we had crossed a huge chasm. It was at that point we made a conscious decision to really focus on building a strong executive team and an in-house maintenance team to prepare us for scalability in the long term,” recalls Krusz. “We also had to look long and hard at how we measure operational performance. We began really focusing on organizational structure and establishing clear goals with accountability. Today, we have great leadership that is driving our growth, and together our entire team strives to live out our mission and vision.”
The chain’s mission statement is to provide the highest quality carwash and superior customer service, while serving as positive community role models. The team follows the mantra, “Speed, Smile, Sparkle.” And, as great operators do, Sgt. Clean Car Wash is putting actions behind statements.
For instance, notes Krusz, Tracy Parnell was recently promoted to the newly created position of community impact coordinator. In the position, Parnell is charged with getting involved pre and post grand openings to help with marketing and community outreach efforts as well as assist managers when integrating a new wash into the area.
According to Krusz, by strategically growing the leadership team and continually looking to provide greater support to staff, like adding Parnell’s community impact coordinator position, Sgt. Clean is better equipped to hit the ground running as it enters new markets. Through ongoing training, standardized procedures and a commitment to consistently delivering customers a high-quality product, they are replicating their success.
“Our employee retention is a testament to our commitment to treating team members fairly and fostering a positive work environment,” says Krusz. “Another key element in being a quality operator is investing in the latest technologies and techniques to ensure every wash is up to Sgt. Clean’s high standards. Plus, our commitment to eco-friendly products means customers can feel good about the carwash for their vehicles and the planet.”
Customers and team members aren’t the only ones noticing this chain’s excellence in business and operations.
A well-decorated business
In addition to being included in this publication’s inaugural Champions of Charity class earlier this year, Sgt. Clean Car Wash’s list of accolades continues to grow. The company has been recognized for excellence and outstanding achievement in the following ways:
• Vet100 Fastest Growing Veteran Company
• Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company
• Weatherhead 100 Company
• Cleveland Hot List “Best Car Wash.”
As the chain approaches 12 operating locations this year with plans on building five more, we asked Krusz how the company is able to maintain quality control and assurance as well as excellence in operations across multiple locations.
“Communication and maintaining our culture are very important,” notes Krusz. “We are making sure that we are thoughtfully growing, while implementing systems and standards that help us maintain brand integrity. Ryan Studer is our director of operations and he is a great leader with 15 years of experience in operations. He is a wealth of knowledge for us.”
According to Krusz, Sgt. Clean takes a multi-pronged approach when communicating with its teams. Of course, as an integral component to its success, the first strategy involves putting the right people in the right seats.
“We take a methodical approach to interviewing and hiring. It’s very important to us that we find the right people, for the right jobs, who get it, want to do it and are capable of doing it,” asserts Krusz. “We look for people leaders as opposed to managers. Our ‘gatekeepers’ are effective at bringing in the right individuals for our culture.”
In combination with sound hiring strategies, the company also holds weekly operations meetings, “all hands” quarterly meetings and Sgt. Clean Culture Wise meetings, in addition to site level meetings.
Finding power at the summit
The professional carwash industry is also acknowledging the achievements of Sgt. Clean. In January, Krusz was invited to join a prestigious panel of top operators to share their expertise at an exclusive Executive Summit event held by Amplify Car Wash Advisors, a leading nationwide full-service carwash advisory firm.
Amplify Car Wash Advisors’ event included an intimate group of about 60 successful multi-site carwash operators. The summit’s focus was to address economic changes in the market and how carwashes can best position for continued growth and success through strengthening and optimizing operations.
While on the panel, Krusz and other top-performing operators shared how they are scaling responsibly and strategically while maintaining brand integrity and success.
However, while Krusz was “humbled” and “honored” to participate in the panel discussion, true to his promise of going far together, it’s what he takes away from other successful operators at these conferences and events that is of most value when attending.
“I’m a firm believer — and it’s something I picked up in the Marine Corps — knowledge is power. The more you know, the further you’ll go,” recaps Krusz, adding events like Amplify’s are important for operators to take a step away from the day to day and absorb knowledge. “Amplify put on a great summit and I’m also a regular listener of the company’s monthly podcast, Car Wash M&A, The Podcast. These resources are important because life is about learning and not just for myself, but also getting better for our employees and their families, our customers, and the communities we serve.”
Now embarking on its second decade in business, Sgt. Clean and its leadership know it’s going to take a team effort to make the future as bright as its beginnings. “After 10 years, I couldn’t be prouder of our team and our washes. Working with these wonderful people … it’s actually not work, I just love what I do,” concludes Krusz.
Amplify Car Wash Advisors was founded by industry veteran Bill Martin and Jeff Pavone, who is also a principal at Commercial Plus, LLC, a real estate brokerage company. With a mission of creating wealth for clients, Amplify Car Wash Advisors helps carwash chain owners sell, partner or grow using practical industry experience as operators coupled with expertise in mergers and acquisitions and capital advisory. Learn more at AmplifyWash.com and listen to its monthly podcast, Car Wash M&A, The Podcast, available on most podcast listening apps.