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Contact Info

Backgrounder

The Industry

 

The car wash industry is big business. In fact, it’s a $23 billion dollar industry, with 35,000 car washes in the United States.

 

Some interesting facts about the car wash industry:

 

  • Half of all car washes in the U.S. are done at home
  • Many countries (including Germany and Japan) ban home car-washing due to environmental concerns; in the U.S. there are some cities that also ban this, and from time to time there are attempts to get federal legislation in the U.S. to ban home car-washing
  • Home car washers use 70-150 gallons of water; commercial car washes use much less water to wash a car, sometimes less than 20 gallons per car
  • Commercial car washes use less water than many types of businesses such as hotels

 

 

The Company

 

In 1963 Mike Shullman’s grandfather and father bought their first car wash -- Supersonic Car Wash – in Bedford Hills, NY

 

Today Russell Speeders operates 15 car washes throughout the United States, with locations in Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan and South Carolina, and plans to continue adding locations. Nine of these locations are company-owned; in six locations Russell Speeders manages a location for other owners. Over 16 million cars have been washed and over 700,000 cars have been detailed to date at all locations since 1963.

 

A top priority for the company is hiring the right associates for the right positions.  This makes associates happy which ultimately makes customers happy.

 

The company is especially innovative when it comes to hourly associates.

 

Here is more information on associate hiring, recognition and retention:

 

  • Company worked with well-known hiring expert Mel Klieman to create best practices
  • Company uses a Human Resources assessment tool, the Predictive Index, for all potential associates. It lets the company know what types of positions people are best suited for. 
  • Retention is high 90% nationally; typical turnover in this industry is 60-70%
  • Offer a 16-week training program
  • “Catch them doing something right” – giving on-the-spot praise
  • Associates get free car washes
  • Well-paid managers: $50K-100K per year
  • Well-paid hourly associates: Many hourly associates make $35-40K per year with tips; some make even more
  • Associates get a birthday cake and a $50 gift certificate to the local mall on their birthdays
  • The owner calls associates personally on the anniversary date of when they started working and thanks them for working here
  • Associates get praise and dinners each month for the winning store for great Mystery Shopper scores
  • Associates get bonuses for referring other associates who get hired
  • Associates get yearly reviews (associates also do 360 degree reviews on managers each year)
  • Associates get holiday bonuses
  • Line associates reviews Manager once a year
  • One week of vacation for each year worked (up to three weeks for all associates)
  • Tuition reimbursement

 

 

Another top priority for the company is providing superior customer service.  Here are some ways they do this:

 

  • The company uses Weekly “Mystery Shoppers” to score the customer experience.  High scores result in praise for associates; lower scores warrant immediate corrective action.
  • Dress code for associates is khakis with the company shirt - a light blue, button-down, collared shirt – short or long sleeves. Associates must wear a dark dress shoe – no sneakers.  They also must wear a tie and be clean-shaven.  If they’re not clean-shaven, they are sent home.  They can’t have earrings or tattoos that show.  The dress code is based on a survey from years ago that showed people feel more comfortable dealing with people dressed professionally.  No competitors require this type of dress code.
  • The company built specialized equipment to help cars get cleaner, faster.
  • The company provides free Internet service at several locations.
  • Associates draw fun animals on the car for children before the car gets washed.

 

The company is also a big believer in the environment.  Here are some ways that the company is “green”:

 

  • Installing energy-saving devices in their locations
  • Use less water (created specific processes for this)
  • Re-use water
  • All chemicals used are bio-degradable
  • Used water goes through sanitary sewers
  • Installed low-water toilets at all locations

 

Following are some topics that owner Mike Shullman can discuss:

 

  • Site selection – choosing the right location; how to pass on a location if competition is too fierce (the company has built a 500+ location database of car washes visited in North America and Europe)
  • How to hire great candidates – especially hourly and blue-collar
  • How to use the Predictive Index assessment
  • How to write job ads using the Predictive Index
  • How to find great candidates through other associates and by finding them off-premise working in jobs in other industries
  • Success is in the details – how watching numbers hourly can change your business
  • How to turn around car washes (one example: the company took a car wash from 35,000 cars per year to 185,000 cars per year)
  • How to work successfully in a family business
  • Three generations of a family business – lessons learned
  • How to use Mystery Shoppers to improve your business
  • How to grow a business in a bad economy
  • How to run a “green” business
  • How to use coupons to drive business
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