Friday, April 29, 2011

30 years!

It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years since that fateful Friday, May 1st, 1981, when Chris Fisher and I left the closing and headed over to our new business.  It was a beautiful sunny Friday (much like today!) and we were washing cars to beat the band!  We thought we were geniuses!

But it wasn't but a few days before things began to unravel and our inexperience would prove nearly fatal - literally and figuratively.  Ask Chris about doing electric work with 220 volts!  We made every mistake two or three times just to make sure it was a mistake.  And just when we thought we had gotten things on track, the bridge on I95 over the Mianus River collapses putting all the traffic on Route 1.  You might have thought that all those cars would be good for business, but nothing could be further from the truth.  If not for an understanding banker (Jim McCay at State National) and understanding landlords (John D'Elia and Fred DeCaro), we never would have made it!

We took over Carl's Auto Bath and renamed it "The Tahiti Auto Spa".  I'm sure there was some logic behind it at the time.  There are countless stories of those early days - both good and bad.  Chris found a picture of our Grand Opening Day.  I am trying to prevent it from surfacing anywhere.  Let's just say the length of shorts back then was slightly shorter than today's styles.

As we reflect back on how we got here, one things resounds - our team.  We have been blessed with some of the best people to help us run this business over the past 30 years.  And while Chris and I are the only 30 year vets, there are several boasting 10, 15, 20 year tenures.  Three of the guys hand washing your car in the tunnel in Greenwich are the same guys that were there 17 years ago when we opened the first hand wash.  We must love what we do to keep doing it for so long!

We start our celebration on Sunday with a contest where we'll pick a lucky person each week to win free car washes for life (or as long as we own Splash - my lawyer told me to put that in).  We'll have other great giveaways and a location celebration each week from now until June 12th.  Each site is preparing some festivities and giveaways, we'll have Elmo and Kung Fu Panda making appearances, and I'll be twittering form different sites with specials (how about a 1981 priced car wash?).

I'm sure to remember more stories as the month wears on, but I especially wanted to thank of all of our customers for making the past 30 years fabulous!  We definitely couldn't have done it without you! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Proposed Sales Tax on Car Washes

So I spent the better part of last Monday in Hartford at the capitol (a beautiful building by the way if you've never visited) testifying before the finance committee against the imposition of sales taxes on car washing here in Connecticut.  It was an interesting day, to say the least, hearing about the ramifications certain taxes would have on the various industries that operate in Connecticut.

Let me preface this by saying that I fully understand the dire straits that the State is currently in and the size of the deficits that we face not only this year but for the next two if estimates are correct.  The question raised by many, including me, was what is the net benefit of the new sales tax after you subtract out ramifications of its implication.

For instance, a sales tax effectively raises the price of the services or products you buy.  If my Economics 101 professor was right, he taught us that raising prices usually coincided with a drop in demand.  So, if he is right, the sales tax would effectively lower demand for services now being taxed.  This in turn would cause a company like ours to need less labor because we were doing less cars.  This would cause higher unemployment claims by those laid-off workers, who in turn would buy less taxable services and products and pay less income tax, thereby offsetting some or all of the new sales tax.

Additionally, the business owners would make less money on the lower volume and would similarly buy less service and products and pay less income taxes - again an offset.

But there's a larger problem.  The car wash industry in the Northeast has been plagued over the past few years by the two-fisted assault of both the economy and the weather.  There are six car washes that have closed over the past few years, a similar number that have gone through foreclosure, bankruptcy or eviction, and several more that are teetering on the edge might be pushed over.  I'm sure that this is not the Governor's intent as he tries to wrestle with a challenge of epic proportions.  But I strongly feel that the new sales tax is not completely a "shared pain" and that some will be more effected than others.

It's the law of unintended consequences - the solution to one problem may lead to a larger one.  My feeling is that this tax will provide little relief in actuality while forcing many small businesses to close. 

We have a petition at our full service sites if you're inclined to agree that we will submit to the Governor in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm not sure I can ever remember quite this much snow.  We are having one heck of a time figuring out a place to put it all so we have enough room to wash everyone's car!  I just heard we have already set the record for the most snow in a year and we're not through January yet!

Well, we're doing our best to be open between the snowflakes and help get that salt off your car.  We have a great special going on this week-end with free Salt-X (it's an underbody spray with a salt dissolving solution) with any wash or a 1/2 price Express Detail with any wash.  Good through 1/30/11.

With our 72 hour Clean Car Guarantee, you can rewash your car for any reason for free within 3 days of a full priced wash.  All you need to do is join our Rewards Program.  It's easy to join - FREE - and it gives you other great deals like a free wash on your birthday, 10th wash free, and 30 day discounts.

And with a winter like this beating up your car, you could sure use some help!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

getting snow off your car

Okay, so we get another dump of snow.  And your car is covered with a one foot layer of the stuff.  As you go to clear it off, let me suggest that you avoid using your snow shovel or a broom to do the job.  I can't tell you how many people come to us wondering how the scratches on their roof, hood and trunk got there.  There are a couple of soft surface devices on the market that can do the trick (one is the Sno Brum from for about $20).

Another suggestion is to make sure your car has a coat of wax on it that will help prevent snow and ice from adhering to the surface and protect the car's surface from abrasion.  Our Express Polish service can be done in 20 minutes after your wash for about $30 - a great midwinter tune-up!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Start the year off with a clean car!

I know that there are many of you who would agree that nothing makes you feel better than driving a clean car.  With all the snow we had last week and with all the salt they put out, getting your car clean is even more important. 

Our sites have a great product called "Salt-X" which is a chemical sprayed on the underbody of your car, which dissolves salt.  We've tested it with iron nails in water - with and without Salt-X added.  After a week, the one nail was completed coated with rust while the "Salt-X nail" is perfect.  Try it the next time you stop by!