This story is the composite of two persons, one in Austin by God Texas and the other in Savannah, Georgia.
It is a story of how entrepreneurship + hustle + just a dash of tech = wealth.
The core of the story is a guy who decided he wanted to do something to acquire wealth, so he started a mobile car washing operation. Has nothing to do with blockchain, crypto. Car washing.
He would want me to tell you that it is not a mobile “detailing” shop because he says he makes a lot more money washing a car for $35/each in 12-15 minutes than he could detailing a car for $200 over four hours.
The guy at the center of the story has a high school education, a wife, a kid, and a job. Just an ordinary guy, but this one had something extra — hustle and grit.
He liked his job, but as he said, “I get a check once a month and it’s all gone by the third week of the next month. My wife is pissed off and I hate that I can’t take care of her and the kid. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m willing to work hard.”
He’s a Cuban born in this country or a young black man — both served in the military.
Trim, fit, short hair — you can just feel the energy and hustle. Look you in the eye when they talk to you.
Both have a full power washing kit — soap dispenser, fresh water tank (fills his water tank from hose spigots in public parks, knows where they all are), pressure washer, sponges, tons of rags — on the back of an older extended cab truck. One has a trailer with a second kit.
The Cuban entrepreneur says to me, “I have an older truck that I replace every few years. Drive out to Odessa and buy a high mileage truck for peanuts. I don’t want my truck to look better than the customers.”
He personally drives a brand new black Suburban that is always clean, as does his wife. Bought them used on a twofer package on which he got a “damn good price.” Almost bought a Range Rover, but decided he needed to buy an American car.
The mobile car wash arrives at your house and washes all your cars — think of SUVs driven by moms and business/professional guys in nice neighborhoods.
Ideal set up is five or six customers in the same block each with two cars. Knocks them out in an hour or so.
He arrives with three other workers who all look like him. Young, hungry, hustlers, no wasted movement. Pays them $12/hour, feeds them lunch, and holds 10% of their pay until the end of the year and gives it to them in a single check. Says it’s a 3 year gig, no more. Tries not to hire guys with a lot of tats and piercings.
Bit of brand identity: company tee shirt, company baseball cap, khaki shorts, white sneakers with white socks. No smoking.
They spray down a car, soap it, hand wash it, rinse it, blow it dry with a leaf blower, hand dry it with blue fleece rags like you get at Sams/Costco and move on to the next vehicle. Takes less than 15 minutes start to finish. They work two cars at the same time.
The Austin guy started out doing this in the evenings and on the weekends ten years ago, but now does it full time.
Work starts at apartment projects at dawn — he has several high end, upscale apartment projects where he does more than 100 cars and growing — and ends up in the nicest neighborhoods at dusk.
Sometimes, he parks a rig at the edge of a public place — park, shopping center, grocery store — and folks drive up for a car wash. Says price is a factor on this because there is no “value add” like going to the customer. Very astute observation.
That’s all they do — wash cars, shop vac interiors, clean windows inside/outside, clean mats, dress tires. Nothing else.
“Stick with the bread and butter, don’t wander off. I know I make money on car washes, not so sure on wax jobs. Stick with the car washes.”
You can call him and he will come whenever you want.
The Dash of Tech
The tech works like this:
1. You can contact him via cell, text, email, or his website. Schedule on the run. He keeps a log of contact metrics. Uses an app to do all of this.
Uses an app for all HR.
2. He starts at a site and moves from there to the next by letting the GPS tell him the next closest location — route optimization.
3. He has a digital prepaid discount book — you buy 10 and get 2 free at the end of the 10.
4. He has a digital subscription service. You get your cars washed every month at whatever frequency you want for a fixed monthly cost. Usually $100/car for three washes.
5. He takes a picture of your car before/after and emails it to you. So, if you’re out of town you can see he did the work.
6. He has a loyalty program that if you get 25 washes in any 12 month period, you get 2 free washes and 4 gift cards you can only give to a friend who is not on the service.
If the friend subscribes, you get a free car wash — affinity marketing.
Free car wash gift card on your birthday and Veterans get 1 free wash per year in November around Veterans Day — delivered via email and text.
Donates a free annual subscription to private school fundraising events. Does this with 10 different schools.
7. All the money goes into a single account from which it is swept into an investment account at Schwab.
8. Schwab pays all of his bills — personal and business.
Both of these services are experiencing fabulous growth. The Austin based one has 6 total units which means 12 kits. Says he has had several offers to borrow money to add units, but he doesn’t want any debt. Says he could grow much faster, but he concentrates on making every wash profitable. 2021 “plan” is to end up with 10 units (20 kits).
Sometimes, he drops off 4 men with a trailer at an apartment complex and they can work all day. The workers hate this because no break between work sites. Has recently gotten a few apartment properties to buy 100 wash sets to give to their customers. Washes the managers’ cars for free.
He does almost no marketing other than walking up and down the street he is working and handing out cards for a free car wash. He has picked up as many as 10 customers on one long block in a day.
Everything he does — customer ID, locations, car type, history, scheduling, marketing is totally computerized. If the customer doesn’t know where he is on his subscription, each truck has a tablet with all the data.
Everything is prepaid and he understands what it means to have a prepaid asset.
Has his bookkeeping and accounting done by a service that produces financial statements, job cost summaries, long term value of every customer every month.
Trucks and equipment are well maintained.
He buys the workers McDonalds on the drive between jobs. They eat on the fly. Never takes more than ten minutes between locations.
So what, Big Red Car?
One day I ask the entrepreneur — in his 5th year of the full time business — what he’s doing with his money?
1. Bought a fixer-upper in a nice neighborhood and is fixing it up. Putting in a pool and wants to fence it, but his wife isn’t sure on the idea of the fence. It is a very nice neighborhood.
2. Bought a little piece of property to park his rigs. Has a metal building shed to do work.
3. Owns 3 rent houses free and clear. This is what he really wants to do with his money because his wife handles the rentals and maintenance. Wants to own 100 rent homes free and clear.
4. Has a “wealth manager” at Schwab who has him in FB, AMZ, NFLX, GOOG, MSFT, AAPL for 5 years. He can tell you the price of each of those stocks.
Says he voted for Trump and his “portfolio.”
5. Kid is going to a nice private school and he will be able to afford to send her to Harvard or the Sorbonne.
6. He and his wife vacationed for two weeks in Mexico two years ago.
Bottom line it, Big Red Car
These two stories will have a happy ending because an entrepreneur with hustle took a risk and slapped a little bit of tech savvy on a pedestrian and mundane business like washing cars. Washing. Cars.
Is this a great country or what?
WTF are you waiting for, amigo. Sorry. Churlish.