|Please select a destination from
the drop down menu below.
Car Wash on Wheels Cleans up in Conejo
THOUSAND OAKS - All Lance Winslow wanted when, as a youngster, he bartered his washing skills at the airport, was a free airplane ride - what he got was a livelihood.
Now 24, Winslow was 12 when he launched - inadvertently - AeroAuto Wash by cleaning airplanes for free rides and tips. He has since graduated from planes to cars, although he says he will wash any vehicle.
Towing a trailer with a generator, two 100-gallon tanks of water, hoses, towels and soap, the Thousand Oaks man goes each workday from parking lot to parking lot in search of business.
Winslow says he usually finds it.
"There are 16 million cars in California," he said. "All I'm doing is getting people used to letting somebody else wash their car."
Today, Winslow employs sever people, who with four traveling car wash rigs, scrub about 100 cars a day - at $5 per wash.
Maureen Androski, a customer representative for a Thousand Oaks insurance company, said that she appreciates the convenience of not having to move her car or wait at a more conventional car wash.
"The last time I had my car done at a normal car wash, they only cleaned half the car," Androski said. "These guys are terrific and they do a wonderful job."
Over the din of the portable generator, the young entrepreneur said, recently that he once sold his AeroAuto Wash business because of school commitments but bought it back when he was 18.
To expand his operation, Winslow solicited investors in 1985 and eventually bought them out. In all, Winslow owns six car wash set-ups - two of which are leased out to local automobile detailers.
Winslow said that he plans to franchise his operation at $25,000 a piece.
"It's a terrific deal," David Sirotti, 21, one of Winslow's employees shouted, as he continued drying a customer's blue Toyota. "I'm gonna buy one, no question about it."
Winslow said the secret of his success is simple: keep prices low, show up on time and do good work.
"The overhead is pretty low and if I franchise it, I would supply everything and train all the franchisees," he said.
Calling the cars he washes "units," Winslow said that it costs him 17 cents for soap, 11 cents for towels and about 2.5 cents for the deionized water he uses to wash each car.
"The water doesn't leave spots - especially noticeable on black cars - and should any of it get on an adjacently parked car, it won't show," Winslow said.
Because of the maneuverability of the car wash, Winslow said this clients don't have to move their cars.
Although cars are Winslow's bread and butter, he noted that he washes trains, trucks and airplanes. Winslow also will do graffiti removal or anything else that can be cleaned by steam, or soap and water.
"We charge $700 to clean a Caterpillar after it's been in the mud," he said. "They have to be steam cleaned. Cement trucks need an acid solution."...
Car Wash Guys have thriving business despite
They've discovered that not everyone really thinks having a dirty car is fashionable - a preference that has the profits pouring in for some enterprising young men.
They call themselves The Car Wash Guys, and boast "The World's First Portable Car Wash."
The concept is simple. The portable car wash arrives at your place of business, a friendly and efficient young person washes your vehicle right there in the parking lot for a reasonable $5 and drives off - having expended a mere 2-3 gallons on the job.
The Guys purchase their own water from private sources - water companies and private well owners who run the wells for profit.
The Car wash Guys for the Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria area are Lance Winslow and Chris Scherle, tow men who obviously love their jobs and have big plans for the operation.
Lance Winslow, 25, the owner of the business, is the main Car Wash Guy. Winslow insets he is not just a drought entrepreneur. He actually started the business five years ago in Southern California, polishing the vehicles of utility companies, postal service and the like, eventually stacking up nearly 150 accounts.
But his dream was to develop "the people's car wash." He wanted all cars, from Mercedes to 25-year-old Volkswagens to get equal treatment. So he developed routes centered around business districts.
The business grew and eventually Winslow needed to hire partners and franchise the locations out to other Car Wash Guys. Wither the success the Guys had elsewhere, Winslow decided to try out the portable was in thirsty Santa Barbara.
And they say the response to what was started out as just an experimental run in Santa Barbara is unbelievable.
"It's so insane, but it's so real," marveled Winslow.
"Business has been phenomenal," agreed Scherle, who along with Winslow washes, on average, 100 cars a day, spending an average of 5 cents a gallon for water. Even if that's just the basic $5 was job, it amounts to a tidy profit at the end of the week.
"Every time we sop the truck, we get more business than we planned," said Scherle.
"The drought certainly hasn't hurt us," Scherle said, but maintained that if the skies opened and rain fell tomorrow, the Guys would still be in business. The business is custom-designed for people of the '90s. No waiting in line, no relinquishing the car to a washer for half an hour. A basic wash takes a mere five minutes.
Winslow and Scherle tackle a car together, expending five minutes on a basic job and half an hour on a deluxe $22 was and wash. They promise the job is extremely water efficient, they hardly leave a drop on the ground under the car.
"We are so efficient, we've got this thing down to a science," insists Winslow.
So far, their advertising has been minimal, their popularity mostly spreading by word of mouth and a few fliers they have circulating around town. Winslow said people are passing those fliers through the area.
After a day of intense washing, the Guys come home to their answering machine, listen to the messages, return the calls and set up appointments. "That's always my project in the evening," said Scherle.
The straightforward name was a matter of necessity, said Winslow. He used to have a corporation sounding name for the business, but people had a hard time remembering it. He noticed that whenever the Guys arrived somewhere, everyone would always say, "the car wash guys are here." So, why not, he thought.
The Guys get around by routes. On Mondays and Wednesdays they clean the vehicles of Montecito. Tuesdays are devoted to Carpinteria. The lower State Street area of Santa Barbara is Thursday's challenge; the upper portion belongs to Friday.
Right now, there are not enough trucks or Guys for regular residential routes; they do cars at home for customers, but only after hours and by appointment.
But that will soon change, insists the Guys. Winslow envisions a time when getting a car wash will be as simple as dialing out for a pizza. Besides the success from a business angle, Winslow says a great thrill is that they are liked nearly everywhere the go.
Part of that is the kind of Guys Winslow hires. He said the turns away about a dozen would be Car Wash Guys a day. It's tough, but he's looking for a certain type.
A Car Wash Guy must be athletic to handle the vigorous pace; and clean-cut and friendly to get along with the customers.
And, the formula seems to be working. "Wherever we go, we're treated like heroes," Winslow said.
Article reprinted from Montecito Life, June 28, 1990.