Our Readers' Views
I am an independent businessman working with The Car Wash Guys. Recently our company has come under fire from the City of Thousand Oaks because The Conejo Valley (fixed) Car Wash Association wanted a level playing field. Their association said the only reason we could afford to charge only $5 to wash a car was due to the fact that we didn't have to reclaim and treat our water.
The truth is that we don't use the kinds of chemicals to clean the cars that they do.
Furthermore, in the valley you can get your car washed for only $3.99 on Tuesdays. Those car washes reclaim their water and have the same restrictions as our fixed car washes here.
The car wash owners have enjoyed a 10-year monopoly in the Conejo Valley. They are simply mad at us because we built a better mouse trap. If they truly wanted to get rid of all of us, all they would have to do is stop charging so much and do a better job. That is exactly what the new "Hand Car Wash" on Thousand Oaks Boulevard did and they are busy as heck.
Quality and service are not buzz words, they are essential ingredients to survival in today's economy. Pointing fingers when your businesses is failing is not the answer. The car wash owners need to think back to when they first started their businesses. Each customer is earned. If you don't take care of them, someone else will.
It cost me a lot of money to outfit my truck with a collection device. Are we really creating a level playing field? Or simply appeasing a group of businessmen who have forgotten their origin.
My collection device collects about two gallons of water off the ground after a car wash. Your readers use about 50-plus gallons to wash their car in their driveway. What about that water? Sprinklers have run-off full of fertilizers and insecticides. The city's own graffiti truck, I won't even get into that.
The whole thing is just a bad call on the city's part based on half truths, lobbying and relentless determination by owners of fixed car washes.
So why, you ask, am I writing this letter? Because the real victims in this scandal are my customers. I work the Newbury Park route. My customers include State Farm, Autologic, Baxter Healthcare, Amgen, PTI, Coldwell Banker, Symetrics, Ambertek and Blue Cross. The employees in these companies are happy to have jobs in our recession and they are unhappy to have to pay an additional $3 to have their cars washed. And quite frankly, I don't blame them. Why should they have to pay for me to haul off two gallons of clean water? The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.
Maybe everyone should boycott the car wash until a formal apology is made to my customers.
Reprinted from News Chronicle, April 13, 1994.