The car wash industry is filled with stories of owners and operators who spend their entire career in the industry. However, when you hear of a lifelong car washer who started their journey at an incredibly young age it is usually a family business that got them their start — but not always.
FastTrac’s marketing focuses on speed.
Randy Ready began working at a car wash in Michigan when he was just 14 years old. The eager youngster displayed an incredible work ethic and formed such a strong bond with his first general manager, Johnnie Stringfield, that when he branched out on his own just a year later Ready left with him. Ready displayed promise and dedication and was named manager of the new wash at the staggeringly young age of 15.
Vacuum stations aplenty at FastTrac.
“I don’t know how I did it, I just did it,” Ready says of his ability to manage a car wash site while still in high school. “Johnny was my mentor, and probably why I’m still in the business now. He was always there for me and out of respect for him, I just kept doing it. I wanted to make him proud. And 37 years later here I am.”
Ready learned the ins and outs of the business from Stringfield, who taught him not only how to manage a car wash crew, but how to perform the back-end functions necessary to run a business successfully. “He taught me how to do the payroll and keep the books,” Ready says. “He would handle the heavy lifting when it came to taxes and whatnot, but I kept the lights on.”
After decades in the car wash business Randy Ready finally has an ownership stake.
Ready’s on-the-job, car wash training prepared him for a successful career in the industry that brought him around the country and saw him wear several different hats.
After 10 years as manager at Johnnies Car Wash, Ready moved down to Florida where he worked at a couple of different washes before moving to Georgia to take the general manager role at Regal Carwash Systems. Following his time in the car wash trenches he spent some years selling equipment and consulting, before being pulled back into the operations side. He worked for a real estate company that bought and sold gas stations and car washes, where he got a crash course in car wash construction and rehabilitation that would serve him well throughout his career.
The wash menu has an option for every budget.
“We would buy properties and flip them,” Ready says. “We would take an underperforming store that someone had defaulted on and remodel it. We would run it until we found on operator to take on the lease and then we would move onto the next one. It was really good experience from a construction standpoint and taught me about the gasoline business as well.”
After keeping a hectic travel schedule that saw him visiting sites from Texas to Hawaii, Ready was itching to settle down and concentrate on car wash development and management. He worked for some of the biggest names in the industry including Tidal Wave and Mister Car Wash, learning the inner working of the mega successful car wash chains.
Two dryer arrays ensure every car emerges from the tunnel bone dry.
Ready built an impressive resume during his first 25-plus years in the car wash industry. He was a manager, salesman, consultant, and developer — the only thing he had not been was an owner. While doing some consulting work, he met a couple of investors that were building a wash in Smyrna, Georgia. The investors were impressed by Ready’s car wash experience and expertise and invited him to join FastTrac Car Wash as a sweat equity partner.
Finally, after decades in the industry and countless stops along his car wash journey Ready had something of his own.
He was an owner.
“I’m now finally after all these years more than a manager,” Ready says. “I’m an owner now. A lot of people work in the car wash industry, but not very many people become owners. But I am proof that you do not have to be a millionaire to own a car wash, you just have to be willing to put in the work.”
In-tunnel signage lets customers know they are getting what they paid for.
That hard work has paid off handsomely for both Ready and his partners. Together they built FastTrac into a thriving three-site chain that competes with some of the biggest names in the industry.
FastTrac’s success has not gone unnoticed. In fact, the chain was operating four sites up until last year when an investor was so gung-ho on acquiring one of the sites that they made the partners an offer they couldn’t refuse.
“It was our smallest location, but it was in a great spot and was a great moneymaker,” says Ready. “We had turned down other offers, but they just threw out a number that we had to take.”
FastTrac leases a small piece of its footprint to Wells Fargo.
But the partners did not simply pocket the proceeds from the sale. Rather they plan to reinvest the funds in not one, but two new washes. The first deal is expected to close early this year, with construction to commence shortly thereafter.
These two new washes the partners have planned will join their other three thriving FastTrac washes in Dallas, Marietta, and Rockmart, GA. All three locations are unique and highlight the ownership team’s vast skill set.
The newest location in Dallas was originally a Wells Fargo bank that the partners converted into an express exterior wash. The bones of the bank were solid, and the building and site were ideal for a car wash so the partners literally gutted the bank and ran a conveyor right down the center.
The well-appointed equipment room.
The well-laid-out location features a 50-foot tower that helps draw in customers to the express tunnel and lets everyone in the vicinity know that a FastTrac location is nearby. Another distinctive feature of the site is the Wells Fargo ATM that helps draw in traffic to the site.
While the bank that previously operated in the building was deemed unnecessary by Well Fargo, the ATM on the premises was one of the best performing in the area. Rather that decommission the ATM when they sold the property, Wells Fargo negotiated for a small piece of the land to be leased to them for the sole purpose of operating the automated teller machine.
FastTrac car wash continues to grow and position itself as one of the leaders in a crowded and highly competitive market, thanks in no small part to the hard work and experience Ready brought to the venture.
“I came from nothing and I did what I had to do,” Ready says about his career and current role at FastTrac. “I wouldn’t say I am a rags to riches story. But I am living a good life now and it is all thanks to hard work and the car wash industry.”