Auto Laundry News - September 2012

A Working Showroom

By Timothy Denman

Rennie’s Auto Spa’s all-glass building helps draw in the customers.

The pet wash features the same architectural touches as the main building.

Plenty of stacking space.

The wash sports two identical In-Bay Express units.

Clean landscaping is evident throughout the site.

The exit lanes.

The vending area.

Covered vacuum condos keep the wash busy rain or shine.


You don’t have to believe in your product to be a successful salesman, but it sure helps. David Rennie is an Autec distributor and the owner of Rennie’s Auto Spa, and when he wants to show customers the equipment he sells its as easy as bringing them over to his wash and giving them the guided tour.

Rennie’s Auto Spa is full of equipment that Rennie both sells and relies on day-in and day-out.

“I built the place as both a way to support my distributorship and as a quality retail site,” Rennie says of his Berlin, NJ location.

“I figured it would be so much easier to have people come to my site and look at everything we do instead of bring them to some other place. I was fortunate enough to find a very good location.”

Rennie’s features a 40’ by 57’ all-glass structure from CCSI that houses two identical EV-1 Evolution Combination Car Wash Systems. The units, branded In-Bay Express, feature an in-bay rollover and various arches that add increased value and quality to the wash process. The bays have a presoak arch, a triple foam arch, an Armor All body protectant arch, a fresh water rinse arch, and a spot-free rinse arch. Following the wash process, cars travel under a 60-hp blower.

The machines are capable of putting out full-serve conveyor- like quality results, which helps Rennie compete in the crowded South Jersey marketplace, but he believes the battle for customers starts long before a car even gets wet.

“I am a firm believer in curb appeal,” Rennie says. “It all starts before they even turn into the drive. Keep the place immaculately clean with quality landscaping and attractive buildings and people will be drawn to the site.”

Of course once the customer decides to give the wash a try it is up to Rennie to keep them coming back. The site is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and has an employee on site 48 hours a week to make sure the place is constantly maintained. When the location is not staffed customers can reach Rennie on his cell phone; the number is posted all over the wash.

“I can handle most problems remotely with my wash monitoring equipment,” Rennie says. “If there is a problem I can give the customer a free wash code over the phone. I only live seven miles away so if I need to I can be at the wash in 10 minutes. It is important for the customers to know that you are accessible and will make things right if there is a problem.”

In order to keep a satisfied, growing customer base a site has to constantly evolve. When Rennie first opened his site in 2007 the wash had four self-serve bays. Rennie built the bays because the two lane road his wash is stationed on was supposed to be increased to five lanes, and an empty lot next to his wash was supposed to be developed into condos and town homes — neither of these projects ever came to fruition. The self-serve bays were underperforming, and without the increase in population the housing development promised, would continue to lag behind the in-bay equipment.

Rather than continue to operate the self-serve bays, Rennie decided to convert them into covered vacuum areas, in what he calls vacuum condos. He installed two JE Adams dual vacs and has turned the once underperforming space into a thriving part of his business. The original six vacuums on the other end of the property were left untouched. The vacuum condos cost $1.50 for four minutes, while the original machines still cost $1 for five minutes.

“We always did very well with vacuums,” Rennie says. “We still do. The four covered vacs do just as good if not better than the six old ones. The good thing is that they generate revenue rain or shine. I can come in here in the middle of a rainstorm and there will be people in the covered vacuum stations.”

When the wash was first built, Rennie knew he would want to install a pet wash in the future and had a drainage pipe installed. Two years ago when his building supplier came out with an all-inclusive freestanding dog wash structure, Rennie knew it was timeto expand his offerings. The dog wash matches the car wash structure perfectly, further improving the all-important curb appeal.

For the first six months of operation the pet wash struggled, but once the word got out about the additional services the wash has been a solid performer. Rennie was so impressed with the design and success of the pet wash he decided to distribute the product as well (Jordiken Pet Wash)— once again sell what you know.

“You are married to what you sell,” Rennie says. “If I am going to sell Autec, I am going to run it. Same thing with the pet wash.”

Rounding out Rennie’s service offerings is full-service detailing. The detailing center is run out of a separate building on site. Most detailing is completed by Rennie’s one employee, but another worker can be brought in if the workflow requires. Detailing is not a large part of the wash’s revenue, but it does have a loyal customer base.

Rennie doesn’t do much traditional advertising, but rather relies on producing a quality product in a well-maintained setting. He does offer discounted VIP wash cards and fleet accounts. Directly across the street from the site is a reconditioning storage lot for a big car dealer. The dealer has a fleet account with Rennie and washes anywhere between 100 and 500 cars a week, which helps keep car counts up.

Although he has no immediate plans for expansion, Rennie is always visiting washes for his distributorship business, and could add another wash to his holdings if the right opportunity presents itself. “One thing is for sure,” Rennie says. “If I do ever open another place it will be a high-end wash, just like this one.”

Rennie doesn’t believe in the $3 car wash model, which has help-ed set him apart from the competition in his area — there are four conveyors in a two mile radius. He markets to loyal clientele — customers who can recognize quality.

Rennie’s wash and distributorship are surviving and thriving in this tough economic climate because he knows what his customer wants and needs — curb appeal, quality equipment, and quality service. It helps that he is not just a salesman but an operator as well.

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