Profile in Success - April 2010

Disaster Brings Rebirth
By Timothy Denman

The view of Magic Touch from busy Route 17 South.

All oil-change customers get half off a full-serve car wash.

Extremely dirty cars are pre-treated before entering the tunnel.

A business owner’s greatest fear can be broken down to one syllable: Fire.

That one little word ravaged three co-owners and reduced their thriving business to a smoldering heap.

Luckily, every coin has two sides and 20 months later Magic Touch is back in business and doing better than ever.

Ken Tarasoff, Steve Liebhoff, and Jeremy Liebhoff were able to make the most of a devastating situation and rebuild their facility bigger and better.

The partners opened the Lodi, NJ wash back in 2000, and spend the next few years improving the place only to see it go up in flames in July 2008.

“It is unexplainable, I don’t have words to describe it,” Ken says when asked about the fire that derailed his business. “It was tough for me. I live and breathe this place, seven days a week. It is my baby. It took us a long time to make it a great place, and then it burnt down.”

The previous oil change center suffered the greatest damage from the fire. A car parked overnight in one of the bays caught ablaze, and fuelled by gasoline and an abundance of oil, burnt the lube center to the ground. The remainder of the location suffered severe smoke and water damage putting the facility out of commission for over a year and a half.

The new oil change center opened bigger and better than ever. Improvements include three elongated bays (with room for two cars in each) and three recessed lifts for tire rotations.

The lube menu features all of the standard preventative maintenance. Four different full-service lube packages are available with prices ranging from $32.95 to $59.95. All full-serve oil change customers are entitled to a half off car wash.

The wash features a 150-foot Econocraft-equipped tunnel with all of the bells and whistles including a top brush, double set of wraps, double set of wheel spinners, RainX arch, Teflon arch, triple foam, and plenty of eye candy.

The glass enclosed tunnel features lots of blinking lights and brightly colored brushes and wraps that dazzle customers on the other side of the automatically-washed glass.

“We put on a nice show,” Ken says. “We are really happy with how everything came out. There is a lot going on in the tunnel.”

Ken (left) and David (right) Tarasoff stand at the tunnel exit.

The truck wash can handle even the biggest of vehicles.

Magic Touch features four car wash packages. The $9.95 “Hollywood Exterior” features an exterior wash, triple foam, and super sealer wax. The $15.95 “Monte Carlo” adds a full-service wash, tire shine, and a 48-hour clean car guarantee. The “Magic Touch” costs $17.95 and adds an under body rinse. The “High Roller” package coast $27.95 and increases the offering with a interior vinyl or leather conditioning. Various a la carte services are offered including a $8.95 exterior-only wash.

Once customers make their menu choice they exit their vehicle and enter the newly renovated lobby. All vacuuming is done at the tunnel entrance and extremely dirty cars are pre-treated to ensure that a clean shiny car is waiting for the customer on the exit pad. Pre-treatment equipment includes a power washer, brushes, and chemicals designed to aid in the lifting of dirt.

The lobby features a well-appointed waiting area for lube-center customers, an impulse item section, a high-pressure gun for kids to help get their parents’ cars clean, and plenty of glass to view the entire wash process.

The real lobby eye catchers however, are the beautiful wooden trusses and large chandeliers that give the lobby a country look.

“We wanted a rustic kind of feel,” Ken says. “We wanted people to sit and feel comfortable. It looks kind of like a ski lodge.”

In addition to its full slate of car wash options, Magic Touch offers plenty of express and full-service detailing options. Five different express packages offer polishing, carpet cleaning, seat shampooing, leather and vinyl service, and full mini-details with prices ranging from $29.95 to $64.95.

Full-service detailing options include a complete interior detail for $74.95 and a complete exterior detail for $99.95. Combining the exterior and interior details costs $159.95, a $14.95 savings.

The most evident addition to the rebuilt Magic Touch is the new truck wash bay. Ken’s son David who worked at the wash for five years is now a partner in the newly-minted truck wash business.

“Prior to the fire we were washing a lot of trucks on the side of the building,” David says. “We had plans years ago to build a truck wash bay, but never bit the bullet. Once we were down after the fire we decided to put up the truck wash while we had the time.”

Full-serve and express detail services are offered.

Each of the three elongated oil-change bays can service two cars at a time.

The decision to build the 63-foot-long bay seems like a good one. The truck wash has been opened just four months so far, and despite limited marketing efforts is washing 70 to 75 trucks per week. The wash can handle anything from a duelly to a car carrier (washed in sections).

The service includes an exterior hand wash, window cleaning, tire Armor All, an exterior wipe down, and a vacuum. Prices for the truck wash range form $25 for a small truck on up to $130 for a car carrier.

Word is spreading throughout North Jersey, and the truck wash business continues to grow —aided by the fact that the closest competition is over 40 minutes away.

“We have been promoting the truck wash by leaving coupons and fliers at truck stops and gas stations,” David says. “Other than that it has been word of mouth.”

Although the truck wash uses low-budget marketing techniques the car wash, detail center, and oil change businesses use more traditional advertising methods. Magic Touch uses direct mail, daily and weekly newspaper advertisements, and coupons to spread the word of the newly reopened wash. A website is also in the works to help promote the business electronically.

Magic Touch has a step up on most other car washes when it comes to marketing. Over 50,000 cars pass by the one-acre site on busy Route 17 South every 24 hours. The highway is a busy commuter thoroughfare, just minutes from the George Washington Bridge and Manhattan. The wash opens at 7 a.m. every weekday to capture the abundance of cars streaming by every morning.

The high-pressure gun isn’t just for the kiddies.

The lobby was designed with a ski lodge in mind.

Twenty months after the fire that demolished their beloved wash was extinguished, the partners are up and running once more with increased services and a brand-new facility that is once again one of the finest in North Jersey.

AUTO LAUNDRY NEWS is published by EW Williams Publications Company
2125 Center Avenue, Suite 305, Fort Lee, NJ 07024-5898, USA Phone: 1-201- 592-7007 Fax: 1-201-592-7171