The Netflix of Car Washes – Brian Krusz of Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash

Brian Krusz, the Owner/Operator of Sgt. Clean's Car Wash

Brian Krusz, the Owner/Operator of Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash, grew his company’s revenue from $360,000 in 2014 to $3.1 million in 2017, a 760% increase, and now they are on track to hit around $5 million this year.  

Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash currently owns and operates five locations in northeast Ohio.  

In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Chris shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Having around 40% of their customers on their monthly recurring Unlimited Plans, which range between $19.97 to $39.97 per month.  
  • Providing top notch customer service, made possible by their Unlimited Plan’s steady recurring revenue stream, which allowed them to hire high quality permanent staff and increase employee retention rates.  
  • Building their brand as a role model in the community, both at the company level, and the employee level.  

Sgt. Clean's Car Wash Interview - (computer generated transcript) (transcribed by Sonix)

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Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Everysprint, and today we're speaking of Brian Krusz the Owner/Operator of Sgt. Clean's Car Wash with five locations in northeast Ohio. Welcome to call Brian.

Brian Krusz: Thanks for having me Malcolm.

Malcolm Lui: Brian, you grew your company's revenue from $360,000 in 2014 to $3.1 million in 2017 a 760% increase, and in 2018 you're on track to hit around $5 million. But before I ask you how you grew your company so fast can you briefly share what your company does beyond my very quick intro and how your company differs from the competition?

Brian Krusz: Yeah. Thanks Malcolm we are a express exterior car wash chain in northeast Ohio. We've got five locations our locations are featured and at our website it Sgt. clean Scott. But the cover the Northeast Ohio area.

Malcolm Lui: And how does your company differ from all the other car washes that are out there.

How they differ from the competition.

Brian Krusz: The main the main thing for us is our people our peoples our most valuable resource that we have a lot of other owner operators see that that's not a vital part but we're about you know the shaking hands kissing babies the smile. You know when you get your car wash because there's just more than that. So it's the experience that you get as well as the smiling friendly face that you see on a regular basis.

Malcolm Lui: All right fantastic. And what would you say have been the three biggest drivers of your sales growth over the past few years from 2014 to to 2018

Brian Krusz: Number one is our unlimited program. So we offer an unlimited car wash program it starts at nineteen ninety seven a month you can watch unlimited at every one of our locations throughout Northeast Ohio and that's been a nice catalyst for continued ongoing revenue. So a nice residual income that we get. The second is our customer service we're all about our customers we're all about the experience and that has been proven to drive great success in our growth from one year to the next and the continuation from 2018 on the 19. The third I'd say is our sales and marketing that would also encompass our branding so our company Sgt. cleans car wash which is featured after myself. We had a contest about five years ago to rename the car wash and that was one that was chosen and it's just about our brand. You know it's our brand is backed with a feel good sensation a great car wash experience getting a clean car couple with some superior service by our team members.

Malcolm Lui: Fantastic. Can we talk a little bit more about your unlimited program. How do you get your idea and what's been the take up rate the acceptance of people jumping on board

Brian Krusz: It's been fantastic we started this about five years ago and our strong sell facility and it was a software company that kind of gave us the idea out of Akron Ohio. And it's tough to get over you know you pay nineteen ninety seven a month and then you never see the guy or gal for another twenty nine days to get another nineteen ninety seven hopefully. So it's kind of tough to make that first step. But with the unlimited program we've seen tremendous value not only just specifically to our customers because for them it's it's fantastic. You know you spend just like Netflix or Hulu nineteen ninety seven a month unlimited wash all you want use all of our locations so it's a great concept and a great idea for them. You know after three visits it pretty much pays for itself. The other part of the triangle here is for our team. So it's good for them where when you think of car washing you generally think of some transient type business and you know maybe you're just employing college kids and people you know high school kids but these are actually a career path you've chosen for them to the and limited program allows us to provide salaries for team members regular 40 50 hours a week on a regular basis so there's no transient we've kind of cut that out completely. We also offer medical. We also offer for one key program paid vacation so there's benefits that come along with this as well. And the third component to the unlimited triangle is ourselves as owners. So I have a business partners named Andrew. It allows us to get elected a little extra sleep every five minutes every night knowing that we've got residual income. Coming regardless if it's sunny and beautiful the next day or it's nasty rainy and crappy it allows us to kind of take that weather completely out of the factor of our business

Malcolm Lui: Right now. Are these people who are on the program are they paying month the month automatically or are they buying a year at a time and it renews every year

How their unlimited car wash plan works.

Brian Krusz: Yeah two parts. So the first are our overwhelming majority ninety five percent of our unlimited plans are on a reoccurring basis where it automatically renews on your anniversary date. So if you sign up on the fifth that auto renewal and there is no contract you can cancel it change your plan upgrade downgrade whenever you want and then a small percentage of ours is called what we call it prepaid so you can prepay for the plan. There is no discount you can just prepay for 3 6 9 or 12 months in advance. And some people like that they may not want to use a credit card. They may not want it to be reoccurring. So we just use that as a separate option for them

Malcolm Lui: Okay. Now of all the customers you get in a given month who come in to wash the cars. How many of them are on the unlimited plan

Brian Krusz: I'd say it varies. We have five locations so one locations we have owned for almost six years now and then one that we just acquired October and remodeled that one and just opened up the beginning in December. So I'd say in the beginning it's anywhere between 20 and 30 percent and it goes all the way to maybe 50 50 60 percent after as well established location

Malcolm Lui: Ok so why doesn't I mean it's sounding a great deal to me if you're a local to the neighborhood and that you enjoy the experience. You know I would take my car back to the same place every time I can to spend time trying to test out a new place. So why it why isn't the take up rate higher in your opinion.

Brian Krusz: Just I would say it's the frequent some people well you know the frequency of when they want to wash their vehicle and really be important some people see a grave importance of washing their vehicle. Being in Northeast Ohio all the snow the snow everything that you know is adverse to your vehicle and damaging to your vehicle. Some people want to protect that and they see the value in it others. Others don't. And maybe wash once every three months every six months and I've got some friends and family that you know I couldn't drag them down for a free car wash to wash at least once a year

Malcolm Lui: Hey even though you offer a free.

Brian Krusz: Yeah I mean that's and that goes on our marketing. You know even send out an oversized postcard for a free car wash to come in try us out and it's even tough for those people but we're getting about an eight to 10 percent redemption rate on those mailers but still it's for you know a free car wash and you got to want to protect your vehicle

Malcolm Lui: Yeah yeah I mean I always thought every research. I always thought it better to wash your car once a month than once a year. The stuff gets caked on and leaches into your paint it ruins or finished the longer it sits in your car. That's just my

Brian Krusz: Yeah.

Malcolm Lui: General guess. Zachary

Brian Krusz: Yeah and I agree with you Mark. I mean there's a lot of I mean from wind erosion to dirt whether erosion the sun. I mean if you're getting SAP or IRD you know what lands on your car assault here in northeast Ohio. The pollen in the south and the West all these things are eating up your car and it just it kind of makes me scratch my head that a vehicle is either the most expensive investment in your life or the second most expensive investment next to your home. And

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: People see that as they really want to protect it. They want to protect their assets and other people can care less. So

Malcolm Lui: Yeah

Brian Krusz: It's for us the to market and that's the idea. And you know to get around our branding is this is a great opportunity for you. This is this is how you can easily take care of your car and how it's easily affordable as well.

Malcolm Lui: Right now the eliminated program is is not just the basic car wash and all this is is someone washing your car and it comes out wet or does that include drying and vacuuming and Armor All on the tires and the whole shebang.

Brian Krusz: Yeah. So we start we've got four different unlimited plans. So the first one is 1997 then it goes up and five dollar increments to our most our highest which is our platinum which is thirty nine ninety seven a month. And that has all of the bells and whistles that's got our premium hot wax our Sarge clean tire shine the military monsoon triple foam all those protections in the nineteen ninety seven is our basic which is just a soft cloth of our tunnels our friction. So we have soft cloth and foam which is touching the vehicle as it goes down the conveyor and at the end we put spot free rents on every vehicle and we range from having six seven to eight blowers blowing the vehicle off to our most recent facility in Parma about a year ago. You've got 15 blowers at that facility

Malcolm Lui: Mm hmm. And that makes a big difference between six blowers and 15

Brian Krusz: Yes. It's just trying to get you know and I can kind of go a little crazy on you here and talk about the chemical and the high P H and low P H levels of this but there is actually a science and we're very fortunate to have a great maintenance manager who helps us with the soap as well as the maintenance of maintaining the equipment from preventative maintenance to installation and that that Guru is able to tell us and help us get the best price vehicle if that's what you want ultimately you know you come in a clean dry and shiny car and that's what we want to deliver to. Whether you're getting a nineteen ninety seven unlimited plan or the nine dollar you know just a basic one time wash all the way up to our 20 dollar or 30 thirty nine ninety seven unlimited plan. We want to give you a clean dry and shiny car

Malcolm Lui: All right. So as a car owner should I sound like I should be favoring a newer facility versus an older one

Growth by acquiring distressed car wash businesses

Brian Krusz: You know that that's been our business model is taking over. Politely I'll call them distressed businesses and fix the outside fix the inside completely gutted out gave it a nice rebrand refresh on the facility with new equipment the bells and whistles to make it but yeah I mean you're taking your vehicle and that can range anywhere from a five thousand dollar use vehicle to we watch Tesla's that are eighty ninety one hundred thousand dollars and you're building that trust and confidence in us that we're only gonna give you a clean dry and shiny car but also the equipment that's touching your car is safe and it's secure. And I'd always go with the newer car washes versus the older ones.

Malcolm Lui: Right now simply because one guy shows that the owners are better funded about two. Equipment might be better as well

Brian Krusz: Yeah. And even you'll come to our facilities and maybe you see something that looks a little old or distressed. It's just been put a lot of wear and tear on the Northeast Ohio weather as well as it's just constantly wet. It's a wet environment. A lot of our equipment is stainless steel. We do a lot of preventative maintenance to it but that's what it's all the confidence factor

Malcolm Lui: Right. Definitely. Now to implement the Olympic program you need a lot of special accounting software building software or is it pretty straightforward and someone just has a piece of paper with credit card numbers and they run it through every month

Brian Krusz: Yeah. So it's automated so it's nice when I use the analogy just like Netflix and Hulu. We use a software company out of Akron Ohio called Dear Bea systems and it's used a RFID tag where we put a little RFID sticker in your front window and then we use the receivers and correspondents just like you went on the turnpike like the fast pass on the turnpike. You pay. So if you were to come in today Malcolm you know the thirty first of December slide your credit card. We put a sticker in your window you sign that. Just fill out a little information in case we do need to get in contact with it name your phone number email address make model your vehicle and you're done. Two minutes later you got a sticker in your vehicle you can wash. Unlimited and on your next visit the RFID reader will pick you up your vehicle and know exactly what wash you get and welcome you at a station on your next visit. You hit no thanks my usual or maybe you wanted to upgrade to the gate goes up and away you go

Malcolm Lui: Nice

Brian Krusz: Past the inconvenient

Malcolm Lui: And now is there any human interaction when someone blows up their car and they have the RFID tags at all just them by a console and they just go on through

Brian Krusz: Yes we have pay stations there and then the RFID readers and we have humans is very important to me to have the the personal care and attention not only from the consumer side but the vehicle side of cases any issues all of our sites anywhere between 3 and four team members at the pay stations and helping you guide and load you into the facility as well as a manager on staff if there's any issues or any questions want to buy a gift card or a rabbit out

Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay cool. So is this a turnkey solution or do you get a kind of piece it all together yourself

Brian Krusz: Specific to the new acquisitions or

Malcolm Lui: To

Brian Krusz: The.

Malcolm Lui: The limited program that you have with the RFID RFID the building and so forth. Is this like as a solution you bought from one vendor who did all for you or that you kind of had to find someone to do the RFID so when you do the software someone to do that billing you kind of piece that all together

Brian Krusz: Oh yeah I got it. Yeah. It's a seamless process all through Darby systems and they handle everything it's all their equipment and all of their infrastructure. We use a paper a processing company that does all the processing of the credit card and it's done automatic on a regular basis and then we're here to help if there's an issue with the account or need

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: Adjustments taken care of. But it's a smooth seamless process. It's fantastic.

Malcolm Lui: Cool. And did they charge you a flat fee or they charge you on a per hour thing as well.

The cost structure of their Unlimited Plan

Brian Krusz: The software company just charges us for the system and then we purchase the RFID stickers from them and then we pay a monthly software support fee on a regular basis to act as support or whenever needed. We want to implement some sort of marketing or promo code or promotion they're there to help with that.

Malcolm Lui: Right. So it's kind of nice that you can sound like you can scale up your limited program but your costs are relatively fixed. Other than RFID stickers

Brian Krusz: Yeah they become fixed and we purchase in bulk so having the luxury you know having five locations we've got a couple more in the works for next year we can purchase these in bulk at a discounted rate and then use them amongst all five of our facilities. If we had just one like early on in our process these stickers are about four dollars apiece.

Malcolm Lui: Like

Brian Krusz: So we're able to kind of get a significant discount when we can buy you know eight or ten thousand plans. So it does pay to to order them in bulk as we go through

Malcolm Lui: Yeah now four dollars is the bulk rate or is at the individual rate

Brian Krusz: That's the individual rate. If we were to buy them I think it's like three dollars and eighty nine cents if we were to buy them on a smaller scale

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: Maybe five hundred couple thousand but we usually buy and it puts the cost almost in half when we're eight or ten thousand of them. But we have the luxury to do that by using it out our site

Malcolm Lui: Yeah yeah definitely. I can see how that helps gives the next year a break even costs break even time much lower.

Brian Krusz: Yeah.

Malcolm Lui: Cool. Now we start getting into the second driver customer service you know how you know. How do you define determine what level of customer service you want to provide and how are you measuring that your team is delivering on those targets.

Brian Krusz: That's when people think customer service. They think well how do you measure that. You know they're like a meter when the car pops out the other end and

Malcolm Lui: All right.

Brian Krusz: The gate and says Hey I'm 80 percent satisfied or 90 percent satisfied. I think it's from our visit frequency. I think it's from what we hear on a regular basis from our consumers and our municipalities. Five years ago when we took over and did our first remodel in Strongsville in six years ago we started to get into car washing our flagship became changed the face of car washing and that's what we wanted to do. I did a survey throughout the Midwest and the survey results came back with car washing is grungy nasty dirty tunnel's poor lighting all these negative personas on the industry as well as specific to team you know guys you know chain smoking weight 9 yet to pay stations and just this whole negative persona of what good services and good team members are. So we wanted to completely squash that from day one and it's became changed the face of car washing.

Malcolm Lui: Right. Yeah

Brian Krusz: So

Malcolm Lui: For sure. What you

Brian Krusz: Specifically

Malcolm Lui: Described is exactly what I would imagine in terms of the

Brian Krusz: I mean

Malcolm Lui: Great genius and people just hanging out smoking and waiting and not doing a great job

Brian Krusz: Yeah. And think about it you know when I talked earlier about this is the second or the most expensive investment your life and you're going to have zero confidence in the guy. Let's get right to send your car down the tunnel. We want to provide that confidence that comes with customer service. So we hire very very hard. I actually talk everyone out of working for us. I give them a bunch of this is this job's not for you statements. You know if I need to motivate you if I need to babysit you if I can't trust you. These are some of the questions that I asked a really really really find the good guys and gals that are out there

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: Who care about people who are looking for intangibles out of their job. And that's really going to give us the service that we're looking for with quality with customer care. And that's what it's all about.

Malcolm Lui: Yep definitely enough for me it's like you find a place that delivers a great experience that you're really happy with and the price is reasonable in your mind. Why. Why not go back there again and again. Why risk going to some other place and having a shoddy four car wash or very unpleasant experiences it's not worth the hassle. I mean I don't want to spend an hour I guess they have to realize I need to get my car wash again the same date somewhere else.

Brian Krusz: Exactly. And that's why we saw the human interaction at the pay stations because I want that I don't want anyone to think that we're embracing technology and we're getting rid of staff. That's

Malcolm Lui: Yeah

Brian Krusz: That's not the case. You know we still need that human interaction. I appreciate that and things that I do and just this morning I saw at the local gas station down the street they're coming up a little self-service lanes at gas stations. So you don't have to interact with a human and I want to make sure that's still important. And our Sgt. cleans car wash and we'll continue to do that

Malcolm Lui: Right. And I can see how because you have you on the program you have maybe just guessing sticking a simple average what you shared with me say 30 40 percent of your revenue on this unlimited program. And when you have a fixed residual revenue that's coming in. You can plan for that right and you can hire people and be confident that you don't need to fire them down the line. Right. Because

Brian Krusz: Right.

Malcolm Lui: You have the steady

Brian Krusz: Yeah.

Malcolm Lui: Income. And that's pretty cool. I wanted to ask you this as you were mentioning this as you mentioned before that you're your team or salary they get benefits for one K vacation time. Is that very much unlike the industry norms

How their hiring and compensation differs industry norms

Brian Krusz: Extremely. Yes. Yes. I've been very fortunate in the six years to really meet some very good people in the industry and have seen a lot of them speak and had the pleasure of actually speaking as a panelist on a couple of different discussions at the ACA or the international car wash association. And people kind of look at me twice when I say we've got people at our pay stations because they look at as a cost savings. And they also look and kind of cringe when I say we offer a four 1 k with a 3 percent contribution not a 3 percent match. We offer kind of a profit sharing program every month from every single team member at every one of our sites. We offer medical. You know in some of our positions are salaried because we want to give people this career opportunity. We don't want the I mean think about it every week. If you had to get up Malcolm and say OK it's going to rain this week I'm only going to work 20 hours. How am I going to provide for myself provide for my family make a car and make a house payment. When those guys and gals are working for us I don't want them worried about that. I want them focused on our customer. I want to focus on safety. I want them for those focused on quality and providing the best service that we can. And by paying someone an extra dollar or two an hour and offering great benefits. It mitigates that process and allows them to focus on what's really important to us not. How am I going to pay for this. How am I going to feed this. And that's where a lot of people in our industry have gone to where they just stick a minimum wage in it is what it is. And I always reference the number of W-2 at the end of the year. That should be something you should look at in every business not just car washing. Look how many W-2 is you're passing out at the end of the year.

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: And then I'll really look at your true retention and I always do exit interviews too. Because we're not perfect. When someone leaves you know I want to know exactly what we did right what we did wrong to be better. Moving forward

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. Yeah. I'm I'm. As you were discussing that I'm also thinking that your retention rate of your team members are much higher than industry average as well. When you eliminate the uncertainties that they're feeling about you know I'm not going to have enough to pay the bills. At the same time you're investing in training your team and the promises that you have and you don't want to hire new people constantly train them up again right. You want to ideally train them once and and then just improve upon it. Right. So I imagine that alone is a dead end today. A huge savings for you

Brian Krusz: Yeah without a doubt. I mean and that's where and that's another component you know with the payment and paying good money a good rate you know two team members but also training them constantly when I ask when I interview people I say hey what can I or my management team do in order to make your job best. They constantly are saying feedback tell me what I'm doing right. Tell me what I'm doing wrong. And the second part of that is training training. Give me what I need to do. And we actually have a corporate trainer so he goes around to all of the sites. He also does all of our onboarding and we've got a training program 30 60 90 days. So to your point we don't want to invest all the money not only just in our corporate trainer but all the time the money the money the energy and getting someone who does not want to be here and is just in here for a paycheck. We truly want that individual to be the best and excel at the best. So we train them to do that and it's worked out quite well because time is actually more valuable than money.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah definitely. You don't want to spend your time training doing the training new people with the same stuff just because the previous person left. Yeah sounds good.

Brian Krusz: Exactly.

Malcolm Lui: Your third driver sales and marketing. Can you share a bit about that. You talked about branding the having an image your reputation providing great experience which ties into the second driver. He talk about your sales and marketing what you what programs campaigns you've executed. What's great and what hasn't

Brian Krusz: And we have an exceptional sales and marketing manager his name's Nick rodeo and he handles everything from our branding also to the to the sales making sure our key metrics and everything are maintained and adequate and on track.

Malcolm Lui: Uk

Brian Krusz: The marketing. So to kind of take a step back our branding is the most important. So our mission at Sgt. cleans car wash. It's to provide the highest quality car wash coupled with superior customer service while being role models in our community. And that last part is very important. So it goes with our brand. We train all of our guys and all our teams to know that we're good people. We smile. We like to have fun. This is a good positive environment. We want that to continue. When you don't know when you leave work and you don't want I don't want you to turn into a knucklehead because you're supporting and representing our brand. So that's important that you're getting a that our brand is associated with one you know the name is Sgt. cleans car wash. So that involves myself with integrity honor veteran veteran owned business family owned business. And that's kind of a lot of the backing to our brand as well as a smile and a handshake. Some of our most successful marketing aspects has been our every door direct mailer. We send an oversized postcard out for a free car wash because we want you to try it out. We want you to come in see the smiling face at the pay station see the all the bells and whistles in the tunnel that we have to offer and you know the end result is a clean dry and shiny car. And we want to give you options. So we want you to kind of test drive it for a little bit at the unlimited plan is right for you. You can either just take your free car wash or use that nine dollar we call it a nine dollar bill off your first month to give us a try and there's no obligation so you can try it for a month and cancel a change of plan whenever you like

Malcolm Lui: Nice to have you premature. Eliminate all the risks as as as one can write

Brian Krusz: Right. You know people always say there's a there's a hook there's a gimmick. Absolutely not. It's just it's a free car wash our sales and marketing manager as well as myself our corporate trainer our maintenance manager even our acquisitions manager we even have free car wash coupons that we carry on our side. We meet someone at the gas station or at a store. We want people to come try it out and seeing is believing

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. So buying the direct mailers worked really well for you. Would you say that's your number one marketing channel. Are there a couple others that you prefer to use over direct mailing

The impulsive side of car washes

Brian Krusz: That is our number one and then our our other one would be word of mouth and we utilize the word of mouth advertising through some components of our social media our email newsletters and mostly just providing a great customer experience and telling them to tell a friend or family member about how great your experience was or how fantastic your unlimited plan is. Car washing is more impulsive than any other business. So it is if it's a bright sunny beautiful day you're going to be driving down the road see our car wash sign on the road and pull in or pull along with others. You see the car in front of you Paul and you're going to go Hey. This looks like a good opportunity for me too. And it's staggering how many consumers come in one after another watching someone else pull into our facility.

Malcolm Lui: Right. It's kind of like a restaurant. You know he don't want an empty restaurant cause no one's gonna go in there yet one that's filled with people or even a quarter fill. But you're sitting in the front it just entices people to check it out. Further

Brian Krusz: Right. Right. And it's good and inviting. We've got landscaping up front. It's very important that all of our facilities to make an inviting to come into the facility we offer free vacuums and like I said all of our building is painted and colored and it provides a nice exterior image of the company but just that they put some confidence in us we're going to take care of

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. Now are you proactive in asking for word of mouth referrals

Brian Krusz: Phrase my grandfather always said back in the day I never really understood it as a young man. He always told me and I refer to this to our customers and our managers tell our you know we tell our customers as well if you're happy tell a friend or a thousand friends. The moment you become unhappy you come find me. So this has been something Grandpa cruises always said and it's just stuck with me through the years. And that's kind of our motto. People are happy and they're excited. I always mentioned them on the phone Hey if you're if you're happy about that tell a friend tell a family member. And same with the consumers that are on site.

Malcolm Lui: Ok nothing so proactive as you know. Do you have a friend or family member who I can send a free free car wash voucher to

Brian Krusz: Now we haven't done on that aspect. We do. We do have a program called banks and it's an app that we use. You download a Sgt. cleans. Thanks app. You tie your credit card or any other credit cards to the household too. And then that's a loyalty program. So not only can you sign up for our unlimited program is one step of loyalty a second step is this Thanks program. And for every one hundred dollars you spend you get a 20 dollar platinum exterior car wash to be redeemed on the app

Malcolm Lui: Okay

Brian Krusz: And you don't need the app on any visit you just the credit cards will get stored. They're all coded and protected in that site. And you just use your unlimited program and wash as you so choose. And it just builds and points. There is a platform in there that allows us to provide referrals. And we're going to start that process in 2019. We wanted to baby step into this program. We started it early in 2018. We wanted to make sure that we've tested everything and started with the bare minimum before we start going crazy with all the capabilities of the program.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah definitely a bit hard to unwind things I mean it goes it goes out to thousands of your customers and you go. This isn't working great right that it starts

Brian Krusz: We

Malcolm Lui: Small.

Brian Krusz: Want to make sure we crawl before we walked and ran

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. Okay. All right. Now so you talk about direct mailer being your best marketing channel word of mouth thing. Another one that's a very strong number two. Is there a third one that's worked out really well for you.

Brian Krusz: Said we we donate quite a bit to fund raisers being a car wash we get the opportunity unlike a restaurant when you're donating a restaurant coupon you're physically giving away product let's say you know you're giving away a salad or a steak dinner. So when you're donating 20 30 40 50 dollars at a restaurant it's a lot different than us. You know as I mentioned with the nine dollar bill marketing every door direct mail or advertising earlier we're already here. You know the buildings here the utilities are on the team members are here. So with that we get to advertise by donating to different fundraisers and local organizations here in town. But that's not the most important reason the most important reason for us to do those donations is to do that just to get back to the communities that we serve. When you think of owning a business in a certain city when we always think when are we paying our city rent you know when how are we paying our city back and a lot of that to our community. Community fundraising organizations and nonprofits and local charities. So we love we're never really going to turn anybody away who wants to come in and get some free car wash to give away in a basket or offer 3 6 or even a year's worth of unlimited car wash they can raffle off to gain money for their organization so that's worked out real well.

Malcolm Lui: Right. Yeah I can see how from our conversation right. Most of your costs are fixed and you design it that big you labor has become a fixed cost. It's not a variable component like it might be for other car washes. But yes I can see how you can do donations do fundraisers and your cost to you is like soap water and utilities but not a huge bite. Right. Other than maybe taking up space of a paying customer by imagining kind of even this out maybe you know do more do more fundraising events when the weather is not so optimal. So you have more capacity and will impact you as much.

Brian Krusz: Correct. Yeah yeah.

Malcolm Lui: So for 2019 I know you talked a little bit about your plans already. You talked about sound like you're looking to acquire a couple more car washes. What surprises can you share with us today about what your plans are for 2019

Their 2019 acquisition plans

Brian Krusz: Well you know we talked about some some acquisitions that we kind of have in the pipeline for middle of next year. We've done in 2018 we've done quite a bit. If you look at our on capital expenditures we've said we've done quite a bit. So we're going to kind of hang tight for the beginning of the year and we've done so much for investing in our sites from new concrete new equipment to fixing up the building and branding all of our sites to be the same. We're gonna kind of take a breather for the first half of 2019 and then go back into our acquisitions with a couple more that we have in the pipeline and hopefully those things those acquisitions will work out and we'll continue to grow

Malcolm Lui: Right. So you're your cap ex in 2018. Is that related to the two new branches you opened or your you're upgrading all the other facilities as well

Brian Krusz: Both. The two new acquisitions both of those were complete rip out and install with brand new tunnel equipment and new walls new fixtures the bells and whistles that go in there with our marketing and then capital expenditures from concrete to other facilities to some new equipment just fixes and minor changes that needed it.

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: So that would be good focus on 2019 and the growth and stability

Malcolm Lui: Right. Any plans to use other market cannot. And knows how you didn't talk about any sort of online advertising

Brian Krusz: None at this point. Maybe I'll ask Nick and see if he's got any plan he's going to give us our 2019 game plan here in January so we'll see if that's what he's going to come up with. But as I stated earlier car washing is more impulsive than anything. So the direct mailer some social media you know some online presence. But if you're going to wake up tomorrow and buy a product you can get online and search all that you're going to wake up and well you know what I really want to get a car wash let's go see where I can go. It's such a low percentage you're just gonna get up and drive and you're going to be driven past that facility it's going to be more impulsive than anything.

Malcolm Lui: Mm hmm.

Brian Krusz: So we'll try to how we'll try to see how more impulsive we can make the car wash.

Malcolm Lui: You're

Brian Krusz: I

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brian Krusz: Guess

Malcolm Lui: Yeah I think my wife might be more in the impulsive side but for me before I wash my car I'd be doing the research and looking at Yelp and the reviews and seeing him making sure that people have had fantastic experiences before I spend an hour getting my car washed.

Brian Krusz: Yeah that's a good thing too that if someone comes in you know maybe they get that free car wash and they want to check us out on the website. So we have a Web site. We have Yelp. We have you know Google listings and reviews and we have all of that to kind of further trust put more trust and confidence in us and our capabilities

Malcolm Lui: Yeah.

Brian Krusz: To say that was a really good wash. The people were good. I've done my research because some people are very analytical and we can give them that platform to do that. Maybe that's Malcolm or other people or maybe like your wife or they can come in and go. This is really good. Let's do it and no harm no foul and move on.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. So what you see as your biggest challenges in 2019

Their biggest challenges in 2019.

Brian Krusz: Constant I mean I'd say it's it's number one and number two it should just been a regular basis is continuing to find good team members even though we're very fortunate and lucky we still want to just continue to find good guys and gals out there to serve our customers. That's a continued ongoing challenge coupled also with retaining the ones that we got. So retention is important to us. One of the secondary challenges I'm young I'm 38 a business partner 38 as well. So on the capital side we've been very fortunate to partner with some some private investors along the way. We've never had to take on equity investors and some smaller community banks who've worked out well with us. So it's been pretty nice to kind of leverage them as a small banking tattoos but we've already kind of blown through our SBA and now we're on at the smaller community banks. That's always poses a challenge for us on just to get them to believe in what we're doing because car washing is difficult. It's new a lot of banks do not appreciate it. So I see that as an ongoing challenge for us. But we've been Lord willing you know we've been very fortunate to have that overcame through the years

Malcolm Lui: Right to to ask questions for you Brian. Who are your ideal customers and what's the best way for them to find a Sgt. scenes car wash to bring the car to

Brian Krusz: Our ideal customers are number one you've got to have a car. So you've got to have a vehicle. And I'd say be within three to five mile radius of our locations here and throughout Northeast Ohio our locations are on our website at Sgt. clean. So s g t clean dot com

Malcolm Lui: Thanks for joining us today Brian. In sharing how you accelerated your company's high value sales

Brian Krusz: Yeah. Happy to be here is a pleasure Malcolm.

Malcolm Lui: We've been speaking with Brian Krusz, the Owner/Operator of Sgt. Clean's car wash about his company's rapid growth for interviews with other fast growing high value sales companies or two and how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation visit ever Sprint dot com.

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