As a business leader, are you pivoting in response to relevant new information? Have you considered what you can do today to strengthen your company amid changing market dynamics?
Episode 8 of Car Wash M&A, The Podcast focuses on the perspective of Andrew Goldberger, founder of Trademark Car Wash. Andrew acquired sites to grow his car wash business; then, thanks in part to his relationship with the team at Amplify Car Advisors, he recently partnered with a private equity group to scale his car wash chain. Andrew currently serves as director of mergers and acquisitions with Trademark, and he shares what he’s learned about how to make your business stronger today to help you get the best return on your investment later.
Car wash owners know that there is a monumental difference between theory and practical application. The most important thing isn’t getting it right the first time every time, but rather knowing when and how to pivot when things don’t go as planned. Andrew shares some of his experiences as an entrepreneur where it all made sense on paper, but the reality was the plan just didn’t work. As a new car wash owner, he entered new markets and encountered new challenges, but his ability to pivot and to make changes in the face of new information has been a defining characteristic in his brand’s quickly rising success.
Andrew reflects, “There’s pretty much nothing more humbling than starting a business and recognizing all of your warts. You definitely need to pivot and adjust the plan. Every time you make your first business model, or you decide, ‘Yeah, this is where we’re going [to put a car wash],’ then you hit a rainy month, or the cars just reroute a different way, or you get a new competitor moving three-quarters of a mile down the road, or COVID hits.” What matters most is how car wash owners respond.
As the car wash industry continues to evolve, lots of car wash chains want to grow and scale. But amid today’s headwinds, things are different from a year ago. Or six months ago, really. Even in an inflationary environment with rising interest rates, continued supply chain disruptions, and labor challenges, the fundamentals of success are the same. If you want to grow, you need to deliver a quality product customers have a demand for, put the right people and systems in place, and have the financial ability to do so.
Andrew had been working with Commercial Plus, Amplify’s affiliated real estate and business brokerage firm, acquiring sites and using financing tools like sale leasebacks to grow at a modest clip. Through an introduction to a private equity group looking to enter the car wash space by Jeff Pavone, partner at Amplify, Andrew realized partnering with a financial sponsor was the next right step to scale Trademark. “They put us together with a group called Strickland Brothers Oil Change, which is the fastest-growing oil change company in the United States. It was a perfect marriage; we both are kind of separate organizations within an umbrella. But they have amazing expertise in building new sites.” Today Stickland Brothers and Trademark Car Wash continue to grow.
Andrew talks about the shared practice he and many owners/operators have of visiting other car washes frequently and being curious about what the competition or others outside of your market are doing. Going through the car wash experience as a customer can be an invaluable part of growing your own business by reflecting on how or why you do things the way you do and if there may be a better way.
As Andrew shares, “You’ll always learn something. Why does this group prep my car with two people? And this one preps it with one person? And this one doesn’t prep it at all? Why is price unrelated to those three aspects? What are they doing better in their tunnel versus this tunnel? What equipment are they using? How does my car look? Curiosity is the core of any growing car wash platform. It’s where should we build? Or why should we make this choice versus this choice? And anyone I’ve met who has all the answers, who isn’t curious because they’ve been doing this for so long that they don’t care what this experience down the street is, they’re missing some valuable information.”
Financial advisors like Amplify Car Wash Advisors have the benefit of seeing the industry from a macro level and from both sides, looking for that win/win for the client and other party. For car wash owners considering how to sell or scale your business, it’s critical to know if the potential buyer, lender, or partner is the right fit in these three areas: price (it can be negotiated), terms (they aren’t all created equal), and culture (how what you’ve built fits with their vision). Amplify advises clients on what their options are, and how to determine what the path forward is based on your individual goals.
Want to dive deeper into car wash M&A information? View all Car Wash M&A, The Podcast episodes here: http://amplifywash.com/podcast