Todd Whichard was no stranger to the workings of a car wash. Before he acquired Diamond Car Wash in Middletown, Delaware about 7 years ago. Todd worked in car wash chemical sales and distribution for nearly 2 decades before he took the leap into business ownership!
A Well-Planned Purchase
Todd of course knew the previous owner of Diamond Car Wash, a retired Maryland state trooper, as this wash was in his broad territory. They had a great sales/client relationship. So much so that when he decided it was time to retire for a second time, he approached Todd with the idea of buying the business. After a full year of research, observations, meetings, conversations and negotiations, Todd took the reins as the new owner/operator with a solid vision for his investment.
Diamond Car Wash Gets A Makeover
Todd got to work on improvements and upgrades soon after the sale wash complete, all the time emphasizing the importance of running a clean, well-organized wash. “I believe a clean wash is super important. How can you sell the concept of clean if your wash isn’t clean?”, he said. “We clean all the time, some things daily, others on rainy days.”
Over the past 5 or 6 years lots of areas of the wash got a facelift including new walls and revamped lighting in some of the bays, new heaters, and awnings on the vacs. Todd added services like carnuaba wax, the foam bath in bay automatic with ICS pay station, a wheel blaster, a 5 brush Ryko unit, a detailing bay, vac, fragramatic and shampoo stations and a Dog Wash. It’s an all-in-1 clean car stop! He also bolstered his security system, adding more cameras. That step has paid for itself over and over.
While improvements continue, the focus in on regular and preventative maintenance to stay ahead of mechanical issues. Todd maintains most of the wash with a little help at times on the automatics. He does work on chains, dollies, hydraulics, pumping stations, solenoids, air valves, vacs and more. He keeps backup pumps on hand to be able to switch them out if any need to be send out for attention, reducing down time drastically.
Diamond Carwash: Moving Forward, Post Covid
Todd said that during the shut downs during Covid business was down as much as 80 percent for them. They weren’t mandated to shut down but, after discussing with other local car wash collegues, they voluntarily shut down interior services. Exterior services continued, and while they cut hours, employees continued to work and get a pay check as scheduled. Additional sanitization and disinfectant practices were put into play, and while their routines have eased up, they do still sanitize some common equipment daily. They also still offer disinfectant services if customers ask for them. For the most part it’s back to business as usual, however, Todd as many other employers has seen a significant shift in reliable work force and work ethic.
“As many business owners know it’s very hard to find help, much less workers that WANT to work,” Todd lamented, “I guess I was raised differently, you don’t get something for nothing, you have to work for it.” This is something he is trying to instill in his kids, 12 and 13 as well, hoping maybe they’ll be getting more involved with the wash as they get a little older.
With no current plans to expand or add any new locations, he is choosing to keep up with and continue to improve the broad range of services and equipment he has at Diamond Car Wash. Quality, top-notch services grow and maintain their loyal customer base. His car wash club members have access to the tunnel 24 hours a day. Other specials pull customers in as well, including his $3 off early bird special and $50 off full details for teachers as a back to school “thank you” offer. Flyers, billboards and other local ads round out the marketing effort when they come up with new promos and specials.
Diamond’s Kleen-Rite and Community Connections
Diamond Car Wash has been a Kleen-Rite customer for decades, and Todd continues the relationship to this day. He frequently makes the drive from Delaware for supplies, taking in the beautiful countryside as a bonus. He also took the day to attend the Kleen-Rite Expo in 2018! With the good fortune of being chosen for the cash booth, he used his winnings towards fresh purchases at the show. He also noted it’s a great place to connect with other owners and friends in the industry as he’s not big on social media.
Relationships are a huge driver for business in general, and Todd knows the importance of local networking. As he is at his wash for a good part of the day each day, he makes it a point to interact. “Customers take notice when you’re present and they definitely value the interaction,” he said, “I’m not at the wash all day every day, but when I am I like to say hi get my eyes on things and get some feedback.” Todd is also active with local churches and other organizations providing donations and sponsorships as he can.
Gems of Wisdom
What advice does Todd have for anyone considering a car wash? Two things first: look at your location and do your homework! Make sure you look at the location and know what’s in the area. Competition, especially from chains, is aggressive, and some areas have so many washes it can dilute your business. “I watched this wash for a full year before I pulled the trigger, and it’s been a good investment. As a car wash owner you should expect to be on site every day if you want to be successful. I had to learn that,” Todd said. “Otherwise it’ll be your employees driving your level of success, not you, and they are only part of it.”
We’d like to thank Todd for hosting us for this interview! We wish him continued success at Diamond Car Wash!