“I just always had this feeling of wanting to build a car wash,” Landes said. “It took me five years and $100,000 before I could put a shovel in the ground. But, it was all worth it.”
Landes was unfamiliar with the car wash industry when he started. However, with some help from seasoned operators, everything fell into place.
“I was very fortunate to have hard working people who were willing to help this car wash,” Landes said. “And willing to walk us through the beginning.”
Operations manager Mike Bitner joined the team in 1994. Mike worked at a bank across the street, and was eager to get the car wash in gear.
“Mike came to me straightforward and said ‘I want to run your car wash when it opens,'” Landes said. “From there on he has been a phenomenal help and has done a tremendous job keeping our car wash going.”
Bitner and Landes work closely with assistant manager Tony DiFelice. DiFelice has been in the car wash industry since 1998 and feels there is no comparison to this business.
“I have spent time at other washes and watched their operations,” he said. “When I came to Harleysville it was like coming to a car wash Nirvana. Larry is a terrific owner and Mike knows what he is doing. There isn’t anything that I see here that is negative. It is the best feeling working for someone who knows exactly how to run a business.”
There is no close competition around for the Harleysville Car Wash. However, the site is well prepared for heavy business. The management team always keeps enough backup parts and chemicals on hand.
“The line will go all the way out to the street when (they get salted),” Landes said. “Most days we will get away with doing 600 cars in our touchless alone.”
Harleysville Car Wash flourishes off of customer service. Every employee, including high school students, is well trained and expected to maintain high standards.
“Customers come to us for many reasons, one being customer service,” DiFelice said. “Our (young employees) know what’s required of them and are well trained through every aspect of this profession.”
Ready for Business
The business is not an easy one, but Harleysville Car Wash takes pride in what they do and how they do it. Whether it is upkeep on self serve bays and tunnels, or staying up to date with technology, the team is on it!
“We have updated our pumps in the touchless, (and made) many other upgrades,” Landes said. “I know I can always count on Mike to repair whatever needs to be fixed. It would kill us if we had to call someone out here to help us with every breakdown or loose end that happened.”
“The way I work is this: staying consistent will bring you constant success,” Bitner said. “What you do with one customer you have to do with all. Create good, quality washes and convince customers their car is safe with our wash. This business is all about trial and error so you must do what is necessary to stay relevant. Treat yourself as a customer until you are satisfied and relay that on to the actual customer. They will appreciate it more and come back every single time.”