October 22, 2019
Entrepreneurship runs in Danny and Anthony Daniele’s blood. They literally grew up in the family business, the Daniele Family Companies, which was founded in 1969. Now as the company’s presidents, they lead a diverse portfolio of businesses ranging from construction to real estate to restaurants.
So when they had the opportunity to purchase the perfect location for an express exterior car wash, it sounded like a good challenge. In 2011, they opened their first Royal Car Wash in Rochester, NY. Soon, two other locations followed.
The Danieles were officially in the car wash business.
That’s not to say it came easily. Despite their natural business instinct, the learning curve turned out to be steeper than they expected.
“The first two years were pretty tough,” Danny Daniele said. “Revenue was low. Profits were low.”
They employed some typical strategies to promote their new locations: Running newspaper ads, establishing a website, even giving away washes for the first couple weeks. Still, they struggled to get momentum.
“The car wash business is very different from the restaurant business, which is where we had most of our experience,” said Anthony Daniele. “In restaurants, when you open, everyone flocks to try the newest place to eat. The car wash business is more of a business that requires getting customers to try it once and hopefully creating an experience that they want to repeat.”
Ultimately, Royal Car Wash was able to create that experience, establishing a reputation of quality and customer service. Still, they needed to find a way to achieve success faster when they opened new locations.
Some of the Danieles’ mentors in the car wash industry recommended Suds™, a marketing agency owned by DRB that exclusively serves the car wash and quick lube industries. The Danieles met the Suds team at an industry trade show and were immediately impressed.
“They seemed to have more experience in marketing with car washes than any other marketing agency,” Danny said.
That made the decision easy. Royal Car Wash engaged Suds in the grand opening of their car wash in the Irondequoit area of Rochester.
With Suds’ help, Royal Car Wash promoted their grand opening and free car washes like they had never done before, sending out 20,000 postcards and investing $5,000 in social media advertising.
“We went in with a much clearer plan of how many club plans we wanted to have in the first 90 days, and we planned for pre-opening, opening and post-opening,” Danny said. “The goal was to get 1,000 members within 90 days. We ended up meeting and exceeding that goal. Actually, we got 1,243 members!”
Perhaps the most important thing Suds did was help them establish a strong email marketing program, ensuring that Royal Car Wash was capturing customer emails.
“We learned the importance of getting customer information in those first two weeks,” Danny said. “By doing that, we had a list of almost 10,000 contacts we could nurture and call upon.”
The Danieles have since opened three additional locations with Suds. Their most recent grand opening for their West Seneca location broke records in sales, wash plan signups and car counts.
“It keeps getting better every time we open,” Danny said.
Now that they have the grand opening process down, the Danieles are enjoying the car wash business and are excited to expand. Six new sites are planned to be opened by 2021, and by 2025 the Danieles hope to have 20 Royal Car Wash locations.
“It’s a great business and an opportunity to provide young adults with their first job,” Anthony said. “Honestly, one of the things we thrive on is mentoring employees and teaching them to be leaders. Hopefully, some will stay and grow with the company.”
For other car wash operators facing the same challenges navigating the intricacies of grand openings, the Danieles say they should reach out to Suds. They know Suds will be a part of all of Royal Car Wash’s grand openings going forward.
“It’s been great meeting and getting to know the team at Suds,” Danny said. “We look forward to the success of our future locations with grand openings and ongoing maintenance with our team and the Suds team.”