Car wash with a big difference

  • Business
  • Monday, 23 Apr 2007

WHEN one talks of the car wash service in Malaysia, the first thing that comes to mind is that it could be a rather small business outfit. 

However, managing director of Carnauba Autospa Sdn Bhd Kumar Prabakaran sees huge potential in the car wash and detailing services business and he intends to be a franchisor. 

Kumar, 46, who embarked on the business three years ago with three friends, said although there were many small and medium sized car wash centres across the country, few offer car-detailing services.  

He feels that many car owners want proper car care services and for their vehicles to maintain that show room glitter and shine for as long as possible. As one of the largest operators of a spa facility for vehicles, Kumar said the company offers services such as car detailing. This include wash and vacuum, polish and wax as well as interior grooming especially for luxury cars. 

To further enhance the appearance of cars, the company also provides services such as dent removals, spray painting and knocking, headlamp restoration, windshield crack repair and interior restoration. 

On the company's expansion plans, Kumar said it would focus on opening car wash and detailing franchise outlets during the second half of the year. 

Kumar Prabakaran at the Carnauba outlet

“We plan to open five or six Carnauba franchise outlets in the Klang Valley within a year,” Kumar said. 

He added that the company was talking with some potential franchisees.  

“A strategic location is the most important factor to consider for the new outlets as the market will be where the cars are.”  

Thus the company is targeting high traffic areas like Bangsar, Sri Hartamas, Kepong, Petaling Jaya, Sunway and Klang. 

“All franchised outlets will have a comfort lounge with Wifi and Internet facilities for customers,” he said. Based on the location, facilities and size of the outlet, he expects each franchise outlet to cost about RM125,000. 

Nevertheless, Kumar is confident that each outlet would be able to generate a sustainable turnover of between RM350,000 and RM400,000 per annum. 

“Probably three years later, more outlets would be opened in other states when our franchised outlets in the Klang Valley are stabilised,” he said, adding that Johor Baru and Penang were potential states.  

Carnauba, which now has 45 employees, is expected to hire 12 workers for each outlet. 

It began operations with a 7,000 sq ft head office and detailing outlet at the automotive industrial area of Temasya Industrial Park in Glenmarie, Shah Alam. Last January, it opened a 15,000 sq ft outlet at Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. 

With the inclusion of the Kuala Lumpur outlet, the company registered a turnover of RM2.4mil last year compared with RM900,000 in 2005. 

“With the growing operations in two existing outlets, we will achieve RM3mil of turnover this year,” Kumar said. The company also plans to launch more services in the third quarter of this year. 

Kumar said the company also caters to automobile and auto logistic companies. “We have also been appointed as the sole car detailing centre for Lexus cars recently,” he added. 

Its corporate clients include local car distributors Auto Eurokars Sdn Bhd (Porsche and Saab cars), DaimlerChrysler Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Mercedes-Benz and Smart), Euromobil Sdn Bhd (Audi and Volkswagen), Sime Darby Auto Italia Sdn Bhd (Alfa Romeo), Lexus Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Lexus), BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd (BMW), Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Mitsubishi), Sisma Auto Sdn Bhd (Jaguar) and BMW dealers Auto Bavaria Sdn Bhd and Sapura Auto Sdn Bhd. 

Besides the washing and waxing areas, Carnauba's outlets have a waiting area, comfort lounge with WiFi facilities, music room, home theatre entertainment room, SPA room and cafe for customers to linger while waiting for their cars to be ready. 

The company has hired five programmers last June to develop its own service management system, designed to manage the entire operations of the company's outlets. Carnauba's Glenmarie outlet could do detailing service for about 12 cars a day and about 15 cars for the Kuala Lumpur outlet during weekdays. The figure could double on weekends.

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