Tell us about MILES Auto Spa:
The idea for MILES was a culmination of several things – I was coming upon the conclusion of a long career in the wireless telecom industry. I’d always wanted to create my own business, and with the realization that I could spend time while traveling on airplanes putting the ideas down on paper, I began to piecemeal the concept of MILES Auto Spa into a business plan. My focus groups were informal – I spoke for a couple of years to anyone who’d listen about the idea. And received positive feedback. Bottom line, I’m a car geek who wanted to be in an automobile related business, and made the observation there was a big opportunity for a different kind of carwash, and Cool Springs in 2006 was ripe for that opportunity.
How did the business get started?
Once it was determined that this was what I was going to pursue, I lined up the financing, the partnership structure, formed the LLC and purchased 1.5 acres on Bakers Bridge Road. (Timing is everything.) We began construction in mid-2006, completed it in February of 2007 and opened the last week of the month. This past year, we turned 12 years old.
How has your services and product offering grown?
We came out of the gate offering car washing and detailing services, which are the core products of course. Additionally, we have a gourmet coffee bar, a big comfortable lobby to wait in, and offered other auto related products. We assumed that if people loved their cars, they also enjoyed customizing them, they wanted a cool place to store them and could identify with a company that was solely focused on providing products that are related to one’s vehicle sand driving experiences – wheels, custom garages, cabinets and floors and even high end floor mats and driveway sealing. While the wash services are the main focus, all the other products represent incremental revenue opportunities for us.
Our second and third washes evolved into more of an exterior focused carwash, meaning we don’t clean the interior of the vehicles. One wash is for exterior washes only, while the third wash has free vacuums and cleaning products for self-serve interior cleaning. This is the direction the industry has embraced, but we feel like having these three options in Franklin (and hopefully additional Middle TN locations) covers all of our customers’ needs.
How do you go about running your business from afar?
Fortunately I have a business partner who is an operational guru. Rocky Crossland handles the day to day management of our (now 3) carwashes. He handles all on the ground activity such as employee hiring / training, facilities maintenance, chemicals and equipment and generally everything that can go wrong on a daily basis. Rocky and I have worked together in different businesses now for over twenty years. With a home office and computer, I can stay on top of financials, banking, social media and marketing, events and sponsorships, etc. We divide and conquer, and have a commitment to one another that we must both agree to any initiative we put forth, or we don’t pursue it.
What does future expansion look like for MILES?
We’ve added two more locations in the past five years, both here in Franklin. We’ve always been interested in Davidson county, but land prices have become such that our business plan won’t work with most that remains for sale. It’s simply become cost prohibitive. We’ve recently made offers on land in Smyrna, Nolensville and have considered Mt. Juliet. We continue to look in areas of Middle TN and are exploring a licensing model for our first expansion outside of Tennessee. It’s simply a matter of finding that right piece of real estate that gives us the most confidence in making a large investment.
What’s the most exotic or valuable car you have had in your shop?
We frequently detail Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but the most interesting, and most valuable car we clean a couple of times a year is a 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing. The gentleman, from Nashville, bought the car new when he graduated from high school. He found this dream car at a dealer in New York, flew there to pick it up, and drove it back to Nashville. It’s completely original, and likely has a value well in excess of $1 million. We drive it very carefully!