Cashing In on Clean Cars
Alex Scott is no stranger to running businesses. He used his experience founding Springfield Parking Company to help him create his revolutionary waterless carwash company, Metro Shine.
Startup Stage: Spreading nationwide
Date Founded: 2012
Number of Employees: 35
In 2008 when the economy was in decline, Alex Scott, owner of Metro Shine, noticed that airport parking companies were losing revenue because business travel was slowing down. As the owner of Springfield Parking Company, Scott was thinking of ways to help supplement that revenue without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a car washing facility. He decided to create a waterless carwash under a new company, Metro Shine, using three eco-friendly, water-based products: a prep spray, a tire shine and a carwash. Scott created, tested, developed and marketed the product in Springfield, where he currently runs the business, but since perfecting the formula, he’s focused solely on partnerships with commercial parking companies and international airports across the country in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and Colorado. After having juggled running his successful business with launching a start-up, all the while operating it long-distance, Scott is sharing his best advice for breaking through with a new business.
TIP: Go all-in, no matter what.
“If you’re willing to put the hours in, you have a good idea and you’re willing to adapt and change, if it’s going to be successful then it will be successful because of that. It won’t be because you didn’t try. I have to go in and work hard to figure out what this is going to be. I’ve got to spend money, I’ve got to stress out about it, I’ve got to go along with everything that comes with this. If you go all in, I’m not saying you’ll make it, but your chances will go up.”
TIP: It’s okay to wait to pursue your idea until you’re ready.
“Make sure you love what you’re doing, make sure you have the time, effort and means to do it, and also make sure you’re 100-percent ready to give it your all. If you’re not any of those three, don’t do it. Wait. There’s nothing wrong with waiting. If you have a really good idea, and it’s that good, wait. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see an opportunity and say this really makes sense. You’ll get in there and maybe have a better opportunity to be successful because you did wait.”
TIP: Hold onto your safety net.
“Don’t quit your other job right off the bat. That’s why I have three or four other companies. I could go start another company because I’ve got employees, managers, I’ve got everything ready to go to allow me to concentrate on another company and not have to worry. I spent the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears in the first two or three years of [Springfield Parking Company] to get to that point. Sometimes you might not be to that point, and you just have to wait until you are. If you have an idea, and it’s a really good idea and you love it and you want it, how bad do you want it? Go do it.”
TIP: Let people poke holes in your idea.
“It makes you stop and think: Are they stupid, do they really know what they’re talking about or do they have a point? If it makes you think and gives you that empty feeling in your stomach, then it’s probably a good idea to take their advice. Go to somebody wiser, especially a pessimist. God bless pessimists. They’ll come up with something you never would have thought of. Go to a pessimist. Optimists are great, but they’ll optimize you right off the side of a cliff.”
TIP: Know that you’re going to make mistakes, and try to learn something from them.
“A lot of mistakes were made, and I’m probably still making some today. You just try to pick yourself up from them and try to learn from them if you can, and if you can’t, you can’t. Some mistakes you try to figure it out, but sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet thinking this might be a huge mistake, but you’ve got to do it anyway. I’ve done that many times.”
TIP: Don’t be afraid of trial and error. Constantly question your methods.
“There’s a lot of learning curve for each product. What’s the best way to apply it? What happens when it’s cold? It’s a waterless carwash, but the main ingredient is water, so it freezes. How do you train employees, and what’s the best process to do it. It’s not a job that you go to college and get a degree for, so turnover is high. What’s the best way to train people so that they can learn it quickly, be efficient and be really good at it in a short amount of time without a large learning curve? We didn’t know what it was going to be like and how well it was going to do. We thought it would be good, but we didn’t know how good. It’s been one of those things that’s been a great learning curve.”
TIP: Have a “Yes” attitude.
“Never say no to an opportunity. One of the things that I learned [while working at Convoy of Hope] is that unless it was horrible and didn’t make any sense, you always say yes to an opportunity. Never say no, maybe, or wait. Say yes, and do it right now. [For example, when handling contracts] on a big airport, you’re not just dealing with mom-and-pop, one person where that’s the only location they have. With a big international airport, they’re across the country. To be able to say yes we can service this contract here and we can also go anywhere you need us to be across the country and we can service those contracts as well. That has made us really appealing for many companies.”