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Rooney cleans up with new business

Jim and Teri Rooney of Farragut are cleaning up because of their attention to detail.

As owners of the recently-opened 3 Minute Magic Carwash on Lovell Road, the Rooneys believe customer service is the key to their success.

“I have a wife and two kids and I wanted to create a family-centered business where people don’t have to clean up before going to a car wash,” Jim Rooney said.

Rooney’s new car wash offers the latest developments in technology to wash customer vehicles in a time-efficient manner.

“This technology isn’t that new to the industry, but it is new to this area,” he said. “I believe we are the first in this area to offer customers something like this.”

Customers drive up to a gate, which sports a large menu offering the choice of washes. The choices range in price from a basic wash for $3 up to the “extreme clean” wash for $10. Customers opting for the less expensive wash also have the choice of adding addition services, such as a tire clean, for a minimal charge.

“It’s just a way to give our customers more options,” Rooney said.

Once past the menu, an electronic machine resembling an ATM greets people with the video image of a former Miss Georgia, which takes them through wash choices and payment options. Unlike a lot of car washes, Rooney says his machines give change in cash, not quarters.

“I’ve also got a high-speed line in here so customers paying with credit or debit cards only have to wait about three seconds,” he said. “Our customers are busy people who are often in a hurry.”

Once past the option machine, drivers then round a quick corner to get lined up for the wash. An attendant is on hand at all times to assist customers in aligning the front, left tire of their vehicle with a conveyer belt which pulls the truck or car through the wash process.

For some drivers, shifting their car into neutral and allowing a conveyor belt to pull it through the wash is a little unnerving, Rooney said. People may instinctively hold the wheel or push the brake. That’s where the attendant comes into play and helps speed the wash process. The attendant also has video monitors that watch every detail as a vehicle passes through the wash.

A pressure plate at the front entrance of the wash begins the process. Rooney said as a car is lining up with the conveyor belt, the pressure plate and sensors just inside the entrance measure the distance of the car from front tire to rear tire. This helps direct the spray nozzles focused on cleaning the tires because the measurements are tailored to each specific vehicle, he said.

The vehicles then pass through cloth mitter curtains that wash its vertical areas, and then through wraps made of soft foam, which wash the horizontal surfaces.

The tire dressing is applied just before a car goes into the dryer portion of the wash.

“We have a special system set up that captures the water we use to wash off the tires and the under portions of a vehicle,” Rooney said. “The water moves through a series of underground separators before it is processed in our filtering equipment where we reduce the particles down to five microns. It is then reused in our high pressure cleaning applications.”

The only water that can’t be recaptured is the water associated during the application of the tire dressing, he said. Because of the chemicals in the tire dressing, that water can’t be reused.

“Our rinse water is completely separate water,” Rooney said. “We take out all the minerals from the water so the cars dry with a spot-free shine.”

Afterwards, customers can pull around and make use of the free vacuums available to them.

The business has become a huge success, he said. Two days before Christmas, his figures showed 329 cars ran through his wash.

“I really think it will be just a short time before we’ll be seeing about eight thousand cars running through here each month,” he said.

This isn’t Jim and Teri’s first venture into the car wash business. They also own a wash on Walker Springs Road called Liquidy Split.

“There were a few things over there that I wanted to do differently,” Rooney said.

Rooney is the owner of a third business, National Detailers Inc., which he and his wife started in 1997 after he decided to leave his 20-year district manager position with Chrysler.

“We had moved to this area and had grown to love it,” he said. “My next stop with Chrysler would have been Detroit, so I decided I wanted to stay here.”

National Detailers Inc., Rooney said, has essentially two facets to it. One facet is to deal with auto shows and events. The other is product specialty work.

In terms of auto shows and events, Rooney said company officials will go to these events and maintain the cars in showroom condition.

“At auto shows, there’s a lot of finger prints and smudges that have to be taken care of,” he said.

Product specialty work, Rooney said, may be somewhat more involved. For example, if Cadillac goes to a golf course in Knoxville and says it wants to sponsor a PGA event with 200 Cadillacs for use in and around the time of the tournament, then they would hire someone like National Detailers Inc. to handle the event.

Rooney said his company would go in to detail all the vehicles, make arrangements for transportation and handle a host of other details.

“We have about twenty-four people on our staff from all three businesses,” he said.

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