Ernie Ionno, owner of the Rail City Carwash, considers the uniforms that his employees wear as important as the soap. They help the employees feel professional, he said.
“Seeing the attendants in nice slacks and a tie gives customers a sense of confidence,” Ionno said.
When you go to other car washes, the employees are dressed in street clothes and you can’t always tell them from the customers he said.
“We want to do the things that really stand out,” Ionno said. “I always try to look for some stark difference between myself and the other competitors and what people come to expect from car washes. I want to focus on things that people really notice.”
People want good, reliable service, Ionno said. At the car wash they try to treat their customers in a professional manner, from how they greet customers to meeting them at the end of the wash to make sure that they are happy with the end result.
Ionno realized that car washes are part of a neighborhood. He wanted the car wash to be a real, solid, stand-up citizen — an example of the change that can benefit Sparks.
Rail City Carwash celebrated its one-year anniversary in September. Ionno is proud of how far they have come but knows how far they have left to go.
Running your own business, according to Ionno, requires extreme dedication.
“I go and I work my business every day,” Ionno said. “I’m your cashier, maintenance man and wash attendant. I love everything there is about washing cars.”
In April, Ionno closed the car wash to replace all of the machinery and redo the plumbing. On Thursday, all new signs were installed.
The customer response to the improvement has been phenomenal. People would leave the car wash and drive back around and comment on the change, according to the owner.
“I want people to think, ‘How do they do all of that (car washing services) and charge only $4.99?’,” Ionno said. “The answer is you gotta wash a lot of cars.”
When Ionno took the helm of the business, they were cleaning 30 cars a day. Now, they wash hundreds a day.
Ionno said what drives the car wash business, contrary to popular belief, is that the winter time is better for business than the summer. In the winter, demand for a clean car goes up because of the mud and slush and the desire to do it yourself goes down.
Ionno wants the car wash to be more than a wash; he wants it to be an enjoyable experience.
He remembered a recent experience when they were just getting ready to close. A woman drove up and said, “You’re not closed yet, are you?” She was almost in a panic.
Ionno told her they were getting ready to close but that they would help her.
She told him that her son had been wanting to drive through the car wash at night because of the lights.
So they opened the business back up.
One piece of advice Ionno has is to be passionate about what you want to do. He said passion is what sets a business apart from everyone else.
“Like I tell my kids,” Ionno said, “I’m really good at washing cars because I love washing cars. You have to love what you do and be passionate about it.”
The carwash is located at 2401 Prater Way near the intersection of Victorian Avenue and El Rancho Drive.