Getting to Know Your ICA Board: Billy Schaming

Getting to Know Your ICA Board: Billy Schaming

June 26, 2023

4 minute Read

Getting to know ICA Board Member, Billy Schaming, President and Chief Operating Officer, Crew Carwash.

By Brennan Merkle, ICA Communications Coordinator

ICA Board Member Billy Schaming has been involved in the car wash business his entire life, and probably even learned a thing or two about them while still in the womb. That’s what happens when your dad’s blazing trails in the car wash industry. “Car washing was in my family’s DNA,” Schaming said. Now president and chief operating officer of Crew Carwash, Schaming is taking all those years of stockpiling information to mold Crew Carwash into one that doesn’t just clean cars, but is a role model for the service industry. He set aside a few minutes of his time to share just a fraction of what he’s learned about the industry and some insight on what makes him tick.

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Q. How did you get into the car wash industry?
A. My dad started in car washing back in 1959. He was an early pioneer with a full-service wash called Mr. Magic Car Wash in Pittsburgh, Pa. Throughout grade school and high school, I took on multiple roles at the wash.
In college, my dad converted our wash to an exterior express wash. It was around this time that I decided I wanted to go off on my own. I got my MBA in finance and even had a job lined up. Then I got a call from my dad informing me about a position opening up at a car wash in Dayton, Ohio. 
I took the interview and ended up taking the job running this full-service wash. After 18 months of loving it, I decided to start working for the family business.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you?
A. I have several days each week that I wake up and drive to a car wash; because if I go straight to the office, odds are I’m going to stay there. I visit with team members and customers, provide support where it’s needed and, from there, I can see what’s working and what’s not working. I’ll load a couple of cars, or I’ll pick up some trash. I try to do what we ask everybody else to do.

Q. What keeps you coming back every day?
A. No. 1: The people that I get to work with. No. 2: The opportunity to serve an organization that is striving to be a role model for the service industry… in the service that we deliver to our customers, in the way we train and develop our team members, and in the way we give back to the communities where we do business.

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Q. What has been your biggest learning in the industry?
A. People always count on business owners or senior leaders to have the answers or the solutions. It’s the exact opposite: The best leaders are the ones always learning and asking questions.
Back in Pittsburgh, it was always about producing the cleanest, shiniest car. While that is the service, it’s about the total customer experience. It’s about every interaction from the second they approach your property to when they leave and see their car. 
We’ve learned that highly engaged team members drive customer engagement, which provides the value and profitability that keeps the whole thing spinning.

Q. What should people in the car wash industry be paying attention to?
A. The number one thing you should be focusing on is creating more value for the customer. If highly engaged team members create more value for customers, the next thing you should focus on as a leader and business owner is how do you create more value for your team members? You do that by helping them grow and reach their full potential.

Q. Any trends you’ve been watching in the industry?
A. An immediate trend on the minds of many is staffing for service and retail. Demand for those jobs exceeds supply right now. That trend is causing organizations to innovate in how we recruit and onboard, then innovate in how we train and reward team members. How can we differentiate our value proposition so that we’re more attractive than the other retail/service jobs searching for the same team members?

A trend that’s growing would be the utilities (water, sewer, electric, natural gas) that everyone is experiencing pressure about on the cost side of their business. How can we use less of those very precious resources but provide the same quality service?

A long-term trend would be the overall changes in mobility in vehicles, whether they’re connected, autonomous, shared or electric. Vehicles are becoming moving computers, and five years from now they’re going to be even more different. How do we adapt to this trend so that our industry is aware if their business model meets the changing needs of mobility?

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Q. What’s something you do for fun, that refills your own fuel tank?
A. Anything with my family fuels my tank. Whenever we travel, my son uses his drone to capture footage of different cities, landscapes, or even car washes — maybe even some real estate.

Q. What would people be surprised to find out about you?
A. It’s funny, my first answer would be “Not much.” I’m structured and predictable, and I wear the same outfit every day. Oh, and our dog is named LeBron.

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