Car Wash - Summer 2015 - (Page 46)

on a mUggY May afternoon in northeastern New Jersey, customers line up and wait for up to 20 minutes in a small, jampacked store to speak with Peter Schaffer. He's the key to getting their motorcycles back on the road after a long, idle winter. Schaffer, a 60-something, mustached man with a deep, confident voice and a quick smile, is co-owner of Circle Cycle in Ridgefield, a longtime fixture in this densely populated, traffic-snarled suburb just west of New York City. He and a crew of four have been repairing motorcycles and selling parts and accessories for more than three decades, making him a walking encyclopedia of all things motorcycle and earning him the trust of his customers. Here, the Great Recession is in the rearview mirror. The lean years - when big-ticket discretionary purchases such as motorcycles were rarely made, and when high-markup retail items such as leather boots and jackets sat on the shelf undisturbed and worn-out tires were asked to make it through one more riding season - are over. Cautious optimism is in the air. "As soon as the weather gets nice, everybody wants their bike back on the road, and we get hit all at once," Schaffer said. "Things get pretty crazy around here, especially on Saturdays. I'm actually looking for another certified mechanic to start part time. Actually, we probably could use him full time as long as he really knows what he's doing. It'll be like this through the summer because everybody wants to take their bike down the shore. Hopefully, this will be one of our best years in a while." For small businesses like Circle Cycle, the recent headlines about the economy have been encouraging. U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in April, according to the Labor Department, marking 62 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. The unemployment rate decreased to 5.4 percent, down from 10 percent at the height of the Great Recession in 2009. Though wages have stayed flat, consumers were feeling better about their purchasing power as the economy improved. The New York-based Conference Board private research group said its index of consumer confidence unexpectedly decreased to 95.2 46 in April from 101.4 in March, but that was still far higher than the 53.7 average for the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009. And corporate America has been celebrating record profits, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average nearing its March 2 record of 18,288.63 for much of the spring. "The data we're seeing is largely positive," said Dr. Eric Liguori, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Tampa and a vice president at the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, a group of academics that supports small businesses through research and education. "According to recent data, roughly 75 percent of small business owners are confident that the economy is going to be strong for the next 12 months, so the outlook is pretty good. Growth has been incremental but steady." the moneY trail The private sector has added 12.3 million jobs over the past four years, and small businesses have accounted for about twothirds of those gains, according to Beth L. Goldberg, New York District director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides counseling, credit and federal contracting for small businesses. In the wake of the financial crisis, many banks severely tightened their standards for small-business loans, making it difficult for small businesses to get off the ground or expand. The Small Business Administration can offer guarantees on these loans and education for small business owners to give them a greater chance at success. According to the latest data from the Small Business Administration, almost 66 percent of small businesses will survive their first two years, Goldberg said, and among those that fail, a leading cause is a lack of business experience among the principals, not a challenging economic climate. The four-year survival rate is between 55 percent and 60 percent, Goldberg said. "Small businesses like car washes have been the engine of this recovery," she said. "When the recession hit and a lot of people lost their jobs, they had to look at the alternatives that were available to them, and many of them said, 'I've got an idea, and I'm going to go for it.' That's the American spirit, the American dream." wage wars aheaD Despite the recent robust growth, small businesses still face several challenges, including the possible raising of the federal minimum wage and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, said Raymond J. Keating, chief economist at the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, which represents about 100,000 small-business members and advocates for free-market public policy in Washington. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, and the push by President Obama and congressional Democrats to raise it to $10.10 or above has met stiff resistance from congressional Republicans in the majority and business leaders. But 29 states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages mo a resUrgent economY has small bUsinesses PicKing UP steam By nick Sohn car wash magazine | | Summer 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Car Wash - Summer 2015

Letter From the Ica
By the Numbers
Overheard Online
Chip and Pi N Confusion?
New Techniques for Reducing the Ever-Increasing Costs of Health Care
The Car Wash Show 2015
Planning for Disaster
Motoring Ahead
What’s It Really Worth?
Wearing Too Many Hats?
Take a Tour
Wash Ideas
The Orgin of the Exterior Car Wash
Blast From the Past
Marketing Minute
Ask Champ
Download It!
Index of Advertisers
Focus on the Member

Car Wash - Summer 2015