Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Help Me Howard: Mobile Car Wash
If you have a license to do business in a county, you might think that gives you the right to work in every city in that county, so why does one man's mobile car wash company continue to get the boot wherever it goes? Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser drives home the answers.
WSVN -- When Ronnie Dupree was grinding away, working for someone else, the same thought kept popping into his head.
Ronnie Dupree: "I was thinking like, you know, how can I invest my money in something and get my money back?"
Ronnie's answer to his question? Start his own mobile car wash business.
Ronnie Dupree: "I got a generator, a pressure cleaner, a water tank, nothing major, nothing that will cost you an arm and a leg. May cost you a little arm, but you know, not a leg."
After buying the equipment, he hired two guys, got an occupational license from Broward County, and Hands on Mobile went to work.
Ronnie Dupree: "I make appointments, sometimes I go in the parking lot. People see me washing cars, and they are like, 'Hey, can you wash my car?' and I'm like, 'Yeah.'"
Working hard, making a living, until he started getting shut down.
Ronnie Dupree: "Code enforcement, the sergeant, the lieutenant, police officers came up here and just straight embarrassed me, like, 'Listen, if you come back here and wash cars or we catch you anywhere in the City of Sunrise washing cars, we are going to take you to jail.'"
Sunrise told him to get out, so he did, but it seemed no matter where he went, code enforcement or the police would soon follow.
Ronnie Dupree: "Lauderhill, Tamarac, Lauderdale Lakes, all of these people telling me they don't allow mobile detailing in their city."
Each time Ronnie would show them his occupational license to do mobile detailing in Broward County.
Ronnie Dupree: "In there, it does not limit me to no city that is in Broward County. By my understanding, the City of Lauderhill, the City of Sunrise, the City of Lauderdale Lakes and the City of Tamarac, is in Broward County."
But, no matter what city he tried to work in, even on private property where he was invited, he got the same response.
Ronnie Dupree: "Code enforcement, police drive by, 'Hey, you can't do that, and I'm like, can I at least finish this car? 'No, you can't finish this car, if you don't leave right now, I'm going to take you to jail, I'm going to right you a citation.'"
Ronnie says he sees other mobile car wash guys in the same cities not getting run off, and just like those guys, he is working, trying to take care of his family.
Ronnie Dupree: "I don't think it's fair to me. I'm young. I have five kids. I have a lot going on in my life and every corner you go on, or every business that you go to, you have someone telling you, you can't wash cars. That's like, it's depressing."
But is his occupational license worthless when he drives into one of Broward Counties 24 cities, even when he is on private property?
Ronnie Dupree: "I need someone like Help Me Howard to dig a little deeper, to find out what is the problem. What is so illegal? What is so wrong about washing cars, doing mobile detailing?"
Let's turn to the digger Mr. Finkelstein...
Howard Finkelstein: "Ronnie can definitely wash cars in any Broward city on private property, if, in addition to his county occupational license, he gets what's called a home office license from the city he lives in or from the county.
Ronnie is going to get the home license to go with his occupational license, and if a police officer disagrees with Howard's view of the law, Howard says, be careful.
Howard Finkelstein: "The first thing, do not fight or argue with the police, they will take you to jail. Call the police department or the city manager, ask them to call their attorney to explain the law to them."
For Ronnie, it's good news. He can put in a full day's work to try and make a living.
Ronnie Dupree: "I mean, it's good money, good money. It pays the bills. It beats working for someone."
Ronnie's problem brings up the question, in a county like Miami-Dade with 35 cities or Broward with 24 cities, how can you know all the nuances of all the laws? You can't because sometimes each city has its own laws, different than other cities.
That's another reason we created Help Me Howard. Ready to wash your hands of a dirty problem? Want to feel nice and shiny? You don't have to be mobile, just email or call. We won't wax poetic, because it wouldn't be pretty.