Sonny’s The CarWash Factory
Business Growth Drives Modernization
Sonny’s The CarWash Factory (Sonny’s) is the world’s leading manufacturer of conveyorized car wash equipment, parts and supplies. Over the last few years, Sonny’s has grown exponentially through acquisitions and organic growth and significantly expanded its market leadership as a total car wash solutions provider.
“The industry is booming, our leadership position is strengthening, and we’ve carried out a series of acquisitions to create a scenario of exponential growth,” said Dave Richardson, vice president of information technology at Sonny’s.
But Sonny’s fast growth created a highly complex technology landscape that by early 2021 meant incorporating 13 new data sources and nine different ERP systems.
“We wanted to bring these data sources and systems onto a common platform that would give us the visibility, modern capabilities and automation to support the needs of a much larger business with multiple product lines and global customers,” said Richardson.
Sonny’s IT strategy was a key part of a multi-year, multi-phased business transformation that involved consolidating all its manufacturing and business operations on SAP. With a significant part of the company running on SAP ECC, SAP’s legacy ERP, Sonny’s put a plan in place to initially bring several of its businesses onto ECC, but then over the next few years move entirely to SAP S/4HANA, SAP’s modern ERP. The move to S/4HANA would start with Sonny’s CarWash Chemistry, a new state-of-the-art factory being built in Mentor, Ohio. The goal was to have S/4HANA implemented in time for the factory’s grand opening in June 2022.
Given the complexity of Sonny’s transformation, the company needed a trusted partner to help manage and optimize its existing SAP environment through the transition and work in lockstep with internal teams and SAP to support the move to S/4HANA.
Finding the Right Partner
One of the first challenges to address was the lack of support the company was receiving for its existing SAP environment. Richardson noted that in early 2021 when he joined the company, SAP ECC was being managed by an offshore provider. “Given the pace of our growth, the situation was untenable. We were dissatisfied with their level of service—they were costly and introduced more issues than they solved.”
Richardson looked for a new partner with the expertise and global capabilities to support Sonny’s over the long term. In June 2021, Sonny’s switched to Navisite, an SAP Gold Partner, to manage its SAP ECC environment. Navisite’s managed services cover the full range of infrastructure and application managed services (AMS), including performance monitoring and optimization, break/fix support, maintenance, upgrades, value-added enhancements and security services, including monitoring, patching, threat detection and response.
“We are extremely happy with Navisite,” said Richardson. “From the start, their team has delivered ‘5-star’ service levels, with the expertise and 24/7 support we need to keep SAP up and running optimally. Navisite also serves as our front line of defense for security—proactively detecting and remediating threats before they impact our company.”
With full confidence in Navisite’s team, Richardson has reduced the number of business analysts on staff supporting ECC down to four, enabling him to shift his team’s expertise and time to other strategic priorities.
Improved Distribution and Costs
Richardson noted that Navisite’s SAP expertise goes beyond day-to-day management to provide value-added enhancements and functional support. “Navisite has helped us improve many of our processes to streamline how we operate as a business,” he said.
One such project involved a change to Sonny’s car wash parts distribution process. The company maintains five distribution centers across the U.S.: Arizona, Atlanta, Florida, Texas and New Hampshire. Customers often order parts that need to be sourced from multiple distribution centers. The existing process required Sonny’s team to create multiple sales orders and manually coordinate the shipment of parts from different locations. The task was laborious and time-consuming, often resulting in expedited shipping payments to ensure all parts would arrive to the customer on the same day.
To solve the problem, Navisite built custom logic into SAP based on zip codes, which intelligently determined which distribution centers had items stocked to fulfill orders in the most timely and efficient manner. With this process change, Sonny’s can create one sales order with all parts and ensure same-day arrival for the purchaser—typically within 1-to-2 days—regardless of which distribution centers the parts come from and without paying for expedited shipping.
The result: Sonny’s has reduced shipping fees by avoiding rush charges while increasing sales order fulfillment efficiency, accuracy and timeliness. According to Richardson, this new process is just one example of how the Navisite team is helping Sonny’s scale to meet increasing customer demand while improving customer satisfaction.
Factory Transforms on S/4HANA
Not long after Navisite came on board, Sonny’s was ready to take the next step in its SAP journey—implementing S/4HANA at Sonny’s CarWash Chemistry in Mentor, Ohio. In September 2021, Sonny’s partnered with SAP and Navisite to implement S/4HANA at its new modern factory in time for the June 2022 grand opening.
Navisite helped migrate Sonny’s CarWash Chemistry off legacy systems used at the old factory and implement S/4HANA hosted on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC). Once everything was up and running at the new factory, Navisite took over with managed services including functional support, SAP Basis and advisory services for the monitoring and triaging of Sonny’s RISE with SAP/HEC landscape.
Since moving to S/4HANA, Richardson has seen significant benefits, including:
- Better prediction and planning of material resources, scheduling and forecasting
- Improved shipping accuracy of 99.5%—a 20% improvement from the old system
- An 89% faster month-end close process—from 28 days down to just three
According to Richardson, Sonny’s can now “produce smarter” with accurate and timely insights that guide the company on what volume of chemicals they should be stocking based on sales history and projections.
“It’s also had a positive impact on our employees’ productivity and job satisfaction,” said Richardson. “The combination of our modern factory with S/4HANA has eliminated many manual processes while making it far easier for all departments to scale for increased customer demand.”
Migrating to ECC on Azure
Sonny’s near-term goal of moving several business lines to ECC involved migrating to a public cloud solution on Microsoft Azure. For these efforts, Sonny’s turned to Navisite’s cloud migration services and status as an Azure Expert MSP to help migrate three of its businesses: Sonny’s CarWash Controls and two of its acquired companies: GoToKiosk and PECO.
Navisite first migrated Sonny’s CarWash Control’s customer-facing e-commerce Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution from a data center to Azure, and then focused on bringing both acquired companies onto ECC on Azure. GoToKiosk has been completed, and PECO CarWash Systems will be completed in April 2023.
Navisite continues to provide ongoing AMS and managed cloud services for all three businesses, including managed hosting, O/S management, cloud, and full disaster recovery and backup services.
According to Richardson, migrating its Controls business to Azure couldn’t have come at a better time: “Just 10 days after we migrated, the fiber cables in our data center were accidentally cut.
That would have shut off access for 600 car wash customers that use Controls to run their business. But we avoided that problem entirely with the move to Azure.”
Modern ITMS with ServiceNow
The modernization of Sonny’s IT environment highlighted another area for improvement: the company’s ticketing and IT management system (ITMS). Richardson has tapped Navisite to implement ServiceNow. As part of the project, Navisite is integrating Sonny’s ServiceNow back-end with its own ServiceNow implementation, so Sonny’s business analysts can easily pass on support requests to the Navisite team when they need help.
The integration will significantly streamline how the company handles IT service requests. Currently, Sonny’s business analysts have to log into an internal platform to access and evaluate logged tickets and try to triage them. If the team needs help from Navisite, they must log out of the internal platform and onto Navisite’s ServiceNow account. By integrating both ServiceNow systems, Sonny’s will eliminate the need for users to toggle between two different platforms, saving them significant time.
“Our ServiceNow implementation is a game changer,” said Richardson. “We anticipate a 40% improvement in business analyst productivity. It’s just another way that the Navisite team is supporting our IT environments, our customers and our business.”
Long-Term Partner Committed to Success
Sonny’s is continuing on its transformation journey, with Navisite at its side providing ongoing managed services of the entire SAP environment. “Ultimately, operating our entire business on S/4HANA will give us truly holistic, enterprise-wide views to ensure anything we manufacture on the finished goods side is available on the distribution side,” said Richardson.
“We are thrilled with the outcomes that Sonny’s has achieved on their initial deployment of S/4HANA. We look forward to supporting the next steps in their transformation to gain even greater levels of automation, productivity, cost savings and intelligence,” said Richard Primm, Vice President at SAP.
In the meantime, Navisite continues to support Sonny’s S/4HANA and ECC environments. By taking the burden off internal teams and implementing modern processes that save time and money, Sonny’s can focus on developing the innovations and capabilities needed to grow the business and expand its market leadership.
“We know we can lean on Navisite, and they will deliver with the highest service levels,” said Richardson. “Their team is responsive, reliable and proactive. Most importantly, Navisite is a trusted partner committed to helping us succeed as we continue to transform as a company.”