How a Handshake and an Introduction Helped Bring an Old Style Car Wash into the 21st Century

Case Study

The Problem

Jason O’Brien, who had no prior experience in running a car wash, purchased one in late 2019, hoping for a simple and profitable venture. However, after a few months of managing the business, he realized that there was much more to it than he had anticipated. His car wash was an old-style, high-touch service that lacked a substantial monthly program.

When COVID hit, Jason realized that to survive, he needed to modernize his business. This meant upgrading to attract more members, and building up their monthly program and unlimited wash clubs to have a better safety net than just waiting on busy seasons. “So, that’s when we said, yeah, let’s modernize this.” Jason said. “Let’s start washing cars like it’s 2020, not 1998.”

Apart from the outdated style, Jason’s car wash faced several challenges due to the layout, such as limited 200 amp service and space for interiors. Fortunately, six months into his ownership, he met Bill Barber of WashLinks, who had heard that one of his older sites had switched hands. Bill introduced himself to Jason and shared his expertise, which helped Jason to make changes for the better.

The Strategy & Goal

With Bill’s expertise and hands-on help, Jason was able to implement necessary changes to modernize his car wash business. They started by doing away with their 90s style service, where customers left their car while it went through the tunnel empty. This system led to overlooking many exterior tunnel problems because customers weren’t present to witness them. Once they modernized and people stayed in their cars, Jason and Bill knew that the interior problems of the car wash would become more apparent.

Therefore, they focused not only on functionality but also on the car wash experience. They slowed down the chain speed by 40%, which added around 45 seconds to the trip through the tunnel, making the process more relaxing for customers. They also changed the pressures on the brushes, updated their chemical dispensing system, and installed a more robust drying system to eliminate time-consuming towel drying. This led to a direct impact on their wash club membership.

“Once we became the McDonald’s of car washes,” Jason said, “We noticed our wash club membership grow.” They then focused on branding and updated the exterior by adding new drying systems and other simple changes.

The Results

Four years later, Jason’s car wash, Superior Car Wash, has more than doubled the amount of cars it used to process. Once an old-school high-touch car wash, it’s now a low-touch, Flash Express model that’s still seeing growth. “We needed a company like WashLinks.” Jason said. “We needed Bill behind us.”

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