I recently had the opportunity to join some of our team members on-site at our first car wash acquisition, the Hurricane Express purchase of two sites in Fayetteville and Lumberton, NC. I love being on-site at acquisitions, and it is my aim to join the team at every single asset we acquire.
This time was especially valuable as, unlike with our self-storage and multifamily assets, we are not handing off management to a third party. We’re doing it ourselves. It was incredibly enlightening to step on-site at these two locations and see our value-add plan begin to take shape.
One of the key questions we’ve received as we’ve stepped into this asset class is, “Do you have experience operating car washes?”
No. But more importantly, we have strong experience profitably operating far more complex businesses. Beyond that, we have an incredible team in place, and a comprehensive plan to add tremendous value to these businesses.
I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to run a successful business, and beyond the viability and nature of the underlying business itself, it comes down to two essentials. Good people & good processes.
In business, good people take ownership and responsibility. They have common sense. They’re humble and they’re customer-focused.
Good processes are clearly defined, iterative, and consistent.
Cameron Broom, our director of car wash operations, alongside our managing partners, had already developed a comprehensive takeover plan, so we literally hit the ground running. Prior to the acquisition, several areas of improvement had already been identified, and as we spent time on-site with the staff, these were reinforced and clarified. A lot of questions we’re asked:
How many memberships are you selling per day?
What’s the average car count?
Tell us about your marketing efforts?
What’s your sales pitch?
How are employees incentivized?
How are you rewarding and thanking your monthly members?
When was the last time you bid out chemical costs?
Good people implement good processes. They hire other good people. They reproduce! They create culture.
On one of our recent webinars, you heard Dan say our goal is to be the Chick-fil-A of car washes. If you’ve ever been to Chick-fil-A, you know exactly what that means. There is an incredibly consistent customer experience no matter which Chick-fil-A you visit. Now, if you’re a Chick-fil-A devotee, this may be sacrilegious, but their food isn’t dramatically different from the competition. It’s the experience. It’s hearing “my pleasure.” It’s the way the person who takes your order and hands you your food smiles at you. And that culture is incredibly valuable. The average Chick-fil-A franchise is more profitable than the average Subway, Taco Bell, and McDonald’s… combined.
After being on-site for two full days, I can say with complete confidence that we’re in a very solid business, and we have great people in place who will reproduce through great processes. As we all know, especially in our current world, a wonderful customer experience is rare. But when you have one, it sticks with you.