Super Speed Wash Focused on Car Wash Quality, Value

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This Tennessee Exterior Express Car Wash Company Has Grown, Thrived Through Recession

Super Speed Wash in Murfreesboro, TN

Super Speed Wash is a modern, high-end car wash.

When you can make the customer experience positive and consistent day in and day out, you’re going to succeed in this or any other retail business.

As the largest exterior express car wash operator in Tennessee, Super Speed Wash is dedicated to ensuring a consistent, high-quality car wash experience for every customer on every visit to each of the company's 10 locations.

The company's commitment to quality and value is evident in all facets of their operations. From property selection and building design to branding, staffing, and product offerings, Super Speed Wash strives to exceed customer expectations in both wash quality and customer experience.

"Car washing has a unique set of challenges when it comes to providing consistency across multiple municipalities, water districts and power companies," said Super Speed Wash Chief Operating Officer Brandon Rauch. "Water quality alone provides a great number of challenges, requiring an adjusted approach at each wash to ensure soaps and polishes perform at their highest levels everywhere.”

Despite the challenges, consistency is important to Super Speed Wash -- especially because the company's management has spent the past several years focused on a concentrated television, radio, billboarding, social media, and public relations campaign to promote their brand throughout the 10 markets they serve.

"We have spent a lot of time and energy solidifying our brand to make Super Speed Wash the first name consumers think of when they want to get their cars washed," said Chief Executive Officer Ryan Tyrrell. "Even when we were a small company, it was important to us to brand ourselves at a level commensurate with national advertisers."

Tyrrell said that from the beginning, he knew that it was important to change the stigma many suburbanites (women, especially) had of car washes. "Right or wrong," Tyrrell said, "when we first started in this business, we heard a lot of customers say they had never been to a car wash because in their experience, many seemed unsafe or never had a manager on duty."

To overcome some of the negative car wash stereotypes, Tyrrell decided early on that the buildings themselves would be as significant a part of the Super Speed Wash brand as the company's logo. Super Speed Wash locations are situated in modern retail areas in the markets they serve. They sit on the road with good visibility alongside big box retailers -- and they look like they belong there. From the red brick of the road signs and building exteriors to the well-built and well-lit canopies and quality landscaping, the locations are eye catching and inviting.

Tyrrell adds that if the site and brand connote quality then half the battle is won. "But," he noted, "once you get them into the wash you have to deliver on the quality they expect. Not just meet their expectations, but hopefully exceed them -- every time."

Continuously looking to build upon and improve wash quality, value and efficiency is Rauch's primary focus. "Consumers are increasingly smart and well informed," Rauch said. "And not just about where you and your competitors are located, what services each provide, and pricing. Consumers want value, but today many are also looking for sustainable businesses that are conscious of their impact on the environment and in the community."

The management team at Super Speed Wash attributes the business’ success and continued growth through the recession to adherence to these principles. Rather than circling the wagons and assuming a defensive posture through the recession, the team worked with the local communities in each of the company’s wash locations to establish themselves as a steadfast and reliable business partner in each individual community they served.

“We may have cut back a little on broadcast marketing, but we didn’t pull our advertising efforts. Instead we focused them on grassroots projects that really made us part of the community,” said Tyrrell. The company sponsored high school and little league teams and events, helped local school bands raise money through a variety of fundraising programs, made numerous donations to silent auctions, sponsored 5k races, and even put teams together to help clean up after the significant floods in the Nashville area in 2010.

At the same time, the company worked hard to increase their status as an environmentally friendly business. Through new technologies and procedures, they managed to reduce electricity and water consumption to below industry standards and were certified by the International Car Wash Association’s Water Savers program.

Additionally, the car wash company replaced their chemical line-up with soaps and polishes free of phosphates, butyls, APEs, NPEs and hydroflouric acid, which helped them achieve “Beyond Green” certification from Blue Coral.

While the efforts to reduce water and electrical usage have been great for the environment, they’ve also shown up on the bottom line lowering utility costs per car year over year.

And the final element to which Rauch and Tyrrell attribute the success and continued growth of Super Speed Wash is the company’s staffing and hiring. “Someone might try your wash because of advertising or a good location,” Rauch said. “And they may come back because it’s a good product at a good price. But if you want to build a solid and loyal customer base, you have to create evangelists for your business. And you do that through personal interaction,” he said.

“I tell all of our employees that you may only have fifteen seconds of interaction with a customer as you load them onto the conveyor. So aim to make it the best fifteen seconds of their day,” Rauch added.

“When you can make that experience positive and consistent day in and day out, you’re going to succeed in this or any other retail business. It’s that simple,” Tyrrell said.

And this philosophy seems to be working. After opening its first car wash in Gallatin, Tenn. in 2005, the company has grown to 10 locations with year-over-year sales growth across the company.

Bolstered by the ability to grow quickly and thrive in a competitive industry despite a harsh economic climate, Super Speed Wash began offering car wash consulting services to current and potential car wash owner-operators in 2012 in markets outside the company’s geographic footprint.

“Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how to efficiently run exterior express car washes,” Tyrrell said. After some time fielding calls from investors interested in entering the car wash business, Tyrrell decided to launch a car wash consulting business as an adjunct to operating and managing the growing primary business.

“Branching out into car wash consulting wasn’t something we considered lightly. As we continue to grow and expand Super Speed Wash we realize that we may be training competitors in some markets we may one day enter,” Tyrrell said. “That said, we believe that helping others in our industry run more efficient businesses is ultimately good for our industry.”

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Glenn Hopper
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