Who would have thought that customers could sit down on a plush chair, have a cup of coffee at an in-house café, surf the internet and watch their kids in the play area at a carwash? This might be something one would expect from an upscale downtown lounge or a dentist’s office, but certainly not a carwash. Strange as it may seem, a family-friendly atmosphere is what Mojo’s Car Wash in Omaha, NE, has adopted as its core value since its grand opening in March.
Co-owner Andy Davis said that when he and his business partner, Erik Lighthall, decided to open a full-service carwash in western Omaha, they centered their business plan on the people who lived there — young families with kids. With only three other full-service washes in the area that were not necessarily family-friendly, the duo saw the need for a new, fun and high-quality wash geared toward that demographic.
With that in mind, Davis and Lighthall set out to build a carwash that would meet those needs. On top of the state-of-the-art, brush-free washing machinery; the high-quality, environmentally-friendly soaps; and an impressive water retention system, the pair ignored advice from other business owners and professionals in the industry and dished out extra money to build an upscale, family-friendly lobby. The area is equipped with plush seating, HD television, free Wi-Fi, Starbucks coffee and a café. Adults can relax after a long day’s work while their kids enjoy the play-area as well. The kids have an immaculately clean area filled with toys, Legos, books and a hand-painted mural of soap bubbles. They even have their own flat-screen television that runs the Nickelodeon Channel, and the café also offers snacks geared for kids. The entire lobby is pet friendly, and pets are encouraged to stop in at Mojo’s, with their owners, of course.
While all those things might keep the adults and kids happy and busy, one thing at Mojo’s makes the kids want to come back again and again — Mojo’s own foam gun. Kids can actually shoot volleys of suds at cars going through the wash tunnel. Davis said that kids absolutely adore the foam gun at Mojo’s, and it has actually become a neighborhood hot-spot.
More importantly, the response that Mojo’s has received from its customers has been extremely positive. Since their grand opening in March, the new wash already has regulars and is continuing to add users every day. Customers appreciate the fact that they have a facility in their neighborhood that provides them with the highest quality service possible at a good price. In addition, it provides a safe, clean and comfortable place for the families to relax and maybe blast a car or two with sudsy foam from their famous foam gun.
Davis and Lighthall stated that people just keep coming back and they could not be happier. Both Davis and Lighthall were successful corporate lawyers that tossed around the idea of opening a carwash in west Omaha for a while. They deliberated over the idea, and at one point almost decided it was not for them. In the end, they knew that they could make their vision a reality because there was a demand for a family-friendly carwash. They did their research on the local residents and geared their entire business plan to fit those needs. The duo walked away from their law offices and got to work opening Mojo’s.
Knowing practically nothing about the carwash industry, Davis and Lighthall talked to industry professionals to put together ideas on how to construct their project. Eight months after opening, they are proud to be a non-franchise, locally-owned business that is able to offer something to customers that other washes in the area do not: Family-friendly accommodations and service. This is what sets Mojo’s apart, what fueled their quick success and what will propel them in the future.
The family-friendly trend in full-service carwashes seems to be spreading around the country. Cruz Thru Express, which operates seven different locations in California, is no exception. JoAnna Smith from Cruz Thru said that they base their business plan off of the motto, “Every customer, every time.” This motto does not just apply for adults, but for children as well. Cruz Thru has a combination of incredible employees and a clean, family-friendly atmosphere that keeps customers returning again and again. But, how do they do it?
Cruz Thru pays an incredible amount of attention to kids at all of their locations. Creative employees cover the windows of the facilities with murals of Disney characters and scenes using window chalk and paint. One location even has a garden of flowers arranged so that they look like Mickey Mouse. Before a car goes into the tunnel, employees hand out stickers and lollipops to the kids, and they may even decorate one of the car windows with a flower or some other Disney cartoon.
Cruz Thru has been such a success in the community that most of the employees know many of the customers on a first name basis. Referring back to their motto of “every customer, every time,” Smith said that Cruz Thru’s goal is to make people feel as comfortable as possible each time they come to Cruz Thru, and one of the ways that they can do that is to personally know their customers.
Like Mojo’s, Cruz Thru is located in an area filled with young families, so being able to appeal to that demographic is of the highest importance. Smith said the public’s reaction to the family-friendly style service has been terrific, and it forms long-lasting relationships with customers, which is important to the chain’s reputation in the community and an important factor in allowing Cruz Thru to grow.
On top of that, Cruz Thru wants to make the wash experience as memorable as possible for its customers. They do this by offering a high-quality wash, creating a kid-friendly atmosphere, maintaining very clean facilities and offering a few things that other washes do not. Cruz Thru’s Photo Shoot and the Hot Lava Bath are both good examples.
The Photo Shoot is one of Cruz Thru’s features that help the washes stand apart. A camera takes a photo of each car as it goes through the tunnel, and it is edited to include a colorful themed background. Themes are sometimes reflective of the season, so the October background featured scary ghouls, goblins, zombies and haunted houses. Other background themes have included The Mario Bros., Willy Wonka, Peter Pan, a tropical beach and the front of the White House with the president. Customers can then go to Cruz Thru’s website to find their photo, and the photos can be entered into a monthly contest where the winner will receive prizes.
Another outstanding feature at Cruz Thru is the Hot Lava Bath. By purchasing their premium wash package, customers get to experience Cruz Thru’s signature carwash effect. A river of thick, orange-colored soap lit up by orange lights falls from a mountain shaped dispenser like lava onto the car as it passes through the tunnel.
Cruz Thru Express is no doubt an exciting place for a carwash. Not only is it exciting for adults who get a good wash for a good price, but the kids get to enjoy all the family-friendly services they offer as well. From the Disney murals to the free lollipops to the Photo Shoot and the molten orange Hot Lava Bath, a wash at Cruz Thru seems just short of a day at an amusement park.