Locality and the feeling of belonging to something has always been a part of the human story. Since where we reside shapes who we are and how we live, it’s only natural to feel pride for your area. Countries unite vast peoples under one flag and patriotic songs. But even regions within a nation can differ in history and culture, and so those who identify with each other on one level do not do so on another. And this pride in location keeps getting divided further and further as regions break into states and provinces, cities and towns and even neighborhoods.
Carwashes, like all businesses, are a product of the people that create and run them, and so they will reflect the local flavor of the people. Therefore, it stands to say that even businesses — as the sum of the people who make them up — can have regional pride in everything from their appearance and name to how they interact with the local community.
Wild Blue Car Wash is just one such business that is a proud member of the Colorado Springs, Colorado, community, and it has made a commitment to serving that populace.
Adventuring into the wild blue yonder
David Begin, perhaps better known as the current president of the International Carwash Association (ICA) for 2017, is the managing partner of Wild Blue Car Wash. Before entering the carwash industry 11 years ago, Begin worked in technology sales for enterprise software companies. However, he wanted to transition out of that industry and instead open up a local business in Colorado Springs. As a result, White Water Rapid Wash was born in December 2006. After a few years, however, he decided to change the name to Wild Blue Car Wash.
“We changed our name after three to four years because it was confusing and long,” Begin explains. “We wanted a name that local people could identify with. The term ‘wild blue’ has two connotations: one being flying through the ‘wild blue yonder’ and the ‘wild blue’ water of an ocean. The term ‘wild blue yonder’ is part of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s fight song, located here in Colorado Springs, so our name is also a tribute to the men and women in our armed forces.”
The reference to the U.S. Air Force Academy is also tied into the company’s logo, which features a flying car with wings. It’s little touches like these that give a company a local flavor and help residents identify better with it.
Wild Blue Car Wash has two locations in Colorado Springs, but the company keeps a constant lookout for local expansion opportunities, including in neighboring cities. As a company that is both locally owned and operated, Wild Blue also strives to work hard serving its customers in order to give them “the best value in town,” according to Begin.
“We strive to give our customers a great experience that is fast, coupled with a high-quality experience. We want every aspect of the customer experience to be remarkable,” Begin asserts.
Wild Blue markets itself to customers as a place where they can relax while the carwash pampers their cars. With this in mind, employees at Wild Blue try to greet every customer, focus on consistent loading techniques and keep the grounds clean in order to promote that high-flying customer experience.
“We try to develop a philosophy of ‘front of the house’ and ‘back of the house,’ and the two shouldn’t mix,” Begin notes. By “front of the house,” Begin means the areas that a customer is going to see: the front office, the bathroom, the free vacuum area and the landscaping. The “back of the house,” on the other hand, refers to the areas that run the carwash which the customer doesn’t need to see, such as the equipment room and any tools like ladders and mop buckets. Wild Blue aims to keep these tools out of sight so as not to impinge on the customer experience.
“Customers don’t want to see ladders being stored in the front office or vacuum area. We believe these little details make a big difference to customers,” Begin states.
Another part of creating a positive customer experience is making sure that the wash is both working properly and well maintained. Since Wild Blue is a largely operational business, Begin elucidates, the staff focuses on making sure that the equipment is delivering and producing the best quality wash that it can. To that end, equipment maintenance is a prime focus and concern for the carwash, as Wild Blue always wants its equipment to be available for its customers.
“Our employees work really hard every day to provide remarkable customer service,” Begin adds. “They will do whatever it takes to ensure our equipment is running smoothly and take care of customer issues.”
Wild Blue Car Wash is also proud of the unlimited wash program it offers to customers. Part of its website, in fact, is an entire page dedicated to answering frequently asked questions about the program. As mentioned, Wild Blue strives to provide the “best value in town,” according to its website, and starts its monthly plan prices at $10.
There is also a dedicated FAQ page about the wash itself on the website, which is a great way to both educate customers and soothe their worries about the wash process. Wild Blue uses this opportunity to really identify with the locals by helping residents to understand some of Colorado’s special washing needs.
For instance, according to Wild Blue’s website, Coloradoans should wash often enough “to remove pollutants from rain, dead bugs, magnesium chloride, etc.” The website further explains that magnesium chloride is a salt compound that is pre-applied to Colorado Springs roads during snow events to prevent icing, and this compound can cause wiring corrosion and rust if left on a vehicle for too long.
Furthermore, with Colorado being centered in the west with its arid climate, it’s important to this region to conserve as much water as possible. Wild Blue highlights for customers the fact that it recycles 80 percent of its water, uses only 20 gallons of water per wash and utilizes biodegradable soaps.
Fighting for the cause
Wild Blue Car Wash is especially proud to support local charity causes. The carwash developed a Charity Car Wash Program to support local school groups and give them an outlet for their charity carwashes that didn’t involve parking lot washing.
Begin explains that the program started in part because the Wild Blue crew was always reading about charity carwashes in magazines. One day, they saw a group at a restaurant having a charity carwash. Of course, all the Wild Blue crew saw was an excess use of water and pollution. They approached the group and asked if they wanted to have a charity carwash at Wild Blue next time, and so they did.
From that first wash, news of the program spread by word of mouth, and people learned just how successful these charity washes were. More and more organizations and schools became interested.
“We love giving back to the community through our Charity Car Wash Program,” Begin states. “Every summer, we conduct six charity washes for local high school groups. We donate 50 percent of our wash sales from the event hours to the group and allow them to vacuum and dry for additional tips. Most groups raise around $1,500 in just a few short hours.”
This focus on local school programs specifically helps the community concentrate on helping their own schools, Begin adds. With the struggling costs of school clubs now, these charity washes help keep these groups’ activities going, providing educational and athletic opportunities for students. The carwash also makes strategic donations to local non-profits.
But, even though Wild Blue has stayed strictly local, Begin has not. Begin’s tenure as ICA president this year not only impacted himself but also his carwash.
“I have [had the opportunity] to meet a lot of great people that I wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t ICA president,” Begin concludes. “It gave me not only a nationwide perspective on the industry but a worldly perspective of the carwash industry. [This experience has] made me rely on my team more.”