White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island. Ever been? I haven’t. Would love to go though. It’s said to be the oldest restaurant in America, dating back to 1673. The tavern has survived wars, natural wear and tear, and change of ownership. Today, close to 350 years later, it’s still a popular watering hole and one of Newport’s finest restaurants.
When it comes to standing the test of time, there are other places that come to mind, like Antoine’s in New Orleans, Union Oyster House in Boston, McSorley’s Ale House in New York City and even Katz’s Deli established in 1888. Longevity, sure. Consistency in meeting customer expectations, definitely.
What does this have to do with carwashing?
I’ve been with Sonny’s coming up on 17 years. My initial 10 years were in the sales division before moving over to the CarWash College side. It’s no secret that being in sales means meals with customers. I’ve eaten at some of the country’s finest steakhouses and some of the greasiest dive diners you can imagine. I’m a fan of both, by the way.
From years of eating at restaurants around the country, I now have my favorites that I faithfully visit. Irvine, California: the Winery. High-end steakhouse with impeccable service and ambiance. Scottsdale, Arizona: the Breakfast Club. Awesome, inexpensive food served in a casual manner. Downtown Phoenix: WTF (no kidding). I always eat lunch here when West Coast CarWash College is in session. Huge menu, family owned and done right every day.
You probably have a couple of places you frequent as well. Ever think about why?
Usually, we frequent places because of an amazing experience, delicious food, attractive servers or great service. As the bond grows deeper, you simply can’t imagine not going back.
But then, that one off day comes along. You experience poor service and hospitality at your favorite spot. It makes an equally strong (or stronger) impression than the taste of food.
Having always been in the service business, I may be more forgiving than most consumers. But fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
Your customers are your customers because you have set a certain standard that they value, appreciate, and expect. Deliver less and expect higher churn rates.
What does it mean to be consistent? Alexa says, “Someone who is consistent always behaves in the same way, has the same attitudes towards people or things, or achieves the same level of success in something.”
For your business to remain consistent in the service it provides, one word: checklists. Checklists that are visual, confirmable and traceable must be completed on a regular schedule and without fail.
Sounds monotonous, doesn’t it? It can be. But it creates reproducible consistency.
The greatest example of the importance of checklists I give to students is that of the airline pilot that flew them down to attend class. I ask them if they would rather have the pilot run a check list that incorporates everything he needs to know about the proper operation of the aircraft or would they prefer a pilot that just “winged it” and flew on instinct.
They all agree that they’d rather have the pilot run the checklist.
Checklists lead to consistency; consistency leads to loyal customers; loyal customers lead to making money.
We’re only as good as our last wash—make sure it’s perfect!
Bob Fox has 35 years’ experience in the carwash industry and is the vice president of Sonny’s Car Wash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.
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