Many carwashes find being charitable is a great way to engage with their communities. Over time, local residents may come to see the business as more than a building existing only to make a profit. The carwash can become an integral part of the town, and this can be an important way to create loyal, regular customers.
Kwik Car Wash sees itself as a vital part of the community. Kwik President Aaron Green says, “Who we are and what we value as important; from top to bottom we value being a part of the community and world, and we strive to make a difference everywhere we go.”
The carwash chain holds its Wash for a Cause program every summer, says Kwik Marketing Manager Megan Gilchrist. Through it and other altruistic initiatives like a coupon fundraiser, silent auction donations and local sponsorships, the carwash has donated more than $75,000 to charitable organizations in nine years. Nearly $8,000 was donated through the 2014 Wash for a Cause program.
“Every summer we chose eight local nonprofits to support, and [we] donate 50 percent of our wash sales to the organizations,” says Gilchrist. “Volunteers from the groups help promote their events, and most towel dry and vacuum vehicles for additional donations.”
Donations have benefited numerous organizations including at-risk youth; adults with developmental disabilities; the Rocky Mountain Special Olympics Team; local veterans; service and therapy dogs for cancer survivors; and a local high school marching band and soccer team.
Gilchrist says the company’s customers have been open to the event.
“Everyone has a lot of fun with it and our customers have been very receptive and generous,” she says. “It’s a win-win for all parties involved.”
How it all began
Kwik got its start when a group of investors wanted to get into the carwash business. The first location opened in Littleton, Colorado, in May 2005, and the second opened in Parker, Colorado, in January 2006.
Green has been with the company since it submitted its application to the city for approval. He says the company continues to look for a good fit to expand beyond its two locations.
Gilchrist says when the business began, eight other carwashes were located within a three-mile radius of the first location. To get the Kwik name in the minds of potential customers, and to show how it was different, the company got involved with the community. It became involved with the local Chamber of Commerce, engaged in community events, worked with other businesses to cross-promote, and supported local nonprofits.
Consistency and technology
Green says the company is always looking at ways to improve the customer experience and workflow through technology.
“Some things fit while others don’t; our driving philosophy is that if we can use technology to improve the experience for our employees or the customer who only comes one time a year, then by default we will improve the experience for everyone,” he says. “We always try to add to the value, never take away.”
Gilchrist notes the wash’s main focus “is to keep our equipment updated, reliable and consistent.”
The carwash uses a point of sale (POS) system that allows it to maintain its VIP Unlimited Wash Club. It also has an AVW presoak arch it can customize to change the color and scents of the foam to match the business’ themes and holiday décor.
To stay engaged with customers, Kwik has embraced technology to place marketing messaging where it works best for the audience. Gilchrist says the company utilizes texting, email and social media much more than traditional mail.
“People are busy and want to keep interaction brief,” notes Gilchrist. “They also want to seek out information at their leisure.”
To keep interaction effective, Kwik makes its Facebook and Twitter posts fun and engaging using lots of photos from events. The carwash also sends out e-newsletters and text alerts when it has special promotions or events coming up.
Green also says the company uses online employee tools to improve communication with workers.
Good teams hold it all together
Green says the carwash’s employees are its most important asset as they have the most communication with customers and the community.
“All of the best technology and equipment in the world is worthless if you do not have good people telling you some piece of equipment, or technology, is not working,” explains Green. “Or giving you honest feedback from the community about how your site is viewed; we have to rely on our people.”
Employees are stationed at many different areas in the carwash, which also gives them the opportunity to interact with customers in different phases of the wash process.
“Having greeters and prep attendants allows us to interact with our customers and keep things fun and personal,” states Gilchrist. “Our employees have helped build a loyal customer base and offer customer service that really sets us apart from other washes.”
The carwash also focuses on being safe for the environment. Green says in addition to water reclaim systems, the company also uses environmentally friendly chemicals that are safe for employees to handle.
Kwik has also installed VFDs on equipment to reduce power consumption. “[We] then try to look at places we can use technology or analyze a process to reduce the amount of paper or other waste where we can,” Green notes.
Keeping it fun
While Kwik is a successful wash company, it also strives to have a fun atmosphere. “Our greeters strive to keep it personal and get to know our customers so they’re not just a number like some automated washes,” says Gilchrist.
“We also like to have fun — we provide free Tootsie Pops for the kids, celebrate the holidays with special promotions and themes, offer daily trivia questions, and have fun community events and fundraisers throughout the summer,” she continues. “When your employees are having fun and enjoying their job, customers take notice and appreciate it.”
The company’s philosophy on making work enjoyable is evident throughout every aspect of its business. To them, it makes sense because customers will catch on to the attitude of the wash employees.
“We believe a successful business is all about having fun and doing what’s important to you,” explains Gilchrist. “If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, your customers won't be either. For us, it’s all about giving back to our community and having fun in the workplace.”