As the ol’ cliché goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” This common saying shouldn’t be limited to locker room speeches. In actuality, this team mentality holds true for sports teams and businesses alike, which means carwashes must also employ this approach in their operations to ensure success. After all, there’s no “I” in “carwash crew,” right?
For Zappy’s Auto Washes, being part of a team just comes naturally and extends far beyond simply boosting employee morale. The carwash chain strives to keep employees and customers at its core, taking this concept of “team” and infusing it with family.
Zappy’s Auto Wash launched in June 2007 with a carwash location consisting of one automatic and four self-serve bays. However, Zappy’s Auto Wash quickly became Zappy’s Auto Washes, expanding its operations the following year.
Over the past nine years the carwash has grown to include nine Zappy’s locations by acquiring other washes up for sale. “[We’re] always looking for new acquisitions to further [our] growth,” says AJ Zappitelli, general manager for Zappy’s.
However, expanding operations isn’t a sure path to profit. Adding additional locations, whether new builds or through acquisitions, requires a reliable staff to help maintain the equipment, grounds, customer satisfaction and accounting, asserts Zappitelli. “The first step in expanding [a carwash] is to build a quality, high-energy team,” he adds.
Having a friendly, energetic and passionate management team, especially, is one of Zappy’s proudest accomplishments — along with maintaining all facilities and equipment in “immaculate condition,” notes Zappitelli.
Equipped for victory
“We feel that we have the most pristine and well-maintained carwashes in town,” states Zappitelli, adding that the carwash also believes having up-to-date equipment and top-quality chemicals are key to customer loyalty.
For this reason, Zappy’s utilizes technology in every aspect of the carwash. “For example, in both our automatic and self-serve bays we have updated the money terminals with the [latest] credit card reader [which] allows customers to pay by cash, credit or gift card,” explains Zappitelli.
Moreover, when it comes to Zappy’s tunnel washes, shares Zappitelli, the carwash uses colorful LED lighting. “This feature offers a light show all throughout the wash, which the children really enjoy,” he adds.
To further wow customers, especially younger patrons, the carwash also has what it calls the “Zappy’s Falls.” This feature is its beginning presoak stage and creates the illusion of going under a waterfall; it also incorporates LED effects which light up the inside of a customer’s car.
“We have found that the process of washing your car and incorporating entertainment brings the wash experience to a new level,” says Zappitelli.
In addition to state-of-the-art technology and interactive features, Zappy’s also provides extra services as a way to entice more customers.
Zappy’s offers customers a quick detail service for $15 or a more in-depth detail service for $60, notes Zappitelli. And, since the carwash chain is located in the Midwest, which frequently experiences harsh winters with excess amounts of snow and salt on the road, Zappy’s offers a full clay bar service for $75 to remove any salt residue that may still be lingering on the car after going through the wash. Detail gift certificates are also available for any type of special occasion, he adds.
However, innovative technology and additional services aren’t the only ways Zappy’s shoots to win more customers.
Working the crowd
Price is a critical factor in customer retention, asserts Zappitelli. From a basic wash starting at $3 to the top diamond wash for $12, Zappy’s offers a vast range of price options to better serve the needs of its customers.
“[One] way to involve your customers in the wash experience and to ensure their return [is] by having a high-quality wash for a reasonable price,” explains Zappitelli, noting that Zappy’s also establishes affordable prices by offering loyalty programs and discounts.
Zappy’s largest plan is its unlimited wash program for $34.99 per month. And from September to December, all loyal customers can purchase carwash packets for any type of wash for 50 percent off, which can be used for their own vehicles or gifted to family and friends.
To promote its programs and specials throughout the year, the carwash chain utilizes online platforms, such as its website. “[Our website] also allows the customers to view our management team and to express their opinions or complaints,” says Zappitelli. “The internet is our means of communication with the public.”
Another way Zappy’s reaches existing and prospective customers is by getting involved with local charities and community outreach efforts. “We donate washes [and] details, and [sponsor] local sports teams,” notes Zappitelli. “Along with that, we also do special carwash fundraisers, [ for which] the proceeds go to a certain [organization] trying to raise money.”
And with its all-for-one approach, advanced technology and cost-effective prices and programs, it’s clear to see why Zappy’s continues to be victorious in the carwashing game. Yet, this carwash’s triumphant reign is far from over. “Instead of getting out of the business, Zappy’s has plans of venturing into other states and expanding [ further],” states Zappitelli.