Finding successful ways to keep customers happy and coming back for more is a crucial component for any car care business. Having and retaining a strong customer base paves the way for a thriving business that can endure in the highly competitive market of carwashing.
For MILES Auto Spa, creating an environment conducive to optimal customer satisfaction is paramount. From providing high-quality services and loyalty programs to incorporating innovative technology and modern marketing strategies, this car care business strives to meet and uphold “the MILES experience” its customers have come to expect.
According to the company’s website, Miles Johnson, founder of MILES Auto Spa, had a vision for a business that would “turn customer expectations for a particular service on its ear,” taking the old-school concept of carwashing and crafting a “luxurious experience” for the car owner.
Johnson launched MILES Auto Spa, located in Franklin, Tennessee, in March 2007 after leaving a 17-year career in wireless telecommunications. In 2010, Rocky Crossland, a longtime friend and colleague in the telecom industry, joined Johnson to assume daily oversight as the president and managing partner of the carwash.
The pair swiftly grew the business, expanding in late 2015 to include an additional location, MILES Express, in the area of Cool Springs. In contrast to typical express carwashes, the new MILES Express, an acquisition of the former AutoWash Express, provides advanced carwash services, on-site sales and available hand drying and touch ups.
MILES Express also features all new tunnel equipment, lighting and electrical, chemical distribution systems as well as the latest wash equipment available in the market, “including a dry and shine machine,” adds Johnson.
However, the new express location is not the only site to include innovative technology. “[At MILES Auto Spa], we’ve continued to upgrade our lighting to all LED [and] installed new, more efficient motors and chemical distribution systems,” asserts Johnson. “We’ve also added new products and associated neon-lit arches for products.”
Accelerating in digital
In addition to incorporating the latest technology and equipment at both carwash locations, the MILES brand makes sure its website is up-to-date. “We have a very good-looking, high-end website that is also mobile-friendly,” says Johnson.
Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of today’s adults in the U.S. own a smartphone; and 66 percent of Americans own at least two digital devices, such as a smartphone, laptop, desktop or tablet. And with the rise in Web-based technology, more consumers are turning to the Internet for product/service information. In fact, another report by the Pew Research Center found that 81 percent of online-active Americans say their Internet and cell phone use has “made them better informed about products/services today than they were five years ago.”
With these statistics in mind, it is no wonder MILES goes beyond simply employing a mobile-friendly website. The business also utilizes a company specialized in search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure its website has the best placement on all online carwash searches. However, MILES’ efforts don’t stop there.
“On top of [our SEO endeavors], we employ a social media management company that helps us monitor reviews, respond to our online customers and generally stay abreast of all the online comments, reviews and our online reputation,” explains Johnson.
In all its mobile-responsive, SEO-enriched glory, the MILES website offers visitors a vast range of information, including the business’ background, service packages and customer benefits.
Such benefits include gift cards and unlimited plans, which can be purchased directly from the website, adds Johnson.
Steering the way in loyalty
Being active within its online and social platforms as well as throughout the local community has helped MILES retain a loyal customer base. The carwash has more than 5,000 members in its MILES Club program and regularly encourages customers to take advantage of its Unlimited MILES plans.
“Our MILES Club rewards customers for loyalty, [offers] free washes on important dates and [shares] updates on promotions and events that we may pursue,” explains Johnson. “We ask [customers] to point out anything else they’d like us to do before leaving; and we even put a towel down for them to wipe their feet on before getting in their freshly cleaned cars.”
With an array of high-quality packages, the number of customers enrolled in its loyalty program is not surprising.
“Coming out of the cellular phone business, we believe in ‘bundling’ — leading with products that are packed with value, starting with our highest prices first [which are] details, express details, full-service and then express washes,” asserts Johnson. “We incentivize our employees to make sure customers are aware of our most feature-packed bundles. All managers and supervisors have revenue-based incentive plans.”
MILES studies the metrics monthly, continues Johnson, and knows what products are the best sellers and which ones perform the best for the carwash financially.
“Our M2 Full Service wash is our most popular wash; [it’s] a $33 full-service wash with wheel cleaner, tire shine, tri-color foam, rain off, rust inhibitor, underbody flush and clear-coat protectant,” shares Johnson. “It has seven added chemicals that, if purchased separately, would cost $3 each; so it’s a great value, even though it is north of the industry average price.”
The car care business also features an assortment of detail services. “Our express details range in price from $49 for a quick hand wax to $69 for interior cleaning, and $119 for interior and exterior. Those products make up approximately 50 percent of our total revenue in any given month,” notes Johnson. “Our ‘ultimate’ details average in the mid-$200 range and, while not a huge volume compared to all the other washes, are very popular, and appointments are often hard to get.”
Furthermore, he continues, the carwash has a fully staffed inside sales team to ensure it’s always talking consultatively to customers, answering phones and greeting patrons with well-trained salespeople.
However, going above and beyond to ensure happy and loyal customers doesn’t stop there.
Passing the competition
What sets MILES apart from other carwashes is customer experience, remarks Johnson. “Our facilities are luxurious,” he adds.
MILES offers a lot of extras in addition to traditional carwashing and detailing. “We offer a lot of products and services most carwashes do not, [including] custom wheels, custom garages and flooring, cool music [and] a coffee bar. You can even have a cold beer while you wait,” says Johnson. “[And] we walk all customers to the car, and ask them to review our work before they leave.”
As mentioned, MILES will add custom wheels to a car upon request, and even will create and install a custom garage for a customer’s home. “We seal driveways. We offer sterilization products for your car. Plus, we have a very cool coffee bar and women’s boutique inside,” notes Johnson.
Providing these extra incentives as well as staying ahead of the latest carwashing technologies and online consumer trends helps MILES press the pedal to the metal and cruise down the path of profit.
And, so too can other carwashes, if they are willing to ease off the brakes and drive toward new terrains. “Find a way to make yourself stand out in an otherwise homogenized industry,” advises Johnson. “Ask customers to participate in the process of satisfaction, and always answer their compliments, concerns and questions.”