Putting the luxury in carwashing

Putting the luxury in carwashing

The business's two locations strive to create energy and luxury in the wash experience.

According to Brent Oakley, CEO and managing partner for Prime Car Wash, the wash strives to be the “W Hotel of the carwash world by creating a new kind of luxury experience.”

One Saturday Oakley and his wife were waiting on their car to be detailed, so they walked over to a Starbucks next door. Oakley’s wife wondered aloud if the coffee shop concept could be merged with the carwash experience. “The question set me on a quest for answers,” Oakley says. “My idea was to create something new, something different, with a lot of energy.”

The concept has worked. Prime was voted Indianapolis’ No. 1 carwash in 2014 on The Indy A-List.

Amenities provide comfort

Prime is a locally-owned and -operated business with two locations in Indiana, the second of which opened in November 2014. Since its first location launched in 2012, the company has fostered a spirit of liveliness in its design and customer offerings.

The wash’s members comprise about 45 percent of its customer base. Members of the wash’s Prime 360 Membership Program have access to the location’s lounge with couches and chairs, free Wi-Fi, tables with iPads and a café/coffee bar staffed with a barista. Coffee is available for free to its members.

“We have created a space that makes multitasking easy, where people can feel comfortable,” shares Oakley.

Members can also take advantage of monthly specials on Monthly Member Days as well as a members-only lane.

The wash primarily operates on a monthly membership basis, notes Oakley. Unlimited interior and exterior washes can be purchased for a flat cost of $45 per month.

Prime customers ride through the tunnel in their vehicles, then they are directed either to an interior detail bay for the Prime 360 experience, or they pull over in the hand drying station if they purchased the Prime 180 wash.

In the Prime 360 experience, after they pull over customers are escorted to the entrance of the café and coffee bar to wait until their cars are finished being cleaned.

Prime also uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to manage its loyalty program. Instead of placing membership stickers on car windshields, the company affixes them to customers’ door jams.

“We find that most people prefer to have the stickers in the door jams where they cannot be seen instead of on their windshields,” reports Oakley.

Quality from the inside out

Climate-controlled garages house detailing, hand drying and waxing operations. Employees use a closed-cell fiber cloth that is self-cleaning.

According to Oakley, the company purchased a state-of-the-art tunnel that has been tested with millions of cars. It also uses a reclaim system to recycle water back into the wash process.

In addition to a tunnel wash, extra services are also available. One add-on option available to customers is a $5 hot wax that lasts about three to five days. “It gives a great pop to the paint and holds up well,” states Oakley. A $30 hand wax is also offered, and it will last several months.

Prime’s employees are responsible for delivering its many services to customers. While hiring has long been a challenge for carwashes, Prime attempts to establish consistency among workers.

“Like all companies our employees are our biggest asset and our biggest liability,” says Oakley. “What we have found is to get people on the same page, you must have systems in place to eliminate the gray areas.”

As far as training goes, the company uses an operational structure based on the book,The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Oakley notes the book has helped the organization stay focused on its goal: Deliver a good experience and deliver a good product.

Serving the community

Prime seeks to provide an unforgettable experience for its customers, but it also strives to make a place for itself in the local community.

“Prime has been involved with wonderful charities from the day we opened in 2012,” explains Oakley. The wash has worked with the U.S. Dream Academy, partnered with the Mojo Up Anti-Bullying Program and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis during the grand opening of its second location. The program assists schools in educating, training and inspiring students to stop bullying.

“This partnership helped us contribute to a program that focuses on providing schools and communities the tools they need to fight the epidemic of bullying,” shares Oakley.

Charity involvement can show customers your wash is not only about the numbers. It can bring a human element to the business.

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