Q&A: The rise of app-based mobile detailing - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Q&A: The rise of app-based mobile detailing

Time and convenience are critical in today’s society.

According to a recent press release, Washos, an app-based mobile detailing company based in Southern California, recently doubled its user base within three months. Its success provokes the question: Is the future of mobile carwashing particularly bright?

To answer this and other questions about the future of car care, Professional Carwashing & Detailing interviewed Bertrand Patriarca, co-founder and CEO of Washos Inc.

PC&D: How did you get started in the mobile car care and detailing industry?

BP: I am a serial entrepreneur from France. I founded three companies in Paris and sold the last one to a large online media group before moving to the U.S. I arrived in the U.S. three years ago, and Washos is my first venture in the car care business.

My partners and I started Washos to disrupt an American tradition by giving more power and more tools to the real heroes: the detailers. The idea for Washos was sparked on a weekend drive down the Pacific Coast Highway during a routine visit to Los Angeles. As we drove, I noticed the groups of car clubs out for drives, vintage cars on display and custom motorcycles cruising by. I was struck by the intensity of Southern California’s car culture. A light bulb went off and suddenly it struck me — these cars and motorcycles on the road may create a lot of traffic, but they also create an opportunity. Convenience is number one for most people, especially millennials and city dwellers who put a high premium on their time, so the demand for mobile and on-demand auto detailing is high in these areas. This led me to create Washos.

Washos is a member of the International Carwash Association (ICA) and is always happy to exchange with other players in this huge industry.

PC&D: According to your recent press release, Washos doubled its user base in three months. What do you think accounts for this growth, and do you think it is indicative of a larger trend in the future of mobile car care?

BP: The trend towards on-demand service is definitely strong. People want more convenience and want to save some time. Our typical clients were previously patrons of full service carwash stations but now are more inclined to seek auto detailing services at the location and time they choose without having to fight traffic or wait in line for the services to be done. From grocery shopping to having laundry and even an app for having your car refueled in the parking lot while you’re at work, all aspects of our world are moving into an on-demand space. On-demand apps allow users to multitask in a way that wasn’t possible before and therefore maximize their time. As I mentioned, convenience is key.

But the main factor of our recent growth is the number of detailers we have trained and onboarded. Since the demand for mobile and flexible services is already important, we needed to offer more availabilities, shorter time in delivery while maintaining our high reliability and quality. While the backbone of Washos is tech, the main source of our traction and referrals is the quality of our network. Washos is first and foremost a network of passionate detailers that have been through voluntary training to learn the detailing techniques but also the skills to strengthen client relationships and provide the utmost customer satisfaction. Our technology and our processes are made to empower our detailers and make them better, more reliable, more involved professionals. That’s how we guarantee the best reliability in the industry and a very consistent quality of service that has continued to lead to double-digit organic growth month over month.

PC&D: Our recent research suggests that younger generations, such as millennials, are more apt to use these mobile services. Do you find this true of your client base? If not, can you explain the trends you see among your clients?

BP: Indeed, 40 percent of our clients are between 23 and 35 years old. However, we have more and more working mothers and high executive clients aged 40 and above that sign up and book with our service. We designed the app and the website so anyone can easily find their way, and we crafted our offerings to be very simple and transparent. We try to minimize any jargon and make it super easy to navigate through the four packages and 15 add-ons.

Related: Recent automobile trends among millennials 

PC&D: Do you have any advice for those interested in starting a mobile car care business/division?

BP: The key in this industry is consistency in service quality and reliability. I could not place enough emphasis on being meticulous, maintaining a very high attention to detail and being punctual. We have a lot of clients who switch to our service because their previous provider was either late or didn’t show up on an appointment. We developed a technology that guarantees the accuracy and the reliability by automating the dispatch. Therefore, the best advice I can give is to make sure you can do each job well and on time, or you’re better off not taking it.

PC&D: Is there anything else you would like to add about waterless and/or mobile car care?

BP: Products and equipment in the auto detailing industry are evolving extremely fast. It is important to stay on top of things by comparing, testing and evaluating new solutions and techniques.

We have found waterless and eco-friendly services to be very well received among our customers. As we are based in Los Angeles, our clients tend to be very water-conscious, especially when we are in drought conditions. Also, many millennials are now making spending choices that reflect their personal social values, including protecting the environment. These beliefs also align with Washos’ values, and we are proud to offer these options.

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