Car Wash Customer Service and 310% Profit growth

How a Mission Change at this Car Wash was a key piece of 310% Profit growth in just 8 months

In the earlier years of my entrepreneurial endeavors, I struggled to ask for help, feeling somehow it would indicate I was ignorant or weak. But of all the words of wisdom given to me along the years the number one most valuable insight has always been get help. It has been said there is “safety in a multitude of council” and no better way to build your business. Why? Because each of us is uniquely gifted in some areas but not all. And when we seek out council we are actually seeking out the complementary gifts to our own to create a more complete foundation for success.


Some time back as I met with the owner and discussed his Full Serve Car Wash, located in Florida, it was determined that this operation was in distress and that sales had been on a diminishing slope for a couple years. The owner,

  • had more than 10 years of operations experience,
  • was actively marketing the business using appropriate best practices at the time,
  • went to great lengths to show me his training processes he had instituted to build speed and consistency,
  • was spending time weekly with current managers but did not engage in day to day operations,
  • was aware that his current leadership may not be the best fit, (he had changed leadership several times over the last 2 years)
  • but was unclear on what would be necessary to turn things around.

After being hired to go in as the operator for a turn around I began with a Discovery process to learn the current condition of the operation to develop the best strategy.

  • Observing the team’s working Culture I noticed hard work but no fluidity or synergy leading to some inconsistency with speed of service and service level did not meet expectations without customer intervention on about 10% of the cars.
  • To save on Labor Cost the office cashier position had been allocated to the loader position causing backups when customers had questions.
  • Like many Full Serve Car Wash Operations there were customers waiting quietly in various places for their cars to be completed.
  • There was daily reporting to account for sales and volume in each service category which was turned into the owner.

Who had taken ownership of Culture? And what kind of Culture was being envisioned and conveyed to the team (Mission Statement)?

Who had taken ownership of Revenue? And what were the identified goals?

When I began to try and understand the established culture better I asked the staff 1 key question;

” What business are we in?”

Florida Car Wash Project


The reply was “washing and waxing cars“.  So take a moment and ask yourself, what business are we in?

If we are in the business of washing and waxing cars and we have competitors offering similar services in the area what makes us unique?

If this is not clear then we have no Competitive Advantage and are left competing on price differentiation which, unless your name is Walmart is a recipe for slow death.

So was this a training deficiency or a leadership issue?

Actually, both.  First, the vision, as led by the owner was to wash and wax cars and do it well.  While there is noting wrong with that goal it does not serve the full needs of the team who is serving the customer.

If you ask your team “what is the number one customer need we need to meet to build Loyal, Raving Fans for Customers what would they say?

Speed?  Consistency of Service?  While those are often #2 and #3 on Customers list of important Value Considerations the # 1 need is to feel special and appreciated.

So let’s consider the question again with this outlook.  What business are we in?

Building impactful Relationships

with our customers through the process of cleaning their cars

This shift in understanding our mission as a team was the first of several key steps in Cultural Transformation which is part of Organic Growth, which, in short, is growth through Leadership and not Marketing.


Cory Pantelakis is a Small to Mid Sized Business Growth Consultant specializing in serving Clients who operate organizations where Customer Service is critical to Success.  He teaches his clients how to build Organic Growth Leaders through Values Based Leadership Training, Development of High Performance Operational Systems and ownership of Revenue that lead to significant Competitive Advantage, Greater Profitability and Freedom from daily operations for owners.   To learn more Contact Cory at; 561-445-9438 or,