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C-gas all-stars: The clean car draw

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If every successful c-gas and wash site should be famous for something, it’s the car wash experience that’s helped Timber Falls Store and Auto Spa in West Steinbach, MB reach celebrity status.

“The car wash is kind of the hub of the business. When it’s busy, every area of the business is busy,” explains Jim Stuart, the site’s general manager.

That’s partly because Stuart has taken a different approach to the customer experience.

“Because it’s a conveyor car wash, we get the customer out of the car, and we hand them a bar pager, which gets them a free coffee or fountain drink. So that gets them in the store,” says Stuart, adding that a focus on service ensures staff have positive interactions with customers throughout the process.

While the unconventional car wash methods bring customers in store, the unique one-stop-shopping experience inside the giant timber frames of the site ensures they’ll be able to find anything else they could possibly need.

According to Stuart, this is the Timber Falls competitive advantage. “I think customers come here, not just for the quality of the car wash and the service, but also for the number of offerings. It’s a complete shopping experience.”

You name it, they’ve got it

Aside from the 120-ft. Belanger Signature Series single tunnel conveyor car wash with three dry bays, the sites boasts three free vacuum bays, six Petro-Canada gas pumps and a 4,000 sq. ft. c-store. This c-store features several foodservice programs, including a full deli, Coffee Den, Papa Peppies Pizza, Nana K’s Waffle Loft, and the Arctic Zone, with 32 different flavours of Frostbites branded slush.

The site opened in June of 2013, and when Stuart came on board, he and the rest of the management team paid close attention to sales and customer trends before determining next steps. A more cohesive look was one of the first items on their list, and all fixtures were updated to maple to fit the site’s theme. One-of-a-kind in-store offers were also added to engage shoppers.

“We have a car wash theatre where you can stand in the hallway and watch your car go through the different brushes and systems. That hallway was totally empty, so when I got here, we merchandised it, so we have different offerings down that hallway now,” says Stuart, citing two massage chairs as an example.

As with any offer, you need to deliver on your promise and provide the best possible experience to keep your customers coming back, which is all in a day’s work for Stuart and his staff at Timber Falls.

“What we find is we’re still kind of the best-kept secret in town, but when customers try our soft-touch car wash, they don’t go anywhere else. We feel we have a superior wash, wax, and finish. Clean, shiny, and fast is what we try to be,” he says.

4 ways you can stand out in your community: 

1. Step outside the comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach to a traditional process, or to bring in one-of-a-kind products or services.

2. Get them hooked. Bring your customers back time and time again by having everything they need in one convenient location.

3. Keep it consistent. Create a visually appealing and easy-to-shop in-store environment with matching fixtures and centrally located promotional displays.

4. Be friendly! Offer customers friendly, courteous service, encouraging staff members to engage shoppers in conversation whenever possible.