1. Pick a prime location. If possible, look for a busy site with lots of traffic, where the site itself can advertise your offer.
2. Use technology. Online loyalty programs engage repeat customers, and informative websites and Facebook pages can help attract newcomers to your site.
3. Maintain your site. Regularly inspect your equipment and check the results so you’re offering your customers the highest quality wash every time.
4. Go for the best. Look for the latest, top-of-the-line equipment that is built to last and will maximize site performance.
5. Ask for feedback. Always have an employee available on site to answer questions and receive insights from customers.
Read on to find out how this innovative site came to be…
It’s one thing to have business vision, but it’s another to turn that vision into reality. So when you look at Jean-François Guindon’s new Splash N’ Go site in Cornwall, ON, there’s no doubt Guindon is a car wash visionary.
“It’s quite a departure for us, because we’ve decided to focus exclusively on car wash at this site,” says Guindon, whose four-bay touch-free automatic site opened its doors in 2012. He says it all started with a visit to the US, where he came upon an interesting site in Watertown, NY.
“I saw an offer that was similar to what we ended up building, where there was more than the traditional setup I was used to of a gas station, c-store, and car wash,” explains Guindon. “I said, ‘Hey, that’s exactly what we need in Cornwall to respond to the demand at peak times. We need more availability, we need more wash bays.’”
Guindon’s original gas site was built in 1956, and he says it had “run its course” by the mid-2000s. He jumped on the chance to implement his state-of-the-art wash plan, but needed to navigate through some environmental hurdles first.
A fresh start
“The biggest challenge was the remediation of the old gas station site. You can do all the soil tests you want, but until you actually put the shovel in there, you’re not sure what to expect. In our case, everything turned out as expected, so it was very costly, but we were able to do it,” notes Guindon, adding that the price tag for demolition and soil remediation was $700,000, and that municipal and federal brownfield site programs helped him start fresh with a clean site.
Starting in 2008, Guindon worked with Quebec-based De Castel Inc. to put his plan into action, and less than four years later, Guindon’s family business was reaping the rewards, along with the rest of the driving community of Cornwall.
“We’ve gone the extra mile here and provided a lot of bays for our customers,” says Guindon, who runs the site with his son, Jean-Marc. “We’re delivering the expectation that there will be little or no wait time.”
The best and brightest
But it’s not just the wash availability that sets Splash N’ Go apart. Guindon spent $2,400,000 on the new building and equipment, and offers the latest equipment and technology, starting with the PDQ LaserWash 360 wash units that Guindon says “are very reliable, user-friendly, and deliver a quality wash.”
The Nuform Conform Wall Forming System also plays a big role at Guindon’s new site, with its ease of construction an added bonus for this wash veteran. “The wash walls are designed for you and show up on a flat-bed truck, and the building goes up really quickly,” explains Guindon.
“They’re pre-insulated and have a nice PVC finish. I went with the colour white, because to me, white means clean, and it’s very easy to maintain,” adds Guindon, who also applied graphics to his wash walls using a wrap, making his site stand out to passersby.
Putting customers first
Once customers come to his site, Guindon wants to make sure they’re eager to come back. That’s why he uses PDQ’s wash access loyalty system, an online loyalty program that allows customers to purchase their car wash packages online. Customers can receive a code that allows them to order without having to step foot on the site, or they can purchase a gift card pre-loaded with a certain number of washes. RFID technology also allows a transponder to recognize the magnetic stripe on members’ windshields and grants access to their pre-selected wash.
To ensure his customers are happy, Guindon says an employee is available on site at least 95% of the time, to help if called upon and to find out how they can always meet customer expectations.
“Don’t just watch customers go through and leave – talk to them and get some feedback,” advises Guindon. “If the need is there, we’re reachable. You have to be available. You can’t just set up shop and walk away, thinking it will run itself.”
It’s been two years since Guindon opened his site, and he says “so far, so good. We’re still growing, we’re not a mature site yet, but we’re happy with the results and what we’re seeing, and do not regret the decision one bit.”