What do you get when you mix the fastest car wash alongside the lowest price? According to Raj Aadmi, you get 300,000 happy customers and a brand with legs. Raj is president of Aadmi Group, his investment and management company based in Vancouver that owns and operates two SpeedWash locations (Langley and Surrey) with plans for three more on the boards. He reports that they were able to take their experience running Wash World (7 locations, 80 self serve bays and 14 roll overs), a business sold to Jiffy Lube, and combine it with their property development knowledge to create a winning business strategy.
“We build and run medical centres, strip malls, development companies and storage facilities as well as the car wash business. Our overall plan is find businesses that offer the best rate of return per square foot of property. Car washes can fit this model if they are run properly,” he says, remarking that for them it’s all about the numbers. SpeedWash sites run $5million to $12million range for development. “Here in Vancouver and the lower mainland an acre of land can be $3million to $50million. The biggest change that happened to car washes here is that they can’t complete with rising real estate values. Why have a car wash on an expensive site when a condo development or strip mall makes more money,” he asks? Indeed, this thinking has Raj’s Aadmi Group looking at future franchising across Canada where they would buy the land, develop the building and then lease it back to a potential franchisees in high traffic locations across the country. “This gets me in the real estate business in other provinces,” he says.
At SpeedWash customers are treated to a service that gets them in and out in about four minutes for the basic wash. The price is right too. At just $6.67 this makes SpeedWash the low price leader in the lower mainland and a contender for the Canadian value-clean title. Raj’s sites also offer enhanced service packages that come in three tiers — the $19.29 Winner’s Circle includes 12 operations including Armor All Extreme Shine, the $14.29 First Place package offers a nine step wash that includes a tire shine and a triple foam wash, and the Second Place deal provides six services like underbody wash and double step tire clean for just $10.48. Additional items such as Rain X and extra rinse for super dirty vehicles are available for $2.85 each. “The average spend is about $10 per customer with wash times dependent on the season,” he says noting that about 40% of customers go with the basic $6.67 package. “We are faster in the summer, but slow things down to four minutes or so in the winter months when there is more grime to clean. It’s a delicate tinkering of systems to get speed and quality wash together. Its like a symphony with our team conducting the equipment to create a masterpiece of fast cleaning service.”
SpeedWash looks to companies such as McNeil Wash Systems for the their tunnel equipment
and Zep for their chemical support with products like RainX and Armor All. They also turn to the
best to help with water treatment. Using Pur Clean reclaim systems SpeedWash has been able
to reclaim 70% of its water. “This is highly important to us here in BC where the cost of water is
high and we have had periods of draught in the summer. Vehicle wash systems can use 80-
gallons per vehicle, so costs quickly mount. Reclaim is another way we keep costs in check. We
also use less chemical in the summer, another factor in helping to make SpeedWash profitable,”he says commenting that sites use double sets of wraps and tire scrubbers.
Raj researched over two hundred car wash facilities in North America in his hunt for the best and brightest operational stars. He then focused on all of their strengths with particular attention to three key principles, speed, quality and price that he saw as being able to help them take car washing to the next level. At SpeedWash he brought all the principles together in one artfully designed facility. In fact, the Aadmi Group sought to use the building as an attraction that was
hard to pass by without noticing. Both Surrey and Langley sites use powerfully designed structures that offer lots of signage and colours as well as architectural details that shirtfronts motorists with a considerable marketing message that is hard to ignore. Raj’s idea was to give motorists everything they wanted in a car wash facility. With 300,000 satisfied customers, you could say he succeeded.