Car Wash M&A, The Podcast Episode 9 News Overview

What are the key elements of a successful, scalable car wash business? As Lanese Barnett discusses with Derrick Merchant and Michael Murry of Champion Xpress Car Wash in Episode 9 of Car Wash M&A, The Podcast, establishing a strong team with solid leadership and great workplace culture is vital to long-term success.

But what makes a good team? In 2012, Google launched an initiative called “Project Aristotle” to find out. After years of research, the answer boiled down to basically this: the best teams create an environment where people speak without fear and, equally important, listen to each other. When combined with clearly defined organizational goals and a sense of dependability, these teams have greater collaboration, better output, and a healthier culture. To read more about the project, check out this New York Times article, What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.

In speaking with the Champion Xpress team, it seems they are placing focus on the key areas “Project Aristotle” revealed would be most beneficial.

BUILDING AND SUPPORTING GOOD TEAMS
Derrick and Michael share how important it is to invest in the foundation of the organization and get the right people in the right places early in the scaling process. Derrick shares, “Nothing matters unless you have the foundation set and ready to go. I immediately tried to get to work on an executive team… that could help build this thing out and build the culture and everything we were looking for. So, we did that. We got to work on building the executive team, and then we built our field ops team, and then our training department as well. And I wanted to let the washes come to us not, not us go to the washes, meaning that knowing that these things were coming, whenever we took over these washes and opened them up, we wanted to have the staff ready.”

By establishing a strong executive team who can lead the way and lay the groundwork to effectively scale, car wash owners can benefit from smoother, more predictable outcomes as they grow their footprint.

VALUING PEOPLE OVER PROFIT AND TRAINING EFFECTIVELY
Derrick and Michael talk about how they work hard to ensure their workplace culture is one where employees feel valued, safe, and heard – fitting, as it’s what the Google study showed was most important to a team’s success. Derrick and Michael also talk about how they need the people and procedures in place ahead of time that align with their organizational goals and philosophy so each time they open a new location, new employees understand what is expected of them, and equally important, new employees also know what to expect from the organization.

As Michael states about his perspective on leadership, managing is “giving the people that are working for you the right tools to do their job.” Creating a climate where employees can express their thoughts and concerns ensures everyone has a more productive and positive experience. Michael expands, “I just listen. ‘What tools do you need? Here’s the standard; here’s the expectation. What do you need to do that?’ And then it’s really just about putting that in place.”

CREATING POSITIVE CUSTOMER INTERACTIONS
In addition to working hard to have a great workplace culture, the Champion Xpress trainers teach their employees how to maximize their interactions with customers and connect with them. Michael shares, “We have our Champion Wave. We want four to six interactions with a customer on our site, with every single customer that comes on. And it doesn’t always mean speaking to them, but a wave, eye contact. We like to say, ‘Have a Champion’s day!’ at the end. That’s the experience that they should be getting when they leave the car wash, like you feel after a haircut. You feel great about it. We want them to leave with that experience.”

The thoughtful procedures that are put in place extend beyond the employee team and outward into the customer experience. Meaningful, positive customer interactions build brand loyalty and highlight the service being offered. During these tightening times, building loyalty can make a major difference in retaining customers.

HAVING FUN AND RETAINING EMPLOYEES
Having fun at work is more than just providing birthday cake. Both Michael and Derrick talk about how the focus at Champion is striving for excellence on every level, but also on excelling at having fun and celebrating achievements. Derrick says, “walking down the halls just makes me smile. When I walk in the halls, I hear the laughter. One minute, there’ll be rap songs on because construction had a team win, so they play ‘All I Do is Win.’ The next minute, development will be playing Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ because they hit a goal. It’s just fun. I know I don’t feel like I work every day because it’s fun. I get up every day, and I look forward to what is going to be different in the office and the challenges that come with it. When you have trust with your executive teams, then it’s fun.”

Employees who feel valued and heard and who have fun are more likely to stay with the company and actively participate in the workplace community. Michael shares, “There’s trust, and there’s buy-in, and once you have that, it creates an opportunity to have healthy conflict.” Both Michael and Derrick talk about how much they learn from their employees and how much they value their contributions. And according to Derrick, “Humbleness is a trait we value probably more than most, because we believe we’re still learning as leaders, and we’re still growing.” They see their employees as their greatest asset and the reason they are where they are today.

For more tips from Derrick Merchant and Michael Murry, check out the full episode of Car Wash M&A, The Podcast.

Want to dive deeper into car wash M&A information? View all Car Wash M&A, The Podcast episodes here: https://amplifywash.com/podcast

Jet Brite Car Wash

With decades of hands-on experience as operators, when it came time to sell our car wash business who we sold to was important to Sam and me. Chris [Jenks] and the team at Amplify listened to us throughout the entire process. They found the right buyer in ZIPS who would be a good steward of the brand and helped find the best path forward for us where we can continue pursuing our passion for manufacturing high-quality car wash equipment.  

Jet Brite Car Wash  
Dave Delesandro  | Founder

Quick N’ Clean

My relationship with Commercial Plus over the past 20 years has been a very professional and trustworthy relationship. The feel of trust is very important in this business, and Jeff Pavone and his staff have exhibited a level of trust that makes me continue to feel that they have my best interest front of mind. I deal with many brokers across the nation, and my best experiences and results have been achieved with Commercial Plus representation.

Quick N’ Clean
Richard Karle | Owner

Zips

It’s been a great experience working with Amplify Car Wash Advisors to bring these sites into the ZIPS portfolio. We look forward to serving Dallas area customers with an enhanced car wash experience unique to ZIPS, with the added benefit of our extensive network of stores. This year we have continued our aggressive growth track with the goal to truly shine in our efforts to be the best express car wash provider in the industry and it’s acquisitions like this that help us reach our goals.

Zips
Gene Dinkens | CEO

ModWash

It was truly a pleasure to work with the Amplify team on our most recent acquisition of three additional operating locations in our home state of Tennessee. Their team provided great support and ensured a timely and seamless closing process, and we are excited for the additional growth opportunities this relationship will produce in our near future. We know this is the first of many transactions we will successfully complete with the Amplify team as we grow from our current operating store count of 23 to well over 200 locations across 14 states in the next two years.

ModWash
Brian Thornton | COO

Busy Bee Car Wash

For years I’ve talked to a lot of brokers with the same goal; sell your car wash chain as quickly as possible. But I chose to work with Amplify because they were interested and invested in the emotional side of selling my business and truly value long-term relationships. They weren’t forcing me to take a deal just to take a deal. They listened to my concerns and goals then educated me on all my options. And that’s how I decided on the right partner for my chain specifically. I went to bed at night after I signed the papers knowing I got the best deal possible versus just having any deal put in front of me that is only about money.

Busy Bee Car Wash
Jim Mulholland | Owner

Q Car Wash

We really appreciate Jeff and his entire team at Amplify. Their expertise and deep industry knowledge helped us navigate our options and best showcase our strengths to maximize our value. Caliber is a good fit for Q Car Wash as they look to expand in North Texas.

Q Car Wash
Viran Nana | COO

Cobblestone Auto Spa

I have known both Jeff and Bill for over thirty years combined, and respect them both as experts in our professional car washing industry. Their unique and individual strengths bring very strong talent and advice to operators, sellers, and buyers with sharp knowledge, client’s best interest in mind, and an actual personal touch. They hold the expertise and performance track record to hold a very high level of respect within this rapidly-changing car wash industry.

Cobblestone Auto Spa
Tuck Bettin | CEO

Oasis Car Wash

Turning over a business you started from one shovel of dirt 25 years ago and grew to several locations is a difficult and even uncomfortable process. So, when it came time for Larry and me to sell, we chose Amplify Car Wash Advisors to guide us through the process because of their strong reputation and thought leadership in the industry. Their team was professional and did a great job walking us through each step.

Oasis Car Wash
Dallas Hawkins | Partner

Busy Bee Car Wash

Selling our business after 52 years is big deal and certainly not a decision I took lightly, turning over our family legacy was an emotional process and I appreciated that the team at Amplify respected that. They helped me understand my options and found the best deal for me.

Busy Bee Car Wash
Jim Mulholland | Owner

Ducky’s Express

I have been a multi-site developer and operator in the car wash industry for over 30 years. Four years ago, a partner’s health concern forced me to sell a portion of my portfolio, and during that process, I was introduced to Jeff Pavone of Commercial Plus. I was immediately impressed with Jeff’s knowledge of my industry and his volume of successful deal closings. In a very short period of time, Jeff found the right buyer at a very fair price, and the transaction closed shortly thereafter. I was looking for a team with honesty, integrity, and a proven track record of success, and I found all of that in Jeff.

Ducky’s Express
Richard Miller

Trademark Car Wash

These are some of the most exciting times for car wash owners. As we grew 350% in revenue in just one year, we recognized the time to partner up with a top-tier team that has mastered growth in retail and specifically the automotive industry. Amplify Car Wash Advisors had helped us acquire, raise capital, and was the perfect partner to help us reach this next chapter of the Trademark story.

Trademark Car Wash
Andrew Goldberger