Episode 13: With Dennis Dreeszen and Adam Trien

About the Episode:

Have you considered how a customer experience platform could strengthen your car wash business? Guests Dennis Dreeszen and Adam Trien talk with your host Lanese Barnett about AMP Memberships, a powerful platform specifically designed to support car wash business owners and their customers.

In the episode, Dennis and Adam share how AMP works and how it can benefit car wash owners. AMP offers a highly customizable white label mobile solution that interacts with customers and members on and off site. AMP helps car wash owners know more about your customers, use what you know to have targeted interactions, and run creative, trackable promotions. Listen in to hear how programs like AMP can strengthen car wash operations and build greater brand loyalty with customers and members.

Sign up for Car Wash M&A, The Newsletter. | Follow us on social media @AmplifyCarWashAdvisors on LinkedIn or Facebook. | Connect with Lanese on LinkedIn.

More about Dennis Dreeszen:

Chief Executive Officer – AMP Memberships

With a thriving car wash brand, Autowash, currently operating 23 locations in Colorado with many more in development, Dennis Dreeszen brings the owner/operator perspective to the AMP Memberships team. Frustrated with the limited options and rigid structures of the contemporary car wash technology landscape Dennis set out to create a smartphone app that was as dynamic, data-oriented, and backed up with powerful marketing tools to match the demands car wash brand he is building. His collaboration with CTO Adam Trien is what gave birth to the AMP Memberships Platform; truly a solution by a car wash operator, for car wash operators.

More about Adam Trien:

Chief Technology Officer – AMP Memberships

Head of the highly skilled development team, Insiten, Adam has a reputation for creating best-in-class technology solutions. Working with CEO, Dennis Dreezsen, Adam and his team developed the AMP Memberships platform as a fully-configurable, extremely powerful, suite of tools centered on a slick and intuitive smartphone app. Through constant innovation and iteration, Adam and the development team continue to push the boundaries of what customers can expect from a car wash app experience, creating tools that drive membership growth, customer loyalty, and retention.

Check out the full transcript below:

Lanese

Welcome to Episode 13 of Car Wash M&A, the podcast today I have my guests, Adam Trien and Dennis Dreeszen from AMP. It is a customer experience platform that we can’t wait to talk more about, and hear everything that it can do to help carwash owners run their operations even better. So thank you both for being here with me today. And I will let Dennis, you kick it off with just giving just a quick background on you. And then Adam, I’ll go over you for a quick background. And then we’ll talk about what AMP is.

Dennis

I got into the college business about a decade ago, and before that was doing, I guess, kind of financial planning, running 401(k)s and doing a bunch of taxes. I wanted to do something a little different, so I got into the car wash business about 10 years ago with my wife, and we’ve built up the Autowash brand. We’ve now got about 24 locations. But a few years ago, we got kind of frustrated and sort of started looking at building an alternative way to run memberships.

Lanese

That’s the best way for coming up with innovative solutions is because you actually know what the real problem is, so this isn’t hypothetical. You’re the user.

Dennis

Yeah. A lot of what we’re going to talk about today is probably born out of our frustrations as an operator.

Lanese

Great. Can’t wait to dive in. Adam, just give a little bit of your background pre-car wash, and then what you do now.

Adam

Yeah, sure. So I’ve been in the software development space for over 20 years. Several of those years were with Ernst and Young, leading up development, building platforms for them to run big merger and acquisition deals and things like that. About six years ago, I split off from Ernst and Young and started a company called Inciten, which is a boutique development firm in Atlanta, Georgia. We really, really pride ourselves on having really kind of Silicon Valley level talent and building really slick applications, rapid development cycles. You know, really big focus on data and analytics and marketing and really cool things. And about two years ago, I met Dennis, who was looking to build a car wash app. We had never done anything in the car wash space before; I actually knew nothing about the car wash space. But yeah, I really loved working with Dennis building… At first it was an application for for Autowash to manage their memberships with a mobile app. But it’s evolved quickly. We decided, a couple months into the project, it was so powerful what we’re building, we decided to make a whole company around it. So that’s how AMP was was born, and it has been really, really exciting taking really advanced development techniques and technology capabilities and bringing that to the car wash space.

Lanese

Yeah, and the car wash industry is so ripe for this type of technology, because I know that you guys were at the Southwest Car Wash show two years ago, which is when I met you, and it was probably pretty early in your journey of launching AMP. Was it already off the ground then, or had it launched? So two years ago at that car wash show.

Dennis

Our first exposure kind of testing to see if AMP was a viable product was at SCWA a couple years ago. So we had this like makeshift booth. We printed off a couple of boards, pinned them to the wall, and were hopeful that… We were just kind of really trying to see what the response might be for it. So that was our soft launch, I guess.

Lanese

Yeah, and I definitely remember meeting you guys there and thinking, wow, this is really cool. And that show was coming out of you know, a lot of dormancy from no shows for years with COVID and then it just see seemed so cool that there were so many new technologies and new opportunities and new solutions for car wash owners. But before we go too far down that path, Dennis, you had this this car wash brand that you and your wife had started Autowash. You wanted to build a mobile app for it to handle your memberships, and do some of your marketing capabilities, and everything. So let’s talk about what you built for Autowash, and then where it’s grown to today.

Dennis

So when we first got started, we were trying to figure out a solution because we run primarily in-bay automatics, and self-service. We were trying to figure out a way to run our memberships without anybody on site. So we’re kind of a headless system where we don’t have anybody that can put a sticker on a car, or, you know, we didn’t want to put a bunch of different LPRs for six different lanes. It would have been cost prohibitive. So we wanted to find something else that made more sense. And so that’s where we kind of designed our first generation of the app. And it was functional in the very beginning, and then we kind of hit some some dead-ends necessarily on where we wanted that first version to go as far as marketing, connecting with customers, fraud prevention, and things like that. And so that’s when we reached out to Adam to build generation two of our car wash app for the membership. Where it’s at now is we’ve kind of grown. It really changed our business model, for sure. I think most people who get into the membership model of car washing — it changes their revenue line; it makes things a little bit more predictable and a little bit easier to operate. And it lets you grow and scale. And that’s what the app kind of did for us. But what we’ve been able to do now, since we’ve changed over and built AMP, is really explode our growth. Now we just have so much more capabilities to grab people. I think we were sitting at maybe… I want to say four or 5000 members when we switched over to the AMP platform. And now we’re at 16,000 and growing. It’s been pretty incredible.

Lanese

So Adam, when Dennis first approached you about this, and you were talking about coming from this more corporate background where you’re working with these Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 companies and building mobile platforms for them and things like that. What was your first reaction when you were starting to dive into the car wash side of it? What did that feel like?

Adam

Yeah, it was… Dennis has been such a great partner from the beginning. He had all these amazing ideas of what an app could do and how he could interact with his customers. So really, from the very first meeting, it was like, “Yeah, this would be really, really cool.” You know, you see mobile apps all over the place at kind of retail shops. You look at Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks, and Chick-fil-A. It’s hard to find an industry that that doesn’t have mobile apps to help grow loyalty and grow membership programs and things like that. So it seemed immediately I could see there was this big gap in capability in the car wash space. Dennis, I think he kind of mentioned, he was on an app even before we met. I think he was one of the first car wash apps ever in existence. So he’s been doing this from from the beginning. Yeah, it seemed like just a tremendous opportunity to take, you know, a lot of where we’d been successful in other industries, take some of those techniques around marketing and data capture, and bring that that to the car wash space. We kind of always had, throughout the years, you know… If we created some really cool tech or something like that, we always had that mindset: can we productize this? Is there a way to wrap this up and create a SAS platform or product? So I always had my radar up for that kind of thing. And this was a no brainer. Once I saw… We turned it on, and within a couple of weeks, we were seeing traction at Dennis’s car washes that he hadn’t experienced before. When you have a tool and technology that is not just convenient and nice and people like it, but it actually drives revenue, that’s an equation that that always wins. It’s really exciting to get going with AMP.

Lanese

For sure. And so while there’s other providers out there for to build apps, or you can hire a developer to do this, what seems really cool about what you guys are doing is making this available to car wash chains that are looking to incorporate some other platform to manage their memberships that — correct me if I’m wrong — is not tied to a POS, it’s configurable, it’s customizable, and you don’t have to have a developer on your staff to be able to figure out how to use it. It’s like an iPhone; you can turn it on, and you can start messing with it and figure it out because it is tailored for ease of use. So talk to me about what it looks like for a car wash customer of AMP. What can this do for them, and what power is behind the ease of use, the customization that it has? What does this look like for them, and what can it do for him?

Adam

That was so important for us. You know, every car wash runs differently. Their brand is different, the look and feel their messaging is different, their pricing, their products, what they offer when you get on site, so you know, it was really important for us to build a product that was completely white labeled, that felt… You know, it is the car wash’s app. You know, when you go to the App Store, it doesn’t say AMP, and you know, we’re on some platform, you know, managing multiple car washes. So when you advertise on our app, the only advertisements your customers will see are for that car wash. So we take this very, very seriously. Every single picture, line of text, pop-up deal, everything in our app is configurable by our self service portal. Because we’ve made it so easy to configure and so flexible. We could have a new app up and running in a couple of days, where it’s launched, and it’s on the App Store. What does take some time is you start working with the marketing team and getting all the collateral and the images and figuring out the messaging and then figuring out, on the marketing side, what deals we want to show, and promotions, and what the customer notifications are going to be. It’s a really super powerful platform. So there’s a lot of ongoing work to continue to refine your brand, refine your messaging, test new things, make changes, and things like that. And we really help along that entire journey.

Lanese

Yeah, that sounds like what a great partnership for car wash owners. One, it’s giving a push to get that content solidified, and get that messaging and that goal solidified. Because I know speaking from my own experience, sometimes until something is right in front of you that you need to do, it’s kind of pushed off, but messaging and marketing is so important. And so this gives that prompt to “Okay, let’s let’s let’s get that together,” if they don’t already have it already. But then knowing that that there’s the support to launch that without having to refigure out some whole thing… that it’s customizable, and it’s easy to do. I bet that’s a real game changer for car wash owners. What are some of the results that you’ve seen with your clients as far as they’ve not only adopted the app and started using it — or the experience platform, because it’s more than just an app — what’s some of the results that they’ve seen and some of the benefits that they’ve experienced from that?

Dennis

First, I think one of the biggest things that we’ve seen — there’s a couple of huge statistics out there that we’ve been able to expose — one is 93% capture of accidental or involuntary churn. Which is really awesome! My wife was asking me earlier this morning, she goes, “what about the other seven? What are we gonna do with those? Why aren’t we capturing that?” That’s like prepaid debit cards, things like that. So we’re capturing 93%. I think some of the competitive competitors grab about 60 or 65%. So it’s almost a 50% better capture, which is like… Those are real dollars for an operator. That’s huge. And so that’s money to the bottom line right away. So we’ve seen that. We’ve also seen some really, really tremendous growth of MRR using some of our tools like our attendant mode tablet tool, as much as like 50% increase of MRR, which is monthly recurring revenue for the month for the memberships… 50% growth and about a six week period of time. It’s mind boggling how fast you can move the needle by actually using the tools and using them properly in the app.

Lanese

And so let’s look a little bit holistically at how this is a customer experience platform beyond just the app. I also want to talk about your tie in and partnership with Retention Express because we’re talking about capturing customer churn. And I know that you guys have a partnership with them, and actually part of Amplify Ventures, we’re all moving this ship forward in promoting and advocating for more solutions available for car wash owners. But how does that work with what they do?

Adam

Yeah, I think when you look at churn, there’s being proactive and then being reactive. What’s exciting is we handle both really, really well. So with Retention Express… Actually one interesting side story is they launched also, at that same conference, and they were two booths over. So we’ve been partners with them really since the beginning. And they’ve been a big part of our ongoing success. So basically, in our app, if somebody has any issues or problems at the car wash or questions about their membership, you’re able to either send them through the phone or text message to get on with someone at Retention Express to start addressing their problems. If they’re an existing customer, we’ve given tools to Retention Express in our portal to solve the issue, to offer credits, give coupons, and really quickly see all the information about that customer. You know how many times they’ve been to a carwash, what their lifetime value is, you know, really try to keep that customer, keep them happy. If they are calling to cancel, we’re then able to look at what’s their payment history? Have they been a good customer? How many times do they wash a month? And feed them promotions specific… We also collect the reasons why people are canceling. So give promotions that way. And then once they’ve left, we still have have their information; we could still contact them. So you know while they’re in the cancellation period, we could hit them up a week or a day before their cancellation date. Make sure that they don’t want to extend, or we can’t get them with with a promotion. And then even when they’re gone, we could send out emails: we want you, and we miss you, you know, that kind of thing. And so it’s like, yeah, this huge campaign we help these carwashes set up. And Retention Express? They’re awesome! You know, when they get customers on the phone, they keep satisfaction way, way up! They do a great job of getting people to continue on the journey of a membership.

Lanese

What’s so cool about both of those services is it’s advocating on behalf of the customer. So giving them a positive experience, giving them ease of use for your car wash end user, but also for your clients as the car wash owner. So this is such a win / win for both sides of that. And that’s what I really love about how the car wash industry is evolving, because this is beneficial across the board for everyone. And it’s raising the bar for what the standards of car washing in general are from a wider consumer expectation, that now they expect more from us as an industry. And I think that that’s helpful for that rising tide to lift all boats that we can provide a better product, keep people happier, have that loyalty. When we talk about car washing, and who the customer is, you know, a lot of it’s based on convenience. One of the things that I’ve heard you guys say that I think is really cool is changing that convenience loyalty to a brand loyalty. So I want to dive in a little bit about that. And Dennis, I think you guys do some really cool stuff with Autowash. And then also with your AMP hat on how to change that convenience loyalty to your brand loyalty.

Dennis

Yeah, I think obviously the convenience loyalty means that it was just on the way, and if you move, you’re going to lose that customer, whereas brand loyalty is they’re aligned with your brand, emotionally and logically. Being able to convey the unique points of difference or your USP through the app and being able to educate your customers through multi-page educational pop-ups inside the app, or deals and other things — there are just so many ways — I think building that brand loyalty, I think really comes from the connection with the customer whereas without the app, you really don’t have that tight conversation that you can have with the customers. And that’s where the platform comes in is it allows you to control that conversation and be able to have that with them, not just when they’re on site, but when they go home, and they’re watching the Superbowl or something like that, they can get a pop-up or a special deal or a special offer or “Hey, did you know mag chloride is damaging when it’s snowing outside?” when they’re not at the wash.

Lanese

So what does this look like for your user engagement outside of the car wash? What are some tangibles on that? I mean, are people watching the Superbowl and looking at pop-ups from AMP, or from their car wash that they’re connected to?

Dennis

We’ve got about 50% engagement on any kind of a notification that gets sent out. So if there’s an invite, we’re seeing reactions, if we send those out, because we know it’s good data, right? We know that they want to be part of that brand. They’ve downloaded the app; they’re in it. And some of the things that we’ve done to increase engagement are like the spin-to-win game that we can put in there, which is where they can win like $5 credits or $50 credits, or even maybe a free year.

Lanese

So time out real quick. So also on the spin to win, so they get these different incentives. But then how are you working to fulfill those incentives that they’ve won? So if they get this $5 credit credit, what does that look like? Where does it go?

Dennis

If they win something in the spin-to-win game, it automatically gets applied to their account. So then they can see in the gift card portal, they can see how much money they’ve earned, or how much they saved. And they can, if they wanted to, because they are a member, they can give it away, or they can use it to offset their current membership.

Lanese

Even just in that part of it… I’ve been in the car wash industry for about 13 years. Early on, especially, it’s, “Okay, so we’re going to do this Father’s Day promotion, and we’re going to pick winners, and then we’re going to get this gift card, put it in a sleeve, put it in the mail, and mail it to the winner, or have them come pick it up,” because there was no way to just like give it to them electronically. So it’s so cool, just to see that that’s no longer… That part of it is solved. But it’s I just am reminiscing about that; these were real things that the car industry was just so far behind, on how to figure out that, bridge that gap. And knowing that there’s a place for customers to keep their information in one place. They’re not having to go to multiple things; it’s got their loyalty tracking in there, because the worst thing for customers is be like, “Oh, I didn’t bring my…” People don’t use punch cards anymore. But I didn’t bring whatever thing, or I’m not in on the good deal. And it seems like through this engagement, they know, and they feel comfortable and confident that they’re always in on whatever’s available to them, that they’re rewarded for that.

Dennis

Right. And that’s why it’s really, really, really important to have a really good functioning, slick app that’s engaging to the customer that when they’re playing with it, it’s not buggy. It’s not crashing; it doesn’t look like it was coded in 1985. And so it’s modern, and it continues to evolve that way. But with those features like that Spin-to-Win, we’ve got from the AMP side, we can see multiple clients, and the clients that use the Spin-to-Win have a 50% higher daily engagement rate than clients who don’t, which means that people are just constantly using the app. And then what that means is that then you know that you’re able to use the pop-up engine. So after they get a wash, or after they do a certain function, we can surface different pieces of information. And it could be just a “Did you know?” type of thing; it doesn’t always have to be a savings type of situation. But it is very much an educational piece of why we’re different: our soaps do this, or pollen is acidic, and it can do that… And it’s a way to connect with the customers where they already are, which is on their phone.

Lanese

That’s awesome.

Adam

One thing to add about kind of how we achieve some of those great, great numbers of people actually opening up emails or clicking on a link that we send in a text message, and things like that. A big part of it’s using modern online marketing techniques around customer segmentation and making sure the people that you’re sending the message to, you know, that (1) they’ve opted in, (2) you have a verified phone number, so you don’t have a bunch of junk data that you’re trying to send these messages out to, but then (3), we know so much more than about person than just their phone number. We know what car they drive, we know how often they wash, where they wash, how many times they log into the app, their birthday, all sorts of things there. But we also have a survey tool, where we can start asking additional questions of customers to even further segment them. And then you could use those answers to send out really direct mail. So a tangible example… Dennis actually did this at Autowash. He was originally… They were partners with the Broncos and the Rockies, and they’d send out these blasts. And you get a bunch of people who would opt out because they don’t like the Broncos. They hate the Broncos! They don’t want to see another thing about the Broncos!

Lanese

They’re Cowboys fans, obviously.

Adam

The joke is no one really likes the Broncos right now. But so we have a survey tool: What’s your favorite team? When they launch they ask, what’s your favorite local team? We’re able to collect that information. And now when we send those messages, we send them to people who just love the Broncos, and it gets so much more engagement. So that’s just like one little example. We have people who use the survey tool to get live feedback from their customers. We’ve had people that ask, “Do you like hamburgers or hotdogs for the car event that we’re about to do?” You could you could use it for all sorts of different things. And if you’re really creative, you start building these rich profiles about your customers that you could then use to reconnect and build that conversation Dennis was talking about.

Lanese

That’s the other thing is we’re seeing this huge evolution — not just in the car wash industry, but that’s what we’ll talk about — is how to leverage data. So (1) capturing the data because you have to get this information from the customer in a way that they want to share it with you, and then (2) where do you put the data? And how do you quantify it? And how do you use it to benefit you and the customer. And that sounds like that’s a great example of just one way of reaching a customer in the language that they want, in the manner in which they want to engage, but also with the preferences that they have, so it shows that they’re tracking, and that you care about them, and that you you want to engage specifically with them to a tailored message. And that’s really, really cool. Talk to me a little bit about what else you can do with this data that you’re collecting, and how you’re pushing the envelope on benefiting both the car wash customer and then the owner for building that brand loyalty?

Dennis

I think before Adam jumps into that question, one of the reasons we really liked working with Adam in the very beginning was because of the sanctity of the data. That was their focus, obviously, coming from their background, but at EY and doing all the projects that they were doing is having good data… So just having data if it’s garbage doesn’t really help very much. And so knowing that we actually have the right answers, and we are putting that message out to the right person, was one of the big differences that we noticed when we started developing this program that that is a foundation of our platform is how strong those data relational databases are.

Adam

It was one of the first conversations Dennis and I had when he was talking about his vision, and he kind of said that this was born from frustration. And one of the frustrations was the lack of ability to pull good data out of the system. So that was, from day one, having full transparency and access, and having a really nice design data model sitting behind the system was really one of the most important important goals of AMP. So yeah, we’re collecting so much information. You know, we already kind of talked about some of the information about the customers that we know. We have operational data, you know, where they’re washing, how much they’re washing, things like that. We have financial data, so we’re able to see how long has someone been a member? We know when you have people who are having trouble with credit cards versus not, different levels of membership. We know timing, you know, when someone gets a trial wash, how long does it take them to become a member? And then when they become a member, what’s their lifetime value? How long are they a member? We have interactions within the app. So if someone clicks on a deal, we track impressions and clicks and redemptions, so you’re able to see on the marketing side how successful that is. And it’s really bringing all that data together, and making it super accessible. So we have our own reports and dashboards that where we try to derive insights from that data, we also pump our data, you could pull our data with API’s. We use this tool called Snowflake, which is an online data repository that lets customers take our data into their own data repository. But now for the sort of questions you could ask of this data, it’s hard to answer that question because it’s kind of unlimited. But certain things we do is: what promotion is most effective at driving lifetime value? Is it get the first month free? Get the first month for $5? Download the app, and get a free carwash? We have all these different promotions we could run; how can we tell? So now we have the data to really draw that out and look at your cohorts of members based on these different promotions, and you can really understand what’s working, what’s not, and make a tweak. And you know, we’re not waiting… we’re not having to dump that data out and send it to someone else to analyze it. It’s all coming in real time. And what’s what’s really exciting to think about our future roadmap is starting to bring in data scientists and machine learning algorithms to start… You know, there are some obvious things that a human can spot. But are there certain correlations that humans can’t easily derive that these algorithms could find? For example, you know, give me the list of people most likely to churn that are current members, and we could dump into that algorithm, how many times are they watching per month? What’s their payment history and failure rate? And try to start finding these groups of people that we could then market to, and try to make sure… Be more proactive rather than reactive.

Lanese

There’s a lot of rich things there that you just touched on and shared about. And exciting! I think it’s really… Again, it’s really cool just watching the evolution of the car wash industry to find how we can use this information to reach, connect, and communicate with the car wash customer in a meaningful way that builds up brand loyalty. And one of the things that you mentioned kind of early in this part of the conversation is that opt-in messaging, or that opt-in communication with the customer. So this is very transparent. It’s not like you’re spying on them. They are giving you this information because they find value in the relationship. And I love that part of it because it is a relationship that both of you are mutually bringing something to the table of value.

Adam

That’s really important. And yeah, we definitely take a lot of inspiration from the food and beverage industry looking at, you know, how generous the Starbucks points system is. Really what that is, is that they’re wanting people to download the app; they’re wanting to get information about those people; they’re wanting to understand their buying patterns. There are great statistics out there that if you have a user or customer that has an app, they’re going to spend 30% more with your brand than someone without an app. So yeah, it’s pretty exciting. And, you know, so you can be really generous. And you can do things like offer discounts and promotions in the app, but still kind of your net growth and your net profits are still going up, because now you have this huge audience as a captive audience that likes your brand that you could…

Lanese

And it’s not even just… It doesn’t have to be just a monthly membership customer. This is your retail customers, too. I think that we’ve had a lot of focus on the memberships, and rightly so. But the retail customers are important too. And this gives a way to bridge that to still engage with them, that you’re still reaching them as well, if they have the platform downloaded.

Dennis

Yeah, totally! I think from an operator’s perspective, you want to have all your customers’ information, not just your members’ customer information. And so being able to grab all of those folks, and… It’s anywhere from half to 70% of your users are not members, which means they’re using you maybe once a month, or when it’s convenient, or they’re trying you for the first time. And there’s not a really good way to capture those people if you don’t capture them on that initial visit. That might be your only shot in an old model. But now with a model of like, everybody download the app, you have an opportunity to aim for memberships in this with loyalty, and by that maybe not an explicit loyalty program, but an ability to go after and capture that person that wants…

Lanese

To come in every six weeks. Or whatever it is.

Dennis

Yeah, we can go in and say, “Hey, here’s someone who tried us. They washed once. They haven’t washed in days. Ping that person!” And we have the ability to do that in the mobile app and grab that person and bring them back to our brand because they’re going to wash somewhere, and it’s probably… If they’re not already locked in loyal, then that’s convenience loyalty, which is where it’s on the way to work or on the way home, but if you’re able to push them, and give them a nudge, just a little bit, then when that it does have that next weather event, they think, “That car wash messaged me; I should go there.”

Adam

One really cool example of this one of our customers just did last weekend was they’re launching a new location. So the app is really great, if you’re launching new locations, to really quickly bring that location into your membership program. It’s POS agnostic, but that activation event… Basically, you’re trying to grow membership as quickly as possible at that new location and get to that critical mass, so what we’re able to do is say, “Come in for our grand opening, and get a free wash!” But instead of just giving everyone a free wash and maybe taking on paper… I don’t know, without an app, how you would collect information about that customers, it’s, “You have to download the app, and then you get your free wash.” So we’re able to capture hundreds and hundreds of people the first day that a car wash launches that we know live in that area that are interested in that car wash and really quickly reached that critical mass of memberships at each location. It’s really cool to see.

Lanese

And this is so important for a lot of car washes that we interact with and have relationships with that are growing, and maybe they’re going through acquisitions, and they have multiple POSs across different regions or maybe even in the same town that… Finding that bridge to not have to rip everything out and start all over with the hard equipment at those sites that are extremely expensive and cost-prohibitive, and time-prohibitive, that this helps them speed that process along, and work with what’s there in still an advantageous way. It’s not even that they’re losing anything out on this; this is still helpful.

Dennis

You know, being agnostic of the POS, and being flexible, because… Even today, you know, tying into the different POS providers, whether it’s Sunny DRB, or ICS, or whomever, there are new technologies always coming out, and there could be a different POS tomorrow, and being able to tie in with that as well. Just being dynamic and flexible… It allows the operator to not have to worry about the sunk cost of like, “Oh, man, now I’ve got to rip out that POS.”

Adam

That pain point of… We hear that a lot from customers and potential customers looking for an app, is it’s really hard to run a big promotion that talks about membership across all your locations, and things like that, when there are certain locations where, “Well, that location, we haven’t migrated them yet to our point of sale, so that’s not covered…” And to be able to almost immediately bring a new location up and get them on the membership and get existing memberships going to that location. Yeah, it’s pretty exciting.

Lanese

Absolutely. With what you guys are doing advancement wise on the AMP technology, correct me if I’m wrong, but when you do have new features that you’ve developed, that you’ve created, well, how do your existing customers… Do they have access to that when they come out? Do they have to add that on later? Or what does that look like for your customers, as far as the things that the new things that you’re working on?

Adam

I think this is one of the most exciting things about how we architected this solution. It’s cloud based, it’s called multi-tenant, which means everybody is always on the latest and greatest version. We do something called feature flagging, so we do releases about once a month to iteratively, adding new features to the app. We have release notes that go out, so people could see all the new features, how they work, the new new settings, things, things like that. And then once once they get launched, you’ll get a notification that the features are now ready, with instructions of how to turn them on in the portal. So it’s really, really easy for people to take advantage of the latest and greatest. That allows us, that feature flagging, really allows us to march quickly, and keep on adding great new features without interrupting current customers, but still letting them opt in to all the great things that we’re building.

Lanese

Great for your customer loyalty for AMP because they’re getting all these cool things. So I think that that’s such a neat thing, because it really does… You know, it becomes frustrating when you hear that your neighbor has such a better Spectrum deal or whatever it is because there’s some promotion that came out right then. So just feeling like you have access to all of the new cool stuff that you guys are developing for down the road, and on an ongoing basis. I think that’s so cool. And how neat to grow with your car wash partners and offer them new solutions that maybe they haven’t thought of.

Dennis

One of the challenges is being able to do that intelligently, and not mess the app up, or mess the platform up. I think that’s like the hardest thing to do. And make sure we have a good architecture on the back end of it so that when we do add all these different configurations, that one doesn’t take down another, and so that they all work in concert, and can create a really cool user experience.

Lanese

And what does it look like as far as the future of what you guys see for AMP from starting as this car wash mobile app? And then where is it going in the long run? I mean, I know you don’t have a crystal ball and have it all laid out because you’re constantly developing and tweaking, and things like that, but what do you see for it just kind of in a general sense moving forward in evolution.

Adam

I do think it is interesting. We started really focused on the app. That was a key thing; get a mobile app for your car wash. You can even see in the tagline behind me, you know, we were called, “AMP: the car wash app.” And as we’ve evolved, we’ve realized it’s so much more than just an app. So you have your customer service reps, and giving them the tools they need when when customers call in, it’s the data analytics that your business and operation folks need to make better decisions, the marketing piece has turned into a huge, huge part of this, and we’re making that so much more sophisticated. You know, we have multi years of ideas of how to continue to iterate and make this thing stronger and stronger. And I think our big goal is, you know, any interaction that a car wash has with the customer prior to them entering the tunnel and them getting the actual wash, we think there’s so much room for improvement, as the things are more interconnected. And the text message that you send out is aware of the mobile app. And the kiosk also is aware that this person’s a membership, and loyalty points, and all this stuff you could do as you have kind of all these different separate communications with the customers, and have all unified in one central platform that just unlocks so much capability of what you’re able to offer, what value you’re able to offer, and how you’re able to build out that loyalty.

Lanese

Totally. Again, like we had talked about, that convenience loyalty to that brand loyalty… that there are so many sticky points with the interaction and the relationship building and the investment in getting to know your customer, especially beyond the walls of the of the car wash, that there’s a relationship there that’s deeper. And I think that’s really exciting. And I think you guys are doing some really cool things with that. And it’s fun to watch. And I’m excited to share in this journey to keep offering real solutions to car wash owners that are addressing these pain points, that are helping grow memberships and loyal customers that are retail customers, or whatever it is, but capturing and using this data in a meaningful way to grow your bottom line is I think what all carwash owners want. They want to have more loyal customers that are growing their business, but also that there’s a continued path forward to keep growing.

Dennis

Yeah, I think one of the challenges is, as the industry becomes a little bit more mature, is the commoditization of the car wash, and how are you going to differentiate. It’s now becoming the operational efficiency. And it means that you need to have a lower churn rate than your competitor. And you need to make sure that you’re doing things for additional capture and growth of your MRR. And / or your retail customer, or what we call the pay-per-wash customer, and what are you doing to grab those folks? Because you have to get to a point where you can grab all of it. If you’re not doing the most efficient things, then you’re probably going to get beat longterm competition wise.

Lanese

Right. And that’s just… It’s good business practice anyways, but the nature of where we are right now, it’s more expensive to do everything. And money costs more. So protecting those customers, and strengthening that brand loyalty makes so much sense. And also streamlining the rest of your operation. So working in tandem with multiple facets of your business, to really optimize the experience for the user, optimize the operational strategy and execution on the car wash side of it as well. And that those all work hand in hand.

Dennis

My marketing professor back in college, he used to hammer on us about how expensive was to grab a customer and how valuable it was to retain that customer. And I think that’s where really our platform is really kind of honed in on is, like we’ve kind of touched on a couple of times already, is grabbing that non-member, and keeping that person engaged. Because eventually, hopefully, they become a future member. And so I guess we probably should like classify them as maybe future members and present members.

Lanese

Yeah, exactly. I love that. Yeah, just that customer that… The car wash industry historically has been very volume based. And, you know, you talk about how many cars you wash per hour. And while all of those things still matter, it’s really shifted to how many members do you have? And how much are you growing that membership base? And again, we know we’re still talking about the retail customers, too, but that’s the important part of it is that ongoing… Because it’s the relationship, and the ongoing future business that they’ll have as well. Well, thank you guys for sharing about AMP. And just talking about this really cool evolution again of what started as a car wash mobile app two years ago at the Southwest show — which is coming up! This episode will actually release while we are at the 2023 Southwest Car Wash Association convention in Fort Worth — and it’s been such a cool journey to watch you guys. And again, just remembering being one of the people that was pulled in to, “Hey, come hear about our new car wash app!” But from the minute that I met both of you guys, and Bobby with Retention Express, you are just doing something so cool for the industry. And I really love watching how the industry is growing and evolving, and there’s new things coming in and new ways of looking at things that are taking hold. And I think that you guys are doing an awesome job. Not that you need my two cents, but I really do, and I’ve had so much fun getting to know you guys and your team and I’m excited to keep seeing where everything’s going.

Adam

Absolutely, yeah.

Dennis

So are we!

Adam

The feeling is mutual. Yeah, it’s been been a wild ride. And as someone who’s newer to the car wash industry, I speak to so many people who are just like falling in love with this space, and it’s just so amazing how collaborative people are, and hungry for new ideas, and open, and how quick they’re able to move and make decisions, and things like that. It’s just been been so much fun to be a part of this. And yeah, we’re very excited to see where this goes.

Lanese

Yeah, and especially with your pre-car wash background, you know maybe at first you hear car wash, and you’re like, “What does that look like?” And you may be excited about it, or maybe not. But then once you get into it, it sounds like like my experience as well, that it just really sticks with you. And there’s something so cool about it… The relationships, and the people, and the collaboration, and the desire to perform better. Always. There’s there’s always room to keep getting better and growing and evolving. And I think that drives all of us. So it’s really cool.

Lanese

For those of you who are listening when this episode releases, who are in Fort Worth at the SCWA, the Southwest Car Wash Association Expo, come by and see us. Dennis and Adam will be at booth 635 with AMP, and I’ll be with my team at Amplify Car Wash Advisors at booth 734. So those are conveniently located right next door to each other. Also, if you want to stop by and see Bobby Thomson with Retention Express, his booth is not far away, either, at 844. And if you’re loving this podcast, please take a minute to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you like to listen. Those reviews help other people in the car wash industry find us. Until next month, see ya!

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