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.
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.
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.”
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 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: http://amplifywash.com/podcast