Building the Right Culture at Your Car Wash

What is your company culture? If your employees or team members are unengaged or disinterested it will affect every part of your operations: your wash quality, your overhead, and—most of all—customer experience.

But creating a culture of enthusiasm, teamwork, and pride is far easier said than done. So, how do you go about building this kind of positive momentum in the workplace?

Be Missional

Passion doesn’t start with WHAT, or HOW. Instead, it starts with your WHY. Naturally a car wash is a business and sales and growth are goals. But those can’t be your team’s core mission, your why. If it is, why should your employees really care?

No matter the size or location of your car wash, you and your team have a unique opportunity to help and serve others, acting as a positive force in your customers’ day and providing a high quality service that they need. And if a customer needs special assistance you go above and beyond to meet their needs and make their day.

It’s a simple thing, but respect, kindness, and service can form a mission that’s worth buying in to.

Push for Excellence

If your mission is serving others, then excellence is the natural next step. Take the time to define what (realistic) excellence looks like in your employee’s day to day activities and put it in writing. Then make those expectations clear and explicit during individual and team training activities, reviews, and routine checklists.

Each member of your team should know exactly what is expected to them and how to make that excellence happen each and every day they are on the job.

Be Present – Take the Lead!

Car wash operators, managers, and team leaders play a decisive role in the formation of a great culture. Your attitude and actions set the tone for everyone else.

Be on-hand at the wash, acting out the same extraordinary customer service and above-and-beyond attitude you expect from your team. And be available and proactive, ready to help your team when they are stressed, answer questions, and provide support whenever and however needed.

Get to know your team members and build trust, and you may be surprised just how much loyalty develops as a result.

Provide Time to Socialize

Coworkers are often the absolute worst or the best part of a job. So do everything you can to help your team bond. Even among entry-level or hourly workers, occasional social events or meals where everyone can let their hair down and be a bit more natural are a great opportunity to help build these relationships and develop that sense of trust, positivity, and belonging.

Provide Praise and Recognition

When an employee is doing it right and knocking it out of the park, let them know. Be free with praise, and even when providing feedback or correction make sure to call out everything that the employee is getting right before encouraging them to work on the areas where they’ve fallen short.

You can also implement incentive programs and celebrate team milestones with rewards or events. It works and it helps your best team members feel even better about their mounting accomplishments.

But Don’t Let Your Team Get Too Comfortable

Team members should be comfortable in in the sense that they understand their role and are in total command of the situation. But physical comfort can lead to laxity on the job. Physically and mentally your team should always be on alert, always monitoring the car wash and customer activity and always ready to jump into action if needed.

Excellence demands awareness, and for this reason our corporate washes bar comfortable chairs, internet access, street clothing, and TV from workspaces, reinforcing to team members that they are on duty and have a job to do—and do to the best of their ability.

About Tommy Car Wash Systems

Leaders in car wash innovation and development, Tommy Car Wash Systems produces high quality round stainless steel arches, equipment, control systems, and detergents along with proprietary building designs. Parties interested in high capacity, performance-driven car washing are invited to explore the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise, a fast-growing international express car wash providing the highest levels of guest experience and wash quality. Coming soon to a city near you!

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Tommy’s Express Expanding Nationally!

From January 1st 2019 through September 30, 2019 Tommy Car Wash Systems’ sister company Tommy’s Express Car Wash awarded 10 new franchise partners, resulting in 46 additional new express car wash sites now entering the early stages of development. These sites are located in Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin, California, Tennessee, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, and Kansas and highlight the company’s commitment to replicating an upscale car wash solution in every market across the country, establishing a powerful national brand that guests love.

Tommy’s Express has 20 locations in operation in 13 states as of this writing, with an additional 10 sites expected open by the end of the year, bringing the chain’s presence to 17 states total by 2020. The organization has over 230 sites under contract for future development, including international locations.

According to company President Ryan Essenburg, “We are fired up by these new partnerships and our company’s explosive growth in 2019! Each new relationship and each new wash is an opportunity for all of us to serve, and we don’t take this for granted as we look forward to great things coming in 2020.”

Each Tommy’s Express Car Wash features the Totally Tommy building design and equipment package developed by Tommy Car Wash Systems along with franchise-exclusive benefits including the Easy-Chem detergent management system, corporate training and technical assistance, and professional marketing support.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Testing Paid Vacuum Services, a Case Study

Customers love free vacs, but are they still the right choice for car wash operators looking towards 2020?

Free vacuum service has long been considered the standard in the car wash industry, including in our own corporate washes. Not only is free vacuum service valued by customers, but it allows express or other exterior-only car washes to compete with full-service car wash operations—especially in the difficult economic conditions of the last decade.

But times have changed and car wash operations should no longer assume that free vacuum service is always the right option.

The Case for Paid Vacuum Centers

A strong economy and the widespread adoption of membership programs demonstrate that customers are both willing and able to pay—and subscribe—for services that provide real value. At the same time mobile technology has enabled washes to offer on-demand vacuum service as a component of the wash’s membership offer, increasing the value and sense of priority that that members enjoy while other guests are still able to purchase vacuum time as needed.

Aside from increasing the value and attractiveness of car wash memberships, this program increases the likelihood that paying vacuum customers will also grab a vending kit while they’re at it, further driving revenue and dramatically reducing the overall wear and tear on the vacuum equipment.

Real World Case Study – Jenison, Michigan

In late 2018 Tommy’s Express Car Wash launched a new corporately-owned express car wash facility in Jenison, Michigan. This facility is located only four miles from a sister location in Grandville Michigan, a development strategy designed to establish critical density in the Grand Rapids region.

Unlike the Grandville location the Jenison car wash included a modified paid vacuum system. Using the Tommy’s Express mobile app members were still able to use the vacuums for free, but all other guests had the option of purchasing vacuum time bundled with a vending detailing kit for $3.

The results?

Combined vacuum center sales averaged nearly five cents per car during the testing period, significantly higher than vacuum center sales of less than one cent per car at the sister location and other corporate washes.

However, the test was ultimately ended and the vacuums converted back to a free system due to other factors. Jenison and the other Tommy’s Express washes in the area are competing with a large number of independent and branded car washes, and with Tommy’s Express’ higher pricing it was determined that free vacuum parity was important for the sites to remain competitive among a specific segment of the customer population.

Moving Forward

With fewer and fewer full-service car washes left in the US the initial driving force behind free vacuum service is disappearing. In the absence of a highly competitive local market, conversion to a paid vacuum system may allow operators to add another level of value to their membership programs, generate additional revenue, and reduce the overall wear and tear inflicted on their vacuum systems.

We expect to begin seeing more and more operators retrofit large, costly free vacuum centers with points of sale and/or membership-integrated alternatives, and will continue to carefully test and develop this concept in various markets around the nation.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

In the Wash with the All-New Tommy RO

After a rigorous development and testing cycle, the brand new Tommy Reverse Osmosis system is hitting select car wash facilities and proving itself a sterling option for high production express car washes.

Like other RO systems the unit uses a powerful filtration system to produce purified water for use in spot free rinse service. However, unlike other systems the Tommy RO was developed to include amenities specific to car wash operation.

These include:

A suite of monitors providing advanced warning ahead of required maintenance or system faults

Proprietary solenoid system for strict 1 to 1 production of RO and Reject water

Automatic back-flow system to purge membranes, extending membrane lifespan to greatly reduce system operating costs

The system may be equipped with an onboard controller or integrated into the Tommy Controller for centralized command and control in a Totally Tommy tunnel. For more information please visit the Tommy Car Wash Systems webstore or contact a sales representative.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Benefits of the Tommy’s Express Franchise Model

Startup franchises have long enjoyed a higher success rate compared to independent startup businesses, and the franchise model has proven dominant in a vast range of industries from restaurant to retail.

At Tommy Car Wash Systems and Tommy’s Express Car Wash we’ve crafted the most comprehensive, cohesive car wash franchise package available, with an entire suite of benefits including:

A Proven, Cohesive Car Wash System

Each Tommy’s Express Car Wash is built from the Totally Tommy integrated equipment and facility design, developed to achieve the fastest processing speeds and best wash quality available from an express car wash. It’s a template optimized for operation that covers all aspects of the finished facility, including:

  • A visually dramatic building design, optimized for customer experience and low-labor operation
  • A full, high-performing equipment package
  • Leading control systems and electronics
  • Organized tools, replacement parts, and equipment storage

The Name Recognition of a Fast-Growing National Brand

When you join Tommy’s Express you become a participant with a growing national network of car washes. With sixteen facilities currently open and almost 200 more in various stages of development, Tommy’s Express Car Wash is set to become one of if not the widest-known car wash chains in the United States with a large and shared membership pool.

Access to Proprietary Car Wash Equipment

Tommy’s Express Car Wash partners receive access to exclusive car wash technology developed specifically for use in our franchise network. This includes the new Tommy Point of Sale, TommyClub license plate recognition, and the Easy-Chem detergent management system.

By building up the franchise and pooling resources we are able to continually explore, develop, and trial new and innovative technology while individual operators focus on the day to running and success of their individual facilities.

Advanced Site Selection and Development Assistance

The right location makes a world of difference for your car wash’s long-term success. Our in-house development team will help you identify and secure the best possible location for your facility and are ready to assist you through the entire process from site layout and local approvals, to final equipment installation and fine-tuning.

Hands-On Operations Training

To run the ultimate car wash successfully and deliver a high quality wash result you’ll need the right training and practice before your site launches. The Tommy University program brings Tommy’s Express owners and managers to our headquarters in Holland MI for both classroom and hands-on training at our corporate washes, followed by additional training and review at your local site. Our goal is to give you the tools, knowledge, and support you need to be successful from your car wash’s first year through its first decade.

Comprehensive Marketing support

Tommy’s Express is unique in that we provide comprehensive and highly professionalized marketing support before, during, and after your car wash’s grand opening. We manage your social media channels and online directories, providing a constant stream of social media and video content, implementing new seasonal campaigns, and closely managing your online reputation and reviews.

Franchise Opportunities Now Available!

For more information on the Tommy’s Express franchise please visit We look forward to working with you soon!

Tommy Car Wash Systems