Digital disruption is turning the consumer marketplace on its head, forever altering the retail, taxi, movie, and airline industries just to name a few. Now it’s car care’s turn.
For the most part the car wash and detail industries have been unaffected by the digital revolution. Sure the equipment has been upgraded and marketing efforts supercharged by the power of digital, but the business still operates as it has for decades. Customers drop in the wash or detail center or call ahead to make an appointment and the service is carried out on the operator’s schedule. If the wash is busy the customer has to wait. If the detail center’s calendar is booked, again the customer has to wait. But now thanks to advances in digital technology and the emergence of the on-demand economy, the balance of power has shifted to the consum
Washos co-founder and CEO Bertrand Patriarca.
Car care platform Washos connects customers who need their car washed or detailed with a pool of available technicians ready and waiting to complete the service. Similar to the Uber model, which has disrupted the taxi industry and turned anyone with a car into a taxi service, Washos utilizes digital technology to connect those in need of a clean car with an on-demand consortium of available service providers.
“All industries have been disrupted by technology,” says Washos co-founder and CEO Bertrand Patriarca. “The car wash was probably the last one that didn’t bring in convenience or any disruption into the business. This is how the idea for Washos started.”
The Washos platform is simple. Customers can either use their mobile device or desktop computer to view available service times and schedule a same-day appointment to have their car washed and/or detailed. The platform’s unique algorithm matches the customer with the ideal service provider based on availability, location, and the technician’s skill set to ensure the customer’s request for service is meet quickly and seamlessly.
The Washos mobile application makes it easy to schedule and purchase a wash anywhere, anytime.
Similar to the Uber model, Washos’ stable of 1099 contractors are free to work independently and are encouraged to build their personal business under the greater umbrella of the brand. But unlike Uber and other on-demand service platforms, car care requires highly specialized skills that prevents just anyone with an automobile and a bucket from signing up with the platform and begin taking service calls.
“Being a car washer and detailer requires some skill, equipment, training, and monitoring,” says Patriarca. “We spend a lot of time helping our contractors develop their techniques and teaching them how to use the supplies and the equipment. We do that within our own network. Our senior detailers train the new ones and show them how to deliver the business and the experience so there is a high consistency in terms of service.”
When a new contractor signs up with Washos they are put through a four-day long training program designed to teach them the basic skills they need to get started and how to deliver the Washos experience. Freshly minted Washos technicians are not given the keys to the enterprise on day one. Rather they are brought on board slowly, earning their stripes with low-end washes before graduating to more complicated and economically rewarding servic
Washos primarily depends on word of mouth to market its services, but some slick visuals certainly help.
When they first start technicians are only permitted to deliver basic washes with a few options. After a month or more of high performance they are allowed to provide some entry-level details. Three or four months later they can provide full details. In addition, the network’s most senior service providers can earn additional income training new recruits.“There is a seniority that exists within Washos,” Patriarca says. “New technicians realize that they can really progress with us and only the ones that show great quality and have great motivation can get the more lucrative kind of jobs. The idea is that anyone can come to us with no experience and through our network of detailers they can learn how to become one.”
The on-demand wash and detail service handles a wide array of vehicles from the mundane to the extreme.
The contract workforce is encouraged to sport Washos gear.
Every new Washos contractor receives training and a set of detailing tools to get them started.
Once a new detailer graduates from the training program and officially joins the Washos network the company provides them with a generator, vacuum, and polisher so they have the necessary tools of the trade to hit the ground running. As independent contractors, technicians are free to choose the equipment and chemicals of their choice but are incentivized to purchase supplies through a Washos approved distributor and are offered discounts to do so.
Providing consistent results that align with company standards is a top priority for Washos. In order to build the platform and maintain its client base, Washos customers must have confidence they will receive quality results each and every time they schedule a service.
Once their service is complete, Washos customers are asked to rate the experience and results on a five-point scale. When the business launched in May 2015 customers were ranking the service level at an astounding 4.85 out of 5, a level the platform has maintained over the past two years despite growing from just a handful of contractors to well over 100.
Washos is onboarding new technicians at a furious pace as the platform struggles to keep up with massive demands. Currently, Washos adds between seven and 10 new technicians each week and is still unable to quench the thirst for its service in and around Los Angeles. The service is offered in 13 communities in the Los Angeles and Orange County area, with aggressive expansion plans on the horizon.
“Our ambition is to go nationwide,” Patriarca says. “We will be adding cities in the coming months. We will start our expansion in San Diego and San Francisco, with plans to open up in Miami, Las Vegas, New York, and more. We want to be everywhere in the United States.”
While there are similar on-demand services across the nation, Patriarca believes Washos has a leg up on the competition, evident by the massive demand in its current market for its service. “When we launched we were the first ones in the market,” Patriarca says. “Since we started over two years ago there have been six or seven companies that have tried to do the same. But our approach is unique. We developed the technology and training program in-house. Our clients know that when they book with us they always have someone that comes on time and delivers a consistent experience.”
Will Washos be the first on-demand car care service to break it big on the national scene? Only time will tell. But with a continued commitment to onboarding and training quality service providers and a rapidly expanding customer base there is no reason to believe the Washos app won’t find a home in mobile devices across the country.