Auto Laundry News - July 2013

Express With a Twist

By Timothy Denman

iWash&Go has two ICS Auto Sentries at the tunnel entrance.

The building is branded with the entry- level $3 wash option.

Ten Sonny’s blowers get the cars dry.

Owner Zack Jabal is not against getting his hands dirty.

The wash sports 14 free vacuum stations.

Zack and Nadine Jabal presents a check of $4,228 to the mayor of West, TX, Tommy Muska.

iWash&Go is a unique express: it offers hand towel drying.

As the popularity of the express exterior concept continues to spread throughout the industry, it is becoming more and more important to differentiate a wash’s offerings to help set it apart from the competition. Providing a quick, inexpensive, and quality wash is no longer enough, exterior sites need to stand out in a crowd or risk being lost in it.

Zack Jabal’s iWash&Go express in Burleson, TX is similar to the competition in many ways, but Jabal has set his offerings apart through a dedication to customer service and a unique drying concept.

iWash offers wash packages at $3, $6, $9, $12, and $15. At the $9 level and up customers receive a hand towel wipe down upon exiting the tunnel. Although, the 170-foot Sonny’s-equipped tunnel sports 10 blowers at the tunnel exit and does a fine job drying vehicles, the hand towel option gives iWash&Go a competitive advantage in the crowded market.

Jabal purchased the site from his brother late last year and immediately began looking for a unique way to position his wash.

“I surveyed the competition before I bought the wash,” Jabal said. “There is some express and some detailing in the market. In order to be a little bit different I decided to go above the express and be at the door of the flex. We are not 100 percent flex, but we are offering services that the competition is not.”

iWash&Go is competing with a chain of seven exterior washes, with one of the sites just 3.5 miles down the road. Jabal reports that 70 percent of the 5,500 cars washed at the site each month opt for the hand dry option, reinforcing Jabal’s belief that the market was in need of something beyond the traditional express exterior concept.

Although Burleson is just a 20-minute ride from the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, the community is undeniably situated in the countryside. Not all of the roads in the community are paved and there are more people behind the wheel of SUVs and pickup trucks than sedans and coupes. Country roads unavoidably lead to dirtier vehicles and iWash&Go caters to the owners of these vehicles with services designed to wash away the tough road grime. For $3 each, customers can add tar remover, bug remover, and/or weather guard to any package.

Although the express concept prides itself on low labor outlays, Jabal believes that in order to provide superior service labor is necessary, and he isn’t afraid to increase his operating costs to increase the quality of the final product. iWash&Go has 10 employees, 12 including Jabal and his wife, with nine people on site on the weekends and four during the week. Jabal sees his employees as his front page and knows that customers will judge him and his business by his employees’ performance and appearance. Employees are required to wear their full uniform at all times and encouraged to give customers “five star service.”

“All of this stuff makes a difference to people,” Jabal says. “I try to imagine myself in the driver’s seat. Does the wash provide a level of service that makes the customer feel like he needs to come back? I think it does.”

Jabal was in the convenience store industry with car washes and gas stations for 23 years prior to turning his attention to car washing full time. He also ran one of the largest tunnel washes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area from 2006 to 2010. Jabal graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in marketing. He is a strong believer in the five P’s of marketing: product, people, price, promotion, and place. The P’s drive much of his decision-making and have helped shape iWash&Go’s product offerings.

Jabal is not content to rest on his market advantage with the hand towel wipe down. He is well aware that it is an easy-to-duplicate offering should the competition choose to do so. He is currently working on ways to further differentiate his wash, with services that only iWash&Go can provide.

At 170 feet, Jabal certainly has plenty of real estate in the tunnel and will be putting in two more offerings in the coming months. iWash&Go will be adding Sonny’s Lava Shield and Carnauba Wax. The Lava Shield will certainly add to the show that the site provides and allow for increased revenue while once again separating iWash&Go from the competition.

Offering quality, unique services is only part of Jabal’s recipe for success. The other half of the equation is becoming a member of the community and fostering a relationship with its members.

When the people of West, TX suffered the horrific fertilizer plant explosion in April Jabal felt compelled to act. Jabal was born and raised in Lebanon during civil war and the bombed out buildings and devastation in West reminded him of the tragedies he witnessed in his homeland.

“Because I came from civil war I knew what the people in West must have been going through,” Jabal said. “It touched my heart. I told my wife Nadine that we needed to do something. We could have just written a check but we felt like we needed to do it through the people and get them involved. We wanted the community to fell like they were supporting West by supporting us.”

What the Jabals came up with was a two-week charity wash with $1.50 of each wash performed going to the West, TX relief. Customers were encouraged to spread the word throughout the community, and Jabal himself went to local churches to help get the word out. The community outreach worked — from April 25 to May 9 iWash&Go raised $4,228 for the relief effort.

“For one car wash to donate this amount of money is incredible,”Jabal says. “It put us on the map with the other businesses in the area.”

Jabal is not content to rest on his laurels. In addition to his fund raising efforts and upcoming increase in his tunnel offerings, he has other improvements at the wash in mind. He plans on offering detailing services in the future and is in the process of drawing up plans and building his detailing knowledge. He and his staff took some detailing courses offered by his chemical supplier Diamond Shine and will very shortly be entering the Burleson detail market — bad news for the competition, good news for his customers.

Jabal is dedicated to offering unique and quality wash services to his clientele. That commitment and vision has helped iWash&Go make a name for itself in a competitive market and will serve Jabal well as he looks to expand his services in the future.

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