Profile in Success - April 2009

Success Breeds Success
By Jim and Elaine Norland

The Mosleys from left to right Christian, Pete, Debra, Karin, Addiesyn, and Jordan.
The car wash and detail center wait for the rush.

Lube and tune services are sometimes added to the offerings at car wash and detail centers, but it worked the other way around at Kwik Kar Lube & Tune in Watauga, TX, just north of Fort Worth.

After five years of business growth at the lube center’s operation on Denton Highway, Pete Mosley and family built an impressive car wash and detail center around the corner on North Park Drive.

Now the wash is marking its fifth anniversary, and both Kwik Kar Lube & Tune of Watauga and Kwik Kar Full Service Carwash of Watauga are prospering. While the nation dealt with recession and slowdown, these two businesses reported record levels of vehicle volume and revenue in late 2008 and the start of 2009. The Mosleys’ business combo has repeatedly been named the Number One Kwik Kar unit out of 350 in the United States, says Kwik Industries president Ray Ellis of Dallas.

Both centers are actively managed by the Mosley family, principally Pete, his wife Debra, son Jordan, and Jordan’s wife, Karin. Another son, Christian, works summers and other school break periods as he pursues his pre-law studies at Baylor University. The youngest member of the Mosley family team, Addiesyn, Jordan and Karin’s daughter, is a toddler whom Pete says he “hasn’t yet put to work.”

The Mosleys are committed to customer service and quality in everything they do for car owners. “Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, something is going on. You’re never really off,” says Debra, who handles all accounting, banking, and other paperwork for the two businesses. “Alarms go off in the middle of the night, equipment breaks down.” Holidays? Jordan, who heads the car wash operation, had to work Christmas Eve and Day, and New Year’s Day as well, she recalls.

Pete Mosley is a mechanical engineer who worked at Lockheed for 18 years. He was looking for a business that would support a larger income and get away from the corporate world with all its mergers. An automobile lover, he began going to seminars and looking at opportunities including Kwik Industries.

Ten years ago, the site of what is now his Kwik Kar Lube & Tune was essentially bare and undeveloped ground, “nothing out here.” Ellis told him that the location at 7904 Denton Highway, on the border between Watauga and Keller where the Mosleys had settled a few years earlier was available.

Kwik Kar Lube & Tune is a substantial structure devoted to automotive maintenance and servicing. Its pit-equipped bays and well-qualified staff offer an extensive menu to keep cars running smoothly, from minor items such as wiper blade replacement and transmission flush to swapping engines. The staff includes an ASE certified mechanic.

Pete Mosley heads the lube and tune services. “We can add a catalytic converter or put a set of duals on a truck for a customer who wants a good sound (the mechanic came from a Midas Muffler shop). We can do starters, water pumps, brakes, or address emission problems.”

Most services are what Mosley terms light industry, “something we can turn in a day’s time.” In the fast lube world, he adds, everyone wants their vehicle done in two or three hours, “so we try to accommodate that.” Other services include tire rotation, windshield repair, and complete air-conditioning service. A nitrogen tire inflation system has just been added.

The waiting area at the Lube & Tune center provides a view of the work being done.
Kids have a special area set aside for them at the Lube & Tune center.

All the available services add substantially to the per-car revenue at Kwik Kar Lube & Tune of Watauga. A full-service oil change runs $33.99 plus $2.75 waste disposal fee, and includes vacuuming the car interior. While the basic service comes to about $37, the ticket average for the lube center in 2008 was $74. According to Debra Mosley, good ticket writers are key to reaching that level. “You’re definitely not going to get that ticket average if you’re just selling them an oil change. You must sell them a whole lot of other stuff.”

The Kwik Kar Full Service Carwash of Watauga builds business and per-car revenue in much the same way, with the same degree of professionalism and quality.

The wash, housed in an impressive brick-faced building on North Park, has a 120-foot, McNeil-equipped tunnel. Some inside space as well as a canopied outside area is devoted to detailing. The three-car canopied area in back is generally used for extensive detail work unless outside weather is unfavorable. Express detail work is handled in an enclosed bricked area, which is part of the whole car wash structure. “We can close the doors and detail cars inside when the weather’s bad,” Debra Mosley reports.

The wash opened five and one-half years ago. Jordan Mosley, who has been involved in the family business since the age of 14, runs the wash with the help of managers who share his dedication to quality car care. Jordan studied business management for two years at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls before the car wash opened.

Prices for car wash packages range from $14.95 upward, but customers with a lube coupon pay just $4 for that same package. The lube coupon is good for an approximate $10 discount on any wash package. The best selling wash here is the Gold package, $22.95, with a seven-day clean car guarantee. The second most popular wash package choice is the Kwik Deluxe, $44.95.

Thanks to good service writers and a strong offering of detail and plus services, the average revenue per car through the wash is close to $25.

How extensive are detailing and special services? “We buff and wax, do interior cleaning of seats, carpets and consoles, provide headlight restoration, odor removal, and engine degreasing,” says Jordan. “We have express and complete details. We pride ourselves on having the best detail center around here. Quality is our main thing. If something takes extra time to get right, we’ll do it.”

While car washing is profitable, the real moneymaker is the detail center, he adds. Some services start as low as $14.95 (for Aquapel rain treatment), while others run $25 and up, including several services for $39.95 each. Services aren’t limited to cars and pickups. “Anything a customer needs cleaned or serviced, boats, motors, RV’s, trailers, motorcycles, we gladly handle,” Jordan says.

Assistant manager of the car wash is Christian Clark, who has been with Kwik Kar of Watauga for four years. Lead customer service advisor is Jason Vaughn, who has been there two years.

A spacious customer waiting area at the car wash includes three huge leather sofas, other comfortable seating, and a 47-inch plasma television, along with a gift shop and refreshment bar. Debra and Karin Mosley search for unique gifts that will appeal as impulse items to customers as they wait for their vehicles to be finished.

Leather sofas, plasma TV, and retail sales - all part of the car wash waiting area.
The cashier's counter at the car wash and wash tunnel viewing area.

“We offer home accents, car accents, cards, books, and candies. We are surrounded by Targets and Wal-Marts, so we don’t want things you would find there,” Debra explains. “Snacks and drinks are our top sellers. We have a big ice cream display and customers can purchase coffee, cappuccino, and hot chocolate.”

A smaller but comfortable waiting area at the lube and tune center includes television viewing and a play area with toys for children. Customers there can have free coffee or hot tea and peruse local and national newspapers and periodicals.

The car wash and detail center was charting astounding growth as 2009 began. “We’re having record days and months,” reports Debra Mosley. “We ended 2008 with a 16.8 percent increase over 2007, and our January 2009 business is up 36 percent over the same month of 2008.”

Thirty-two employees work in the car wash and detail center, including eight detailers. Lead detailers are Marcos Delacruz and Miguel Riviera. Everyone is cross-trained to handle any rushes or other needs in either car wash or detail areas. Contents of the tip collection box are shared according to hours worked by each employee, and many employees are tipped directly by customers.

Fifteen lube and tune employees are on a two-week rotating schedule in order to have two days off each but not the same two days all year round. “Five of my people have been with me four to five years,” says Pete Mosley. “My store manager, Roger Fitzgerald, has been with us seven years and was promoted from within our organization. The assistant store manager, here just a year, is Chuck Haynesworth. He came to us from Louisiana in the wake of the hurricanes there. Richard Foster, our mechanic, has been here almost five years. Joe Espinoza and Richard are both supervisors who bring anything needing attention to the manager.”

Employees wear company tee shirts or golf shirts clearly imprinted with Kwik Kar of Watauga, and all adhere to strict grooming standards enforced by managers and supervisors or the Mosley family presence. While Pete Mosley may allow an employee to work unshaven in the lube pit, everyone working above has to look professional.

Lube and tune employees wear black shirts that do not show grease and dirt, and car wash personnel wear blue or red shirts.

“When you pull up here, you know you’re being greeted by a Kwik Kar person,” says Pete Mosley. “I try to tell my guys to look like they would if they were going on a first date with some girl. I want them looking good every day.”

“Our motto is, ‘Image is Everything in Business,’” adds Debra Mosley.

Employees meet every other week for 45 minutes to an hour to go over current business concerns, do some role-playing to emphasize customer service, and review new services such as the Nitrogen 98 system recently added. The meetings are held immediately after closing at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Mosleys believe strongly in consistent promotion and advertising and are heavily committed to supporting community activities, especially in Keller, the community where they live and which borders Watauga.

Jordan says advertising media have included bus stop benches and door hangers. “An article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, describing our business and its growth and our family involvement was a great help. In direct mail, we’re starting a campaign to sell prepaid wash cards to different businesses in the area.

“Since so many people use the Internet now, we’re going to send out e-mail coupons and run specials during slow weeks or for special occasions. We want to get more of our services known to the public. We are also revising our website,” The website will also be used to gather customer feedback on their experiences at both businesses.

“We’ve always been advertisers, from the day we first opened our doors,” notes Debra Mosley. “There are times of the year we pump it up more than others, but we always have something going on.”

Through their businesses, the Mosleys support fundraising for schools in the large Keller school district, the district in which both Jordan and Christian were educated, and other community organizations such as churches. Pete Mosley is a long-time member and on the board of directors of the Rotary International chapter in Keller, and is also on the board of directors of the Mosleys’ homeowners’ association, taking care of neighborhood maintenance.

A commitment to supporting their community, hands-on involvement, and quality services in virtually all phases of car care seems to keep the Mosley family’s Kwik Kar enterprises attracting above average business. Both have abundant nearby competition in all directions, including Goodyear, Firestone, Valvoline, and independent providers. “We are surrounded by competition,” observes Pete Mosley. “Customer service is the key. We just try a little harder.”

Jim and Elaine Norland are regular contributors to Auto Laundry News.

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