Profile in Success - August 2009

MVP Opens VIP wash
By Timothy Denman

Prestige Car Care Center is an impressive sight from the street.
Close up of the aluminum “fish scales” on the building’s façade.
Prestige services a lot of high-end vehicles.

Hines Ward’s credentials are impressive. The life-long Pittsburgh Steeler is a four-time Pro-Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl Champion, and a Super Bowl MVP. The star wide receiver is looking to add one more title to his resume: Successful Car Wash Owner.

Ward and partner Darren Martin (NFL agent) opened their first car wash in Atlanta, GA in January and the location has the kind of features that would make even a veteran operator envious.

Prestige Car Care Center is a true flex-serve offering both full-serve and express, a full-detail center, a hand wash tunnel, and a lube center.

Prestige is a complete car care center, but what sets it apart from similarly equipped facilities is Ward’s dedication to building, and now operating, the location with customer comfort and service as a top priority.

The dedication to comfort and service is evident everywhere you turn at Prestige, plasma televisions are all over the facility, and those areas without a high-definition screen can enjoy the music pumped in through the individually adjustable stereo system. The television screens are tuned in to sports on the weekends, and if nothing pressing is going on highlights from Ward’s career and recent interview clips are shown.

Once customers pull into the driveway at Prestige they are met by a greeter who helps determine which services are needed.

If full-service is selected, the customer pays at the pay terminal, pulls into the full-service lane and is walked into the lobby by a Prestige employee. Once the car has traveled through the 120-foot Sonny’s-equipped tunnel, the customer is once again walked to the pick-up area where a red towel is laid down for them to wipe their feet off before they get into the car.

“The whole concept here is extreme customer service,” general manager and 25-year car wash veteran Randy Ready says. “We have to protect the brand. Two high profile guys own it and they want to carry on Hines’ status with everything he comes in contact with. We have to go the extra mile.”

No employees can come within 10 feet of a customer without speaking to them and when the wash is slow they can be seen waving to passing cars.

The extensive overhead wash menu — full-serve in red, express in white.

Of course Prestige’s superior customer service doesn’t come without its price. The wash has 15 or 16 employees on site on an average day. The typical roster includes a greeter, cashier, loader, manager, two or three oil change employees, two or three detailers, and eight finishers working in teams of two.

“Everyone is constantly trying to keep a low labor percentage,” Ready says. “I have been afforded some leeway in our labor percentage to ensure the highest levels of customer service.”

Prestige’s commitment to customer service it matched only by the beauty of the facility itself. The building has plenty of glass, sports full concrete pavement, has travertine floors, and has a unique exterior façade of layered aluminum panels that are reminiscent of fish scales.

The building’s good looks and high-end touches aren’t only featured on the exterior, the inside of the building is loaded with special extras designed to cater to Prestiges’ celebrity clientele.

One of three DRB auto cashiers.

“We get a lot of celebrities and athletes come in who know Hines,” Ready says. “They don’t necessarily like to be mobbed by people looking for autographs. We bring them inside and put them in the big office where they can watch television or surf the Internet while we work on their cars.”

Ward’s celebrity connections don’t just frequent Prestige for the VIP treatment. Hines is big into charity work and many of his elite clients visit the wash to help promote Prestiges’ charity program.

Several NFL stars and local non-profits run charity programs at the wash. The programs run 30 days at a time, and each organization is responsible to promote their own event. The organization is given a promotion code to distribute, and every time the code is entered into the automated cashier $2 of every wash (above the $5 level) is donated to the charity. In addition, Prestige donates an additional $1 for every car serviced using the code.

Full-serve wash packages — or inside and out washes as they are called at Prestige – start at $14 for the Deluxe Wash and include soft bubble wash, towel dry, doorjamb wipe down, clean inside windows, dust dash and console, and a vacuum. The Tire and Wheel Wash costs $19 and features tire shine, turbo tire and wheel cleaning, clear coat sealer wax, power wash top blaster, and hand wheel finishing. The $25 Super Wash improves upon the $19 wash with super scented soap, undercarriage wash, choice of fragrance, and Rain-X. The top of the line $30 Prestige Wash features Blue Coral triple foam wax, interior dash and console dressing, and a spot-free rinse.

The two-bay hand wash can be used as additional detail space when needed.
The lobby features stylish furnishings and all the standard impulse items.
All of the equipment was installed by Car Wash Services of Georgia.
Putting the final touches on another shiny ride.

Those customers that opt for the outside only, or express wash, can choose from three different wash levels. The Five Dollar Wash features soft bubble wash, spot-free rinse, a blow dry. The $10 Tire Shine Wash steps up the offering with super scented soap, Westley’s tire and wheel cleaner, clear coat sealer wax, spot-free rinse, and tire shine.

The top express wash costs $15 and features Blue Coral triple foam, Rain-X, undercarriage wash, power wash top blaster, and spot-free rinse. All express wash customer are welcome to use one of the 11 free vacuum stations after making their way through the tunnel.

Customers looking for a higher level of clean can take advantage of Prestiges’ express and full-service detailing center. All the car wash employees are trained in express detailing services. Express services include carpet and seat shampoo; leather cleaning and conditioning; waxing and seal-ants; and vinyl cleaning and conditioning. Full-service detailing is appointment preferred and is performed in the four-bay heated and air-conditioned detail center. The menu features a wide array of services including high-speed buff and polish and engine cleaning.

Since it opened early this year, Prestige has been pushing its unlimited wash and VIP clubs. The unlimited wash plan allows customers to wash their cars once a day. The plan comes in three levels $30 a month for unlimited $5 washes, $40 a month for unlimited Tire Shine washes, and $60 a month for unlimited Full Service Deluxe washes. The VIP plan costs just $5 to join and entitles customers to a 72-hour clean-car guarantee, 10th wash free, free wash on their birthday, assorted discounts, along with numerous other special promotions.

Prestige’s marketing efforts include billboards, direct mail, post cards, and color brochures handed out at local business. The marketing pieces highlight Prestiges’ wide range of services and also promote the washes commitment to recycling and water conservation — the wash recycles over 85 percent of its wash water and captures rainwater.

In addition to the car wash, Ward and Martin own a large piece of land across the street that they are developing. The lot will feature a sports bar, restaurant, and other retail space. The development is sure to increase car counts on the already busy street and help bump up Prestige’s 5,000/6,000 cars serviced per month average.

Prestige is located in an up-and-coming section of Atlanta and is poised to grow with the surrounding community, ensuring that Hines Ward will be the MVP of car washing long after his playing days are behind him.

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