The owners of Grand Wash Auto believe so strongly in their standalone, express exterior carwash model that they are not afraid of the 12 competing carwashes in the five-mile radius surrounding their Thornbury, Australia, location. Owners Ali Sadiku, Lee Sadiku and Alfie Pezzi believe the mixture of GWA’s ultra-modern exterior design, new automatic equipment technology and a carwash concept previously foreign to the Australian market, will outperform the four self-serves, two convenience-store automatic in-bays and six hand carwashes in the immediate vicinity.
|(From left) Owners Alfie Pezzi, Lee Sadiku and Ali Sadiku pose outside Grand Wash Auto.|
Such a stand may sound brash, but the three partners believe the introduction of the standalone express concept to the Australian market is ripe for success. Until now, the Australian carwash industry has been represented primarily by self-serves, hand wash full-service locations and in-bay automatics at c-stores. Although the Australian economy has not been hit as hard as some foreign markets, Pezzi says consumers have become more practical in their discretionary spending and, despite some perception challenges, have been drawn to the express model’s value proposition, even if it means having to vacuum their own vehicles.
“Customers who have been using hand washes and paying anything up to $40 (AUD) [$35 U.S.] for an exterior and interior wash have seen the great value at GWA because for $15 (AUD) [$13 U.S.] you get our best wash and free vacuum,” notes Pezzi, who also serves as Grand Wash Auto’s business development manager. “Customers have been happy to do their own vacuuming and interior dusting and windows. They can maintain a cleaner car for longer periods without affecting their wallet.”
GWA’s appeal for local customers is more than price alone. The carwash’s package of architectural design, wash presentation, customer experience, technology, quality and value has been integral to the operation’s early success. Less than a year into its operation, GWA is averaging approximately 4,000 vehicles per month.
Success by Design
The idea for Grand Wash Auto came while brothers Ali and Lee were traveling Europe in support of the Melbourne go kart business they have run for 15 years.
“Their driver decided to wash his car and he put it through an express exterior tunnel in Germany,” says Pezzi. “The boys were very impressed.”
The carwash piqued their interest, and the Sadikus visited other carwashes during their trip. After they returned to Australia, Lee then spent six weeks in the United States meeting with manufacturers and operators.
“When he returned, we put our plan in action to open an exterior wash with free vacuums,” recalls Pezzi. “We believed we had a unique selling proposition, technologically more advanced than anything the Australian public had ever seen.”
The customer experience begins as soon as motorists catch a glimpse of the carwash. If GWA didn’t have “Car Wash” emblazoned in big white letters along the exterior side walls or the tasteful signage out front, drivers might mistake the building for a museum of modern art.
“Our architectural design was influenced by using European trends in auto dealership designs. We wanted the vista and look to reflect the technological advancement in wash technology and to reflect our brand name,” explains Pezzi. “We used straight lines, square simple styles and the choice of color reflects a modern feel that should last the test of time.”
The three partners decided to use Alucobond, a lightweight aluminum composite material, on the facade of the building. The versatile material is popular with auto dealerships and helped capture the fresh modern look the owners wanted to achieve. It also is easy to maintain, Pezzi says, because it won’t chip, crack or fade from exposure to ultraviolet light.
“We also have used glass where possible to entice natural light in areas to allow us to be transparent to the public and allow a greater experience that evolves the senses,” notes Pezzi. “Our design is not a reflection of the standard design of carwashes in this country. [Others] use far more basic design principles and materials that are much cheaper to use.”
From the get-go, the building’s high-end design intentionally sets the tone for customer expectations.
The carwash sits on a 16,000-square-foot lot, with the primary building totaling more than 13,000 square feet. Exterior equipment from Sonny’s Enterprises, including tire shine, washes vehicles inside a 140-foot conveyor tunnel. The carwash incorporates tunnel controller software, a point-of-sale system, two autocashier stations and RFID tags from Innovative Control Systems. It also features water recycling and waste systems from Huron Valley Sales and Ecolab chemical products. The extensive post-wash area offers 15 complimentary, side-by-side vacuum bays.
Behind the positioning statement, “Quick, Clean, Green,” the carwash guarantees a clean, shiny, protected vehicle in three minutes.
Despite the automation and RFID availability, Grand Wash Auto makes sure customers receive friendly customer service interaction to help smooth the learning curve for consumers unfamiliar with the express exterior carwash concept.
“We have clearly set out to interact and engage with our customers,” asserts Pezzi. “Although we are an express exterior model, it is paramount despite our installed auto video pay stations that we greet and welcome each