Gauging a car wash’s performance is pretty straight forward. All you need to do is check the final product. If the cars pouring out of your tunnel or wash bay are clean, shiny, and dry, chances are your equipment is in good working order.
Appraising the health and performance of the enterprise is a different matter. There is no easy way to determine if your backend processes and management approaches are firing on all cylinders and to pinpoint the areas that might be causing a misfire.
But if you are going to successfully scale your business you must have streamlined and efficient management procedures that are consistent across the chain. Breeze Thru Car Wash has taken a unique approach to uncovering potential irregularities in its management processes, becoming the first car wash to earn International Organization of Standardization (ISO) certification.
The highly-coveted ISO certification has traditionally been the calling card of manufacturing companies, but Breeze Thru believes the benefits translate to service-based businesses as well.
“What ISO does for us and any company is provide a greater understanding of how to create quality management systems,” says Josh Schmitz, Breeze Thru’s company technician. “If you spend any time with our employees you will probably hear the terms processes and procedures half a dozen times in any given conversation.”
ISO’s ability to refine an organization’s vital processes and systems intrigued Breeze Thru owner John Agnew and chief operations officer Justin Salisbury and lead to the northern Colorado and southern Wyoming chain’s certification pursuit. The 11-site express exterior wash is in full-on expansion mode averaging two new sites a year for the past few years. As the wash continues to scale, it is vital for the chain to leverage consistent management procedures, it is that need that spurred the ISO-certification process.
Breeze Thru’s work with ISO is a continually evolving relationship. For this first phase, which took the better part of a year, the wash and world-renowned standards company focused on the processes and procedures of Breeze Thru’s corporate management, with the future goal of turning ISO’s critical eye to the sites over the next few years.
“We realized that the corporate team really needed to get a handle on how to implement ISO and their quality management requirements before we passed that down to the employees at the site level,” says Schmitz. “We need a good grasp on how to properly integrate and implement the quality management systems that ISO requires at the corporate level first. Then we will start trickling that down and have ISO audit and certify the sites with the same documentation and follow through with fresh processes and procedure.”
The two biggest things that have come out of the ISO certification process for Breeze Thru was the creation of stringent and consistent quality management for internal processes and procedures and the creation of a data-based approach to collecting and leveraging vital customer data.
On the management side of the house, Breeze Thru discovered that it was losing significant revenue thanks to its non-standardized approach to repair and maintenance. The wash has a very strict preventative maintenance program to ensure that each and every wash in the chain provides a consistent product to its customers. However, with 11-sites in the chain and numerous employees charged with ordering parts and performing maintenance and repairs the wash was losing money by not keeping stringent track of its inventory.
“ISO requires that we keep track of all inventory that we use, including all the parts and supplies from maintenance and services,” says Schmitz. “Now we have a centralized order form that the ISO team helped us set up. Anytime anyone in the company, specifically site managers, order a part, signage, anything that gets billed directly to a site we can track those metrics more carefully. We have lowered our maintenance cost per car and tightened up how much we spend unnecessarily on inventory.”
In addition to the maintenance savings, Breeze Thru has seen another major benefit of its ISO certification. Thanks to a streamlined and unified approachto collecting and analyzing customer feedback, the chain now has invaluable insight into its performance and is able to leverage this critical information to make necessary changes to ensure customer satisfaction.
Brand manager Wade Keith and his team spearheaded the customer analytics piece with the help of ISO. “We collect customer feedback from a couple of different sources,” he says. “We have a contact form on our website that customers can fill out if they have any feedback on our performance. In addition, we also have a customer complaint log that ISO required us to have at each site. Every time a customer has a complaint about our product quality or our process an employee must fill out the log.”
By capturing customer feedback at the site level and merging it with feedback from the website and social media, Breeze Thru has a more holistic view of their end-user. Wade analyzes and presents this data to the management team on a quarterly basis in the form of easy to understand charts and graphs. This new data-based approach to customer feedback gives management a view into performance and allows them to identify small problems or inconsistencies and implement a solution before they become major issues.
“We are in the customer service industry and without growth that is directly related to output and how the customer perceives us we stay stagnant,” Schmitz says. “I hate to put it so bluntly, but stagnant companies die.”
Breeze Thru is far from stagnant as it continues to look for opportunities to improve its internal and external performance and scale its services across Colorado and Wyoming. ISO certification has helped set the chain up for further expansion, and the benefits have not gone unnoticed across the industry. Other wash chains are embarking on similar projects with ISO and other standards and procedures companies. But as the first wash in history to receive ISO certification Breeze Thru’s management is in a unique positon to offer advice to others wishing to go the certification route.
“Getting ISO certified has been worth it without a doubt,” Schmitz says. “But it is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time and critical thinking. We spent countless hours aligning ISO’s language and procedures with our own, but once that work is done you will see results.”