Shawn Everett grew up in the car wash business. His father and uncle were self-serve and in-bay automatic operators, and Everett spent his youth helping in the family business, vowing to leave car washing in the rear view when he came of age.
And he did for a time. Striking out on his own, building a successful environmental engineering career before being called back to the industry he promised himself he would never return to.
In 2008 some friends of Everett approached him with an investment opportunity to open a self-serve/in-bay automatic car wash and he surprised himself and jumped at the opportunity.
“I swore I was never going to get in the car wash business,” Everett says. “But the car wash industry is super exciting, very compelling, and like a tractor beam, it pulled me back in.”
Everett kept the car wash thing as a side hustle until 2010 when he and another partner acquired an additional self-serve location. At that time, he decided to devote himself full time to the car wash industry, building his self-serve holdings up to 10 locations over the next five years. By 2015, however, it became clear that self-service was playing second fiddle to the booming express exterior concept and Everett decided to steer his business toward the popular wash option.
“We saw where the industry was going and got excited about the express wash model,” he says. “We started pivoting in that direction and never looked back.”
Everett went all-in on the express concept converting some of his former self-serve locations and selling others to finance his new focus of building a mini express chain. Currently, he is the managing partner in five Green Clean Express Auto Washes with plans to expand his holdings exponentially over the next few years.
“With rising real estate and labor costs it was just where the industry was heading,” Everett says of his decision to move from self-service to express tunnel operations. “In our market and I’m sure in most markets across the country the express model is on fire. The key is to make sure you select great locations and provide customers with a good product at the end of the day.”
But Everett is not doing it alone. His success in the express market has not gone unnoticed and Green Clean was acquired by Express Wash Concepts (EWC) in April. EWC has been on a roll building its express empire with key acquisitions of CleanTown USA, Ultimate Wash, and Green Clean, bolstering its impressive holdings anchored by the Flying Ace and Moo Moo Express banners.
“They are an incredible company,” Everett says of EWC. “Their operational infrastructure and resources are beyond reproach. The customer service, opportunities for our team, and professional opportunities are amazing.”
While Green Clean has been steadily growing its express holdings over the past few years, the acquisition by EWC has put that expansion into high gear. There are five Green Clean locations in operation currently, with another 10 under construction, four of which will open by the end of the year. The remaining six under-construction washes will be open for business by the first quarter of 2022. Everett and his team have plans for 20 Green Cleans in operation across Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina by the end of next year.
“Through the EWC infrastructure we are able to grow our market efficiently and quickly and not take our eye off that attention to detail,” Everett says. “We had a lot of these expansion plans in place before the acquisition. But the deal has allowed us to move more deliberately, intelligently, and confidently. We know that we have this operating infrastructure behind us and can maintain a high level of customer service which is very important to us.”
To ensure customers receive a differentiated level of service, Green Clean employs 10 to 15 workers per location, with three to four onsite at any given time to cater to customer needs. The surging express wash attracts high quality talent by offering competitive wages, benefits, and advancement opportunities.
“I think that helps us,” Everett says of his commitment to high pay and attractive benefit packages for his employees. “It allows us to get good people that we can be proud of. We treat them right. And they treat us right. That is the goal.”
There is always an energetic employee to greet customers as they arrive, answer any questions they might have, and help them through the transaction. Following payment, a loader helps guide cars safely into the tunnel. In addition, there are employees positioned in the free vacuum area to converse with customers and make sure they are completely satisfied with their wash experience.
All employees are encouraged to discuss Green Clean’s popular unlimited wash club program with customers. The Green Clean menu offers four wash packages, and each package is available in unlimited wash form, with the top-of-the-line Clean Extreme the most popular option for both unlimited and single wash purchases. A single Clean Extreme treatment costs $20 with an unlimited monthly pass setting the customer back $34.99. The package features a Lava Wash, Tri-Foam treatment, Sealer, Wax, and protectant.
“A big part of what we want our team members to work on is educating the customer about the advantages and benefits of the program,” Everett says of the unlimited wash club. “If the customer washes a couple of times a month it’s paid for. The key is to let the customer know that it’s available and that it is good for them and good for the life of their vehicle.”
Green Clean’s commitment to customer service has not gone unnoticed in the community. The wash was recently recognized as the top-ranked car wash in multiple cities as part of the annual “Best Of” contest sponsored by Virginia Media.
Green Clean Express placed first in the Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Norfolk, VA communities, winning the Gold “Best Car Wash” award in all three cities. The company also grabbed second place honors in Chesapeakeand Virginia Beach.
Whether it is racking up local awards or getting acquired by one of the fastest growing express exterior operators in the country, Green Clean’s success is certainly not flying under the radar. The continued growth of the brand has solidified Everett’s decision to break a promise to his younger self and return to the industry he loves.
Name: Green Clean Express Auto Wash
Location: Virginia, Maryland & North Carolina
Sites: Five in Operation, 10 in Development
Concept: Express Exterior
Parent Company: Express Wash Concepts
Managing Partner: Shawn Everett
Tunnel Equipment: MacNeil Wash Systems
Vacuum Equipment: Vacutech