To succeed in today’s increasingly competitive and evolving marketplace a business must be committed to more than just turning a profit. It needs to be dedicated to a set of core values that go beyond operational superiority. It has to lead with a purpose.
Vahid David Delrahim built his Southern California express chain into a thriving and expanding business by positioning it as an implement of good, focused on serving the community and helping those in need.
The car wash veteran started his career in the gas station business in the early 80s, transitioning to the full-service car wash game in the mid-90s. He built a very successful full-serve location, Agora Hills Hand Car Wash, which he still owns, but as the industry pivoted to the express model, he saw the opportunity to build a wash chain that connected with the new-age consumer.
“Back in 2013 I started looking at the future of the car wash,” Delrahim says. “The express car washes were coming on board, and everybody was jumping on the bandwagon. I took a back seat and I looked at the marketplace and how people were developing and operating these express car washes and I found an amazing opportunity.”
Delrahim set out to design a next-gen express location that not only turns out a clean, dry, and shiny car but engages the powerful Millennial population. Before launching the Bliss brand, Delrahim spent more than $200,000 on market research to understand the Millennial generation and how to best connect with this vital demographic.
“Clearly this generation is different,” he says. “We spent a lot of time and money to understand how they act and react to the world.”
What Delrahim discovered is that the Millennial generation shared a lot of his core values, values that he built into the Bliss vision. Millennials are deeply connected to conservation and sustainability and make purchase decisions based on a company’s commitment to the greater good.
One cause near and dear to Bliss’s Southern California client base is water conservation. The region is constantly battling water shortages and droughts and as a business that depends on water to operate, conserving this vital resource became a key piece of Bliss’ mission and purpose.
“I think a lot of people in this industry are only concerned with how much the water bill is at the end of the month,” he says. “Our philosophy is much deeper than that. First and foremost, is how can we be efficient in using this important natural resource? How can we produce a good clean car with the least amount of fresh water?”
To keep a keen eye on water consumption, Delrahim invested in a next-gen water monitoring system that provides real-time updates on water usage.
“We went out and bought a couple of technologies,” he says. “And we also developed our own proprietary water management system. At any given time, we know exactly how many gallons of water we use per vehicle. By constantly monitoring we know if there is a leak, or anything is out of adjustment right away, and we can address it.”
This commitment to water conservation and monitoring has allowed Bliss to cut its average freshwater usage to around 24 gallons per car across its nine-location chain. The Bliss team calls themselves ‘Water Warriors’ and is on a mission to not only conserve water in Southern California but to provide access to clean water to those in need worldwide.
Bliss has partnered with Wells Bring Hope, a charitable organization that provides clean drinking water to the people of Niger in West Africa. The organization drills wells in rural villages providing the population a local source of clean water. For each new location Bliss opens, the wash finances the drilling of one new well.
“One well significantly improves the lives of 1,000 people,” Delrahim says. “The village residents gain access to clean, fresh water, but the positive effects go far beyond that.”
Eighty percent of children in Niger don’t make it to their eighth birthday, due in large part to contaminated drinking water and basic hygiene. In addition to drilling wells, Wells Bring Hope builds and educates the local population on the use of latrines, good hygiene, and how to farm in their low water climate.
On top of the health benefits of clean drinking water, the local wells free the women of the village from their daily obligation to travel for water. Women and young girls spend most of their time travelling to water sources outside of the village and carrying the contaminated water back to their families. Thanks to the construction of local water sources these women have the opportunity to attend school and learn skills and trades that better the lives for them and their families.
“Just that one act of drilling a well impacts the lives of everyone in the village,” Delrahim says. “We cherish that mission. All humans are one, and it connects us to other parts of the world. I believe any business can inspire others to open their eyes and ears to what is going on around them. That is the philosophy of Bliss.”
Bliss has pledged to donate one well for each new location it opens, which will have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of residents of Niger. Bliss opened its ninth site last month and is under construction on its 10th location. In addition, plans are in place for an additional nine locations, bringing Bliss’ presence in the Southern California market to 19 sites over the next few years.
“We are very aggressive on finding new opportunities and locations,” Delrahim says. “We are currently focused on building our foothold here in Southern California but will consider expansion beyond our current area in the future.”
Thanks to its commitment to doing good and operating with a greater purpose, Bliss has formed a strong bond with its Millennial customer base. This connection with its core demographic drives its expansion efforts and fuels the brand’s mission to make a difference in the lives of those in need.
Name: Bliss Car Wash
Location: Southern California
CEO: Vahid David Delrahim
Concept: Express Wash
Equipment: Motor City Wash Works
Car Wash Employees: 80
Tunnel Length: 100 Feet
Site Size: 30,000 to 40,000 Square Feet