Mergers, acquisitions, and expansions have always been a major piece of the car wash puzzle. But today many brands have taken growth initiatives to a whole new level.
The days of slow and steady development have been replaced with rapid scale ups that turn previously local players into multi-market influencers seemingly overnight.
Super Star Car Wash was founded by Reza Amirrezvani in 1993 and saw incremental growth over its formative years. The Arizona-based, full-serve chain kept it simple and traditional during its first decade-plus in operations, that is until the economic downturn of 2008.
When the nation was deep in the throes of the great recession, Amirrezvani realized that his business needed a boost and began to explore the emerging express exterior model. Amirrezvani along with COO Scott Elgersma developed and brought the first express site to Arizona in 2010, helping usher in a new era of car washing to the American west.
“At that time, we started to really move away from the full-service model and open up express locations,” says Super Star EVP Jonathan Kierman. “We expanded our footprint from Arizona into Southern California, specificallythe San Diego area. We grew the business to be around 17 or 18 locations and then in the last four years our growth significantly accelerated.”
Currently Super Star Car Wash owns and operates 41 locations, with plans in place to increase its overall site count in Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado to 70 or more sites before the calendar reads 2023. This meteoric expansion is powered by a new partnership with private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, which is allowing the express chain to scale in multiple markets through both greenfield builds and acquisitions.
“This was just a great opportunity for us to partner,” Kierman says. “With a lot of locations already in the pipeline from a greenfield perspective our strategy is to take what we do and replicate it as we move into new areas.”
Eighty percent of the wash’s locations are ground-up builds, allowing it to control the brand promise while carefully scaling the Super Star experience across the region. As the express exterior chain continues to grow across real-estate strapped California, opportunities exist to acquire existing sites and retrofit them under the Super Star umbrella.
Among the chain’s 40-plus current locations remains six of the brands original full-serve locations. “We continue to feel strongly about those locations,” says Kierman. “There definitely is a need and a customer who enjoys that full-service experience. But our primary focus is express-only moving forward. If an opportunity presented itself during a potential acquisition, we’d certainly look at it, but all greenfield locations will be strictly express locations.”
While full serve still has its place in the Super Star lineup, the brand is dedicated to the express market, with a focus on the subscription memberships that come along with it. In fact, right on the Super Star logo sits the motto “We Do Unlimited Right.”
Unlimited membership plans range from $19.95 per month for the brand’s Basic Wash, on up to $34.95 per month for the Simoniz Ceramic Sealant. As the name implies the top wash comes with Simoniz Ceramic Glaze and Ceramic Shine, as well as a Carnauba hot wax wash and a two-stage wheel cleaner. Customers are incentivized to purchase a membership with $10 off the first month for any unlimited plan.
Unlimited wash customers are treated well at Super Star, but the growing express chain is equally generous with its traditional non-membership customers. Every customer, even those that didn’t purchase a wash that day, are welcome to use the free vacuums, blow-out guns, and air compressors. In addition, wash customers can use a complementary wipe down towel, and a dash wipe and air freshener for every wash beyond the Basic Wash — which promises a clean car without added protection or waxes.
As Super Star continues to scale its operations across the Western United States it is committed to providing the same customer-first approach that made it a success in its native Arizona. To help spread the word and remain top-of-mind among the motoring public the wash deploys a modern digital marketing campaign, mixed with traditional approaches like direct mail, radio, and television advertisements.
In addition, the wash stays connected with the communities it operates in through various philanthropic efforts including the sponsorship of local sports teams, as well as larger engagements with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters programs, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and professional sports teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.
“With the Diamondbacks we are a sponsor of their DE&I initiatives and six celebrity baseball camps for kids seven to 12,” says Kierman. “It is a cool initiative because these kids get the opportunity to spend five or six hours on a Saturday morning at the Major League Baseball field on the diamond, working with professional players learning the fundamentals of the game. That creates memories and exposes them to something they would never experience.”
As Super Star looks to nearly double its wash holdings over the next six months that dedication to the experience will ensure the brand stays consistent and continues to meet and exceed customer expectations.
WASH Profile: Name: Super Star Car Wash Location: Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado Sites: 41 Currently, 70 by Year End Preferred Tunnel Equipment: MacNeil and Sonny’s Point of Sale: DRB Ideal Site Size: 1 Acre Tunnel Length: 120-140 Feet Employees: 600