Car Wash

Two major changes helped a Columbia, Missouri car wash owner make his business profitable.
The Columbia Tribune reports that Roland Bartels bought out his partner at Tiger Express Wash in 2012 and changed his business model for the first time in 13 years. Now rather than one-time, self-service car wash bays, customers at Tiger Express Wash buy memberships that allow them to come and have their car washed by staff as often as they wish.

“There’s a need for this particular business model,” Bartels said. “It’s more like a gym. Memberships grow, and we keep our gym clean, keep everything running and take care of the car wash.”

The change proved profitable immediately, but Bartels was still looking to improve. He recently dropped his prices for a monthly membership to $20 with the idea that membership would increase and members would get their vehicles washed less frequently. “It’s like a buffet,” Bartels said. “You get charged $20 for a buffet, you’re going to eat and eat and eat and waste it. But if they charge you $7.50, you just eat what you need and don’t waste it.”

Again, the move proved to be a wise one. In 2012, Bartels had 400 members. Now he has more than 8,000 and expects to bring in $4 million in revenue this year. With four locations employing about 60 college-aged students, Bartels is still looking to expand.