The Carwash

We have two carwashes in Auburn. Both provide the same services. Both are well-kept. Both are about the same distance from my house. I don’t give much thought when deciding between the two. I usually end up at the one closest to where I am running errands which happens to be the newer carwash.

But last Saturday I was running errands closer to the older carwash. After I sprayed off my car I pulled over near the vacuums to dry it.

That’s when an older man dressed in cowboy boots and a western hat approached me. I assumed he was going to ask if I was interested in buying a set of speakers. At a fantastically low price, of course!

But he wasn’t selling anything.

He introduced himself and asked if I had everything I needed to clean my car. I asked if he was the owner and he nodded. He told me he recently bought the carwash because he liked being around people. He recently retired and this would give him somewhere to spend his days.

He told me he appreciated my business. He asked if I had any suggestions on how he could improve the carwash. I told him everything was fine except the soap came out too thick on the brush. He said he’d take a look. Maybe it needed to be thinned out.

He listened more than he talked. He seemed genuinely interested in my feedback. He shook my hand and thanked me again.

In all the years I’ve washed my cars, I’ve never once been thanked for my patronage.

In an era where so much customer interaction is being outsourced to everything except a human being, it’s refreshing doing business with a person rather than a computer or machine.

But today this new owner won me over. When I have a choice, I’ll always go where I feel appreciated.

And I’ll tell my friends.

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5 thoughts on “The Carwash

  1. I love this. I am continually amazed by how much some business owners have completely forgotten about customer service and the customer — the people that they rely on to ensure their business stays up and running and continues to grow. The key points was not simply that he was cordial and attentive to you but that you were pleased, will go back, and will tell others — and they’ll tell others, etc.

    What is the name & address of this place? I don’t live near Auburn but if I’m ever in the area, I’ll go there and meet this guy for myself!

    On one of my web sites, when I answer customer support emails within 10 minutes or even a few hours, I frequently get responses back like, “wow, that was fast!” To me, it’s not fast, it’s how it should be. Why does online support need to equate to “wait 24-48 hours for a canned non-human response?”. I just don’t get how managers of customer-facing web sites seem to miss that basic point. I recently wrote my online bank to provide a feature suggestion. 2 days later, they replied, but it was a completely generic “thank you for your comments” kind of email. I understand they’re a big organization, but maybe if they stopped acting like one they would benefit from it.


  2. @Kel – It’s near the Safeway off Auburn Way right across the street from that Bigfoot Espresso. It’s a bit hidden. It’s older but clean.


  3. @Travis – I agree with you about how many companies have decided that a canned email response somehow equates to providing customer service. One reason I went with Bluehost for my web hosting is because I can reach them online at any time. They answer right back or I can chat with a rep. I pay a little more, but it’s well worth it to be treated like a valued customer. This carwash is in downtown Auburn right where Auburn Way runs into HWY 18. There’s a Safeway across the street.


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