Company News

Indie Closeup: It’s in the Details

With 9 retail units and car washes, Fabulous Freddy’s delights customers daily by baking a ‘fabulous’ experience into its recipe
fabulous freddy's
Photograph courtesy of Fabulous Freddy's

It’s relatively simple for the management team at Fabulous Freddy’s to identify workers that fit their culture. The nine-store chain, based in Las Vegas, established a litmus test years ago that requires future employees to say “fabulous” multiple times a day during work hours—and with meaning.

“If you can’t say ‘fabulous’ … then this isn’t the place for you,” said Jeff Warnick, vice president and chief operating officer for Fabulous Freddy’s, with five stores in Vegas and four in Utah. All feature full-service car washes with detail shops, express lube services, 24-hour convenience stores and fuel.

“We also ask prospects, ‘what does fabulous mean to you?’” The wrong response helps weed out those not fully aligned with the organization’s culture, Warnick said.

The company was founded by Freddy Smith, who is still actively involved in daily business. Shell-branded stores and car washes are located in Nevada and Sinclair-branded in Utah (two in Southern Utah, including St. George, and two in northern Utah near Salt Lake City).

The company’s mission statement is “to provide a fabulous experience to everyone and their vehicles, which is of the highest in quality, convenience, value and service,” Warnick says.

Read ahead for seven questions with Jeff Warnick, detailing all things fabulous at a chain that’s planning to build its 10th location, in St. George, Utah, by late 2023.

Q: Fabulous Freddy’s has several ways for car wash customers to engage with the service—can you break it down?

A: Two popular ways are our coupon books and subscription program, which was established six years go. I won’t get into specific numbers of total subs, but we see a very high retention rate. In 2022, we saw new customers join the sub program all the time. With coupon books, customers can buy, say, seven washes and get three free—it’s highly popular and we’ve been doing it since Day 1. Coupons are often bought seasonally, such as during holidays as a gift, so we experience ebb and flow of business with coupons. With the subscriptions, this produces a more normalized, evened-out revenue stream. We also set car wash volume goals at the locations, incentivizing employees to sign people up.

Q: The company offers an interesting combination of touch-free and friction washes within a single site—can you explain how that works?

A: Within a hybrid system, if one customer wants touch-free, no equipment touches the vehicle. If someone opts for a friction wash at the same wash, brushes and rollers are activated, so it provides options. Because we’re a full-service car wash, we employ service writers, detailers, wipers, cashiers and other staff to support each wash: this means customers can engage with a live body. Many car wash customers prefer the human interaction even though it might take up a little more time per wash.

Q: How many employees does the company have?

A: We have 600 systemwide. On the store side, our four Utah stores are all equipped with ‘Splash Drinks & Treats’ programs [counters or kiosks that sell sweets and various drinks].

Overall, we build this company for people to earn a living, and we hire a lot of high school kids, where they learn for the first time to be accountable on the job.

Q: The NFL Raiders recently moved from Oakland to Vegas—how has the relocation affected your five Vegas stores, particularly during home-game weekends?

A: Our stores aren’t as close to Allegiant Stadium for it to have a huge impact. But when the NHL Golden Knights started playing here as an expansion team, that was the first pro sports team in Vegas, and it seemed to have more impact, and games are played throughout the week for six-plus months. For both teams, plus the WNBA Aces, we sell a lot of team gear at stores. All three teams have had a great impact on the local community.

Q: Are there any new in-store renovation projects on tap?

A: We’ve been around for more than 20 years, and some stores need ongoing upkeep and maintenance. But we have no major rebranding or remodeling in the works. Plus, we have the new store in St. George to concentrate on.

Q: What store products are your pacesetters?

A: The cold vault means so much to our stores, and we’re always trying to find what people want today versus yesterday. One thing we’ve done is begun self-distributing some store products. One is our ‘Bucked Up’ energy drink, which is produced and packed by a manufacturer-partner and Fabulous Freddy’s distributes it to our own stores. We also have a bakery in St. George that produces cookies and treats daily that we self-distribute as well.

Our ‘Freddy Card’ [loyalty card] helps drive sales of all categories. Customers who use the card frequently can accumulate double points on items promoted. Three brands that we’ve had success with tied to loyalty are Red Bull, Hershey and Pepsi.

Q: Can you describe your forecourt?

A: The average store has four to five multi-pump dispensers and eight to 10 fueling positions. We have fuel attendants at forecourts to pump fuel for customers who want that additional service—but at the same self-serve fuel price. We’ve offered it since Day 1. My daughter recently started working on the forecourt and loves it. Overall, we’ve generated a lot of inspiration from our owner Freddy Smith. He’s not a silent owner by any stretch—and he strives for us all to be ‘fabulous’ every day.

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