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CSP Magazine

5 Questions About the New Country Club Car Wash

Why a St. Louis retailer put the spotlight on the store for its new site

Founded in 1989 by the late Randy Bluestone, Country Club Car Wash is a six-site car-wash chain that keeps the vehicles of the St. Louis area squeaky-clean. The current owners—Randy’s widow, Barb Bluestone, and Mark Kummer—recently opened a new location with a flex-service car wash, On the Run Convenience Store and Mobil station that builds upon their car-wash legacy with a modernized in-store experience. (Wallis Oil is its regional franchise director for On the Run franchises and more.)

Kummer revealed to CSP what inspired the company’s latest project.

Q: Your company is first and foremost a car-wash company. What propelled you to open your newest c-store, and how are you interplaying the wash with the store?

A: We had been actively looking for a new site that fits in geographically with our existing locations, which are all within 20 minutes of each other. In this case, location is what propelled the newest site. The traffic count at the intersection is 50,000 cars daily.

We have tried to become a one-stop trip, offering various touchless car washing from full service to flex service or exterior-only washes.

We have unlimited wash clubs starting as low as $23 per month. Customers can wash as often as they like for one monthly price.

Our new site is a flex-service location that allows the customer to either get a fast, clean exterior wash, or they can add the full-service option, which includes towel dry, windows cleaned and car vacuumed.

Our convenience offering includes numerous roller-grill items, many fresh foods and a beer cave.

Q: The store design, which you developed internally, is a blend of contemporary with industrial accents. What inspired your design, and how does it differ from your other locations?

A: When Barb and I and our staff started discussing store design, one of our major goals was to go beyond the typical c-store. We capture this with a high ceiling with exposed ductwork, reclaimed barn wood and LED accents. With our store being 4,500 square feet, we wanted to create an environment that is open, inviting and easy to shop in.

In addition, our other four On the Run locations have been remodeled within the last two years. We  strongly feel that remodeling or refreshing the store every five years is crucial. We believe this follows the pattern left by our founder, Randy Bluestone, who passed away in 2008.

Q: Strategically, how are you leveraging your c-store and car wash to maximize sales and customer loyalty?

A: Our On the Run brand in St. Louis has an app that we use to send out weekly offers such as free candy bars and coupons for fresh offerings, etc. Recently, we started offering a free wash through the app. The customer is notified that we are giving away free washes and must come inside the store for the code or word that is used to text to win the free wash.

To create urgency and excitement, we run app promotions that are time-sensitive or limited. So, for instance, we’ll send a message to app users that we’re giving away free car washes to the next 200 customers who come into our stores and ask associates for the keyword to text [to redeem the] free wash. This drives customers to our stores immediately.

We’re also very tied to the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. When the Cardinals score six runs or more—whether they win or lose—customers can purchase any size coffee, fountain or frozen drink for only 50 cents the following day. With the Blues, we bundle food and drinks at a discount.

Q: To that end, what other ways are you using mobile and social media to drive traffic?

A: We are actively involved in Facebook and have a text club. We are very interactive with our users through fun contests with prizes.

Q: Will your new location be a prototype for future remodels and/or ground-ups?

A: Yes, we believe it will be. But, of course, we reserve the right to tweak things going forward.


STORE STATS

Store: Country Club Car Wash/On the Run

Location: 4200 Mexico Road, St. Peters, Mo.

Population: 56,971

Square footage: 4,500

Pump count: Eight

Designer: In-house team

Key attributes:

  • Flex-service car-wash options
  • Inviting in-store architecture using reclaimed barn wood

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