When Courtney McClellan and her husband, Mike, moved back to North Liberty in 2018, they envisioned a need for a different type of car wash business in the area. So, with the support of her aunt and uncle, the University of Iowa graduates decided on launching Speedy Mike’s Car Wash, with an expected opening in […]
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When Courtney McClellan and her husband, Mike, moved back to North Liberty in 2018, they envisioned a need for a different type of car wash business in the area. So, with the support of her aunt and uncle, the University of Iowa graduates decided on launching Speedy Mike’s Car Wash, with an expected opening in October. “Having lived in North Liberty, we realized, ‘Shoot, we need a car wash!’ You know, we wanted it ourselves,” explained Ms. McClellan. Speedy Mike’s Car Wash will be a premier express car wash instead of a more traditional self-serve car wash. Customers at Speedy Mike’s Car Wash will be able to sit in their car on a conveyor belt while it takes cars through a 135-foot tunnel with 10 separate wash zones incorporating a hybrid wash. “A major source of our revenue these days is the automatic car wash over the self-serve options,” said Craig Zylstra, vice president of the board of directors for the Heartland Carwash Association and owner of Classic Car Wash in Sully, Iowa. “People like us. They do a good job, they’re quick, and we don’t have to get out and do it.” Customers who intend on frequently utilizing the service will be able to join the Unlimited Club for a monthly fee. The perks don’t stop there “We have a cool license plate recognition system, so anyone who is an unlimited member can drive right up to the kiosk, and it’ll be able to recognize your vehicle,” said Ms. McClellan. They will offer free vacuums following the cleaning as well. Speedy Mike’s Car Wash will also offer discounts for fleets of vehicles owned by businesses, such as insurance companies and police forces. Despite these offerings, Speedy Mike’s Car Wash won’t be without competition. Oasis Car Wash and L D Car Wash alone are established businesses within 0.2 miles of Speedy Mike’s. That’s not including a handful of other options nearby that could be direct competition. Why are so many car washes popping up near each other? “I think in growing metropolitan areas, that’s where people will have the most success in expanding their operations,” said Mr. Zylstra. “In the smaller towns where I operate, we’re not seeing that kind of expansion. You can oversaturate the market pretty easily.” But for most well-run car washes, the company can succeed thanks to a very profitable business model. “You don’t need a lot of labor in what is a tight labor market right now. There’s a great return on investment, and there’s a lot of highly depreciable items in a car wash for tax purposes,” said Mr. Zylstra. Speedy Mike’s Car Wash is utilizing local companies and materials rather than relying on national brands. JE Adams in Cedar Rapids sold them the vacuums. Axiom Consultants, the Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Company for 2021, designed the Speedy Mike’s Car Wash building. Its roof will have 81 solar panels to help supply some of the needed energy, and the building will house water reclamation tanks so that water can be reused. Midwest Car Wash Systems in Marion consulted on the project. They supplied and installed equipment and will help with maintenance. If all goes to plan, Speedy Mike’s Car Wash will expand to Tiffin in the fall of next year. But, for now, Ms. McClellan has her sights on the North Liberty location. “We think this is something that our community really wants,” she said.