What are action steps you can take today to strengthen your car wash team and to improve your workplace culture? Check out this episode with Nick Friedman, President and Co-Founder of College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving. Nick shares so many tips and action items that car wash owners can put into practice today and in your plans for the future so that your workplace culture is strong and supportive. Nick shares about how to bolster employees while also holding them accountable. Don’t miss this amazing, jam-packed episode, and get ready to take notes on actions you can start taking right now to make your car wash workplace culture stronger and more vibrant than ever!
Don’t miss this great conversation where your host JT Thomson and guest Nick Friedman dive into strategies and procedures that you can put in place to make your car wash business an amazing work environment with a strong work culture.
“We don’t start with the technical aspects of the business when we train our franchisees or our employees. We set the foundation first. So, I do a little program, or one of my leaders will do a program where it’s (1) the history, where we’ve been, (2) the vision, where we’re going, and then (3) the core values, which is basically our roadmap or guardrails to make sure we don’t veer off course in getting to our destination. So, we want to make sure that our new franchise owners and their team members understand where we’ve been, kind of the heritage of the organization that they are embracing, where we’re going, embracing the change of what’s coming down the road.”
Check out this outstanding Scaling Car Washes episode with Nick Friedman who shares actionable steps you can take as a business owner to strengthen your workplace culture and to build up your employee team.
Leadership and Workplace Culture Books Recommended in Episode
Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t
Seth Godin’s Purple Cow : Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
A Little More about Nick Friedman
Nick Friedman is President and Co-Founder of College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving, the largest and fastest growing junk removal and local moving franchise opportunity in North America. Nick started the business in college with his childhood best friend in a beat up cargo van, and has grown to over 250 franchises and $300 Million annual sales. He was named among the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in America Under 30 by INC Magazine and was on the same list as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Michael Dell in a Newsweek article entitled “College Kid to Millionaire”. Nick is a three-time Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist, and he won the prestigious award in 2018. He has been featured in numerous business books and textbooks, as well as Forbes, Fortune and many other notable publications. Nick’s company has appeared every year on the INC 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies, and has appeared twice on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Nick is also a TV personality, having appeared as a guest on shows, including the first episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, CNBC’s BlueCollar Millionaires and CBS’s Undercover Boss. He is also a Board Member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). As an author, Nick co-wrote a bestselling book entitled Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart, Play Hard, Make Millions.
Interested in the episode but don’t have time to listen right now? See the full interview below!
Welcome to Scaling Car Washes. I’m your host, JT Thomson. I built my first car wash in 2002. And since then I’ve been involved at every level of the car wash ownership experience. I’ve built and sold my own car washes, and as a Sonny’s distributor, I’ve helped other owners build and operate their car washes. Along the way, I’ve been a multi-unit restaurant owner with 23 units in five states. We’ll talk to experts in the car wash industry and related industries that can share insight information that will help you build, scale, and ultimately exit your multi-unit car wash platform.
Well, welcome everybody. My name is JT Thomson. I’m your host of Scaling Car Washes podcast. And today I am here with a really interesting and a great guest. His name is Nick Friedman. He is the co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk. And it’s a great story. I’m just really excited to have him on. He’s got a great entrepreneurial spirit. And he’s built a business from a dining room table. And so, you know, he’s been in there and gutted it out and done it. And he’s got some things I think that are worth listening to and sharing, so I’ve asked him to come on to the program today. So Nick, welcome.
Awesome. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.
Absolutely. Nick, give us the kind of the few minute version of Nick Friedman and your story on how you started College Hunks.
Yeah, well, look, no surprise, it started in college. My buddy and I were looking for something to do during summer vacation. And his mom had a beat up cargo van from her furniture store. And she said, “You know, why don’t you guys go do something with this van, move people’s furniture, haul people’s junk away?” And then we credit her with the name. She’s like, “You know, you guys could be like College Hunks who Haul Junk!” And we laughed at it at first. And then we were like, you know, that’s kind of catchy. We just put it on computer printout flyers. People started calling! They had a need for the service; they thought the name was catchy. We ended up writing a business plan. And then after graduation, we decided we would start a full time. And I was tell the story. We had the 800 number on the back of our truck, but it was still routed to our cell phone because we were doing all the work ourselves: driving the truck, hauling the junk, answering the phone. So anytime somebody would call to complain about erratic driving off the back of the truck, I’d be the one in the driver’s seat, you know, answering the phone, pretending to be the one driving, apologizing on the other end saying, “Listen, we don’t condone that type of driving! We’ll talk to those guys when they get back to the office!” So we probably fired ourselves three or four times that summer. We eventually started to burn out a little bit. And then we learned, “Hey, if we’re ever going to have another truck, let alone another location, we’ve got to learn how to work on the business, not just in the business,” which is certainly you know, I think some of the things that I would imagine you talk about with the folks listening is creating systems and processes, vision and values and culture, and then creating that sort of foundation to build upon. So we sat down that path, and that led us to franchising our brand. And today we’ve got over 200 franchisees around the country doing over 200 million and system wide revenue. So, I call it a 15 year overnight success. But it’s been a it’s been a fun journey, no doubt.
Wow. Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. Thanks for sharing that. So, you’ve got 200 Plus franchisees, and I know you, as you’ve — and I’ve done a little bit in the franchise world, so I understand that — you’ve got some franchisees that are just fantastic. And then you got some that like, oh, man, I’ve got to really work with these guys. Talk a little bit about, you know… I think some of the things that I think you’ve got a unique perspective on is culture and development and team development. And tell me a little bit of the things that you see people doing, like the really good guys in your organization, what is it that’s common there that you see?
Culture and core values are very much a buzzword in sort of entrepreneurial circles these days. And, to some degree, people might roll their eyes or think it’s a cliche, but we read a lot of books, we saw a lot of speakers at Business and Entrepreneurship conferences, keep beating this drum about the importance of values and culture — you know, whether it’s Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, or whether it’s a Seth Godin’s book, The Purple Cow — they all talk about the importance of culture, because really what happens is culture drives behavior, behavior drives results. And the only way you’re going to create longevity, and sustainability and scalability as a business is by having that foundation. So, we basically set out and developed a core set, our set of core values that we talk about, and we celebrate and we reward and recognize, and we use those as a litmus test for who we’re going to let go or who we’re going to, you know, ask to step off the organization because they’re holding us back. And then we try to instill those values within our franchise owners who are essentially independent business owners in their own respective markets. And none of this stuff happens overnight. It happens intentionally. It happens with repetition and reiteration. And it starts with the founder and/or the leaders beating that drum and sharing core value stories, defining those values, giving examples of a positive culture. But we have a saying in our organization: “It’s not what’s on the walls, it’s what’s in the halls.” And so what we mean by that is it’s not just, you know, setting these values on a piece of paper on a poster and leaving it at that, but it’s actually the behavior that we reward and recognize and appreciate within the organization. So eventually the team members start to buy into it, share it. You know, on a good team, the coaches are holding the players accountable. But ultimately, you want to get to a point where on a great team, the players are holding each other accountable, saying, “Hey, this is how we do it here.” And so I think within our system, you know, our great franchise owners, they recognize that there’s high turnover, they recognize that there’s going to be challenges with with employees, but one of our core values is building leaders. So the idea is, hey, look, hiring, training and managing people, that’s a blessing, not a burden. And that’s an opportunity for us to empower and grow and develop our people. So if you look at it as a burden, you’re going to look at as a chore, and that’s something that you want to do. And so you’re not going to create a vibrant environment where people want to be a part of it. And if you look at it as an opportunity to instill your leadership and mentorship qualities as a leader, then the business grows and flourishes and you attract people that want to be part of that and spread that to others within the organization and outside of the organization as well. So that’s really, it’s been intentional. And that’s why I said we were a 15 year overnight success, because a lot of that started with just us writing it on a whiteboard and talking about it in meetings, and then eventually it spreads, and it becomes ingrained in the DNA of the organization.
Great points! I want to kind of unpack that a little bit and get down to like: what are some actionable things? So, how do you ingrain that, right? So you bring on a franchisee? They start off, and they’ve got high aspirations of building that business. So, what are some actionable things that people have done that, you know, we can share that our listeners can say, “oh, yeah, I can, I can go back and do that!”
Well, it starts with training or, you know, day one orientation! You know, we don’t start with the technical aspects of the business when we train our franchisees or our employees. We set the foundation first. So, I do a little program, or one of my leaders will do a program where it’s (1) the history, where we’ve been, (2) the vision, where we’re going, and then (3) the core values, which is basically our roadmap or guardrails to make sure we don’t veer off course in getting to our destination. So, we want to make sure that our new franchise owners and their team members understand where we’ve been, kind of the heritage of the organization that they are embracing, where we’re going, embracing the change of what’s coming down the road. But then, hey, what is this company all about? You know, how do the people within this company act and behave? And so, hey, here’s our core values, and here’s how we celebrate them. And then it doesn’t just stop at that first introductory training. We actually do a daily huddle every single day at the franchise locations. And in the daily huddle, the very first thing we do is we share a core value review. So, we’ve got four core values in our organization. They’re (1) building leaders, I mentioned that, (2) always branding, (3) listen, fulfill, delight and (4) fun, enthusiastic team environment. So, each day of the week, we review a different one of those four core values. And then on Friday, you know, we might do like a miscellaneous, pick one. And in the core value review, initially, it’s the leader that says, “Hey, here’s the core value. Here’s what it means.” But eventually, we’re actually asking for volunteers to share examples of the core value being lived the prior week. So it’s like, “Oh, hey, who’s got a building leader story?” You know, Jimmy raises his hand and says, “Hey, you know, the other day, I was helping the new hire on how to load the truck and back it up, and he really got it by the end of the day.” So we clap it up. So we’re actually re-instilling and reinforcing those values every single day during our daily huddles. We do rewards at our annual franchise conference; we do core value rewards that our monthly team awards meeting. So I think those are some actionable things that can be built any small business is day one of training, “hey, here’s where we’ve been, where we’re going, how we’re going to get there,” and also our values, what we stand for what we believe in, and then let’s reinforce that every single day in all of our interactions. We’ve got posters on the wall. I know I said, “It’s not what’s on the walls, it’s what’s in the halls!” But you still want to see them on the walls because you need that reinforcement, that visual and that behavioral reinforcement as well.
Now, that’s great. The daily huddle, I think… You know, I’ve owned restaurants, and that was always a big part of the restaurant world. I think in the carwash world… I always tell people listen, I think the carwash is kind of lagging behind
Well, it’s probably probably not that much different than the industry I’m in, right? I mean, junk removal and moving is kind of traditionally viewed as maybe blue collar or viewed as kind of old school business practices. I don’t know much about the car wash business, but I would imagine a morning huddle will be a great way to kick off the team for the day. Hey, you know, celebrate some wins from yesterday! What’s going to be our focus for today? Imagine a football team trying to run plays. I mean, obviously the no huddle offense works sometimes, but they’ve practiced that over and over, so they know how to do it. If you got a team that hasn’t been practicing, you’ve got to have time to get together and review it.
100%. Great point. So daily huddle, that is a real way on a daily basis to change…
By the way, the day huddle can be quick! I mean, ours is five minutes. Five to 10 minutes where we do a quick core value review, maybe share some good news, we review some numbers from the day before, any opportunities or challenges, and then we just break with the chair and get on to the day. So it doesn’t need to be a long meeting of discussions or anything like that. It’s just a quick touch base with everybody. And then let’s get to it.
Do you do that in your corporate office?
We do, we do. So we have a version of that we train our franchisees on how to run. And then we actually do it as a corporate operation as well. We do at 11:11 every morning, so it’s kind of like a mid-morning or late morning break for everybody. When we were in person, fully in person, we were doing them all in person. And then of course, you know, over the past two years with COVID, we’ve evolved into more of a Zoom huddle. And one way to kind of keep it fresh is we’ll have, on the Zooms, we’ll actually have different themes of the huddle. So it might be like, “bring your pet to huddle” day. Or it might be you know, “wear your favorite sports team jersey to huddle” day… Just ways to kind of keep it fun and vibrant. And we’re actually now evolving into more of a hybrid where we’re going to have some people in person, and we’re going to have a big Zoom screen for those who are not able to be there physically to be able to keep that huddle.
So is that what you’re doing right now? So if you’ve got people that are hybrid, they just Zoom in?
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Because I think most of our offices are hybrid, so I’m sitting here thinking through, I think it’s fantastic idea. So I think just from an actual execution, Zoom, or we use Teams, but being able to kind of include everybody in, whether you’re in the office or not, is good.
Yeah, I’m envisioning eventually…
It’s tough to pull everybody together. That’s the problem of hybrid, I think, is you lose some of that connectivity, some of that connection. And it does have an influence on the culture and just the overall stickiness of an organization.
Yeah, and I’ll say, I mean, we just got back to having folks in the office, surprisingly enough, you know, being in Florida, but everybody’s just now coming back to the office. But there’s still folks working remotely; we still have folks in other markets. So we’re in the process of setting up that sort of audio, visual, big screen that the folks can Zoom into, but then the people that are physically present can come stand, and they’ll be able to be seen on the video by everybody who’s remote. So that’s actually something we’re working towards right now.
I love that, man. That’s great. Let me take a step back. You mentioned first day onboarding. I’m a huge advocate of having the right onboarding process. I think, you know, when somebody comes into an organization, that first interaction, You know, just being organized, having a plan, you know, just really showing… I think it shows the importance. We talked about people being super important. You know, they’re everything in our business! And from an onboarding standpoint, that’s really where it all starts. Talk a little bit about what you guys do on your onboarding process. Can you give me a little bit history? I think that’s a great idea. Because our business is very entrepreneurial. People love that! They buy into that. So I can see where you’ve touched on that. I think that makes a lot of sense.
So, some of what I’m going to say is aspirational, and some of it is what we actually do. But I think the goal to try to make somebody’s first day exciting, right? They went through the interview process, they just got hired! You want them to feel like you know, “Hey, I’m excited to be a part of this team.” So, at the daily huddle, on their first day, we’ll shout them out, welcome them, give some background about them to spotlight them as one of the new team members. But it always starts with the history, vision, values. We do some customer service training, because, you know, probably similar to car washes, we’re very much based on what I call the three R’s, Repeat business, Referral business, and Reputation. You know, if we can increase our repeat business, increase our referrals, and improve our reputation… And probably in the car wash business, there’s a fourth R, Retention, right? Renewals if you’re doing subscription!
A lot of good Rs there.
I like it, man!
But we’ll talk about that, and the importance of that, and the importance of customer expectations. One training we do in the first day is we say, “Okay, what are customers expecting when they hire College Hunks?” And so we’ll come up with a list, you know, on time, fair price, no damages, can get the job done. And then we’ll draw a line from each of those expectations and say, “Okay, what might somebody complain about?” Well, usually a complaint is a missed expectation. So they’ll complain about being too expensive or not on time, or making a mess or leaving a damage, damaging an item. So then what we come up with is we show them this list for each complaint. What’s something we could do 100% of the time to minimize the likelihood of that complaint? So hey, if we’re running late, let’s make sure we call before the arrival window and keep them updated as we go so we lessen the likelihood that they’re going to be complaining that we were late. So we try to help our team members understand the customer’s or what we call the client’s expectations, possible complaints and then what’s something we could do 100% of the time. And then we do something we call above and beyond brainstorming like, “Hey, what’s something that would make a customer say ‘wow!’ or make a customer want to go tell their friends?” Because if you’re just satisfied, and you just go to the sandwich shop, and you get a sub you’re not gonna go tweet about it or put it on your Instagram, but if you get a “wow” experience, that’s when you start wanting to share that experience with others. And so we look for ways and that’s more of an art form, right? You know, maybe it’s bringing a flower to the client, or taking out the trash for the client at the end of the job, or given a little reward or leave behind that the client can use, swag or something from our brand. So, a lot of that really boils into the first day orientation: where we’ve been, where we’re going, our core values, what they stand for, and then our customer service philosophy and approach to customer service.
You know, it’s interesting. I love getting perspective from other industries for this exact reason. Like, there’s things that you’ve said here, I think, that really made me think, “Okay, what can I do differently?” And in most businesses, you kind of get a little bit of tunnel vision. And one of the things that I’ve tried to do is get more cross functional feedback and expertise. So the things that you’re doing, you’ve got a different business, but at the end of the day, it’s really about customer expectations. And doesn’t matter what you doing…
And team member expectations, too, quite frankly! I mean, you can run that exact same exercise with your leadership team to discuss what do our frontline team members expect when they come to work here? You know, they expect that they’re going to have the proper uniform, proper training, proper equipment, they’re going to expect to get paid on time, you know. Simple things! What might they complain about? Oh, they complain that they didn’t get feedback or didn’t get training or their boss was too hard on them. I don’t know. And then, you know, “Okay, well, what can we do to minimize the likelihood of employee complaints? It’s like, okay, well, let’s make sure they understand and believe in the core values, let’s make sure we’re training them and giving them feedback, make sure we’re listening to them, and taking their feedback. And so, the same principles you can apply to customer service, really, as leaders and business owners or managers, we ought to be thinking about how we can do that, especially with the frontline employees, especially in this labor market, where it’s so much harder to attract and retain frontline employees. That comes into play as well.
That’s an excellent point. So team development, leadership development, and you said, you know, leadership development is one of your core values. Tell me a little bit about kind of, what are some of the three or four things that are just consistent in you know, how you approach that and how you build leaders?
Well, number one, we say, “if you’re not training, you’re not gaining,” and training is an ongoing process. It’s not a one time event. And that kind of gets back to what I said earlier is like, if you’re a business owner, or a leader in a business, a manager or what have you… If you’re not passionate about helping others get better, I don’t believe you’re going to be a great leader, because the whole way to scale a business is through tapping into the potential of other people. And so if you view that as as kind of a blessing, a purpose, a value, then you’re going to have a lot more success with it. It’s not going to make it easier, but it will make it less stressful and less frustrating when you kind of are having some challenges or having that turnover. So, training is number one. Number two is empowering your team. And one of the things we say is empower your team members to be able to make decisions on behalf of the company as if they’re an owner in the company. And so there’s three questions we always tell our team members to ask when they make a decision. The first question they ask themselves: is it good for the customer, and is it good for the company? Question one. Number two: is it ethical and in line with our core values? And then number three, which is so critical with leadership is: am I willing to be held accountable to it? Because accountability and leadership go hand in hand, you know, and so we have to train, especially at the frontline, the importance of accountability. It can’t be just about a Mickey Mouse culture, or Sesame Street culture that’s soft and fuzzy. Because if we go to hold somebody accountable, and they’re used to this sort of soft, warm and fuzzies, they’re going to be like, “Whoa, wait a minute! What do you mean, I have to be on time or in uniform when I show up?” It’s like, “No, we’re a team of accountability, performance. And yes, we want to create a warm, vibrant, fun environment. But a warm, welcoming environment doesn’t mean we’re not an accountable culture or an accountable team.” And so I think those are some of the keys to developing leaders and developing our frontline teams is the training, the decision making, and then the accountability.
Excellent points. Most people that are listening to this already have a company in play. They’re trying to grow it. How do you change management? So, if somebody’s listening to this and they’re like, “Gosh, man, that Nick is brilliant. I want to I’m writing these things down. I want to incorporate that.” How do you kind of change culture?
The one thing I’ll say is, this does not happen overnight. It does not happen overnight. So be patient. But just be intentional about it. All the stuff that I’m sort of spewing right now is stuff that I learned early on in the business by going to conferences and entrepreneurship books and so forth. And I would come home and bring this stuff back to my team. I have big notepads of all these things that I’m sharing with you, and I dump it on my team’s desk. I’d be like, “We’ve got to do all these things. We got to do all these things!” I would get kind of stressed and overwhelmed that we couldn’t… We were trying… I wanted to do it all at once! But now that I look back 15 years later, just being intentional about it and being consistent with the communication of what’s important within the organization, and developing the training systems, making sure my management team understands how important this is, and they echo the same thing that I’m saying. So it’s not just Nick at the top as the founder talking, but it’s everybody within the organization. And it just starts by doing it. And of course, you know, every journey starts with a step. Each of the listeners had to take a step to start the business. So I think it’s just starting to take the steps towards some of these things that we’re talking about as far as instilling values, being values based organization, building culture, being a leadership development type organization. None of it’s going to happen overnight, just like no business success happens overnight. But the fruits of these efforts will be really infinite if you think about it in terms of the long term success of the business and of the team.
Well, I just think your attrition rate is affected by culture. I just think people go above and beyond when they feel like they’re part of something as opposed to just a job. So, I think all this makes perfect sense. I think it is overwhelming, right? Again, I’m thinking, “Oh, we got a lot of wood to chop on!” We’re a new organization; we’re growing at just a crazy clip. I think we’ve been in business for seven months. And we probably have 600 employees right now, seven hundred employees. We’ve moved very quickly. But now, one of the things that we’re saying is, Hey, listen, we got to really focus on getting the blocking and tackling of the business right, getting the culture right, getting the people right, getting the right people in place. And some of that takes some tough decisions, right? You’ve got people that are in place, and you’ve got to come to the realization that they’re not the right cultural fit. So talk a little bit about undoing a bad fit. What has some of your experience been in making some of those tough decisions?
Yeah, we actually had a situation where we actually gave our HR director the title of culture. So it was the title of HR and Culture Director. And that was probably one of the biggest mistakes we made because no one person is responsible for culture. It’s everybody within the organization. You know, we’re all accountable and responsible to living the values and culture. So what happened in that example, is everybody looked to that individual as sort of the the life force of the organization. So if that individual was having a bad day…
Is it too much pressure for one person?
Yeah, absolutely! It was too much pressure. It was like everybody looked at that individual as the example of what the culture was, and is, and should be, and sort of abdicated their own responsibility to be living it. They were living it through through that person. And so I think for us, it’s really important that we make it clear that, hey, this is our set of values. This is our culture. We kind of use what we call the three strike rule. If somebody is behaving in a way that’s outside of what we believe is in line with our values and culture, we have a direct conversation — we like to say we talk to people, not about people — we have a direct conversation about that specific behavior, why wasn’t in line and what was the impact of that behavior. And then if it manifests, or reoccurs, more than three times in call it a 30 day time span, then we probably need to have an exit conversation. Because there’s probably not a fit. And usually people, you know, if you if you tell somebody one example of something that they did that wasn’t a culture fit, they might get defensive, or they might have an excuse or they might be able to explain it away. If you give them a second example, it’s kind of hard to hide from that, because that’s a recurrence of and pattern of behavior. And if there’s three examples, then it’s a complete pattern. And they’ve already been warned and explained, and they’re just continuing to do it. So when you make this shift in trying to build a culture-based value-based organization, there will be some turnover. There’ll be some folks maybe that don’t buy in or don’t believe in it, or don’t embrace it, and they’re going to be having the meeting after… They’re the ones that were having the gossip or the meeting after the meeting saying, “Oh, can you believe this stuff that they’re doing up in the office?” And you’ve got to kind of eliminate that watercooler meeting after the meeting talk because it’s just going to derail the journey that you’re trying to achieve. In a fast growing business like yours, it’s not easy to do, because you need people, you need bodies. You can’t afford to just cut people, you know, because you still need the train to run and run on time. That’s why I get back to that point about being patient with it, not letting yourself get overwhelmed. Just understanding that there’s no such thing as a perfect culture or perfect organization. These are all aspirational things that we’re talking about that if you start making strides to them, you’ll see overall improvements on a macro level.
When people are going through this and, you know, they’re starting to make progress. How do you know? How do you feel like yeah, I really feel like people can start celebrating? Give me some like checkpoints or some things that when you’ve done this, you know…
One of the things we like to say is that you’d like to see that the core values are shared by all not just with all. And so, when you start seeing examples of the core values being lived, whether it’s on social media or whether it’s on a customer review online or customer writes in to compliment a specific individual or a team member writes a review about the company on Glassdoor. That’s basically the validation or the positive feedback loop that this stuff is starting to manifest and starting to work. We had a really cool situation. This was probably the most extreme example of our culture being lived. There was a move at an assisted living facility we were performing, and one of our hunk movers was was in the elevator, and there was one of the residents from the elderly facility in the elevator, and the elevator got stuck. And this woman was having a bit of a panic attack, because she didn’t want to stand, couldn’t stand for a long period of time. So, the hunk actually got on his hands and knees and let her sit on his back like a human bench for about 30 minutes as the elevator was being fixed. Of course, it ended up being a very funny photo. It got shared on social media when the fire department opened the elevator and they saw this this elderly woman sitting on the guy’s back. I mean, it went viral! It ended up on like some of those lists of like, you know, these photos will restore your faith in humanity type things. And of course, there’s nothing that we can put in the operations manual that says, “Hey, what do you do if you’re stuck in an elevator with an elderly woman who’s having trouble standing?” Right? You can’t think of all the “what if” scenarios, but I think it’s because we had been so intentional about the culture and the service and helping other people. (A) We attracted the right people to be able to think that way. And then, when he was in that position, it was just instinctual for him. And, you know, he was able to do the right thing. So, I think you start to see those types of stories happen more often. I mean, on social media, and on our internal message board, we often get photos and stories shared, where there was somebody broken down on the side of the road, and one of our Hunk trucks pulled over to help them and change a tire or push their car over to a safer location. And, you know, it’s just little stuff like that, that starts to pop up. And we try to spotlight and celebrate those as much as we can, because it then becomes a sort of a reaffirming loop, where, when people hear and see that positive reinforcement, they want to kind of do more of those good things to help continue building the culture further.
So you mentioned Message Board internally, so tell me a little bit about that.
Yeah, so we use Yammer. I know you mentioned Teams, I think Yammer is a Microsoft product, it probably comes with the Microsoft suite. It’s not much different than Slack, or than Facebook groups or things of that nature. So so we have that specifically for our franchise owners and kind of their key management team. Most of the frontline hunks are not on that national board. But a lot of the franchise owners do use Slack or some other internal communication tool to be able to communicate with all of their frontline employees as well. And it’s just a great place to give positive public praise and spotlight core value stories or spotlight customer testimonials that mentioned specific individuals by name. That’s been effective for us. And, you know, we try to, of course, like anything, we try to make sure we also have some rules of engagement on that as well. You know, we’ve had examples where maybe folks have gotten on and complained or called somebody out, you know, maybe inappropriately in a public forum like that. And we’ve had to sort of rein folks back in and say, hey, look, no, this platform is used for, you know, constructive communication, positive reinforcement, celebrating wins. And that’s actually done well for building camaraderie and team dynamics, you know, across sort of a decentralized labor force.
What other tools you use to kind of help facilitate your culture, or the things that we’ve talked about. What are what are some of the tools out there that you’re like, this is a killer app, or… What are some things that you found that are really useful?
Yeah, outside of what I’ve already talked about, we’ve kind of developed our own internal software for operating the business. But we’re big, we are big on rewards and recognitions and contests. There’s a reason that video games are so addictive, and that people will play them even without a monetary reward. They just want to see their score go up and see how they compare to other people that are playing the game. So we call it gamification. If you can gamify the business — and there’s actually some apps and tools out there that have you know, that are that are gamification solutions. We haven’t invested in one yet. Most of ours are still kind of old school whiteboards, and scoreboards, and things like that. But…
Have you used Kahoot?
I don’t think so. No, I’ll write that one down.
KAHOOT. It is awesome. And it does exactly that. It’s gamification. So you could take 20 questions. So if you’re onboarding somebody, and you have your employee manual, your handbook, and you want them to read it, you take 20 questions. Just take 20 random questions out of there. You can put them in, and it basically serves them up, and everybody… You can have for a whole you know, starting class or a whole like car wash, the whole team. And people are doing it on their time together. So you can see how quick they answer it. They get highlighted. I mean it’s just a way to do exactly what you’re talking about where you gamify things that you’re trying to train. So it is a really cool tool. My brother was with AT&T; they use it there. And then my daughter was at Georgia Tech, she just graduated. And there’s a lot of the sororities and fraternities that were using Kahoot. So we found it to be pretty, pretty cool.
Loom is another one I’ve used loom No. So it’s another tool. My brother runs a company called Retention Express. He has to train people a lot. And Loom basically, you can take like something that you’re constantly having to train somebody on, it could be a cash handling thing on how to, you know, enter deposits or whatever, and you go through all the steps. Loom is a tool that you can basically record that. And rather than have to go through it every single time, you can create this library of quick hit training. So you were talking about training earlier. It’s a tool that you can use to replicate training over and over without having to do it.
Very cool. I’m making notes of it.
All right, well, good. Glad to give you something. You’ve given me a ton. I got a ton of notes here, man! I’ve got to go back and re-listen to this. So, anything else, Man? What have I missed? What should I have asked you? Because I think you’ve got like, great entrepreneurial background experience, and you’ve just got a really cool way of looking at the world.
I appreciate it. I mean, I think…
I want to pull that in and you know, share that with people in our in our industry. And myself, too!
No, I appreciate it! I think you, with what you’re building and doing, from what I can tell, you’re doing a lot of the right things the right way. And one of the books I mentioned earlier that was really influential to us was The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Because the idea in that book is how do we be remarkable in a very crowded industry or crowded landscape? And you know, just like moving and hauling I would imagine that car washes are a pretty fragmented, but crowded industry. And so how do we stand out? And so he talks about, the example he gives us, “Hey, if you’re driving down a country road, you see a field of brown cows, you’re going to keep driving. You’ve seen it before. But if you see a Purple Cow, it’s going to stand out, you’re going to pull over, take pictures of it, put it on social media, tell your friends about it.” And so it’s not just about looking different, but it’s also about the experience. How can the experience be more memorable or what he calls remarkable? And I think that’s kind of the challenge for for any business owner. There’s the disruptive businesses like the Ubers, or the Netflix of the world that disrupted whole industries. But there’s also just nuanced tweaks. I mean, we didn’t do much different with it when it came to moving and junk removal, but we put a very creative brand on the surface of the business. And then we put a very intentional focus on the employee experience, and the customer experience, and over a period of time, the business has continued to grow exponentially. And so I think that can be applied in any business. And certainly the the car wash business is one I think that’s that’s right for that application as well!
Good insight. Great book. Yeah, you’ve mentioned Good to Great, that’s another great book where I think my biggest takeaway is just get the right people on the bus! That advice has served me well. You get good all round athletes on your team, and you’ll figure it out… they’ll figure out how to make things happen. And a lot of what we do isn’t rocket science, but you need somebody who’s got competence, smarts, motivation, drive, grit, you know, all those things.
Absolutely, yeah. And you know what? You mentioned those things, that competence, drive, motivation, grit. I mean, that’s what we look for in our best franchise owners as well. I mean, you asked at the very beginning, like what differentiates a good franchise owner from a great one or a good one from a mediocre. It boils down to some of those intangibles that you talked about, you know, the grit, the drive, the resiliency, the resourcefulness, willingness to just kind of keep going, persistence. You know, those are those are tough things to teach. But if folks have them and have the capacity to learn and grow, then you want to hold on to those people!
I boil it down to like, when we have people on our team, there’s two components that are super important to me. Culture and competence, right? I’ve got people that are super smart, they’re really good. But, you know, if they’re just not a good cultural fit, unfortunately, those are two boxes that you just can’t… You’ve got to have both boxes checked.
Some people are just they just fit in; you love them. They’re great. You’ll go have a beer with them, but they just don’t have the competence. So, you know…
Maybe that’s what… I think when Jim Collins says, you know, “is it the right person, wrong seat?” If they’re good people, but don’t have the competence, can you train them up? Or can you find another seat for them where they could be effective, where they could be more competent? And if they’re not, then you’ve got to help them along to their alternative career path. But if they’re, you know, what we often times refer to as a brilliant jerk, meaning they’re really smart, really competent, but they’re just upsetting everybody around them, then you’ve got to get them out as well. So yeah, that’s, I think, where the people analysis and Team Evaluation comes into play.
All right, well, hey, Nick Friedman, what drives you? As we kind of close this up, give me something that is important to you as a person.
So at this point, I just turned 40 this year. So I’ve kind of made the shift from young entrepreneur to old entrepreneur, or at least entrepreneur. I’ve got to drop the “young.” At the beginning of my entrepreneurial career, it was all about trying to grow, trying to grow, trying to grow. And now it’s become much more about making a legacy and an impact and helping others grow. And so that’s kind of what’s driving me is, you know, we’ve got a platform as a brand that helps franchise owners to help their team members learn and grow. And that’s where I get a lot more purpose and meaning from, than simply just trying to build a business at this stage in my career. So that’s what excites me is just continue to help the folks within our organization and outside like we’re doing here, learn and grow and have more levels of success and fulfillment.
Well, listen, I sincerely thank you for taking some time out and sharing some of your experience with us. It’s been just very useful. I think, you know, all this is just the foundation of building a sustainable and durable business, and you’ve obviously done that. And I think you keep doing what you’re doing, and you’re going to have a strong legacy. So, I really appreciate your time. Come back on the show anytime. I’m JT Thomson. I’m your host of Scaling Car Washes. Thanks, everybody.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of the Scaling Car Washes Podcast. Please subscribe to stay current with all of our episodes coming up. Thanks and I’m JT Thomson, your host.