Fast food has McDonald's. Coffee has Starbucks. And hair salons have Supercuts.
Car washes on the other hand, have no national brand. Daniel Dyer, chairman and CEO of NASCAR Car Wash, is working on changing that, and in the process, he is teaching business owners the power of branding and just how far finding the right business partner can take you.
"I can't remember the last time I washed my car myself," said Dyer. "The thing that motivated me as a consumer was that I always saw a busy car wash. When I learned that the largest car wash in the United States had fewer than 100 washes, I thought it's a very fragmented, unconsolidated and opportunistic industry. I was convinced it needed a brand."
Through an exclusive licensing agreement reached in May 2010 with the popular auto racing association, Dyer is hoping to imprint the NASCAR brand onto the car wash community. The license with NASCAR runs for 20 years, during which time Dyer hopes to make NASCAR Car Wash the largest car wash chain in the country through partnership opportunities. He is careful to explain that the car washes will not be traditional franchises.
Benefits of the brand
For Dyer, who owned and operated business ranging from restaurants to Harley Davidson dealerships before he turned to car washes, seizing this opportunity was as simple as finding the right brand to partner with.
"When you have a brand, you don’t have to spend time or capital to introduce yourself, since the name is already ubiquitous to people," said Dyer, who will be celebrating the opening of the first NASCAR Car Washes in Romeoville, Ill., with racers Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Sept. 15.
"Having a brand is a lot easier than developing a brand. When you develop a brand, generally you do so locally, then regionally, and to get it across the country it’s a huge endeavor. NASCAR is already global and fantastically understood here in the U.S., and that was the motivator. It isn't just having a brand, it's having the right brand ."
To Dyer, the NASCAR brand helps him stand out from the crowd in a very vanilla industry. Meanwhile, the partnership serves as a lesson to other business owners looking to strengthen or change their own brand.
"As a brand even in these weak economic times, NASCAR's numbers are up," said Dyer. "Fan participation and viewership is strong. We aligned ourselves with the most powerful name in sports and the most powerful name that exudes cars and we are taking it into car care."
Give and take
Successful partnerships, though, require give and take. To that end, NASCAR Car Wash will operate as a partnership of company-operated units where operating partners can own from 15 percent to 49 percent of one or multiple locations. Financial responsibilities and profits are to be split proportionally according to the ownership agreement.
As part of the licensing agreement, NASCAR will review the car wash business plan annually.
"We always look at our relationships as true partnerships," said Blake Davidson, vice president of licensing and consumer products at NASCAR. "For us there are a lot of reasons why I think it makes sense and will produce benefits on our end. Equally, we think that there are good opportunities for why anyone affiliated on the car wash side will reap the benefits on their end. When you put those two things together, one and one equals more than two."
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