Since its opening in Mishawaka more than 20 years ago, Drive & Shine has always sought to build long-term relationships with its customers. Mission accomplished in the South Bend region, as we have been voted #1 for 21 years in a row- said Haji Tehrani the chain’s CEO and president.
An engineer and auto enthusiast, Tehrani wanted to start his own business so he set out to duplicate the best attributes of the upscale car washes he visited while traveling across the country.
His first location at 5406 N. Main St. in Mishawaka was built of brick and was considerably longer than other washes in the area to ensure the most gentle and thorough cleaning.
It offered amenities such as interior cleaning, detailing and oil changes for the convenience of customers, and Tehrani sought out the best people he could find, recognizing that an impressive wash wouldn’t overcome the experience its employees left the customer with.
The business model worked, and Drive & Shine continued to expand throughout the region, employing those and other ideas Tehrani saw while traveling in the U.S. and beyond as board chairman of the International Carwash Association.
In order to develop long term relationships with its customers, the business introduced its unlimited VIP Club which allows customers to wash their cars an unlimited number of times each month if they join their VIP program for as little as $20 a month.
We even have a dedicated lane for our VIP customers to reduce wait times, said Sherry Tehrani, VP of marketing
All of those principals were employed at Drive & Shine’s seventh location, which opened recently at 4035 S. Michigan Street in South Bend. The $7 million project features a 200-foot wash tunnel that employs the same gentle materials and cleaning agents used at the other locations.
But there are a few important twists.
“It has an extremely advanced car-wash conveyor,” said Matthew Tehrani, vice president of technology and new product development. “It will wash cars to perfection at a pace of 200 per hour, making wait time a thing of the past.”
But just as importantly, the new wash includes a predominantly glass 20,000-square-foot operation that offers it’s VIP members FREE vacuuming in the climate controlled building where they can sweep their cars, use air hoses to blow off any water that might have been trapped in the outside mirrors.
Each of the 20 vacuum bays also includes a dedicated mat-cleaning station, and will also available to non-VIP members using the wash for an additional $5 fee.
Tehrani got the idea for indoor self-service vacuum stations in Germany where motorists can be fanatical about keeping their vehicles clean and tidy. Some of the design elements of this new location incorporate concepts Tehrani saw at auto dealerships Tehrani visited in various places in the world. Everyone wants to know what is going to be built on the second floor- he said laughingly- saying that we want to leave our customers with many reasons to chose us as their favorite car care center.
“Our goal is to never stop improving, to always look for new ideas we can bring to the market,” he said.