Spiffy gained ground in its ongoing national expansion by opening four new franchise locations in Albany, N.Y.; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; and Wilmington, N.C., the company announced today.
In total, the new franchisees have grown the Durham-based mobile car care startup’s presence by 42 percent in its first year of franchising.
Spiffy also opened a new corporate-owned location in Houston, continuing the company’s surge of growth since it began franchising in March 2021.
Last year, Spiffy also closed a $22 million Series B funding round and launched 10 franchise markets. And Spiffy recently passed a key milestone by providing its millionth service since launching in 2014.
“The fun thing about startups is you kind of go through a whiteboard-to-execution, and then you wake up one day,” said Spiffy’s CEO Scot Wingo. “Every day now we’re doing 2,000 to 3,000 services, and we just crossed that millionth service. It’s so surreal.”
Wingo—a successful serial entrepreneur who also maintains the Triangle Tweener list and recently launched the spinoff Tweener Fund—said that so far Spiffy targets larger markets in the United States with at least a million people for its corporate locations. Franchise markets tend to be in areas with 500,000 to a million people in which they find an entrepreneur who demonstrates the passion and expertise to operate in that region.
Spiffy also provides zero-contact by-hand car washing, advanced detailing and disinfection services to over 30 locations. It has focused on the Southeast over the Northeast in large part because of weather; hand-washing a car outdoors in the elements is a tough task when it’s frigid outside.
“Ideas are easy and execution is hard,” Wingo said. “So to deliver that millionth service took a lot of work by everyone on the team to create this engine that we have spinning now, and the system is just plugging away and growing and doing really well.”
When Wingo first started Spiffy, he said he wouldn’t have guessed that fleets would comprise the majority of Spiffy’s business. But now major logistics fleets like FedEx and Amazon alongside corporate fleets like Wegmans and Verizon and rental car fleets make up the majority of Spiffy’s client list.
The startup also recently expanded to offer oil change, tires, repairs and other preventative maintenance services, Wingo said. But he never wants the experience to mirror those at more traditional automotive service providers, where customers can often feel pressured into paying for an additional service.
While Spiffy only started franchising last year, the company had long fielded interest from would-be operators who wanted to bring the service to their own city. For a while, Spiffy resisted the offers, preferring to solidify its own playbook before bringing others into the mix.
Wingo said he wanted to ensure Spiffy had a really high success rate. When 2020 came, as Spiffy hit its 20th city, Covid-19 sparked a desire (and need) within the company to explore new revenue streams. Spiffy had also just launched in St. Louis, with an operations team that for the most part Wingo had never met, and yet they executed Spiffy perfectly.
“It just felt like the timing was right,” Wingo said. “Our biggest concern though was, how do you maintain the quality?”
As Wingo describes, he wanted to guarantee a Starbucks-like consistency, where no matter the location, customers know they will get the same Spiffy experience. With more than a thousand people having already expressed interest in being Spiffy franchisees, Wingo said they are able to be selective.
Many franchisees come to Spiffy with industry experience or come from a world that has been digitally disrupted. Some have been current franchisees looking to diversify or are approaching retirement age looking for a passive income stream.
“We want to be the turtle and not the rabbit when it comes to franchising,” Wingo said. “We really want to learn, go slow and make sure we don’t mess up not only the quality for our consumers, but I don’t want someone investing a fair amount of their own capital and not having it work out.”
While the Raleigh market offers a variety of physical car washes and detailers, some of the other markets don’t offer as much, boosting demand for Spiffy, Wingo said.
Although NuVinAir—which operates in a roughly similar space—made headlines the other day for tapping North Carolina as a new franchise location, Wingo said the type of customers they target differ.
“It’s a do-it-yourself or do-it-for-me mentality,” Wingo said. “Our customers have that do-it-for-me mentality.”
Wingo doesn’t see Spiffy’s growth slowing anytime soon in 2022. While the company hopes to let its corporate locations mature for a while, it plans to open four to six new corporate markets this year and 10-plus franchises.
“When we look ahead to this point next year, our goal is to double what we’ve achieved in 2021,” said Mike Tolzman, Spiffy’s VP of Franchising, in a statement. “If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past several months, it’s that this model is a unique opportunity for our owners. It’s been great to support such a quality group of entrepreneurs, and I’m excited to lead the growth over the next 12 months.”
And there’s even more to come for Spiffy in 2023.
“Even though we’ve made a lot of progress and have done a million services, everyday it just feels like we’re still at the tip-of-the-iceberg phase,” Wingo said. “So we have a lot of room to grow, and we’re really excited to build the business here in Durham, North Carolina.”