Lance Winslow speaks about Online Business Networking in the Automotive Sector. But first a little background on Lance Winslow's Franchise and Mr. Winslow's business success in the cleaning industry.
Lance Winslow started his business career while still in Junior High School at the age of 12 years old. Lance wanted to become a pilot and loved airplanes, partly because his father was a US Navy Fighter Pilot and because Lance lived on Navy Bases (Naval Air Stations) during his childhood so he watch all the Jets take off and land all day. By the time he was 12, he had built nearly ever 1:72 scale plastic aircraft model ever made, an expensive hobby for a young man. Young Winslow needed a job that paid well, and since Lance liked airplanes, he hung around the airport all day. Eventually, getting folks to let him wash their aircraft.
By getting to know the folks who pumped the fuel, the FBOs (Fixed Base Operators), the pilots and airport staff Lance was able to get referrals to clean planes. Other than business cards, this was the extent of Lance's marketing. It was all networking, and Lance excelled at it, mostly because he loved to talk about airplanes all day with whomever wanted to discuss hangar talk. By the time Lance Winslow was 16-years old and could drive a car, Lance had signed up nearly one-third of the aircraft parked on the ramp for weekly washing services. Sometimes he gave a slight commission to the fuel guys who referred him. Perhaps, it was this style of doing business that helped Lance become successful in the franchising business later on?
Now a quick interview with Lance Winslow, Founder of Team Yellow and the CEO of WashGuy Franchise System:
So, Lance tell us how the Internet first changed the way you did business?
Thanks Scott, yes and a very good question no doubt. I guess as the Internet really got going we put our Car Wash Guys services online and had forms for people to fill out so they could order services. Generally, we got back to them in a day or two. At first we had a cheesy website from a bigger Internet company, but then secured our own domain. By 1996 we were hardly the only mobile car wash on the Internet anymore. Since, we had friends in business in the auto sector, we would offer their services too and then refer business to them. They in turn gave our company leads from those who had work done in their shop. I think that is how we started out using the web to help us network.
Mr. Winslow, that is very interesting, what happened next?
Well, the Team Yellow concept was an offshoot from our Team Blue Concept, where we set up web pages free for our customers as long as they allowed us to be their exclusive mobile car washing service at their offices and for any fleet vehicles that they had. Later, we set it up like a "leads club" and each of our franchisees would meet with their customers that cared to for breakfast one day a week. That was so highly successful, it grew and grew and we could not turn it off. Many of the clubs got gobbled up by lead generating clubs, which was fine by us, it got to be too much time for our franchisees, and by that time they had too much business anyway - it was clearly a time issue. I remember on franchise calling me up an yelling at me;
"Hey Lance, Hey Winslow, what the H_LL am I suppose to do, I cannot even get the work done I've got, I don't want anymore D-business, I cannot do this Team Blue thing anymore!"
Yep, that's when it hit me, the referral program was working TOO GOOD, and we had to alleviate the time for our team, so, we did it exclusively online, but also kept the network open from all the breakfast leads clubs and chambers of commerce, telling the other business owners to download their leads and we would keep business cards in our WashGuy Trucks. That worked well for a while, but then we had too many business cards and that was an issue. So, we told the businesses we will let you advertise on the back of our car wash flyers for printing and marketing costs if you keep us as your exclusive washers at work!
Lance, you are crazy, but it worked didn't it, What about Team Yellow?
Well, Team Blue was certainly working, but we really wanted to network with other automotive and truck service companies in the area; Tire Shops, Tow Companies, Car Dealerships, Repair Companies, Oil Change Companies. They always sent us more business, better accounts and fleet business too. That was where we made the real money. Thus, we set up Team Yellow, exclusively for auto and truck service companies to network with; "in the industry." Unfortunately, as our operation grew with franchisees in 23-states and serving some 450 cities, our network list was looking like a friggin phone book. Yep, the YELLOW Pages, get it? Team Yellow? Of course, our company colors were yellow too, mostly to save on insurance, Yellow Vehicles get in fewer accidents according to one study, it's because people see them easier.
Next, we figured out that we could network with ourselves as we were getting more and more team members and modules to our franchise system. Oil Change Guys, The Detail Guys, The Car Wash Guys and the Truck Wash Guys. Heck, we even set up a module for transit contract washing called the Bus Wash Guys. Why not link them all together and trade leads throughout the company? It worked, and that is what Team Yellow is today.
Back to the historical story of Lance Winslow, Team Yellow and the WashGuys:
Mr. Winslow's company grew and grew once he had his driver's license. Lance found himself and his crew washing for Pacific Telephone, GTE, The Gas Company, USPS, LTL Trucking Companies, Heavy Equipment and Construction Companies, as well as employees cars at office buildings throughout the city. There was just to much work for Lance and his crews, so Mr. Winslow started hiring independent contractors to help him complete all the work. Within a few years there were 53 units in 39 cities washing anything and everything that moved.
In 1995 Lance Winslow franchised the company and began selling franchises, soon there were franchises in 12 states and Lance set up The Detail Guys to do wholesale detailing for car dealerships, auto-auctions and banks (repos) due to the down economy. By 1999 business was booming everywhere and franchise buyers were lined up. Then the Dot Com Bubble burst and instead of business slowing down, it sped up everywhere except for the franchisees in Silicon Valley, CA. Mr. Winslow was pleasantly surprised to find that all the laid off workers wanted to buy franchises.
In fact, PBS did a TV Special on Lance Winslow's WashGuy Franchise System called; "Honey, I Bought the Company," maybe you watched it, 70 million Americans did. This brought some 350 franchise buyers in little less than a month as the show ran in every state at least three times. States that Lance himself had never even been to. It just kept growing, as Lance had combined old school business networking with the new online high tech way of doing things. In, 2001 Lance got an offer to sell the company and one he could not refuse and retired, soon after 911 came and the economy began to tumble, in hindsight it was perfect timing. But Lance Winslow, was for the first time unemployed, so he became a writer and still looks for opportunities in the market place to seize. If you are interested in starting your own business or own a business and wish to expand, shoot Lance an email;
Lance [at] CarWashGuys [.dot.] com
This web-site and automotive network was implemented by Lance Winslow III, founder and 100% owner of Wash Guy.Com, a mobile wash franchise company. This network was created to help automobile owners like you find reliable and cost effective automotive services. This network was built in response to your needs for convenience and good service to assist you in maintaining your quality of life and enjoying the American dream. It's much better than The Better Business Bureau since it specializes only in approved network of service companies. To join Team Yellow, companies must meet specific standards of price, quality, service, and image. They must be pro-active in the support of the communities they serve and be able to prove these attributes to "The Team Yellow Executive Committee."
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