In the age of self-checkout grocery lines and ATMs, Fabulous Freddy's carwash just wants customers to relax.
The Nevada-based chain will open a Sandy location this month, and its more than 100 workers focus on pampering patrons.
"Our goal is for everyone to have a fabulous experience," Freddy Smith, the founder and owner of the company, told The Tribune. "We want to pump their gas, have them drive through our convenience store, get their oil changed, all without getting out of their car. We focus on the customer not having to do a thing if they don't want to."
Smith is a Salt Lake City native who started his first Las Vegas car wash business in 1998. After a particularly unpleasant experience at a Las Vegas carwash, he had a vision of a one-stop shop with a friendly service. Each Fabulous Freddy's is a complex rather than a carwash. In addition to full auto detailing, they have drive-through convenience stores, frozen yogurt shops, lounges with WIFI and HDTV, lube and oil change stations and windshield repair. Smith claimed Salt Lake City's culture and weather produces people who gladly will buy what he's selling.
"We want the mothers with kids and the businessmen, the people who need a break," he said. "When the snow hits in Salt Lake, nobody wants to have to get our of their car."
A standard day of operations produces between 2,000 to 4,000 customers. Smith said that a 5,000-customer day is enough to make the company "content." The plethora of conveniences and the ensuing business costs make Fabulous Freddy's a high-employment model. At the planned Sandy location, the chain will hire between 110 and 150 new employees.
"We staff quite a bit more than what's usual for a carwash," Smith said. "It comes from the kind of service we give. That's what we want, full service and high employee [concentration]."
The turnover rate for the carwash chain defies what would be expected from a minimum-wage job with such large staff numbers.
"Our turnover rate is in the high single digits," said Troy Poe, Fabulous Freddy's human resources director. "That's better by far than the industry standard. For auto detailing places, from what I hear, the typical is around 30 to 40 percent."
With higher employment comes naturally higher costs of operation. Troy Poe said a typical week in the St. George location requires from 3,500 to 4,000 hours of labor, depending on season and day of the week. The majority of Fabulous Freddy's employment comes from part-time, low-skill workers who use the job to supplement financially lean student life.
"This is the perfect job for a college town," said Brett Warnick, the general manager for one of the two St. George Fabulous Freddy's locations. "High school kids and college kids get on here and they don't want leave because it's the best school job. We treat our workers really well. They get to spend their five-hour sift outside in sunny St. George weather. It's usually really hard to get a job here just because nobody ever leaves."
The car detailing employees, the largest percentage at Freddy's, make minimum wage plus a tips, bonuses and incentive programs. Full-time employees receive insurance packages and assorted benefit plans.
The Fabulous Freddie's chain has five Nevada locations and two in St. George, Utah. The planned Sandy location will be on 9400 S. and 1100 East.
By the numbers
110-150 new jobs
2,000-4,000 cars per day
3,500-4,000 hours of labor per week
$9.99-$15.99 price range of exterior-only carwash
$18.99-$29.99 price range of interior and exterior car cleaning
$37.99 starting cost of an oil change
9400 S. 1100 East address of new Sandy location