How I Started A $50M/Year Mobile Car-Care Service

Published: October 6th, 2022
Scot Wingo
Founder, GetSpiffy, Inc.
GetSpiffy, Inc.
from Durham, NC, USA
started January 2014
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
270 days
growth channels
Referral Program
best tools
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
40 Pros & Cons
2 Tips
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, I’m Scot Wingo, CEO, and co-founder of Spiffy. I’m a 4-time entrepreneur from the Research Triangle Park area of NC and I am building Spiffy - a mobile, digital/app-based car-care company.

We come to your house or work and wash, detail, deodorize, disinfect, change your oil, fix your brakes sell and install tires, and much much more. Never waste another hour of your time in a grungy lobby with bad coffee waiting on your car to be ready.

To give you an idea of our scale, Spiffy is in 27 markets, with over 500 technicians and 250 vans. We’re currently servicing over 3,000 vehicles a day and this year will cross 2M services delivered since our inception.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

My third company, ChannelAdvisor was started in 2001 and I took it public in 2013. ChannelAdvisor is a SaaS B2B platform that enables brands and retailers to sell on online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and 100s more.

Coming from the e-commerce industry, I had my first Uber experience in 2014 and decided to start Spiffy because of four mega trends:

  1. Services are going digital - Since Amazon’s start in 1997, we’ve seen ‘products go digital’ in the form of e-commerce. My aha moment was after that first Uber experience, where it was obvious to me that now we were going to see ‘Services’ go digital. If you look at GDP, consumer services are 2X consumer goods because of the foundation laid by e-commerce.
  2. Convenience rules - We’ve learned from e-commerce that the convenience-oriented consumer represents 50% of the US population and 70% of the wallet. They will change behaviors and form brand allegiances based on convenience.
  3. Existing car-care experiences are bad - When researching Spiffy, I discovered the car-care industry has very low NPS (Net Promoter Scores). This creates an opportunity for Spiffy to marry an exceptional service, build a brand, and put it all on top of a solid technological foundation.
  4. Vehicle 2.0 - In addition to ‘going digital’ the automotive world is going through a second massive upheaval I call Vehicle 2.0. Cars are going to change more in the next 20 yrs than they have in the last 120. Electrification, changing ownership models, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles are all coming. These changes will multiply and create even more opportunities to innovate.

While we’ve always had a goal to do ‘all’ car services, we started with wash/detail because it is familiar, easiest to start, and also something that wasn’t a huge stretch for consumers to trust/try.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

In 2014, after founding Spiffy, we worked to put a simple app out that was our MVP to offer car wash/detail services. While we’ve always had a goal to do ‘all’ car services, we started with wash/detail because it is familiar, easiest to start, and also something that wasn’t a huge stretch for consumers to trust/try. From that point forward we’ve learned so much, it’s hard to capture it all.

Here are a couple of stories.

First, at a physical car wash, consumers come mostly on weekends. In our app we quickly realized when you move the power of choice (the wash comes to you), consumers prefer at-work services on Thursday (this was before the pandemic).

Another early learning was that office parks do not allow traditional detailers on-site because of the lack of insurance, background checks, and environmental issues. The insurance and background check objections were easy to overcome. Environmental took a bit of innovation. What we do is wash every car on a mat with a lip that acts like a bathtub for the vehicle - it catches all the runoff. Then we vacuum the runoff out of the matt, and back into the van into a dirty-water vessel.

At the end of the day, we reclaim all the water from that day’s services. Eliminating this objection made it possible for us to wash anywhere - office parks, garages, rental car lots, etc.


Describe the process of launching the business.

Launching Spiffy we had to tackle three starter problems:

Service - At the end of the day we are washing/detailing cars from a van - we had to get vans, equip them and staff them. We started with 2 vans and three technicians. Because we had a car wash, we were able to start initially out of our physical car wash and leverage the staff there.

Technology - The v1 of Spiffy was an experiment, but we knew the MVP was an app experience. We hired a local contractor with app experience to build the simplest version of the app possible. The app collected vehicle information, location, and service and then sent an email that we printed out, and then our ‘back end’ was a paper process involving a lot of tape, note cards, and sticky notes

Customers - Our first customers were friends and family and then we started running Google and Facebook ads. Once we had our trucks driving around, we pulled back on digital ads because word-of-mouth and ‘saw a van’ took off for us in our original market.

We self-funded the business for the first 18 months and then after the seed/MVP phase, we started looking for venture funding once we understood the unit economics of the business.


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

To this day, 8 years later, we spend very little on customer acquisition. We focus on delivering a great service that has as little friction as possible. The result is we earn high NPS scores which generates positive word of mouth - much more powerful than paid media.

That being said, we’ve also developed a comprehensive content strategy for our various constituents: consumers, fleet operators, franchise owners, and office park managers.

We put a lot of content out for these audiences that are unique and add value, this inbound-marketing strategy pays dividends in SEO and other unpaid marketing.

Today we are 80% fleet/B2B and 20% consumer. Our different content lives in our blog and socials but is tagged and emailed to different audiences that subscribe to that ‘stream’ of content.

It’s very easy to lose track of the customer because there are so many other considerations in building a business. Your customers and the customer experience have to be your north star to create the longest-lasting, healthiest company possible.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We think in terms of three growth vectors:

  1. Geographies - our goal is to be in 40 markets. We’re currently in 27 owned-and-operated and 10 franchise geographies. A market for us is defined by the US census data. In the data, they have cities and metro-statistical areas, or MSAs - for this they draw a larger circle around a population area to see how many people are in that metro area - that’s a market for us.
  2. Services - We’ve expanded into wash/detail, oil change, tires, and brakes with more to come.
  3. Lines of business - we have consumer/residential, consumer/office-park, 6 types of fleet customers, and more on the way.

Putting all of that together we’re at a $50m run rate and have over 300 vans operated by 550 technicians across our 27 markets.


Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

This is a fast-moving space and we have to be always vigilant about rapid changes in the space. Or the economy. For example, during COVID, we had to be super adaptive and resilient to survive and pivot to our portfolio of the business that was not impacted.

Post-COVID that resilience has enabled us to double down on innovation and we’ve created several new devices, software solutions, and more.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Because we are solving a problem that hasn’t been solved yet, we have developed our olatform. That being said, the tools we use outside the business core are Netsuite, Salesforce and we just replaced Kustomer with Chatwoot.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

My OG favorite biz book is Good to Great. A more current book is the Hard thing about Hard things. A newer addition to my list is The cold start problem.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

It’s very easy to lose track of the customer because there are so many other considerations in building a business. Your customers and the customer experience have to be your north star to create the longest-lasting, healthiest company possible.

We’re fortunate because 80%+ of our customers leave feedback. We’ve tried a ton of different feedback mechanisms, but the most popular with customers is the Uber-esque five-star plus verbatim system.

This works well because it gives us a numerical from the stars and customers that rate below 5 stars mostly tell us why verbatim.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We’re always looking for engineering and sales talent. We’re also looking for franchise owners that are entrepreneurs looking to open Spiffy in smaller markets.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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