Efrain Corona – Quick Quack Car Wash
There was an element of surprise that made a world of difference for six-year-old Julissa and her family—something they never expected, living around the corner from the new neighborhood car wash.
Julissa had beaten the odds, having leukemia once, but was stricken again. With mounting medical bills, life was tough for her family. They never expected to receive a check for $4,600, courtesy of their friends and neighbors who pitched in to support a community fundraiser hosted by a Quick Quack Car Wash grand opening—but that’s exactly what happened.
As Efrain Corona, director of real estate development explains, community fundraisers are just part of Quick Quack’s business model as it expands its car washing operation across the Southwest.
“Our mission statement is that we change lives for the better—everything’s based around that,” says Corona.
What’s in a name?
Founded in 2004, the Roseville, California-based business now operates in 108 locations throughout California, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Colorado.
Originally known as “Splash & Dash” in the Sacramento market, the management team acquired a group of locations in Texas with the name Quick Quack. They fell in love with the moniker and the duck mascot, so when the stores were acquired, Quackals the mascot was born.
Now, Corona’s team keeps busy opening new locations. There are 10 projects under construction with hopes of building 30 locations this year. The running goal, Corona says, is to start four new projects per month. Reflecting on the last three years, Quick Quack has increased production consistently and, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, is on track to meet its 30-store goal in 2020.
Working with brokers and preferred developers in the land acquisition process, Corona says Quick Quack studies the demographics and looks for active daytime populations in busy, convenient commercial areas. Each site is reviewed with the executive team. Planners also work with law enforcement and community designers to address key concepts like lighting and public safety.
“We’re making our biggest impact in the Southwestern states, and it’s important that we cluster our operations near each other than build out from there,” he says. “We’ve been successful and have surpassed our models. The community loves the concept, along with the fact that we are a green, sustainable business.”
So how is a Quick Quack different from any other car wash?
“You’ll notice a difference from the moment you drive up to one of our locations,” Corona says. “Our vision is to be fast and clean and loved everywhere.”
At any given site, a customer is greeted at the exterior-only express car wash by a team member in a clean white shirt, a tie and black pants. Attitude is everything, he says, and team members who work there are picked for their positive, helpful demeanor and a sense of fun. The kiddos in the car, prior to COVID-19, were always offered stickers, rubber ducks or a little plush Quackals.
The experience in the “showroom”—as he calls it—is a quick three-minute trip. Each car is bathed with multi-colored soaps, bright lights and a clean citrus scent. When the car exits the showroom, clean and dry, customers are offered the option to have their vehicle vacuumed free of charge.
“Judging by our Yelp page and Google reactions, kids love going through the wash,” says Corona. “We work hard to make it a great experience … and I believe we’re the only car wash with a mascot.”
In California and the hot Southwestern states where water is at a premium, Quick Quack has made a major investment in environmentally friendly initiatives and has boosted water reclamation efforts, he says.
Its water-soluble soaps are biodegradable and each location has a water treatment plant onsite, capturing wash water in 4,500 gallon capacity reclaim tanks. There, the water settles and is further filtered and clarified. The clean water is pumped back into the building and is used to wash and rinse the next car. Newly acquired locations that don’t have such a system are eventually converted.
“The company uses fresh water at a lower rate, but has its main focus on reusing and reclaiming water,” says Corona.
Keeping the “fun” in fundraising
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Quick Quack’s business model is its fundraising initiatives, he says.
A grand opening is held at each location, including a fundraiser the day before, to help a local family or charity in need. Offering free car washes for the day, Quick Quack asks clients to donate to the cause. Whatever money is raised is then doubled by Quick Quack and is presented to the family at its grand opening the next day.
“We came together as a group and agreed that changing lives for the better was our goal; our whole culture is based on that mission,” says Corona. “Our objective is to work for the community first before we work for ourselves.”
It’s a philanthropic effort that’s catching on. When Corona started in 2015, the company had only 17 locations and now has 108 and is still growing.
“We ask the community what we can offer and the response has been overwhelming and sometimes emotional,” he says. “It goes back to our mission and the tone set by the CEO and his partners … who focus on kindness.”
Beyond Big Macs
To expand commercial operations, Corona learned from one of the biggest. With more than 20 years in regional development and construction for the McDonald’s Corporation, he got plenty of practice in land acquisition and retail construction and has the process down to a science.
“McDonald’s trained me and supported my growth with the company. That experience was beneficial and critical to my career development,” he says.
Along the way he crossed paths with Quick Quack CEO Jason Johnson and the two became friends. When Johnson asked him to join the organization in 2015, the choice Corona says, was easy.
“Quick Quack was making a push in development, which was a great opportunity for me to become a director of development for a company at the ground level and growing,” he recalls.
The move also appealed to him, he adds, given his lifelong passion for construction; something he learned early on from his father, a hard-working tradesman. As a young man his father taught him the drywall finishing trade. This gives him a welcome familiarity and comfort level when going to jobsites and connecting with subcontractors and contractors.
“I always loved the process of finding new locations. And when my kids were smaller, I loved going by something I built and sharing with them that I had helped create one,” he says.
That same feeling bubbles up when he travels around the country.
“There’s a level of satisfaction in knowing the culture we’ve created and how it impacts others in a positive manner,” Corona says. “I’m happy our work is making a difference.”
As easily as water rolling off a duck’s back.
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