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Case Studies

Case Study: Legends Express Car Wash

Marc Smookler

Legends Express Car Wash Solidifies Growth With Certainty And Streamlines The Selection Process Using IdealSpot

– History of Legends Express Car Wash, Growth Plans, Past Learnings
– Pain points when evaluating new locations and the historic process
– IdealSpot’s 1-stop solution provides the data for the Legends team to make well-informed decisions in an easy-to-consume format

The Express Wash Category and History of Legends Express

Legends Express Car Wash currently operates multiple locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas. They are now expanding in those markets plus Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Express wash is a highly competitive sub-category of car washes that offers a quick exterior wash with the user driving their vehicle through a wash tunnel. Express washes are often used between full-service washes (which include interior cleaning) for their ease and expediency. Visits to an express wash are often impromptu decisions on the way to a destination.

Tulsa OK traffic in August 2016.

Tulsa OK traffic in August 2016.

To be successful, a Legends Express Car Wash must be placed in a populated area with above average number of homes in a 5-10 minute drive-time radius. The location must have high traffic volume at a reasonable speed and dispersed throughout the day. Having reasonable speed is extremely important since vehicle volume alone may lead the team to a freeway with little ability to access the facility. Equally necessary is the traffic dispersal throughout the day since customers stop in for a quick wash at their convenience. While there are undoubtedly humps during morning and evening rush hours which increase demand (and subsequently, wait times) during those day-parts, having too much wait time adversely impacts usage as it negates the benefits of being an Express wash. Besides high quality of service the leading benefit which Legends offers is the quick and easy car wash which typically takes no more than 3 minutes.

While express car washes typically do not cannibalize self-service or truly full-service washes it is also important to map these alternatives as well as Feeder locations (such as a Costco or Wal-Mart), which act as destinations for drivers in which they can pass-by an express wash. Having line of sight on the way to one of these Feeder locations is imperative to an Express wash’s success. Similarly, plotting other Express wash locations is necessary since any given area can only support a finite number of locations.

An Arduous Process That Leaves Too Much Uncertainty

Like many sophisticated business operators, the Legends team has a methodical way to identify and vett a location. This includes:

1. Identifying a location or general area
2. Mapping the location, competitors, alternatives and Feeders
3. Retrieving traffic counts
4. Obtaining demographic data
5. Creating measurement rings (typically in 1/3/5 mile radius increments)
6. Plotting all of these data points on a map and shifting between individual sources
7. Sharing maps/data for group discussion amongst team members for alignment

The Legends team found it both time-consuming and laborious to source each of these data points individually and merge them into a single view to make a fair evaluation of a given location. For example, locations and competitors (often discovered by manually searching Yelp or Google Local) are plotted on Google Earth Pro, TxDOT (in aggregate and a few years old) or a traffic vendor such as Tetrad (which can often be expensive) supply vehicle traffic data, demographic data is acquired from the US Census or a 3rd party vendor such as at a cost of $60 per location. Sharing information and plotting points amongst the team is highly manual by either sifting through paperwork or each team member recreating their own model in Google Earth.

Beyond the arduous nature of this process, it takes tremendous time to retrieve this data from each unique source and it is nearly impossible to view them all together to gain a single perspective.

The historic process is time-intensive, expensive, onerous and un-scalable.

The Ideal Solution

The Legends team turned to IdealSpot for it’s ability to source each dataset efficiently and aggregate them into a single view for much easier decision making.

IdealSpot’s solution enables the team to plot locations then automatically pull in competitors, area demographics and updated vehicle traffic data. Additionally drive-time radius based on 3/5/10 minute drive-time radius is hugely powerful rather than simple distance rings.

Tulsa OK traffic comparison for 4 locations in August 2016.

Tulsa OK traffic comparison for 4 locations in August 2016.

IdealSpot’s vehicle traffic data broken down by day and hour has been hugely powerful as they can now choose locations that have a more equal spread of traffic throughout the day rather than spikes around rush hours. This ensures a more evenly distributed use of facilities while keeping wait times to a minimum as they focus to maintain the Express benefit of their facilities.

You can see from IdealSpot’s vehicle traffic comparison tool from one of Legends Express Car Wash original locations (in blue, far right) has a much smaller population in an immediate 5 minute drive time than the others but is well above average with total weekly vehicle volume. Compared directly to Paradise Bay, which has 105,172 population in a 5 minute radius, Legends has only 19,744 however weekly vehicle volume is 99,235 while Paradise Bay only has 80,021. That said, Paradise is a more even distribution across the day and week while Legends, similar to Clear Blue and P&P, has a significant peak during weekday evenings.

Deducing this data is extremely important as the Legends team negotiates the value they are willing to pay for the location as it specifically relates to their business need. Commercial real estate brokers may only expose total vehicle counts but if the volume, however appealing, is not the right type of traffic or comes at the wrong time, then this could be devastating to the business.

Justin Metcalf, owner and investor, says “Enabling our team to view all of these individual data layers overlaid on a single map is a game changer. We easily toggle on or off each of these filters to look at data individually or in aggregate. Also, if I drive around town and spot a new potential location when I get back to the office I now plot all the factors into the IdealSpot platform and simply share that map, with all the layers exactly intact, so colleagues can review without recreating. They’ve taken away the pain of sharing data and communication within our team. We didn’t even realize that was a problem we faced but now we can’t go back.”

Beyond this, the team often pulls in IdealSpot’s geo-located social interest demand data for their category based on social signals as sourced from major social networks.

Car wash demand in Tulsa OK in August 2016.

Car wash demand in Tulsa OK in August 2016.

In the image on the right, you see that 549 people that have signaled (over a recent 30 day period) their desire for a “Car Wash and Detail” in that highlighted area. The representative population signaling for car washes is shaded lighter or darker depending on the density of people in the selected area. Doing so normalizes for that category across smaller or larger geographic areas.

Legends Express Car Wash is aggressively expanding throughout Texas – adding locations in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas over the next 12 months. IdealSpot has been a pivotal partner as they identify and choose these locations. Having the data in one source and being able to share has greatly sped up their decision making processes – identifying or negating locations well before traveling for site visits and engaging in negotiations based on relevant data that directly correlates to their business.


Marc Smookler
Marc Smookler has founded 6 companies—2 of which have been acquired and 3 of which are market leaders in their respective spaces—the leading brick-and-mortar retail analytics company (, a leading online retailer (, and a cutting-edge marketing services platform ( Marc’s companies have generated over $300M in lifetime revenues and sold over 150,000 products worldwide.

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