Apple Growth Partners (AGP) had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion at this year’s Car Wash Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our conversation sparked a lot of great questions and discussions. Our team believes in the power of Healthy Growth® and one of the best ways we continue to demonstrate that is with our ability to partner with owners and leadership teams to tackle challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.
One way that we routinely advise our car wash clients to turbocharge growth is by establishing an advisory board. Advisory boards are the cultivation of subject matter experts providing a company’s leadership team with guidance on company vision, innovation, risk management, and profitability. In this case, a properly assembled car wash advisory board provides owners and the management team with advice, insights, experiences, and other business-related guidance to help them think differently about a situation. It should be noted that though they provide management with advice, they do not possess the authority to vote on corporate matters.
Before fully establishing an advisory board for your car wash, I encourage you to invest in a full-day workshop with your leadership team to think through the following key components.
Be clear about what you need and what you want to accomplish for your car wash
An advisory board is created to serve you and your car wash. Though we should heavily steer away from “yes man/woman,” candidates, the number one priority should be on a board that individually and collectively helps you move your organization forward and helps it to grow. To do this, we recommend getting clear on what exactly your organization needs from an experience like this. What are you hoping to accomplish? What skills and viewpoints are you missing today? The more vividly you can add to and answer these questions, the stronger your board will become.
Invest in a SWOT analysis of your current car wash management team
This external assessment should be embraced and viewed as a growth opportunity. No car wash business can have it all. What the advisory board allows you to do is close the gaps in expertise and skillsets that have eluded your car wash in the past. Look for critical areas of expertise and knowledge that your company could use help with such as marketing, engineering, finance, community engagement, research and development, or information technology. Again, think about your car wash 5-10 years from now—what skillsets do you need to have today to be ready for the future?
Be clear on expectations
Nothing is worse than vague guidelines or objectives, whether in our day-to-day work or how we operate our organizations. By setting clear, written goals and objectives for your board of advisors, you have created a blueprint for success. Board members must know why they have been asked to serve and what is expected of them. Some questions or prompts I would encourage your teams to brainstorm during your workshop:
- What are the fundamental areas we need advice and guidance on?
- What specifically do we need the board members to do for us?
- What specifically do we not want the board members focused on?
- What is our process for finding and securing potential candidates?
- How do we avoid giving away too much control to outsiders?
- What will be the powers and limitations of the board?
- What will setting up the board cost initially? Annually? Will the value generated exceed the cost?
- How will we measure the board’s success and effectiveness to our organization?
Determine the size and structure of your board
Advisory boards range in size from two members to over 30. The right size depends on many factors, such as your company’s size, complexity, stage of development, and individual skills needed. Many of the clients we work with have boards ranging from 3-8 members, which allows multiple voices to be heard, but streamlined enough that action can still be taken.
Assemble a board that is well-versed and educated on industry trends and issues
The car wash industry has seen so many changes in the past several years that it is critically important for your board to bring expertise and nimbleness to opportunities and challenges facing your business. Assembling a board that can provide insights will be instrumental in your car wash’s future growth. When considering candidates, be sure that they bring knowledge of and experience with modern industry matters such as water conservation, technology advancements, workforce matters, governmental advocacy, customer experience, and so much more. If you can assemble a board positioned for tomorrow’s car wash needs, you will place your car wash in a league of its own.
Unlike public companies that are required to have a board, privately held companies tend not to have a board and even fewer have assembled an advisory board. What does this mean for you? Developing a board of advisors can give your company a distinct competitive advantage over your competition.
Our team lives by the mantra of Healthy Growth.® The concept of an advisory board is near the pinnacle of action items you can take to grow your car wash to the next level. We wish you success in assembling an all-star advisory board that will help write your car wash’s next chapter and we are poised to help you begin this process, should you need additional support.
For more information on other ways you can set up your car wash business for growth, please contact Brandon Fredericks at firstname.lastname@example.org.