Since its inception more than 30 years ago, Express Oil Change & Service Center has treated cars to comprehensive yet convenient oil changes performed in 10 minutes. That tradition is continued today, in 170 shops sprinkled across 10 southern states, each staffed by a fleet of ASE-certified technicians who also submit autos to a range of maintenance and repair services, backed by warranties and environmentally conscious practices.
During the 10-minute full-service oil change, technicians don't just drain and recycle dirty fluids: they also put cars through the wringer by inspecting belts, hoses, and suspension systems, checking air filters, and sleuthing around the undercarriage for looming problems or secret piercings––all while customers wait comfortably in their car. In the service center, they call upon top equipment to rotate and balance tires, inspect brakes, and repair or replace parts, and use level 1 and level 2 computer diagnostics to correctly diagnose all manner of mechanical ailments.
There's a reason why owner Bill Lawrence decided to set Bubbles Hand Car Wash apart with upscale services and a pleasant ambiance. As Lawrence relayed to Allison Wollam of the Houston Business Journal, he was charmed by a clean, welcoming car wash he visited shortly after moving to Texas from New York, where car washes typically charged a convenience fee to any customer who smiled. Lawrence knew he could cater better to luxury car owners like himself with a conveyerized hand-wash system that combined the convenience of the tunnel model with the hands-on meticulousness of a traditional hand wash. His idea has caught on with some very high-profile customers. Houston Texans linebacker Mister Alexander trusts his ride to the skilled hands of Bubbles’ technicians, as do Houston Rockets players Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith, not to mention former president George Bush.
Even patrons without a Porsche or a professional sports career appreciate Bubbles' gentle lamb's wool mitt washes and eco-friendly soaps, sealers, waxes, and conditioners, as proven by the business’s 2010 and 2012 Houston A-List awards for Best Car Wash. Customers seem to be as taken with the company’s facilities as they are with its services; each lobby invites relaxation with free WiFi, a bemusing gift shop, and shoe shines so effective that patrons need only stand beside their vehicle to check its undercarriage. The community-conscious car washes also use less than a quarter of the water typically expended during a home wash, and the locations offer free car washes for military personnel on Veterans Day.
The crew at Soap Hand Car Wash employs deep-nap mitts and a three-bucket technique that uses less than 10 gallons of water per wash. From Bucket 1 they pull amber-colored lamb's wool mitts and scrub wheels, tires, bumpers, undersides, and other gritty areas. Then they strap on white synthetic-wool mitts from Bucket 2 to clean the paint. Bucket 3 holds clean water, which the detailers use to rinse out the white mitts before dunking them in fresh soap and cleaning the paint a second time. Their special yellow sponges (made by Pinnacle) remove bugs without messing up the finish, and their terry towels (white for windows and painted surfaces; blue for everything else) leave all cars—including Maseratis, BMWs, Bentleys, and antique Mercedes-Benzes—dry and swirl-free.
Soap’s detailers build wonders on that three-bucket foundation. Dressings spiff up leather, tires, and wheels. Shampoo cleanses carpets. Orbital buffers add shine, and vacuums scoop up interior crumbs before they rot and conspire to poison the Garfield window cling. Wax upgrades are available, including handcrafted premium carnauba Lusso Oro wax and Pinnacle Souverän show-car wax.
While they wait, drivers can sip complimentary coffee or access free WiFi in the waiting room, which is equipped with flat-screen TVs. A kids' area entertains youngsters as they dream up ways to retain the lot price of their Matchbox cars.:m]]
Husband-and-wife team David and Denise Skorka opened The Auto Doc more than 15 years ago with the goal of providing maintenance and repair services in a family-friendly atmosphere that values respect and integrity. The staff of the Houston Chronicle agrees: they named it the area's ultimate repair shop in 2003, and added that David "takes the time to explain the problems with your ride" and "will candidly tell you when something can be ignored—at least for a while."
The vintage-style gas-station signs on the building's exterior speak to the Skorkas’ old-fashioned, customer-first philosophy. They offer patrons free shuttle services and a convenient night drop-off option for people who are unavailable during business hours, or cars who are finally ready for their first slumber party. Denise and her daughter Katie also run a quaint coffee shop and boutique next door called Bungalow, where, according to The Loop Scoop, car owners can nosh on pastries and locally roasted java. Though the ambience and company mission harken back to an earlier time, the repair shop's technology is decidedly modern: ASE-certified technicians use the latest diagnostic equipment and top-of-the-line parts to keep vehicles in prime condition.
Ben Chen has experienced his share of success in his nearly 30-year photography career?his work has been published in such publications as Cosmopolitan, The Los Angeles Times, and ESPN Magazine, and he has lent his expertise to some of the nation's largest corporations, including Procter & Gamble and The American Red Cross. In 2006, the photographer began to notice that more and more novices were purchasing complex DSLR cameras, and that gave him an idea. Chen decided to share his wealth of knowledge with aspiring photographers by creating the 4-Hour Newbie Photography Boot Camp, which teaches students how to shoot manually with their DSLRs and create artistic, professional-quality photos. Since then, more than 5,000 students in 20 cities throughout the country have benefited from these classes. In 2013, he acquiesced to student demand and created Part II of the class, which goes beyond photography basics by diving into post-production techniques. Nowadays, students can take both Part I and Part II in the same day, helping them go from student to master in less time than most action-movie montages.
The highly trained technicians at Jiffy Lube tend to about 24 million customers each year with services such as the Jiffy Lube Signature Service Oil-Change, which helps promote the longevity of each vehicle. Staffers acknowledge that oil plays a crucial role in maximizing the lifespan of each car—it cools the motor and helps prevent moving parts from deteriorating. More than 20,000 technicians who have completed an extensive training program certified by the National Institute Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) service vehicles at Jiffy Lube.
In addition to performing oil changes, technicians perform preventative services such as air-filtration, among others, as well as state emissions inspections. Jiffy Lube’s quality pledge includes a commitment to transparency, which stipulates that they will inform car owners of any necessary services, complete a service only after it has been approved, and refuse to replace windshields with saran wrap.