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]]
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.
The Peveto family's name became synonymous with stopping power when John Peveto II opened his first Brake Check shop in 1968. More than 40 years and 40 shops later, the family still helps cars stop (and go) with brake-pad inspections, wheel alignments, battery replacements, and oil changes. With convenience in mind, each shop opens its work bays seven days a week, offers online appointments, and backs up several of their services with lifetime warranties that are then backed up by other even more muscular warranties.:m]]
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 30?60 minutes
Besides making clients happy, what do you like most about your job?
We like working on vehicles with skill, ethical practices, and the best tools available.
What's one tip for first-time customers that will make them feel like regulars?
We have front office where they can sit, relax, watch TV, and have something to drink. We also have a glass window, so they can keep an eye on the cars.
When and how did you first develop a passion for your work?
I've always liked working on cars, ever since I was kid. So when I had the opportunity to open my own repair shop, I did.
Viv?: Auto Finishing & Detailing is the official detailing studio for the Lamborghini Club of Houston and the Lone Star Porsche Club of America. Which is to say that these guys have extensive experience with high-end, exotic vehicles. Owner and founder Anson Lau traveled across Asia to learn from the leading makers in the automotive world, and he brought his knowledge back with him to Houston.
Lau and his team have worked on cars that have gone on to win Concours d'Elegance competitions, but you don't need to be competing for "Best in Show" to reap the benefits of their meticulous detailing treatments. At Viv?, they specialize in everything from hand washes to CQuartz ceramic coating. No matter which models they're working on, they do everything in their power to scrub cars until their engines purr.