Xavier Magazine

Cleaning Cars with a Smile

All of Mike, Bill and Jerry Dahm’s employees at all of their 37 business locations wear ties. Not so strange, maybe, except when you consider that the Dahms operate car washes.

“It sets us apart,” says Mike Dahm, co-owner of Mike’s Express Carwash. “It separates us from the typical gas station car wash. Hey, we happen to be washing cars, but we’re in the people business. We kill our customers with kindness.”

The tie-clad company is all in the family—and all in the Xavier family. Mike is a 1987 graduate, his brother and co-owner Bill is a 1973 grad and, for good measure, cousin and third co-owner Jerry is a 1975 graduate. In 1993 they bought out the 1948 founders, Mike’s and Bill’s father, Joe Dahm, and his brother, Ed Dahm.

The family’s 37 locations in Ohio and Indiana have been so successful that there are plans to expand into Kentucky and Illinois and double the number of sites within 10 years.

“We don’t franchise,” says Dahm. “We’re a privately held business. We own all our real estate and finding the right locations is a major factor in our success. Another key factor is the way we select and train our associates—and they are associates, not employees. We’re very selective in picking associates because they will be dealing with customers. All new associates must have at least 14 hours of training before they get involved with a customer.”

By design, expansion plans excite associates.

“We are staffing so we can grow. And an important part of growth is having associates in the wings,” says Dahm. “We have four or five managers per location. That way, when we open a new location, we have experienced people ready to take care of customers. Our growth has created excitement in the firm because our associates can see more opportunities as we grow.”

In order for new locations to be as successful as current locations, the emphasis at new sites remains focused on hiring people-oriented associates, training them extensively and following the firm’s slogan: “Service with a smile. And a tie.”

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