How Cleen Detailing is Disrupting Auto Detailing With Online Booking

Sawyer Wildgen, Cleen Detailing Founder

Every once in a while a company comes along and completely disrupts an industry.

Even though they are a very young company in every sense of the word, it would be difficult to overstate the growth trajectory and promise of Cleen Detailing.

They seem to have all the ingredients in place to completely change the game in auto detailing.

Existing Industry, New Ideas

Cleen is a mobile car detailing company. They come to your home or work to clean your vehicle. The founders, two university students from Ottawa, saw a gap in the detailing industry and took advantage.

“Most places don’t allow you to place online bookings. If you do manage to get an appointment, it takes hours. You either have to leave your vehicle and be shuttled home, or sip bad coffee for hours while your car gets cleaned,” says Sawyer Wildgen, Cleen Detailing’s Founder.

With just a small amount of water, they can steam clean your whole vehicle.

Flipping the Model

Cleen Detailing flips the model around. Book online in under a minute with flat, tiered pricing. At the time of your appointment, a student Detailing Expert shows up to clean your vehicle.

When they’re done, your car is left smelling brand new. Or more specifically, like their own branded essential-oil scent. They leave a postcard on your dashboard with a note from the student that cleaned your car. Your found items and loose change are saved in branded bags for you. In short, they’ve thought of everything.

It’s a vertical where most companies are haggling over the cost of pet hair removal and other add-ons to the car cleaning process. Cleen has arrived on the scene with an obsession for the customer experience and have already begun their nationwide expansion just three years after their start.

In fact, Cleen Detailing has such a vibrant and youthful energy that we are ecstatic to be their business software provider powering their booking, scheduling, and invoicing systems.

The Ottawa team is now over 25 strong.

Humble Beginnings

“I started the company three years ago to create a summer job for myself cleaning cars,” says Sawyer, who at 21 years old is a recent graduate of Queen’s University. “It began to grow pretty quickly. I hired my two best friends for the summer.” The business was almost immediately bigger than Sawyer, but his focus was on returning to school in the fall.

“I didn’t think too much of it,” says Sawyer. “We placed a high value on customer support, but I didn’t think it would be something I would be diving into for the long term.”

One Customer Changes Everything

But just before they packed it in for fall, a chance encounter changed the fate of the company forever.

“It was one of our last clients. She was raving about our company to us on the phone. Her husband picked up the phone and said ‘my wife never talks about companies like this.’ He ended up investing in us with a low-interest loan. He was just interested in our success. After that I thought, let’s just push it to see where it goes.”

Sawyer leaned heavily on his friend Daniel Porter, the Manager in Ottawa. “He holds down the fort day-in and day-out for our main location. He was thrown into it, alone, with not much managerial experience. Now he manages up to 25 employees every day. I don’t know how he did it. Without him, nothing would have been possible with the expansion. “

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From Summer Job to Franchise

We went from $40k to $180k in revenue year one to year two,” says Sawyer. “That put us on the map. I realized we can actually drive a decent amount of revenue with this thing. This has legs to scale to different cities.”

“We tested new markets, like Toronto. Then we started to dive down on our operations to see if it could work as a franchise.”

Expanding West, then South

“This summer has been about scaling operations,” says Sawyer. “A lot of our sales funnel is online, and we have students running their businesses in Toronto, Newmarket, Vancouver, and our original location in Ottawa.”

Next, they plan to add more Canadian locations, before heading South, solving an issue that the Ontario locations have to deal with: winter. “Moving south to the States would be ideal. It wouldn’t be seasonal anymore it would be year-round — that would be cool.”

For commercial clients, Cleen can go the extra mile and do many vehicles at once.

Centralized Online Booking

“I don’t think it could have been nearly as successful without the backend of Vonigo,” says Sawyer. “We can add a new location on our backend in two minutes with Vonigo. A lot of companies can’t say the same thing.”

“That was the biggest reason we turned to Vonigo. The idea of multi-location and the ability to change prices and tailor operations by location, that was an appeal to us.”

Understanding Their Numbers

Why do we at Vonigo think that Cleen will disrupt their industry? Because they know how to convert customers and they understand that data is the key to a company’s success. “80% 0f our clients are booking online,” says Sawyer. “We want to move into an entirely online funnel.” The reason? So they can more easily track their success and depend less on outbound sales.

“Our goal is to make it easy to buy, almost like from an e-commerce perspective. I feel like if you can make it that simple, there’s no reason you can’t go fully online. I definitely think that being super young, all these things come easily to me. Things like setting up Google Analytics, ‘Add to Cart’ tracking, and knowing who falls off. It just makes sense to do. “

As a business school grad, Sawyer is perfectly comfortably sharing their company metrics. “With online ads we pay around $20 per conversion and have a return on ad spend of 8X. I don’t think that would be possible without the frontend of the booking software.”

Creating Value for Franchisees

“I think when you’re selling a franchise, you’re really selling a set of systems to someone. By taking care of the advertising and inbound for franchisees while funneling clients through Vonigo, franchisees are able to dial in and focus more on outbound sales in their regions. Vonigo is the backbone of these systems, and enables us to create a massive value-add for our franchisees.”

While his friends and fellow students keep busy with the cleaning of cars, Sawyer is now plotting the future of the enterprise. “Now it’s all about refining our franchise systems and figuring out how we can carve out more IP (intellectual property) for Cleen within the industry.”

We have a feeling that whatever he decides, the future will be bright for Cleen Detailing.

Franchise Management Software for Service Businesses

Want to learn more about the software that Cleen Detailing uses to manage their four locations with centralized online booking? Book a free, private demo of Vonigo.