A prospering legacy
Jeffrey W. Fields
President - Cheetah Clean Auto Wash- 6 location Express Car Wash Brand based out of South Central Kentucky spanning to Western and Northern KY. The Cheetah Clean brand is a car wash capable of cleaning the vehicle’s exterior with such quality that its efficiency is synonymous with an interior detail. Essentially, it is a tried-and-true process that cleans the exterior of a car as well as one would after hours of doing it themselves. We focus on removing bugs with our patent-pending Beast Brush prep brush that we have developed and are in the process of trademarking our five-step cleaning/prepping process.
We have trained/commissioned associates positioned at our auto-cashier to evaluate the car’s condition and communicate the needs to the customers. We also focus on selling our recurring membership programs. We score WELL above industry standards as far as membership ticket averages (over $30 per member per month) and percentages of membership (over 80% of our business is membership traffic compared to total volume.) We believe that this is due to our wash and service quality.
Jeff Fields is an experienced, operations-focused President with a demonstrated history of working in the automotive industry. He is proficient in negotiation, business planning, operations management, coaching, and retail. But before he acquired a tactical arsenal that propelled his success, he had humble beginnings. He was merely a youth with a dream, a drive, and an unstoppable passion.
Jeff was born and raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city in southern Kentucky with a modest population. Growing up, he was surrounded by the stories of his family’s ingenuity and entrepreneurship, beginning with his father, Geoff Fields, his grandfather, Glenn Fields, and dating back to the early 1940’s with his great grandfather, Gillan Fields.
Gillan opened Fields’ Cleaners, a local dry cleaning business. Gillan’s son and Jeff’s grandfather, Glenn, opened Bowling Green’s first automatic conveyor car wash Gas and Wash on Broadway about 20 years later. And in 1988, Jeff’s father opened up his traditional full service tunnel car wash, Tender Touch Auto Care, where Jeff worked after school and on the weekends.
The legacy continued.
Being raised by a family with a clear, evident knack for enterprise, one could say Jeff’s captivation for business was inevitable. However, even though Jeff was surrounded by opportunity, he experienced tough love and the school of hard knocks. Success was not a tangible object that would simply be handed to him. And thus, the work began for him just like it did for his father. The Fields’ family legacy has consisted of four, single entrepreneurs and none of them have passed their businesses on by succession.
Closely associated with his relentless drive is an unquenching thirst for knowledge. After graduating high school in 1996, he made the short trip down the road in Bowling Green to Western Kentucky University. It was on WKU’s campus that he began to hone his skill set and study the necessary principles of starting and managing his own business. He was an active member of Sigma Chi Fraternity and did much charity work for the fraternity. After WKU, he went on to College of Charleston to study Business Calculus and Philosophy.
After college and some bumps in the road, Jeff looked westward and decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona,. He worked for his family in the windshield repair and automotive reconditioning business. Then he took positions in the 5 Diamond AAA-rated hospitality industry at the Ritz Carlton, The Arizona BiItmore, and Marriott Camelback Inn. This is where he polished his 1st class service experience and thorough knowledge and understanding of the true meaning of ‘putting the guest first.’
Once on a phone call while in Arizona, his father proposed that Jeffrey return to Bowling Green and help his father with the automotive service business. He put his skills to the test and became a manager of the Tender Touch Auto Wash on the 31W Bypass, a newly-built traditional full service car washing facility, on the site of the Fields’ owned Red Carpet Car Wash. After studying industry trends, Jeff and his father converted the site to Bowling Green’s first high tech express exterior car wash in Bowling Green with free centralized vacuums.
After the conversion, Jeff moved on to the franchise’s second location on Scottsville Rd., in Bowling Green. After maximum effort and unparalleled diligence, the traditional full-service car wash began to gross over $1.4M per year. At the same location, Jeff also created a detail shop that proved profitable, grossing over $30k a month.
From ‘03-’05, he rose in the ranks, from store manager to self-titled Director of Ops. His new position, of course, came with new responsibilities. He was now overseeing three different business locations including Mobil One Express Lube. After mastering operations of all four different entities, he started a car wash marketing and video company for Tender Touch’s business and more. Eventually, Geoff and Mary Alice sold the enterprise to Regal Auto Wash in 2005.
After his family sold to Regal Auto Wash, Jeffrey scraped up $15,000 and put a contract on a 5.43 acres, $1.2M lot off of Campbell Lane. On the corner of Westen Drive, where Family Video and Home Instead sit today. Then, the stars aligned for him as prior to the contract expiring he was able to convince a partner to help him take down the property to build the first Cheetah Clean Auto Wash. Due to reasons that we will potentially disclose at a later time, he was motivated to move his efforts to Owensboro, KY to build his first wash. It was an exciting time.
In 2007, his dream became reality. Jeff and his business partner built the first Cheetah Clean in Owensboro, where over 12,000 cars were washed in one month. A few years later, he was able to franchise the successful Cheetah Clean brand in Bowling Green, where his family’s car wash history first began.
Just shy of a year later, Jeff would be thrown a nasty curve-ball when his partner disagreed with the progressive effort to expand, despite Owensboro’s success. The disagreement would lead to his partner’s split.
It was a minor setback, but it wasn’t long before his father had another opportunity for him. This time in Music City, Nashville, Tennessee.
Jeff had the opportunity to take a wash in the heart of the southern city from the brink of bankruptcy to washing over 7,000 cars a month in less than nine months. The wash had been sold a ton of new equipment, but the heart and soul (the POS and CONVEYOR) of the car wash had been overlooked. Jeffrey then called his father to come and assist in repairing the conveyor since the operation couldn’t yet afford a new one. The POS upgrade came later.
Jeffrey recalls, “The engineers couldn’t figure it out, so I called my dad again to come assist. We cut out cardboard replicas of the autocashier islands and hammered them to the ground then drove through them to make sure we had them correctly placed for maximum throughput. We solve people’s problems when no one else can.”
After all systems were upgraded and the wash started performing even better, eventually Jeffrey agreed to a buyout of his share of the Owensboro wash after a hard-fought legal battle. The outcome gave him the means to make a down payment on his own wash, one of which Regal had purchased from his father and step-mother just eight years prior.
His previous Nashville partner claimed he’d never make it as he was under-capitalized -- a phrase that Jeffrey fully understands today. Jeffrey went at it alone in this venture, an expedition he had never done before. Now, all of the sudden, he really was alone at the top. This didn’t deter him though as he built the business out of sheer will and commitment to his customers loyalty.
Thus, the legacy went full circle.
His first solely owned store was the same 941 31W Bypass location that he started managing after his time out West.
From dogged beginnings to launching his very own fully-operational auto wash, Jeff takes pride in his success. But, as one could have gathered, his ambition didn’t stop there.
In addition to establishing six successful Cheetah Clean Auto Wash locations, Jeff and his team have also launched Car Wash Commando, a ground-breaking, industry-shifting, operator-focused company for other car wash operators in the nation. The business specializes in assisting the operator, observing its bottom line, and growing the top-line revenue. Additionally, it supplies car washes with chemicals, equipment, and consulting on how to become more operationally efficient. The morale and overall atmosphere of Car Wash Commandos has been constructed in such a free-spirited, abundantly raw way that the idea of a unique reality tv series has been commissioned and piloted.
After nearly two decades in the industry, Jeff has paved the way to create a business based on legacy. His plans for the future are ambitious yet in reach, and the dream of franchising across the country propels him even further, both in design and accomplishment. Ask him about the roots of his success and he will tell you it’s his commitment and unique perspective to the industry, all relative to the operations of his locale. It’s acquiring as much knowledge as possible about where you are, who you are with, and the outcome you’d like to achieve. In essence, from a young age, he always had success in his sights -- his passion just put him there.
“I do all this for my family and my community,” Jeff said. “I have deep faith in the school of thought that hard work for others gets you where you want to be. No matter if it’s the customers or our associates, we have built a place for the average car wash employee to take pride in. We donate hard earned dollars to the community. My family has been serving Warren County and other surrounding counties for over 73 years, and I don’t plan on going anywhere. These are my roots, I love Bowling Green and Warren County. I look forward to creating a legacy business that outlives me. If my daughter wants to be a part of it, great. I’m looking for people to work side by side with me or her and who can turn this into a brand. I’ll continue to work hard for my client base and our community and I’ll let the history speak for itself.”
The legacy lives on.