by Anita Miller
DRIPPING SPRINGS – “So should I take my mask off so folks can see I’m a smiling guy?”
Jared West, owner and proprietor of Dripping Wet’ Car Wash and detailing, is only kidding, as his mask shows a smiling face. Cradled in his arm is his business’ official mascot, 13-year-old Zero, a chihuahua whose graying muzzle shows her age.
West bought the business on busy Highway 290 two years ago and renamed the former Tiger Wash, as it had been called since 1998.
Since then, “a bunch of new things have been popping up all around us, though there’s always going to be a need for something like this. We say we’re not out to save the world but we’re going to make it look a lot prettier.”
He’s been getting the word out on social media, putting videos on Facebook “whenever we get an interesting car or one from another service. Being here on the highway affords us a lot of visibility.”
Recently his clients have included the Dripping Springs-based country band Midland, whose lead singer’s car is currently being detailed. “We like to promote other small businesses in the area,” he says.
When someone brings in a car they intend to sell, which is a “common reason they want it detailed,” he offers a prime parking spot close to the busy roadway.
“We let them park it there and it usually sells within a couple of days if it’s priced right.”
The highway also gives him a front row seat to the area’s growth, which, he says, is “incredible. A bunch of new things are opening up in this area.
West, who admits he’s always been a “big car fan,” added an automatic bay that is notable he says, because it is the “only one in 20 miles” that can accommodate dually pickups. “It is higher than most, and will get around the wide fenders in the back.”
The business has eight bays, all self-service except the one automatic.
The COVID-19 crisis affected business at the pandemic’s beginning, but West never had to furlough any of his employees. “The car wash has social distancing built in,” he notes. Once he started marketing that, things picked right back up.
And even during the pandemic, “A clean car is one of those little luxuries” that most people can afford.
He also makes seasonal adjustments. For the annual migration of butterflies that mess up grills and paint jobs, he “switches up the pre-soak” to include a bug spot remover. “Everyone gets a cleaner car.”
He has instituted a “weeping’ system during cold snaps so the water keeps flowing rather than freezing up.
And, he is open and all lit up 24 hours a day.
“That does a couple of things. It keeps honest people honest and it’s good for people who have commercial vehicles or dump trucks. They can come in when it is convenient for them.”
Zero, he says, is on the premises most days and is a real draw. “She loves everybody, and most people love her.”
There’s a story behind her name.
When he adopted her at just over a year old, he said he “wasn’t familiar with the type of food or quantity a small dog like this would require, so I looked it up online. The story I read said, ‘feed the dog base on its weight.’ “So I took her to my digital bathroom scale, set her down on it, and after a few seconds the LED readout flashed “ZERO. So that was all I needed.”