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Friendly KIA expands with ‘car spa’ car wash facility

Published:   |   Updated: August 26, 2014 at 02:49 PM

Expansion at the Friendly KIA dealership has created a “car spa,” owner John Gillis explains.

The dealer took over the former Brew City restaurant building next door to the KIA showroom at 5819 U.S. 19. A car wash now anchors the renovated annex, but Gillis wanted to add many creature comforts where people can relax inside while waiting for their cars to get a spot-free bath at the Mister Friendly Auto Spa.

To celebrate the changes, Friendly KIA plans a grand opening and anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 30.

The festivities include giving away a three-year lease on a KIA Soul, cash prizes and many door prizes. The West Pasco Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ribbon-cutting for the expanded dealership.

It’s hard to believe, Gillis said, that Friendly KIA began 16 years ago. KIA Motors America has expanded its lineup of vehicles considerably over the years to fill about every niche a car buyer could seek and brand has collected numerous awards.

The new facility has the car wash at one end of the building. An attendant will punch in a code for any discounts or free washes. People can choose a lifetime car wash membership card.

After the first wash a car goes through the spot-free rinse with recycled water.

“This is like a hurricane,” Gillis shouted over several blow dryers of 50 hp each to dry the vehicle during a test run.

“You’re in and out in four minutes,” the typical time for a car wash, Gillis said.

Since the building still had plenty of room, the car owner can relax in the waiting room.

“There’s really nothing else like it that I’ve seen,” Gillis said about the facility. “We call it a spa. They’ll come in, get a cup of coffee, sit down here and read a magazine, listen to the music” and wait the few minutes for the car wash.

KIA models will be on display in the waiting room for people to browse on their own. No sales people will be pitching the cars, however. Accessories, such as wheels, also will be on display. Interactive kiosks can help fill in some details.

“It’s a very soft, soft sell where you can see it, hop in and look at them,” Gillis explained. People can choose to get more information next door at the showroom.

“Customer loyalty is pretty important in our business,” Gillis said. The car spa is one way to familiarize them with KIA models in a no-hassle setting.

“The more people who see our product, and are familiar with us, the more cars we’re going to sell,” Gillis said.

Gillis is inviting many nonprofit organizations to hold car-wash fundraisers at the Friendly KIA car spa High school bands, football teams and scouting groups could benefit while the dealership gains more exposure.

And Gillis is always ready to brag on his prized pooches, two West Highland white terriers, or Westy, who are the dealership’s mascots. While

For details about the Aug. 30 event and entering the car lease giveaway, go online to or call Friendly KIA toll free at (888) 234-5KIA.