Whether you own a full serve, flex serve, self-serve or IBA there is no better time than now to upgrade your wash. It has been a good indicator that our economy has been on a steady rise since 2011 and consumers are purchasing in full force. One of the biggest items consumers are purchasing are new vehicles, whether trading up or moving to something new, this has been just one factor for growth in the car wash industry. If you are living in the Stone Age, you probably aren’t reading this, and you probably don’t know what advancements have come into the industry in the last few years. Let’s take a look at why and what you should be upgrading.
Some of my favorite items include the Extrutec Plastic sidings, use of LED’s, and new menu offerings. I dislike nothing more than to walk into a car wash covered in panel FRP that has yellowed and is falling apart. Some people forget that we in the car wash industry, are in the service of cleaning and there is nothing less appealing that having a dirty, dingy car wash. Extrutec siding is bright, easy to clean and makes your walls look like new again. Pair this with some above head LED lighting and new parking lot fixtures, not only will you be saving money on electricity by reducing your energy consumption, your lot will shine from miles away. Menus are no different. Forever, menus have been so complicated with lots of words and confusing phrases. Lets face it, we don’t have time to read all that mumbo jumbo. In fact, chances are the consumer has no idea what a conditioner or clear coat sealer is. They are just adjectives, “right?” Right now is the time to upgrade your menu, and thanks to companies like Mr Foamer and TSS taking marketing and lighting to the next level, in order to give the consumer the “eye candy” that draws them to your lot.
Now, when it comes to equipment choices, the best advancements have been in the In-Bay Automatic and Express tunnel segment. When it comes to in bay automatics, If your hanging on to an old southern pride, Futura, laser 4000, or anything older, it’s time to put her down and come join the 2000’s. Though all of these machines have been proven to be work horses, they are slow, lack technology and are costing you thousands in unproduced potential.
PDQ redid their latest 360 with a 360 plus and let me tell you, this machine is amazing. The customization of the packages and ability to increase time of service, makes this machine an industry leader. I have set up these machines that are regularly charging $15 on the top wash, with all extra services in around 4 minutes per wash and let me tell you, there is no sacrifice in quality. In fact, not only are customers satisfied, they are still purchasing that $15 wash 25-40% of the time. With this machine, not only are you going to wash more cars, but there are many options for package price increasing that are very efficient and fast, such as super sealant and over glo. Increasing your wash throughput by up to 50% and increasing your package pricing by up to 50% seems like a no brainer to me. You can have your cake and eat it too.
Now to the express tunnel, I have to tip my hat to Sonnys and Motor City for this idea and making it better. In an area in which you are able to cap on the volume, express tunnel sites and express tunnel reloads are the way to go. I have set these up in as short as 48’ running about 60+ cars per hour. The express tunnel does one other big factor for the flex or full serve, it reduces man hours, significantly. The express tunnel can be run by one guy, but is best with an overlap of 2 or maybe 3 depending on volume. The express tunnel puts out a nice vehicle in a very short period of time usually somewhere around 1:30 – 2:00 minutes per wash and is capable of washing upwards of 100k cars annually.
Look at the trends now and don’t fall prey to old thinking. Yes in a $15 wash, consumers want to have some type of value. But, let us not forget, time is value in today’s society. We are busier than ever and want to and are expected to do more than ever. The times are changing and changing fast, I believe that the best years of car washing are yet to come.