Even as demand is meeting volume at your carwash, it’s never a bad time to find cost-saving strategies. Being efficient throughout the wash process is simply good business. Applying carwash chemical products during a carwash has changed for the better in recent years.
Here are five cost-cutting opportunities and reminders that operators can use today when it comes to efficient, cost-effective chemical usage.
Although it varies by format, there are certain pieces of carwash equipment and components that operators can change when applying water or chemicals to cars. In tunnel carwashes, says Matt Nall, director of key accounts, East Coast, for National Carwash Solutions (www.nationalcarwashsolutions.com), there is a lot more flexibility to make adjustments with effectiveness and cost-savings in mind.
“From nozzle sizes to the injector-based systems on the market, you can restrict water flow, which allows you to also change chemical usage drastically,” notes Nall, adding that different applicators can also reduce usage as well. “Some of the advanced foamers on the market allow operators to bring down [chemical] usage as well.”
Water quality can also be a deciding factor when it comes to smart chemical usage. As noted in previous articles featured in Professional Carwashing & Detailing, using fresh water, as opposed to reclaimed water, during chemical applications is a recommended strategy. Hard water can also affect the amount of chemical that is needed during the wash process. As a result, operators should get their water tested frequently, regardless of its source, if they are serious about saving money through chemical usage.
In addition to water quality, adds Nall, you will also want to keep an eye on quantity. “One of the key mistakes some operators make is not understanding the amount of water that is being used in their wash process.”
According to Nall, the more water a carwash uses to maintain chemical concentrations, the more chemicals it is going to use. “So, controlling water usage through nozzle sizes, etc., can really make a difference.”
Another area of concentration when looking to optimize chemical usage is in the backroom storage and delivery areas, which some older carwashes may overlook but over time can become sources of waste and misuse. In addition to being mindful of inventory levels and being organized, making sure lines and other delivery components are clear and free from buildup helps increase flow, leading to efficient water and chemical usage.
“Monitoring your backroom on an ongoing basis will also help identify issues, like a leak or a malfunctioning piece of dilution equipment,” asserts Nall. “In addition, for drum customers, we see wasteful chemical practices when operators don’t fully empty the drums. If you don’t empty the drums, you’re just throwing money away.”
Drums and other chemical containers, as well as dilution equipment and lines, should be organized and maintain safe distances from extreme temperatures and stored away from tools, equipment and supplies that might puncture the container or packaging. In addition to promoting effective chemistry, these practices also enhance the level of safety at your carwash.
Investing in higher quality chemical products is also a way to ensure cost savings. In many cases, highly concentrated formulations help manufacturers reduce shipping costs, and those savings can usually be passed down the line to you.
However, warns Nall, when using highly concentrated chemicals at your carwash, understand that wasteful usage will have a greater and more expensive impact. “Still, when used and managed properly, hyper-concentrated products can help operators drive down costs.”
Furthermore, the chemistry in products has improved, meaning operators today are getting more out of their chemical products than in previous years. “What we have seen in the industry is much more complexity in formulations. Over the past decade or so, we have seen these products evolve, and there is a lot more science that goes into how these products interact with each other, improving effectiveness and results,” educates Nall.
The professional carwash industry has many resources for your carwash to consider when looking to expand your awareness about chemical usage and savings. Often, that education can be achieved by speaking with like-minded operators of similar carwashes. Nall recommends finding an operator who you believe is “doing it right” to learn from.
Fortunately, our industry is filled with operators and experts who are willing to share their best practices to help you succeed. The majority of people in the professional carwash industry believe we are all in this together for the betterment of our industry’s future and to elevate its status in the communities it serves.
Visit social media websites, connect at shows and industry events, get active on industry forums and, most of all, when you find a reputable resource, be ready with good questions. In addition, some manufacturers offer training courses and programs to help elevate your chemical usage awareness.
Still, warns Nall, “If you ask 10 different carwash professionals their opinion on chemistry, you’ll likely get 13 responses back.” Therefore, once you enhance your understanding of chemical products and applications, you will probably fine-tune others’ strategies to meet your site’s needs since each carwash is unique.
As a bonus tip, don’t settle for the status quo. The industry is evolving, and with that evolution, new and better products are frequently being introduced that can help save you money in many areas of the business. As mentioned, nozzles, injector-based systems and foamer applicators are some examples of newer products that can increase customer satisfaction and reduce chemical and water usage. Investments in new products are an investment in your business’ future.