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Business Operations

10 steps to winter success

October 11, 2010
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With the passing of the Autumnal Equinox on September 23, we face the inevitable: winter is coming. December 22 marks the first day of winter. Are you ready?

Among the questions running around in your head, the two most important may be:
  • What can I do to be prepared?
  • How can I increase sales through winterizing?
With pen and paper in hand, I traveled to the site of a successful self-serve operator, Tom Hoffman, Jr., one of the owners of the Hoffman Carwash chain.

Ten tips for success
Hoffman had a plethora of ideas to continue the successful operation of a self-serve carwash during the winter months.
  1. Test heaters. It’s important to test heaters in the equipment room and make sure there aren’t any cold spots where air may be leaking into the building. Any leaks will run up the bills and create an environment that may be detrimental to equipment.
  2. Test boilers. Test floor heat boilers and the zone circulators. Bay aprons are heated to prevent slippery ice-covered surfaces. Failure of these systems could wreak havoc on the bottom line should anything disastrous occur.
  3. Hang bay doors. At some Hoffman self-serve locations, Hoffman hangs doors on one side of the bay. On cold, windy days, the doors are closed to keep customers from turning into peoplecicles while using the carwash.
  4. Antifreeze is your friend. An antifreeze system is installed to accompany Hoffman’s triple foam, foam brush and wheel brush. Utilizing antifreeze in these locations helps prevent ice from forming in the lines between washes or wash cycles.
  5. Test the weep system. Testing the weep or drip system before the snow falls and temperature plummets will help avoid potential problems during the cold winter months. This system helps prevent the high pressure hose from freezing.
  6. Check weep mizer. Hoffman’s location features a weep mizer that reads the outside temperature to allow for a pulsating weep system, saving water and preventing the inevitable chaos that frozen systems would yield.
  7. Check nozzles. Checking nozzles in the bays ensures they are up to spec for the busy season approaching. Changing nozzles in the middle of winter isn’t the most pleasant experience — checking them now might just save your frostbitten fingers down the road.
  8. Check salt box. Ah, yes, the staple of all northeast carwashes. Make sure that this container is clean, free of debris and ready to receive salt when the weather calls for it. This store box of salt will help to de-ice the lot when needed.
  9. Turn up the heat! Hoffman turns up the hot water temperature from 120 degrees to 130 degrees to help customers melt ice and snow easier.
  10. Educate consumers. Talk to your customers about the benefits of washing their cars more often in the winter. A few tips will show them that you care, and will keep them coming back. See the sidebar to the left for customer care tips.
Ready, set, snow!
About this time of year, most carwashers are just as excited about winter as children are of receiving presents during the holidays. Snow and salt will keep the turn style at the carwash spinning and profits rising. Just remember — preparing for winter will maintain revenue and keep customers coming back.

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