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3 communication commands for carwashers

October 11, 2010
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Equipment failures, malfunctions and miscellaneous breakdowns often lead to carwash owners cursing their manufacturers, and customers driving off to the competition.

But what can be done in order to expedite the time it takes for equipment to be fixed by qualified distributors in order to re-open the affected carwash without losing too much business?

1. Be a hands-on operator
Instead of operators who are absent during the service interval, Dan Bell, Zip-O-Shine, Paramus, NJ, encourages his clients to be hands-on in the field so they can fix and replace parts themselves.

As a third generation carwash owner, as well as distributor and service technician for carwash equipment, Bell stresses the need for tighter relationships and better communication between the wash operator and equipment distributor.

Bell’s business provides Belanger carwash equipment to a number of carwash locations, car dealerships and vehicle rental agencies throughout New Jersey and parts of New York’s five boroughs.

For instance, the majority of full-service carwashes only have one main tunnel per site; when that tunnel is down, so is business.

Therefore, it’s important that carwash owners advance their technical knowledge in order to do what they can to mend and troubleshoot their own systems prior to the distributor’s visit to the site.

2. Get to know the supplier (not just distributor) beforehand
From a distributor’s standpoint, Chad Burton, Premier Car Wash Systems, Macon, GA, feels the supplier has a responsibility to take care of customers even after the sale, and treat them as a friend.

Whether they are part of a large investment firm or a small Mom-and-Pop establishment this is a costly investment made on the customer’s part. By showing respect and keeping a clear line of communication open, Burton has retained a loyal customer base.

When confronted with a new customer who’s had a spoiled relationship with another supplier, Burton advises the carwash owner to do some homework about the type of equipment they’re looking for and the reputation of the manufacturer, before committing to a sale.

Carwash owners should:

  • Attend all industry training schools, seminars and events that offer technical information about the equipment they use;
  • Clarify problems and what parts are needed;
  • Keep a detailed maintenance log; and
  • Know their distributor and equipment maker.

Carwash providers should:

  • Provide extended technical service and weekend support, if possible.
  • Customize their installation process: work directly with the wash owner or manager while installing or working on equipment and create a system of labels for all equipment.

This way, when parts break, the person in charge at the carwash can easily request help on the specific parts that are affected by referring to the dealer’s label.

3. Clarify: Know your machines
Carwash distributors nationwide agree on one concern of most suppliers: the concept of clarity when ordering parts and calling-in damage complaints.

Clarity from carwash owners in need of parts or service has been stressed time and time again by Dave Dalesandro, president of CarWash Services, Inc., Romeoville, IL, who says the major problem that triggers future dilemmas stems from miscommunication with the customer.

Dalesandro, whose business supplies equipment to carwashes in Illinois, Wisconsin and Arizona, says the root of most problems with carwash supplies and demands spring from an operator who might not be familiar with the technical aspects of his/her equipment.

In such a case, a service technician from the distributorship may arrive onsite without the right parts, or will spend extra time diagnosing the problem.

Nothing beats knowing how to do it yourself
In this respect, Dalesandro calls for advanced training for wash operators, and he often encourages his customers to fix things themselves so they can play a direct part in resolving the problem.

Dalesandro has actually extended some customer’s warranties in order to support his idea that carwash owners need to get their hands dirty in order to better educate themselves on the technical side of carwashing.