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The touch-free types

October 11, 2010
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Over the past several years, the trend has become increasingly popular to add a touch-free in-bay automatic as an additional profit center to a new or existing carwash.

It can be one of the quickest ways to increase revenue and customer base. Motorists looking to clean their vehicle quickly and with minimal effort are an important group of customers.

A self-serve carwash can attract these customers if the wash has an in-bay touch-free automatic. In just a few short minutes, customers can have a clean vehicle and be on their way without ever having to get out of their car.

Careful considerations

In-bay automatics typically generate three to five times the income of a single self-serve bay.

When installed with a technically advanced entrance controller, an owner can market his or her automatic wash to different groups, organizations, and businesses through a variety of methods and increase the income potential even more.

When looking into this addition, it is important to consider the following factors:

Is there enough space to add an in-bay automatic to the existing location? Generally, the site would need a bay 16' wide by 32' long to accommodate the equipment.

Will adding an in-bay automatic affect the flow of traffic at the location or cause a vehicle stack-up? There should be enough space for at least two waiting vehicles.

What are the equipment options and manufacturers? Do some research to find out what all of the options are and research equipment manufacturers to see what they offer.

What are the area demographics? Get the most out of a location. Study the demographics to decide if the site needs one, two, or even three automatics to maximize its income producing potential.

Also, be sure to ask the following questions concerning the site:

  • Are the water and sewage systems compatible?
  • How many cars will be washed during a typical month?
  • Where is the nearest competition located?

Evaluate other carwashes to determine what attracts customers to their sites. Compare whether they offer in-bay options and if they are successful.

The owner will need to decide how washes will be priced and what the traffic count is.

Then decide if it would be more beneficial to have a single or multiple stand-alone automatic. Single or multiple stand-alone automatics generate a great return on smaller properties.

Customer variety

The automatic customer can often be categorized differently than the self-serve customer.

By adding an in-bay automatic an owner will be able to reach out to those customers who would not normally use a self-serve carwash.

In-bay automatics are convenient and easy to use for those on the go or in a hurry. They are open 24-hours-a-day, all year, which is also quite appealing to the customer.

With today's demands on time and convenience, an in-bay automatic proves to be an essential component for successful modern carwashes.

With a high income potential in a single bay, selecting the right in-bay automatic is very important. For that reason, it is imperative to choose an automatic that is loaded with features and options that customers can choose from.

Features that not only provide a clean vehicle, but also put on a good show make the carwash a fun experience.

Deciding factors

When choosing equipment options for an in-bay automatic, consider some of the options that are available on many modern systems.

The unit should be durable with a sturdy frame and easy to clean. Look for a unit that will be easy to maintain.

An owner must decide if he or she would be willing to employ an attendant to monitor the unit or not.

Being able to monitor the unit's status from a remote location is an option today that provides convenience to many operators.

The unit needs to be able to wash the vehicle from all sides simultaneously at various speeds. Check to see if the unit has an undercarriage wash to clean under the vehicle.

Be sure to choose a unit that will thoroughly clean the tires and wheels on a vehicle.

Does the unit come equipped with a hot foamy presoak option or a low-pressure sealant application? Purchas-ing a unit that offers scrubbing action, oscillating high pressure wash, and rinse cycles is very beneficial.

Another option to look at is if the unit will be capable of profiling the car for maximum cleaning. Having a unit that can adjust to a wide range of vehicle heights, lengths and sizes helps provide a quality wash to all vehicle models and sizes.

An owner needs to consider whether he or she will be able to customize the wash packages. The average wash time is also an important consideration.

A popular feature available today on many systems is a spot-free rinse choice.

The types of chemicals compatible with the unit are also numerous.

Controlling the carwash

Adding an entrance controller at a touch-free automatic entrance offers payment options for the customer.

Most units offer customers the options of paying with:

  • Credit cards;
  • Coins;
  • Bills;
  • Codes; or
  • Any combination of the above.

In addition, the owner may be able to promote other products and services the site has to offer such as fleet accounts, prepay accounts and gift certificates.

The code ability allows an in-bay owner to market the carwash using direct mail, promo cards and coupons. Offering an entrance controller at a location means a faster return for the investor.

Deciding to add a touch-free in-bay automatic to a new or existing site requires much thought, research, and equipment comparisons.

Jamie Ware is the marketing coordinator for Jim Coleman Company. For more information Jamie can be contacted at