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Vacuums and vending variations

October 11, 2010
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Technology, equipment options and marketing all play a major role in making the most of your vacuum and vending at your self-serve carwash.

Without serious consideration of these things, a wash owner could be hindering the potential of his or her equipment. Vacuum and vending can be great profit centers at a site if the operator applies the right strategy.

New and up-to-date
The latest technology on vacuum and vending islands is push-button service and bill acceptors.

By having push-button technology on your equipment, the customer can use a code from his prepaid account or by using his credit card from an on-site card acceptor.

This makes it simple and appealing for the customer because they do not have to deal with cash.

Since credit card users typically spend 10-15 percent more when cleaning their car than a customer that uses cash, that means more for the wash and the owner’s profit line.

In the carwash business it is important to offer to the customer every chance to use whatever payment method they may wish, whether it be cash or credit.

Credit cards are the preferred method of payment in today’s world and offering a service that can be paid using a credit card can increase sales.

Adding a bill acceptor to each vacuum can increase the vacuum income potential by simplifying the payment process. Customers can use cash, coins and/or codes to pay for the services.

Vacuum and vending equipment with bill acceptors can see a 20-25 percent increase in revenue. Customers love the convenience of not having to hunt down the bill changers.

Having the latest and greatest equipment is essential, but keeping it clean and attractive is just as important. Curb appeal is much more noticed today than it was years ago due to increased competition so keep:

  • Hoses;
  • Nozzles;
  • Domes; and
  • Decals clean and attractive.

Options to consider
Having state-of-the-art equipment with longevity and dependability can guarantee a higher return on investment.

Featuring several types of vacuums at a location will allow customers options and cover the bases of their needs.

Vacuums that have a shampooer or a fragrance machine can increase income by 50 percent or more and adds convenience for the customer.

Also, check out the competition nearby to make sure you have at least, if not more, than what they are offering.

3 creative combos

  1. Combination vacuum and carpet shampooers deliver hot foam to the customer at the push of a button. With another button the customer can switch back to the vacuum option.
  2. Combination vacuum and fragrance machines allow customers the choice of three fragrances to finish off their car cleaning experience with a fresh, clean smell.
  3. Combination vacuum vending islands have become very popular because of the options it gives the customer.

The combo vacuum and vending islands are great not only for interior car cleaning but also for promoting vending products such as:

  • Interior fragrance;
  • Cloth towels; and
  • Window wipes.

They offer great curb appeal and are a one-stop shopping kiosk before or after carwashing.

Combo vac and vending islands create a great profit center for a self-serve carwash using just a small amount of space.

Steeling the market
One of the most successful approaches to marketing vacuums is to mount them on an attractive stainless steel island base that includes a built-in trash can cover.

Some covers even have mat clamps on them so that customers can easily shampoo their car mats.

The stainless steel look is attractive, plus it is easier to clean and maintain than brick or stone surroundings.

In addition to the base, adding a brightly colored backlit awning is another strategy when deciding how to make the most of your vacuums and vending.

The awning can serve as a billboard for your carwash. You can promote your vacuums by having outdoor vinyl graphics on your awnings that read “vacuum,” “shampooer,” “interior fragrance,” “credit cards accepted,” or even promote your website.

With this in mind, you can also place awnings above your vending area and promote your line of products on the awning.

By having backlit awnings, you can also promote your vacuum and vending at night. Backlit awnings above your vacuums create a much more beautiful carwash while advertising your services day and night.

Also, using colored graphic decals on the vacuums make them more appealing to the eye.

The place to be
Placement of vacuum and vending products is also important. Having the vacuum islands near the front of the site adds curb appeal and adds safety for nighttime users.

When deciding on where to place the vending island or vending products, the best place would be near the vacuums.

They can be mounted on a wall or even on the vacuum island itself to add convenience and to save on space at the site.

Vacuums and vending islands can be great profit centers if the self-serve owner knows the tricks of the trade and uses them.


Jamie Ware is the marketing coordinator for Jim Coleman Company and can be contacted at jware@jcolemanco.com.