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What's your sign?

October 11, 2010
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The Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine asked its readers to submit their creative or impressive signage to be judged by a panel of five industry professionals.

Submitters were asked to provide a description of their sign and some of the factors they considered when initially constructing the signage for their site.

All participants submitted a photo(s) for the judges to critique, based on a list of criteria developed by the staff of PC&D with the help of carwash sign consultant, Perry Powell. The criteria has been included for readers' reference.

Eligibility rules included: one entry per owner/operator; one entry per carwash site; entry per carwash site; entrants must own/operate a facility in North America; and all entries must have been from a carwash facility: self-serve, full-serve, in-bay automatic, express exterior or a combination of any of the above.


PC&D asked five industry veterans and professionals to judge the 14 sign submissions based on the provided criteria. It's time to meet the judges:

R.L. Bud  Abraham: Abraham is president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems, Portland, OR. Abraham is a 36-year veteran of the carwash and detail industries and currently serves on the International Carwash Association Board of Directors and PC&D's honorary advisory board.

Jack Anthony: Jack Anthony is the owner of 7 Flags Carwash, Vallejo, CA, and as of present time, current International Carwash Association president. Anthony has been in the carwash industry for over 30 years.

Steve Okun: Steve Okun is the developer of the flex-serve operating platform and a 36-year hands-on veteran of the carwash and detailing business. Okun's achievements include pioneering menu-merchandising, dollar-per-car assessment and customer service advisors into the carwash industry. His company, FL- based SMOKUN & Associates, provides marketing and operations consulting and training.

Janay Rickwalder: Janay Rickwalder is representing the International Sign Association (ISA). Rickwalder is the association's director of communications.

Robert Roman: Robert Roman is currently president of RJR Enterprises- Carwash Consultants ( Roman belongs to the International Carwash Association (ICA) and is a member of PCD's Honorary Advisory Board.

Let the signs speak
The judges were asked to provide commentary about as many of the sign submissions as they could; including what they liked, as well as what they thought could be improved.

The science of signage is extremely important to every business. Carwash owners need to do their homework before creating any kind of signage for their site.

Now it's your turn to judge. Using the criteria provided, decide what sign submission is your top choice and visit Professional Carwashing & Detailing 's® booth, #602 at the International Carwash Association's Car Care World Expo 2006 in Las Vegas, to cast your vote for the People's Choice Award.

Judging criteria for "What's Your Sign?"

We understand that local laws prohibit some things from being done with signage; however judges should consider the following criteria when scoring each sign submission.

When scoring each submission, judges should grade the sign as best they can based on the description listed below and the photograph provided by the contestants.

A score of 0 is the lowest and a score of 10 is the highest. For each of the 5 sections judges may give a score of 10 points maximum.

Section 1: Media Application: (0-10)

Media is the physical properties of the sign: the nuts and bolts.
1. Does the sign appear to be well-constructed?
2. Does the sign seem to balance aesthetics and function?
3. Does the sign design create shadows and shading that obstructs the message?

Section 2: Artistic Design: (0-10)

Artistic design is the use of special features of the physical sign.
1. Is the sign creative, catchy and/or attention-grabbing?
2. Does the sign seem to be legible from a distance?
3. Is the logo clear and distinguishable?
4. Does the physical shape of the sign allow for at least 25 percent negative space? (Designer's term for good use of empty space.)
5. Do colors provide contrast that makes the sign easy to read?
6. Is/would the sign be readable at night?

Section 3: Message: (0-10)

The message is the actual logo and copy of the sign.
1. Does the message convey the necessary information to effectively raise the car count?
2. Does the layout of the logo and copy create an easy read?
3. Is the message creative?
4. Is the message as brief as possible?
5. Does the sign convey "CARWASH" adequately?
6. Does the copy overlay the logo or obstruct readability?
7. Is the message laid out in a manner that maximizes the size of the copy for the space given?
8. Does the logo match the theme of the wash or building?

Section 4: Target Marketing (0-10)

Score target marketing based on how well you feel the sign accomplishes the objective of attracting/influencing the intended audience.
1. Does the message grab the motorist's attention?
2. Is the message memorable to the right audience?
3. What additional profit centers are presented?

Section 5: Environment: (0-10)

Environment is the placement of the sign in its surroundings.
1. Is the sign placed to take advantage of its natural environment/setting?
2. Is the sign the correct height for its surroundings?
3. Does landscaping cooperate with or obstruct the sign?
4. Is the sign placed well to overcome environmental features, such as unusual terrain or obstructions?


Get Wet Car Wash

New Iberia, L.A.
Owners: Mike and Shermane Silva

Get Wet is a new express carwash and our image is funky and fun. We chose a sign design which resembled a splash of water shooting into the air and used the sun and the wave in our logo.

The colors are bright and cheerful. We knew our sign would be our best source of advertisement and we were willing to spend the necessary dollars to make it unique in shape, design and color.

Our sign designer had fun helping us design it and helped us carry the theme onto our canopies, other signs on the property, stationary, t-shirts, hats, uniforms and stickers, etc.

Our design is now easily recognized and we have only been open for six months.

We are located across the street from Wal-Mart on a busy road. Our sign can be seen from a far distance. “Carwash” was made large on the sign so that it could be seen first and read easily. We also want customers to know we have a $4 express wash and free vacs. Our sign is neon and at night it is very eye-catching.

We have a similar sign on the front of our building, which is complementary to our large street sign. We felt our sign needed to be representative of the name of our business — Get Wet!

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “Overall a good sign because ‘carwash’ is big and noticeable. However, the logo competes. The other messages are too small and close together to read.”
  • Anthony: “This is a very good sign; a real attention-getter. The only real suggestion is that the dual reader board has too much information for a passing motorist to grasp in a very short period of time.”
  • Okun: “Excellent use of color. ‘Carwash’ really punches out. There are too many different letter typestyles in the reader board. The top half of the sign is great; reader board is a compromise.”
  • Rickwalder: “This is a great sign. The message and specials are very clearly depicted.”


Wash 'N Vac, Inc.

Salisbury, M.D.
Owner: Brian Dayton

At this featured location in Salisbury, M.D., I purchased an existing 13 bay self-serve wash in June 2004. The wash was built in 1969. It had a large existing sign that originally cost $5000.

When my local sign company came to do some repairs to the sign, it was discovered that one of the two main steel poles supporting the upper structure had broken from the welds and fell down into the next larger pole.

If the sign had fallen, I would not have been able to put it back up due to new sign regulations. It would have to be moved 20 feet off the road and be about half the original size, and about 8 feet shorter.

So, the sign company completely disassembled the sign. They were able to fish up the old pole using a cable winch and a hook.

The pole was securely welded, and we covered the entire sign with new aluminum, and put it back together. We were able to keep the large sign right next to the roadway.

The sign is shared with a Budget Truck Rental, and an auto detailer, both of which are housed in the building directly below the sign.

The carwash sits about 100 feet behind that building, so the signage is very important in letting passersby know that there is a carwash nearby.

After repairing the main sign, I decided to add reinforcement by taking the 12’ X 21’ billboard just 30 feet away. The two together pretty much signal that there is a carwash close by. The day and night visibility of the two signs together is incredibly impactful.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “Great sign. Clearly says ‘carwash.’ The business name is there also and also detailing, but it does not compete with the carwash sign. Not sure why the other sign is necessary??”
  • Anthony: “The sign is worth its weight in gold, clean and simple. It’s huge and overwhelming. I can see why the city would like it removed.”
  • Okun: “If this carwash isn’t owned by Turtle Wax, why feature their turtle atop the sign? Otherwise, an effective sign. Not exciting, but nevertheless… effective.”
  • Rickwalder: “This sign gets the job done effectively, however it does not brand the name of the carwash.”


Splash Auto Wash

Detroit, M.I.
Owners: Michael Berry and his sisters Sandy and Michelle Berry

This site is family-owned and operated since June 27, 2005. It is an express exterior wash tunnel approximately 128 feet long.

We chose our sign because of the high volume corner where our site is located. Approximately 65,000 vehicles pass our location.

We wanted a sign that made a great first impression to our potential customers. We also wanted a message board incorporated to display and promote our wash packages.

We had a logo company create a logo that was unique, animated, and appealing.

We instructed them that we wanted to see a generic car with a personality and smiling face. The idea was to have a car splashing or making waves.

The logo designers came up with our logo and added bubbles and water as accents.

The construction of the pole needed some muscle. We had the sign company construct a rounded shroud in grey metallic color that complemented the sign and message board.

The only difficult decision was how to place the sign and achieve maximum visibility. My sign representative informed me that placing the sign along the east and west flow of traffic would give me the greatest exposure.

I originally wanted to place the sign on a 45-degree angle so that I could get all corners exposed. However, after careful consideration, it would not have given me the best exposure.

The greatest compliment we receive as my customers enter our site is the sign. We know that our sign is an investment and not an expense.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “Well-designed graphically, but the logo overwhelms the word ‘carwash.’ A good feature is the digital reader board. Better if express were changed to exterior. Express is an industry insider term.”
  • Anthony: “This sign is very slick and professional. I like the logo, the hi-tech look and especially the electronic reader board. Well done! My only comment is that the word ‘carwash’ should be the most dominant feature of the sign. But, the car with the water and reader board might offset that necessity.”
  • Okun: “Once you get beyond the graphic, the sign is great. The name ‘Splash’ could have punched out much more effectively. Auto Wash is understated. LED reader board is most powerful element in sign.”
  • Rickwalder: “I like the use of the electronic message center. While the word ‘carwash’ isn’t used, I believe the artwork is sufficient.”


Autobell Car Wash, Inc.

Charlotte, N.C.
Owner: Chuck Howard

The Autobell Car Wash located at 8500 Pitstop Road, Concord, N.C., exhibits its registered logo — featuring the gold bell and arch that is the well-established and very recognizable symbol of this 37-year-old company in three distinct ways:

  • The gold bell and arch on the sign located by the highway;
  • The gold fiberglass bell in the tower; and
  • The gold bell and arch located on the carwash itself.

We feel that the crisp colors and clean lines, along with the unique architectural component, create a distinct visual and mental correlation for our customers.

While creating this unique representation, we did encounter a challenge. The creation of the three-dimensional tower and bell design from scratch required some out-of-the box thinking along with creative architectural perspective.

We feel that the tower creates a focal point that nicely ties our sign logo and building logo placement together. One particular special feature is the fiberglass bell in the tower that was custom-made by a boat and fiberglass repair company.

The signage at this Autobell Car Wash location has definitely enhanced our business. The tower, acting as the focal point, along with the sign and building logo work together to create brand awareness.

They allow our carwash to be easily identified and promote excellent visibility from the highway. We feel that with all the visual clutter drivers encounter, our signage design not only stands out but also is visually pleasing to our customers.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “Not a bad sign, but I think the logo and name came away from the word ‘carwash,’ which I think is important.”
  • Anthony: “This sign works very well. It is clean, clear and simple. The colors and logo are all tied together with the building. A great deal of thought went into this simple, but very effective sign.”
  • Okun: “The uniform and consistent use of the logo and corporate color scheme provides great linkage. However, nothing exciting or captivating about the signage and no hints of the level of service or other profit centers. Excellent reputation and image isn’t reflected in their sign.”
  • Rickwalder: “Fantastic job branding your site! The various signs used complement each other very well.”

Cantele's Car Wash

Hudson, N.Y.
Owners: B.J. & Mary Cantele

We own Cantele’s Car Wash in Hudson, N.Y. Our carwash is a touch-free automatic.

The sign is made from Canadian Granite and is shaped like a Z06 Corvette. We chose this type of sign because we wanted something completely different from the ordinary.

We also wanted a no-maintenance sign. This sign will look the same for many years.

We picked the Z06 Corvette because this is the type of car one would not normally bring to an automatic carwash. We wanted to emphasize that if you can bring this type of carwash it would be safe for any car.

Also, what is unique about this sign is that I made it myself. I am also in the monument business and I was also able to manufacture this sign at my facility.

The sign measures 10’ long 4’ high. This was the largest sign allowed.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “A creative construction, but the colors blend rather than stand out. The corvette takes away from the name line. ‘Carwash’ is far too small.”
  • Anthony: “Solid, well-built with a clear simple message. I would like to see some color in the sign to grab your eyes. The granite has a tendency to blend in with the surroundings, but I understand the reasoning.”
  • Okun: “It may be a great operation but their sign is, in a word — underwhelming. Dull sign color fades into the background. It seems to have been built with one primary goal: no maintenance. The photo suggests that it might look like a car sitting up on blocks.”
  • Rickwalder: “The sign is manufactured using an interesting material, but the lack of contrast makes it difficult to read.”

CarbuX Car Wash

Jacksonville, F.L.
Owner: Andrew Jaffa

CarbuX Car Wash and Mobil1 Lube Express located in Jacksonville, F.L. opened on July 15, 2005. We operate the carwash and the oil lube and we lease the Citgo gas station and convenience store to a third party.

Monument sign on road — we were restricted to a monument style sign 15’max height and 125-square-feet max area.

Consequently, our sign is 15’ high and 125-square-feet. This severely limited what we could do because we have three distinct businesses that need to be advertised.

We decided to add a vertical feature with the Carwash and Free Vacuums sign and also add a digital reader board. Also, we tried to use colors that were noticeable; purple and green, yet distinct from the Citgo colors and the Mobil1 Lube Express colors.

Our logo is a tire with the words CARBUX and CARWASH applied as if they were white wall lettering.

Two car tires hang behind glass at the entrance to the carwash. This was done after the city made us remove them from our entrance canopy.

We also used a large semi-tire with our name added. Originally, this tire was on a post near the road so that customers from both directions could see when we were open.

Again, the city made us remove the tires, so instead I put the tire on the end of one of our canopy beams to advertise our detail area in our free vacuum area.

The menu boards are stainless steel enclosures that close up at night to protect the face of our auto cashiers. In the morning, we open up the doors, and at night we simply lock them up without worrying about vandalism at the auto cashiers.

The menu is graphical and easy to read without any wasted words. The menu is repeated on the front of the autocashiers so that customers can review before purchasing.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “This sign has far too many competing messages. You don’t know what to look at. The vertical presentation of the carwash and free vacuums is difficult to read.”
  • Anthony: “There was a lot of work that went into trying to fit a huge amount of info onto this sign. Unfortunately, the sign is not readable to the passing motorist.”
  • Okun: “Signage seems far too busy with its many messages fighting with each other. Confusing mix of letter types makes reading continuity difficult. The name is so small and insignificant that it appears to be a CITGO carwash. LED reader board can be a powerful feature.”
  • Rickwalder: “Very interesting solution to the monument sign issue.”

Classy Chassy Car Wash

Irondequoit, N.Y.
Owners: Dave Clements and Jeff Arnold

We are a multiple site operator in upstate New York. Our locations all provide the same services — multiple in-bay automatics, mostly combined with self-serve washes.

Our identity is portrayed throughout these sites by consistent building shapes, color and layout, wall coverings and most importantly-signage. All of our signs have a common shape, color and lighting manner.

We think that our signs represent an identity that is easily recognized by our patrons. Therefore, they can expect the same great service at any location.

We use neon and internal lights to accentuate our sign’s shape. The red neon strip over the channel letters in “LASERWASH” look very much like a laser beam at night. Although there are no lasers used in our site, there is an association with technology and sophistication that this sign portrays.

Our logo was designed with the pole sign in mind. The pole sign remains as the best year-round advertising product we have, so we wanted to make ours pretty.

We offer services 24 hours a day (something that our competitors do not) so we need our sign(s) to grab the attention of nighttime drivers — thus the neon.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “The sign is attractive and well laid out. However, the logo and name compete with the word ‘carwash.’ The sign is great at night, but hard to read during the day. It may be too high for the good viewing passing by motorist.”
  • Anthony: “I like this sign a lot. It is very professional and puts forth a very good image. There are two recommendations I would make. One is the size of the wording — the most important word in the sign is the word ‘carwash.’ The word carwash should be the most dominant word in the sign. An attractive pole covering would also add to the professional image being portrayed.”
  • Okun: “Seems as though the automobile is more important than the message ‘carwash,’ which is understated. It might just be the photos, but color seems dull and difficult to read in daytime; brilliant at night!”
  • Rickwalder: “The sign looks great at night, though the script font is not easy to read at night or daylight. During the day, the sign is not as effective.”

East Coast Hand Car Wash & Detail Center

Long Island, N.Y.
Owner: Thomas Gatto

I am the owner of East Coast Hand Car Wash, located on the service road of Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, Long Island.

My business would slow down once it got dark because people would drive right past us. Together with Al West and Mike Muurisepp from Simoniz U.S.A., I created this sign.

The sign came out great. I am now busy after dark and have people coming in and saying, “I’ve lived here all my life and never knew you were here!!”

My team made it very easy.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “This is an excellent sign; the carwash is the main attention-getting message. The logo is there, but does not compete with ‘carwash.’ The same is the case for the word detail. Very subtle, and Simoniz is nicely placed.”
  • Anthony: “The sign really catches my eye. I think it has a good color combination with good graphics and minimal wording. I think the sign loses some punch and readability with the Simoniz sign below it. The sign would be much easier to read without the additional sign below.”
  • Okun: “Great use of color. Sign copy punches out very effectively.”

Lake Car Wash

Lake Elsinore, C.A.
Owner: Tom Grady

The picture is of me standing next to our entrance/street monument sign. The photo also highlights our canopy signage, vehicles being attended to, our multi-profit centers and the integration of actual palm trees with our logo.

It was taken by the city when we received the “Outstanding Business of the Quarter” award and forwarded to the press with a press release.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “The only major negative is that the word ‘Lake’ competes with ‘carwash’. The logo is nice, but may also compete with ‘carwash’.”
  • Anthony: “This is a nice, easy-to-read sign. I like the arch on the top of the sign. I think the longevity of the sign and readability would be enhanced if the sign were on a short pedestal.”
  • Okun: “Simple, clean, direct, functional, and well positioned. Perfect example of no-frills effectiveness. Easy read from driver seat due to eye-level location.”
  • Rickwalder: “It doesn’t appear that this sign is easily visible from the street. In fact, it looks as though it can only be viewed as you’re entering the gas station.”

Laziboy Car Wash

Plymouth, W.I.
Owners: Brian Johnson, Ellynne Johnson, Gene Blanke

The Laziboy Car Wash was remodeled 2 1/2 years ago and we decided to also change the name and image of our carwash. We made lists of possible names and Laziboy came up as my partner’s son’s nickname.

We felt that Laziboy was appropriate and a different name for a self-serve carwash. The Laziboy name has drawn a lot of attention and is easily remembered. That was our goal in deciding on the name.

A friend of mine designed the logo and sign, keeping it simple, because we felt that simple gets more attention. We use the reader board for messages. Placement is near the street and in front of the wash.

We have one location with two manual bays and one touch-free automatic.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “Graphically a beautiful sign, but the logo overwhelms everything on the sign and the word ‘carwash’ is too small.”
  • Anthony: “I like the artwork on the logo, but if I didn’t know it was a carwash this sign doesn’t help me very much.
  • Okun: “The logo and ‘carwash’ are difficult to read at speed. Reader board would be better tie-in with matching yellow as background, instead of white. Probably looks better at night than daytime. Nice colors.”
  • Rickwalder: “The name of the carwash is not easy to read. A clearer logo should be used.”

Sudzie Autowash

Scarborough, M.E.
Owners: John and Christine Massengill

My wife Christine and I opened Sudzie Autowash in the spring of 2004, starting a third generation carwash. We selected a site in Scarborough due to the lack of a full-service model in the surrounding area.

Since recognition is everything, we sought professional help to create a special sign for our business. Christine and I came up with the name Sudzie and at the request of our 8-year-old daughter, Melissa, incorporated bubbles into the logo.

We also felt that it was imperative to have an electronic message center to help keep our customer base (both existing and prospective) informed as to the state of our business.

There was not an electronic message center in the Town of Scarborough prior to Sudzie Autowash. We worked with the Town Planning Department to set guidelines on the use and importance of such a sign for the establishment and growth of a business.

After a long process of negotiating with the town, we were granted our approvals. This process was by far, the most tedious of all our approvals for this business.

On various days, we offer discounts for ladies, gentleman and seniors, and post these notices on the sign for all passing vehicles to see.

We update the messages daily and during the overnight hours when we are closed, we display the time and temperature. The sign also allows us to advertise charitable wash functions and the offering of gift cards during the holiday season.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “The logo takes away from ‘autowash.’ The ‘Autowash, Inc.’ makes it appear like a business office, not a real carwash. The green colors are environmentally nice, but makes the sign blend into the grass. The top of the sign is so large that it takes away from the digital reader board.”
  • Anthony: “This is a very nice, professional-looking sign. The electronic reader board is a nice addition. I like how the bubbles tie into the name. A couple of thoughts: there is so much green in the surrounding area from the roof tops and the lawn that there is nothing other than the reader board to draw your eye to the sign. Also, I think that the word ‘carwash’ should be the largest wording on the sign. ‘Autowash’ is a nice twist, but customers are looking for the carwash. It is a subtle, but important difference.”
  • Okun: “The sign looks blandly institutional. Aside from the bubbles, it’s too Plain-Jane. The LED reader board can be a great help.”
  • Rickwalder: “Great sign placement and use of the electronic message center. The message in the sign is not as clear as it could be. If I didn’t know that this was a carwash, I may not have been able to easily decipher it from the sign.”

Simon's Shine Shop

Owners: Jim Lafeber and Nicole Kloiber

Simon’s Shine Shop is a full-service carwash and detailing shop located in an affluent neighborhood on the near north side of Chicago.

When we were initially developing sign concepts, we knew we wanted to set ourselves apart from other carwashes in the area, not only in the services we provide, but also in the appearance of our shop.

Therefore, we chose a hand-carved wooden sign that is accented with gold leaf letters. It was created by a local artist and fits in with the neighborhood and its other businesses very well.

We also believe that the richness of materials utilized and the attention to detail in the carving helps illustrate our emphasis on the quality of our services.

We based the rest of our building design choices on the sign with the focus on making our shop as warm and inviting as possible.

We chose a welcoming shade of olive green for the exterior and accented it with dark brown trim. These colors complement the sign very well, and the solid color of the building’s façade helps direct viewers’ eyes right to the sign.

Our building is a very boxy warehouse type, and we knew we wanted to break up its linearity by contrasting with more organic-styled signage, hence the wavy highlights and oval shape.

We placed curvy gooseneck lamps across the front of the building to further contrast the lines, as well as to light up the building at night. Spotlights are directed on the sign to ensure it can be seen well in the dark.

The two-sided sign is placed between our garage door and customer entrance, and juts out perpendicularly from the building façade. We chose this type of sign to maximize its visibility, as there is a great deal of vehicle traffic coming from both directions towards our shop.

Fortunately, we didn’t encounter too many difficulties in placing our sign. The biggest hurdle was obtaining a sign permit, which is required by the city of Chicago. This ensures that signs meet certain safety requirements, and necessitated approval from our alderman.

It wasn’t difficult, but it did take a little legwork. We also had to hire a specialized company to hang our sign, again to ensure safety — especially since we are in the windy city!

When we ask first-time customers how they heard about Simon’s Shine Shop, the vast majority tell us that they noticed the shop while driving by.

We’ve heard comments such as, “It looks so classy” and “I’ve never seen a carwash that looks as nice as this one. I just had to try it out!”

We are convinced that the uniqueness of our sign to the carwash industry, along with our inviting building aesthetic, has much to do with this. We are just thrilled with our choice.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “If you are into carved signs, it is graphically nice. Hard to read from a distance and the name ‘Simon’s’ dominates both ‘hand wash’ and ‘detailing’.”
  • Anthony: “I thought they did a very nice job of taking an old industrial building and giving it a new life. This sign is part of that rebirth. It is a beautiful sign. The word ‘carwash’ or ‘hand wash’ should be the most prominent wording on the sign. The beautiful ‘S’ on the other end almost looks like the number eight. It could be distracting to a passing motorist.”
  • Okun: “Rich-looking sign projects an upscale image. The ‘S’s in Simon’s are difficult to distinguish at a glance. Sandblasted signs are beautiful, but require a lot of maintenance. Nice color use on signage and building, as well as the lights, provides a unified theme.”
  • Rickwalder: “It’s a very attractive sign, but it does not convey to me that it is advertising a carwash. However, it appears that the wash is trying to reach a specific demographic, so the fact that it isn’t clear could be intentional.”


Plattsburg, N.Y.
Owner: Michael Racine

WashLand, the carwash I just opened in mid-December 2005, is my dream come true.

Over the years I have dreamt up every part of my new carwash, from the building with the apartments and my office above, the beautiful glazed block in each bay, and the classic awnings that hang over each bay, to the sign that stands on the street edge, and even the catchy WashLand® name that I registered as a trademark over seven years ago.

One day, when I was putting a license plate frame on my car, it came to me. Wow, how simple and cool would that be, a license plate frame around my sign.

Then I focused on how the sign should look and I came up with my sign looking similar to a New York State license plate. It took some time to find a sign company willing to custom build this sign, but I finally found a great custom sign builder.

Through much re-search, I learned that that putting the words “Car Wash” larger than my company name was very important.

For years I loved the idea of a message center sign, and I though it would be a great way to promote daily specials, as well as create interest in the minds of those potential customers driving by.

I knew that this type of sign would be very costly, but I just could not stop thinking about how I could find a way to make such a large investment pay for itself.

I researched the companies that build message center signs and I even took a complete tour of one factory. Although the prices seemed quite high, I ran a few cost-related numbers and realized that if I just washed one more car each day, I could pay for this cutting-edge message sign. By looking at the cost per day I sold myself on this sign.

I feel the many hours of research and design for the sign were all worth the efforts. It seems to tie in well with the car theme and now the WashLand name as well as what this location is (a carwash) really stands out in a very unique way.

This sign stands tall on two massive steel poles and it proudly announces to every car driving by that WashLand Car Wash washes cars in the most modern way today and in a modern facility.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “Graphically, this is not the most beautiful sign, but from the point of view of getting customers in the door, it is great. It appears they use the digital reader board to convey numerous messages. This is the most functional of all the signs I have judged.”
  • Anthony: “Congratulations on a beautiful carwash. The sign is clear and concise with a very nice electronic reader board. It is hard to tell from the photo, but it appears the building on the other side of the carwash sticks out further than the sign, thus blocking the motorists’ view until they are close. The object of the sign is so that motorists can see it from a distance. If it can’t be seen from a distance, a lower sign would be more effective.”
  • Okun: “The carwash name is all but lost at a glance. However, the “CARWASH” prominence works well. The LED reader board is great, but the too-small copy can be improved for greater impact.”
  • Rickwalder: “This is a very nice sign and an effective use of an electronic message center. I couldn’t tell by the picture if the road in front of the sign was one-way, but it appeared that the building next to the sign could potentially impede visibility.”

Wally Wash

Warr Acres, O.K.
Owner: George Brown

I operate an exterior tunnel, eight-bay self-serve and two-bay detail shop all-in-one location.

Considering the property and street traffic, I chose not to have one single pole sign. Rather, I opted for three signs to be mounted on the façade of each building facing the street. My sole mission is to promote name brand recognition and the visual promotion of my logo.

Factors I considered were: easy access for service and three dimensional qualities highlighted by neon and color. The buildings are plain tan split-block with green accents. The signs have neither color incorporated into them, therefore they stand out and complete a simple clean line appearance.

Placement of the signs is on the front walls facing the street. They are designed to literally change the seasons using color “halos” against the wall and utilizing electric plugs on the back plug in various ideas in the future.

An example: Valentine’s Day is coming soon and Wally Wash will advertise the wash as the “Tunnel of Love” and the halo behind the sign will be red flood lights. I can change these lights or service the inside of the fixture using a 10’ step ladder. This saves money from the service call from our local sign company when a light goes out.

I believe our signs put a finishing touch of class on our buildings and “outshine” any of our competitor’s attempts at getting the word out. It was fun to see my own design come to life and promote the Wally Wash logo so well.

Judges comments:

  • Abraham: “It is clear that the operator focused on promoting the name and logo over everything else. The placement on the building does nothing to attract clients. All the signs do is re-affirm that the customer is at Wally Wash.”
  • Anthony: “The three signs are very attractive and professionally done. Unfortunately, they are virtually unreadable for a motorist driving down the street. Stand on the property you can enjoy all of the thought process and work that went into these signs, but they don’t come close to helping the business like a good street sign.”
  • Okun: “Love the graphic! Nice. Not thrilling, but nice.”
  • Rickwalder: “The signage is not easily viewed from the street, even in a static picture. The visibility would be even more greatly diminished to a passing car. The “Express Tunnel” sign doesn’t appear to be placed in the appropriate setting (i.e., over the express tunnel).”