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Business Operations

Touchless carwashing

October 11, 2010
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Touchless carwashing puts a major focus on the chemicals used, but what about the rest of the story? There are actually three key elements to a successful and profitable touchless carwash:
  • Chemicals;
  • Equipment; and
  • Marketing.
The first element to a successful carwash is the chemical you choose. Let’s understand the chemical side of the equation. You need the chemical, in lieu of friction, to clean the vehicle.

A two-step chemical application is common in most touchless washes. You may choose a dual-pass high-pH (alkaline) or a pass of each, one high-pH and one low-pH (acidic). Alkaline chemicals typically work best on painted surfaces while acidic chemicals work better on glass and chrome surfaces. Whatever your choice, it’s important to apply the chemical as quickly as possible and keep the line moving.

The chemical reaction in a touchless carwash occurs in the first 20 seconds after the chemical is applied. The chemical continues to work the entire time it is on the car, but the effect after the first 20 seconds is minimal.

The second element of success is the equipment you choose. There are several options to consider: one-arm, two-arm, four-arm and inverted U–design. The more arms you have, the faster a vehicle can be washed.

Your customers are trying to get the most out of their time. Many of your current and potential customers use high-speed modems, visit drive-through windows for fast food meals, answer email from their car, and in many other ways, indicate that their time is valuable.

When a customer visits a carwash, they have two basic expectations. They want a clean car and they want it done as efficiently as possible. Your goal as a carwash owner and operator is to wash as many cars as possible and make a profit.

The final element of a successful and profitable carwash is marketing. Most touchless carwashes are marketed by constructing a building and putting a sign up on the street. If your wash is at a convenience store, there may be pump toppers or even a brightly colored banner or two around your lot. Some stores even put carwash specials on the credit card display at the pump. But, marketing goes much deeper than any of this.

You must tell your customers about your carwash. As an owner/operator you must explain why your chemicals and equipment are superior to the competition. A solid, well-developed marketing program can draw attention to your site, build brand identity, and increase overall store sales.

Marketing initiatives can include customer appreciation days, activities that appeal to kids, frequent buyer rewards, or discount coupons for neighboring businesses, just to name a few. If you don’t have the staff or capacity to handle such marketing, then turn to your chemical and equipment distributors for help.

Make careful, planned decisions
Chemicals, equipment and your marketing program are all key elements to a successful and profitable carwash. However, it’s simply not enough to build a carwash and hope “they will come.” You must make wise decisions when it comes to suppliers and aggressively get your message out to your local market.

You have a great story to tell by letting prospective customers know that your touchless carwash equipment protects their investment and provides a quality service to them that is cost effective and time efficient. Make sure you tell your story before the competition tells theirs.

Monti Harris is a carwash sales manager with nearly 40 years of experience for Southern Pump & Tank Company. Harris can be reached via email at: