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Doors should be an opening to something of wonder and awe. Throughout history, doors have been used as important icons. In retail there is Talbot’s famous red door, in politics 10 Downing Street in London, in culture the Brandenburg gate and even in religion there’s the Heavenly Gates.
In the business world, curb appeal is a significant factor in a customer’s decision to choose any product or service. Your carwash can deliver the cleanest, shiniest car in the market at the best price with consistency and speed, but if the site appears unappealing, customers will choose your competitor. Operators know to maintain their signs, lighting, asphalt and buildings but often overlook the entrance and exit doors of their wash.
In the past, the conventional wisdom was an open door meant an open carwash and a closed door drove away customers. Washes were designed with gaping exits to the street, customer’s cars spilling out, along with all the heat in the building. For in-bay automatic washes, operators would wait until the coldest temperature possible before operating an opaque door, often cracked and dented from previous vehicle strikes. A good quality, high performance door can overcome these obstacles and draw customers to your site.
In response to both the higher costs of heating and the lack of attendants to open and close doors, smart operators are adding doors with updated technology in new areas and operating these doors more often. Modern electronics eliminate the need for attendants to monitor doors.
Another new use for doors is to create heated drying chambers, separating wet from dry areas in your wash. This conserves space and gas consumption. A good door can pay for itself quickly in only energy savings. Your manufacturer can provide supporting documentation on energy savings that you can take to your local utility. Some utilities will provide funds to help pay for the cost of the new door.
Doors are not used exclusively in northern climates any longer. Operators in the South and West are adding doors to separate spaces in their tunnels, stop wind from blowing out of the bay onto waiting customers’ cars, control traffic and contain noise.
Visibility and space
A good quality door will allow light into the bay, reducing the lighting required and showing customers your equipment and operation. Visibility through the door also makes customers feel less confined and more comfortable in your wash. Because the door’s color can also match the color scheme on your building, canopy and signs, adding a door creates an updated aesthetic for your entire wash. Signage can be added directly to the door to instruct customers on the operation or to be used as a marketing opportunity.
Modern high performance doors take up very little space in the bay, leaving room for cleaning elements that add value to your offering. If security is a concern on your site, a high performance door can be mounted on the exterior of the bay with an inexpensive manual door inside for opening and closing. If this isn’t possible, a “pull-out” can be installed to place the high performance door behind a rolling or high lift door. In many cases, just the appearance of a door can drive away thieves.
Maintenance and repair
Maintenance on any door is a primary concern. In the past, air lines, pulleys, counterweights and cables were regular maintenance issues; failures could close your wash on the most inconvenient of days. Reliable electric operators have increased reliability and decreased regular maintenance items.
High performance doors are able to break away on impact and reset on the next cycle so a vehicle strike does not force a wash to close, even for a short time. The cost of one vehicle strike, not only in repairs, but also in money lost due to down time, hassle and poor customer relations can pay back an investment in a high performance door.
“Door” should not be a four-letter word in your business. Your door is the first thing your customers see and the last thing they encounter upon exiting. It should be an exciting event when the door opens. Cars are carried into the colorful world of the carwash, and customers experience the anticipation of a clean, shiny car coming out the other end after the great adventure you have created inside your wash.