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Carwashing's new electronic landscape

October 11, 2010
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Advances in computer technology now allow people to read newspapers online, watch videos on their computer and even order their groceries via the Internet.

Just recently it seems that the new wave of technological advancements is also starting to creep into the carwash industry, the International Carwash Association’s (ICA) inaugural Car Care World eXpo 2005 being the most recent and focal innovation.

Up and running
The online show, which took place Nov. 9-13, 2005, saw more than 1,100 carwash owners, operators, vendors and suppliers browsing through the virtual floor.

“Using every instrument imaginable, our assessment was that it was an overwhelming success,” Mark Thorsby, executive director of the ICA stated.

The online event offered visitors a chance to peruse company information from 45 exhibitors, with a total of 275 exhibit booth personnel on staff to answer visitors’ questions.

According to Thorsby, most people didn’t experience any difficulty with the new technology the event presented.

However, having said that, he also explained that those few who encountered issues faced extreme difficulties, usually as a result of not reading the preparation information distributed prior to the show opening.

“The overwhelming response was that this kind of event has great potential for our industry,” Thorsby said. Several attendees provided comments and feedback regarding the event to the ICA.

“This is productive and fun and I like the platform and combination of tools. I can attend a seminar and have three or four conversations at the same time, collect info and organize,” Steve Berkman, Foothill Carwash, Sioux Falls, SD told the ICA.

Ken Brott from DRB Systems, Inc., an exhibitor at the online show, said his company had a bunch of “lookers,” although very few folks actually stayed to chat with their staff.

“It appeared to us that there may have been a problem with the ‘chat’ technology,” Brott said. “We had a few instances where we felt sure that someone was at our booth, but were unable to see them and chat.”

Thorsby said that the ICA found that attendees and exhibitors alike had some difficulties or weren’t really interested in engaging in online chats.

“So, the networking wasn’t as strong as we would have liked, but we think there are some things we can do to affect that,” Thorsby said.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing® magazine was quick to recognize the importance of the ICA’s Internet event and partnered with the association on its marketing efforts.

“PCD was thrilled at being part of a new test of the power of electronic media. We know it is vital to make use of interactive communications media, and were pleased to support ICA’s leadership role in introducing it to the professional car-care industry,” Mike Hilts, publisher of PCD stated.

“As an exhibitor, we experienced a lot of booth traffic and had several online conversations that led to useful feedback from readers, new subscribers, exchanges of ideas that may lead to our next article, and conversations with a wide number of manufacturers and suppliers,” Hilts said.

The future
Will the ICA give the online convention a second shot? According to Thorsby, it is a distinct possibility.

“I’m not sure that we’ve come to a conclusion about a second eXpo yet,” Thorsby said. “Certainly, it’s my belief that we’re going to attempt to plan and conduct another event in 2006, but it’s way too early to tell.”

“We felt it was a useful tool for us and look forward to participating again,” Brott said. “We found it to provide excellent exposure to our products.”

More than just bringing exhibitors and wash owners together, this event is one of the first reaches the carwash industry has made into the new Internet age.

“This event was one more step on a journey that the association (ICA) has embarked upon that is designed to bring this industry comfortably into the new age of electronic technology,” Thorsby said.

According to the Thorsby, “That is the wave of the future and this is just one more experience that we have offered people in this industry to get comfortable learning how to ‘navigate’ the new electronic landscape.”

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