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When I arrive at my car wash any time, day or night, I think of the words an operator shared with me at the Car Care World Expo in Las Vegas years ago: "Your car wash needs to be clean and safe, and everything has to work."
So, as I pull into the parking lot, I look for any trash on the property, debris in the bays or weeds in the landscaping. Then I try to look deeper – Are the white walls white enough or do we need to acid wash them? Is the glass in the in bay automatic clear and clean?
Now that I visit hundreds of car washes a year, I cannot help but ask these same questions when I drive into any operation. It may be a personality flaw, but a dirty operation drives me crazy. An interesting observation is that many busy operations are still finding the time to clean up and make the place look spick and span.
Recently, I was at a Dirtbusters site in Sacramento, California. I noticed the manager directing an employee in repainting the curbs after the lot had been swept for the second time in the last few hours. With the new clean, white paint on the entrance curbs, the place really looked better.
On the other hand, I have gone into several sites that have two employees sitting on a curb smoking cigarettes and texting while the wrappers from the fast food restaurant next door blow across their parking lot like tumble weeds in an old western ghost town. The operator complains to me about the lack of cars in his wash and the cost of labor. I gently point out the two on the curb doing nothing and suggest they go to work cleaning up the place.
Besides obvious tasks, like cleaning up the trash and keeping the weeds down, here are ways I have seen different operations, including automatics, tunnels and wand bays, keep it clean:
- Bleach the bays to make sure no moss or green grows in them. I recommend doing this at night when there is no traffic to put water on the bleach to make the bays very clean over night.
- Power wash the walls and equipment on a regular basis. At my car wash, we do it on the first Tuesday of the month. Why Tuesday? It is our slowest day, and we don’t want to interrupt business. (Note: We wash the bays down every day as needed, but use a light acid once a month to keep the place extra clean.)
- Power wash the trash cans. You may think this is unnecessary, but think of the last time you threw something away in a disgusting-looking trash can. It made you think the entire place was filthy.
- Wipe down your vacuums and power wash the hoses every week. The vacuums are, in my opinion, the calling card for the cleanliness of your car wash. If the vacuums and the vacuum claws, as well as the hoses (which are handled constantly by your customers), are clean, your customers will be impressed by the cleanliness of your wash.
- Paint, paint, paint. A new coat of paint can make a location look brand new, even when it is not, and can add significant value without adding too much expense.
Years ago, I met Tiger Warren, who started a chain of fast food restaurants. His words of advice to the other students and me in my MBA class were simple but profound: "You can have the healthiest or the least healthy menu. You can have the most or the least expensive menu. You can have the simplest or the most complicated menu, but, if you clean your bathrooms, customers will come back to your restaurant."
Dan Fulton, Regional Manager – West Coast, Blendco Systems, LLC
Blendco manufactures a full line of detergents and waxes for the professional carwash industry. You can contact Blendco at: www.blendco.com.