Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Complete the clean with vacuums

Advances in vacuum technology are giving customers more cleaning options and keeping them at your location longer.

November 30, 2012

People take great pride in the appearance of their automobiles.

Whether they are personal vehicles or fleet cars, vans and trucks, looks most certainly matter.

Individuals value clean, polished paint and shiny rims and tires, but there is more to cleanliness than a vehicle’s exterior.

Imagine yourself as a carwash customer who carved out a couple of hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

You cruise through the in-bay automatic and proceed to dry your vehicle with a clean microfiber cloth before putting on the final detailing touches of tire shine, chrome polish and vinyl trim protectant.

In wanting to give your vehicle’s interior the same treatment, you clean the windows, wipe down the dashboard, doors and center console and then attempt to vacuum the seats and carpeting.

Whereas the water pressure and the concentration of cleaning chemicals that helped provide a mirror-like shine on the shell of your vehicle were of merit, the performance of the vacuum is subpar at best.

As a loyal patron of this establishment, you would likely be disappointed — possibly even upset — that you are unable to complete the clean because the vacuum at your disposal is unable to pick up the debris you wish to remove.

Moreover, this less-than-powerful vacuum is noisy, malodorous and, stemming from a lack of exhaust filtration, is blowing soil particulates onto your just-cleaned vehicle.

It is not a stretch to assume that any customer with such an experience — regardless of how regal your establishment might be — would seek an alternative location the next time he or she chooses to clean their motor vehicle.

A great customer experience is contingent on a collection of minor details, each of which adds to or deducts from one’s satisfaction; clean, aesthetically pleasing and properly functioning vacuums are minutiae that truly matter.

Ebb and flow

Just like a domestic vacuum or the one used to ensure a debris-free lobby in your place of business, the orifice on the vacuum head has a great deal of influence on overall performance.

Determining the ideal sized opening and shape of the nozzle is a delicate balancing act of give and take.

Most units come equipped with a particular nozzle because it has been tested and will provide a marriage between a large enough opening to capture coins, straw wrappers, paper clips, bobby pins and myriad other objects of refuse while delivering enough airflow to successfully remove the aforementioned garbage.

The shape and size of the vacuum port can change the characteristics of the vacuum cleaner.

For instance, reducing the size of the opening will increase the amount of airflow, which is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), but will naturally decrease the volume capacity of the unit.

In this case, smaller and often heavier debris like pebbles and stones would be more easily vacuumed away, but the user would be limited in the amount of dirt he or she could remove with one pass or the size of the rocks and stones that could be picked up.

According to Johnny Eyer of Mr. Nozzle Inc., this phenomenon can be demonstrated with a common garden hose — and you’ve likely experienced it firsthand.

“If you have a garden hose and want to fill up a bucket of water the fastest, you would want to do that without the water nozzle,” exclaimed Eyer. “People use water nozzles to increase the pressure, and the way that is achieved is by reducing the size of the opening. The nozzle will not have a substantial influence on airflow unless the opening was drastically changed to a larger or smaller diameter from the port on the vacuum.”

While CFM can be tweaked by retrofitting new vacuum heads, the effort is fruitless if your units are delivering poor airflow from the start.

A common culprit of poor suction is an overfilled collection tank.

Most vacuum manufacturers and cleaning consultants recommend emptying a vacuum bag or collection tank when it is half to three-quarters full.

Some might think of this as a waste of time and resources but, keeping the receptacle from becoming too full allows air to circulate through the collection area and helps the unit maintain optimum CFM.

Plus, not overburdening the unit by forcing it to work harder than that for which it was intended will keep it running better for longer.

Profits through cleanliness and performance

As a business owner or operator, you are cognizant that profit puts food on the table and money keeps the wheels spinning.

And, because happy customers spend more, it is your duty to provide your customers with what they want and ensure their satisfaction to the best of your human ability.

One way carwash proprietors are squeezing a few additional cents out of their patrons is by purchasing and installing multiuse vacuum units that go beyond dry particulate soil removal.

By swapping out your traditional vacuum-only units with newer versions that offer extraction, odor control and more, you exponentially increase the likelihood of customers remaining at your location and pumping quarters or tokens into the machines.

Naturally, this will increase your profits while simultaneously securing satisfied repeat customers.

“The more uses a customer has at the vacuum station, the longer amount of time they’re going to spend there,” quipped Eyer. “This leads to more money.”

Of course, one should never overlook the importance of clean equipment as it relates to use encouragement.

If a carwash patron wants to complete the clean and tidy up their vehicle’s interior after washing, polishing and/or waxing the exterior, they are far more likely to do so at your location if your equipment is clean and inviting.

As such, it behooves you and your employees to consistently monitor vacuuming stations and empty trash receptacles and vacuum canisters before they overflow. Also, wipe down units before they become visibly soiled and ensure all hoses, nozzles, buttons, levers, doohickeys and other thingamajigs are in good repair.

A vehicle is not fully clean unless the interior matches the radiance of the paint, rims, tires and trim.

By limiting your available options to traditional vacuums that offer no add-on services or by harboring old units that frustrate with their insufficient suction, you are driving customers away and diminishing your profitability.

But, for the savvy owners and operators who understand the importance of clean, aesthetically pleasing and high-tech vacuums that do more than a patron might initially expect, vacuums can be a source of immense profit.

Remember, revenue is not only about how much someone spends today; rather, it is measured in your successful enticement for them to continually come back to your location and fulfill their carwashing and detailing needs.

And, while every facet of your operation has some influence on repeat business, vacuums are a like the top right-hand corner piece of the puzzle that ties the larger picture together.

 

Aaron Baunee, a graduate of the University at Albany with a double major in history and journalism, is the managing editor of Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine. He can be reached at ABaunee@ntpmedia.com.