Professional Carwashing & Detailing

The finer points of window cleaning

Setting up an organized system can prevent streaked windows and create repeat customers.

January 3, 2013

I hope you had a great 2012 and a fabulous holiday season. Here we are in the new year. Some of you on the east coast will be in your prime season while operators out here on the west coast are hunkering down and trying to put together profitable days between the rains.

The importance of clean windows

One of the things I have never touched on in Professional Carwashing & Detailing has been the finer points and details of production line window cleaning. This service will keep your customers coming back and completely satisfied with spotless windows.

As an operator, I have found that although I turn out a perfectly clean car, if I miss the windows or if they are streaked at all, I have a 50 percent chance of permanently losing that customer. From the customers’ point of view, the first thing they see when they get in their car is the windows, and if you have the sun glaring in the direction of the customer, then the windows are that much more apparent. There are several ways to present the customer their vehicle, but sooner or later they will notice the windows — and it’s usually sooner rather than later.

There are many reasons why windows will streak and mitigating the problem is done in several steps that must be followed carefully and thoroughly. One of the main reasons windows streak is towels that are dirty or contaminated. Usually the culprits are tire dressing or some other solvent that ended up on the window towels. One of the easiest ways to contaminate towels is by mixing the window towels with the regular towels in the cleaning machine. Once the window towels have dressing on them, it is almost impossible to get it out, and it will streak customers’ windows for days. By simply not mixing up the towels, one can avoid this dilemma, but that is easier said than done.

Wiping out contamination

There are specific ways to ensure that the window towels are not susceptible to tire dressings, waxes, solvents and other oil based products. The best way that I have found uses a four step method that takes supervision and, if need be, discipline.

Step one: Color code your towels. This means all window towels will be blue, for instance, noting the color of the window cleaner itself, which is usually blue. Also, yellow or red can be used for the wax towels since these are usually wax colors.

Step two: Separate all your towels into different wash tubs and use those wash tubs for the corresponding towels exclusively. In other words, never mix your towels together. If an accident happens and someone puts the wrong towel in the wrong wash tub, or uses a window towel on another part of the car, throw away all the towels that were used incorrectly or placed in the wrong tub. Then, thoroughly scrub and clean that wash tub with a semi-abrasive, non-oil based cleaner.

Step three: Train the employees to follow this routine to the detriment of their position.

Step four: Follow through with step three.

This four-step method, if followed thoroughly, carefully and methodically, will ensure that your towels will rarely get mixed up. If they do, simply follow the last half of step two.

Following through

Steps three and four can be the hardest steps to follow. What I usually suggest is a checklist next to the towel cleaner. Also, a color code chart can be posted above the wash tubs that correspond to the color of the towels being washed. This way, there will be no confusion, even if there is a language barrier amongst employees and/or supervisors.

At the end of the day, it is your supervisors that will need to be responsible for the employees. By making their job contingent upon enforcement of these methods, one will find that few errors are made.

I also suggest identifying problems in customers’ vehicles, such as cigarette smoke or perhaps a car that had an oil change accident, which I have run into several times, is very beneficial. Simply take the car to the side and apply the proper cleaning methods. Use towels that will not be needed on the regular production line.

By following these simple steps and methods, you will ensure a happy customer and, most importantly, a return customer. You will also cut down on material expense, wash time expense and other costs associated with labor and production line methods.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will try and provide you with a solution to whatever problem you may be dealing with.

Until next time folks, don’t get caught with your towels down.

Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, CA, can be reached at 310-947-9711, or via email at chris@carwash-consultant.com. You can also visit his website at www.carwash-consultant.com.