From what I have observed over the past year, 2013 holds a promise on a return to better and better carwash volumes. As the economy settles, people are returning to regular spending habits. It looks like the real estate market has bottomed out and there are also signs that employment is on the rise in some areas. Real estate and development costs still remain high; however a sound business plan with the right location still makes a lot of business sense. These are all good signs for the carwash industry and we will see more of the same, with a slight increase in carwash volumes for the coming year.
Judging from talks I’ve had with many of the operators during the tradeshow season last fall, from the east to the west, carwash operators are now planning to make improvements and reinvest in their locations. Some are continuing to expand and grow the number of sites they own and operate; while others are simply looking to improve their location and offering. The bottom-line is this: Offer the customer more of what they are looking for.
The strong message is the need to define what you have, and to redefine the value proposition you are now offering your customer. Unlike previous years, future trends in this business lean towards implementing subtle changes within your business ― subtle changes, but with a strong impact. Customers are very loyal to ‘convenient’ and ‘clean’ ― those operators that do this best will reap the rewards.
Here’s a checklist for some the questions you should ask yourself:
Consider building improvements. Your business has to have curb appeal to attract customers off of the street.
Enough can’t be said about the importance of convenience, RFID systems, and monthly pass packages.
Social media, for example, is an inexpensive and highly effective marketing tool.
Whether you own a tunnel, an in-bay automatic, or a self-serve carwash, look closely at what trends are emerging in the industry and follow the proven methods. This is essential to your success now and in the future.
Here are some of the important trends happening in our industry:
Finally, as an equipment manufacturer, I see a continuous movement towards “touch technology”. Why? It comes back to the key driving factors of convenience and quality. Your customers have less time to spend at your carwash, so you need to ensure you get them in and out quickly with the best you can offer in wash quality, and be totally satisfied at the same time. Now, in-bay automatics can be converted into express IBAs which can triple a carwash’s volume, and ultimately, provide more convenience and offer up more value to customers.
Remember that promising a customer value is what gets them to choose your carwash over the competition, and delivering on that promise is what makes customers come back to your carwash again and again. Make this commitment a strong part of your 2013 business plan.
Vince MacNeil, CEO of MacNeil Wash Systems, has over 30 years of experience in the equipment manufacturing business. His primary field of expertise is in the tunnel industry, where he has been involved in car wash manufacturing and development throughout North America and globally. His ability to keep abreast of technological change and consumer trends in the car wash industry is an important part of the success of MacNeil Wash Systems.