Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Fuels, power and trends

Exploring what’s new and what lies ahead for the carwashing and automotive industries.

June 20, 2013

Hi everyone, hope you all are enjoying your summer and a very happy 4th of July to you!

In this article I wanted to touch on something a bit different and explore the possibilities of what lies ahead not only in the carwash industry but in the automotive world as a whole, particularly energy sources and the future of conventional fuels, power supplies and methods for sustainability.

In recent articles from last year, I alluded to the rising costs of fossil fuels and how that would affect the carwash industry in so far as the customer’s ability to spend money and more importantly, how those spending habits will trend at the carwash.

I think we all have noticed a certain degree of caution on the part of the customer when it comes to ‘the extras’ and how that is now making its mark on the bottom line. While I have provided many tips on how to employ certain techniques to boost sales, the challenge remains and is not likely to go away soon.

More sustainable energy sources

Let’s look at some of the newer, more sustainable energy sources that are making their way into the free market economy.

1)      Ethanol

2)      Bio-diesel

3)      Electric

4)      Hydrogen

Some of these fuels have been around for quite a while and some are more fairly recent. But, one thing is sure to change in this country and around the world; and that is what the energy demands and the sources by which we acquire them are going to be.

Some of the initiatives that are being brought forward by state and federal governments are fuel system infrastructures and their scheduled implementation. Already we have seen the electric cars driving around for years and soon we will be seeing more bio-diesel.

Coming soon will be the hydrogen-powered cars and their fuel cells. The cost of fueling a car with a hydrogen cell is currently about $20. The hydrogen is sold in the form of kilograms and one fill-up is approximately 2 kg. The hydrogen vehicle with a full tank can travel anywhere from 200-300 miles. As you can see, the fuel efficiency of cars like the hydrogen cell is much greater and therefore, vehicle owners are much more likely to spend their saved fuel cost on items like carwashes and other things associated with the upkeep and maintenance of their vehicles.

In the past, experience has traditionally shown that with low fuel costs come increased spending at the carwash, especially with items such as hand waxes, interior detailing, and other ‘extras’.

As we move into the future with potentially much lower fueling and energy costs, we also move into a future where we in the car wash business potentially move into a much more profitable outlook. How does this affect the bottom line and valuations?; we shall see!

Trends seen at The Car Wash Show™

Now let’s look at some of the other new trends that are coming to the carwash industry as of late…

Here are some of the things I had seen at the most recent International Carwash Association® Car Wash Show™ this past April in Las Vegas

Pet washing: This seems like a strange thing but perhaps there is a niche for it at local carwashes. I can only imagine a wet pooch in the back of a freshly cleaned vehicle and the smells that go with that. But, if they have the proper dryers and towels available, it seems like this could become very popular.

Motorcycle washing: This is probably something whose time has come and it may well fit into or at least run alongside the traditional car wash model.

Windshield repair: I actually know of a few carwashes that are offering this and they seem to be making quite a go of it. The smart thing that they are doing is setting up the repair to be billed directly to a customer’s insurance. This way the salesperson can offer the repair and the work is done with a simple signature. If you have window tinting services already set up at your facility, this maybe something you might want to look into as well.

Dent repair: There are a quite a few shops that are offering minor bumper and dent repair along with other services such as a pin-striping, decal removal and paint chip restoration.

Headlight restoration/renewal: For some time now the car wash and detail industry has latched on to the renewal and rejuvenation of headlamps and headlight glass/plastic. This is a great add-on to any detail shop and can also garner you a name throughout your local community as the “go-to” spot for thorough and quality detail services.

Preparing for the future

As you can see by looking ahead into the cost effective fuel and energy sources, there will be plenty of money left over for other items and services within the greater scope of the vehicle care industry. By properly planning ahead and also by speaking with some direct marketing experts, you can formulate a concise strategy for reaching your target audience.

My next article will explore some different types of customers, their needs, and some popular ways to reach them. We will also visit specific demographics and the buying trends associated.

Till next time,
Chris, www.carwash-consultant.com

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.