Professional Carwashing & Detailing

An icy hot commodity

March 16, 2011

For many in the carwash industry – particularly those operators in the Northeast – the thought of ice can make a grown man cry. But when you take the ice off the car and the road, and put it in the glass, it becomes a commodity worth considering as an add-on business for your carwash location.

Ice vending machines are starting to pop up at carwashes throughout the country, serving customers who are not only sprucing up the family car but also headed to a tailgate party or birthday celebration. These machines are easy to maintain — and they also sell themselves.

To find out more about this growing trend, we talked to Debbie Bailey of Ice Machines International, Inc., a company based out of Myrtle Beach, SC. She let us in on why you might want to considering selling ice at your carwash and how this additional profit center requires little additional work.

Why selling ice is a good idea
Ice vending, according to Bailey, can provide convenience for your customers and a new revenue stream for you as you have already identified your location with high traffic and existing water and energy services. “This,” she said, “makes it easy to provide ice as a complimentary product.”

Ice vending is the same as a carwash in that it can offer automated, self-service convenience, and sometimes at a 24/7 rate.

Bailey said they offer a vending machine fitted with two programmable buttons allowing the operator to establish the quantity of ice and price per vend to satisfy your customers’ needs at your particular location.

“Your customers,” she said, “will love the pure, clear, gourmet quality ice cubes, freshly made at your location. And, the automatic bagging design dispenses ice directly into a bag or cooler, without touching human hands.”

Space needed and upkeep
According to Bailey, one of their machines requires only about 18 square feet of floor space either inside or outside.

As for upkeep and maintenance, she said the periodic removal of the currency and coins from the machine, wiping the machine down with a mild household cleaner and soft cloth, and replenishing the bags and twist ties as needed, is what is required. She said machines are equipped with water filters to ensure clean, clear ice. The water filter cartridges need to be changed regularly, about every six months.

“The ice machine and storage bin,” she advised, “should be inspected, every three to six months to determine the need for cleaning and sanitizing as recommended by the manufacturer. It’s also good to check all water fitting and lines as well as the refrigeration tubing at this periodic checkup.”

Got pure water?
According to Bailey, if your facility has spot-free rinse water, then even less maintenance is involved, because you would not have to change filters.

“Using pure water keeps the evaporator and water pump clean, which can extend the life of the ice machine. Using pure water can also extend the time between maintenance cleanings,” she said.

Bailey added that a new machine can last as long as 10 to 15 years, depending on water quality, frequency of use and the environmental conditions.