We all know that 2006 was a tough year in our industry. The perfect storm of high retail gasoline prices, unfavorable weather conditions, and rising utilities costs combined to put a hurt on both the top and bottom lines of carwashes across the US. In the face of such an onslaught, it is understandable that many operators are 'battening down the hatches', cutting costs wherever possible to ride out the storm, and proceeding with extreme caution when it comes to investing in their business.
But this is also a time of some real sea changes in our industry, and you owe it to your business to adopt some of the new technologies and practices that are emerging. You can dramatically change the course of your business, but only if you educate yourself about the innovations available. And there is no better place to do it than at the Car Care World Expo in Las Vegas on March 25-28.
When you think about the combination of advances in wash equipment and materials, improvements in auto-tellers and coin/bill/credit card acceptors, and upgraded systems for wheel cleaning and tire shining, it is clear that opportunities are at hand to transform your operations, potentially reducing labor while providing a higher quality wash experience to your customers. You can learn about all these and more at the show.
New Revenue-Generating Services
A great deal of successful experimentation is taking place in the area of offering new services and creating new profits. Witness the advent of pet washes as another reason to stop at the self-serve carwash. How about adding in-bay self-serve dryers to your bays? What about the idea of a self-serve tire shiner? On the tunnel wash side of the business, the addition of total-car protectants to the wash menu has generated significant new revenues and profits, because of some highly effective new chemistries.
New Marketing Ideas
Have you heard yet about spa radio (107.7 FM)? You can broadcast your wash offerings and specials, and even sell advertising using your own mini 'radio station' at your wash.
And it is easier than ever to have a Web site created for your wash, and the good news is that you can outsource this work to any number of Web designers who have tailored affordable packages for the carwash industry.
There simply is no place to learn more, faster, about all that is going on in our industry than to go to the Car Care World Expo later this month. If you go with the mindset that says, "I am going to come back with at least one new way to make more money and one new way to save money at my wash", you will find it easy to accomplish that goal and more. Attend the Educational Sessions. Go to the Early Bird forums and listen to what your fellow operators are doing that works. Walk the tradeshow floor. Actually listen to the pitches from booth personnel! I guarantee you will pay for your trip several times over if you do.
Laurie Sherman is Co-owner of Blendco Systems, LLC. Blendco manufactures a full line of detergents and waxes for the professional carwash industry. You can contact Blendco at: www.blendco.com.