Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Who's The Best

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

October 30, 2009


I would say, one of the questions I get with the most frequency when I talk about chemical is "Who is the best"? The answer is; no one company is the best, it's how the company fits into your plans and the service they provide in your area. Let's look at things you might want out of a chemical, and the things that make a great rep.

First let me start out by saying that you can’t find a magical chemical which will give you a clean, dry, and shiny car with out the proper equipment and vise versa. When setting up the car wash chemical layout you will find many varying options on how it’s done (email me for the setup I like to use.) The main thing is a clean, dry, shiny car, right? Yes and no. The clean, dry, and shiny part is true but the part that needs to be added is – at an acceptable cost. So how can you get a chemical supplier to provide you this information and prove that they are what you need? Set up the products you want to use and have the chemical supplier adjust the products until you are happy with the end result. Once you are satisfied with the way the cars are coming out, the next part is finding out if the cost is acceptable. To find the true cost you need to find out the cost per drum, and then do the following exercise with your chemical rep.

First, record the amount of product used for each car (in milliliters). Divide the milliliters used by 29 to get the ounces of product used per car. Do this for three cars and use an average.

Second, figure out the cost per ounce of the product by dividing the cost per drum by the number of gallons in the drum to get the cost per gallon. Then, divide the cost per gallon by the number of ounces in a gallon to get the cost per ounce. Next, multiply the cost per ounce by the number of ounces applied per car to get your cost per car.

Example: 35 ml used divided by 29 = 1.2 ounces of product per car. Cost per drum ($300) divided by the number of gallons in the drum (30 gal.) = $10/gal. $10/gal. divided by the number of ounces in a gallon (128 oz.) = $.08/oz. Cost per ounce ($.08) times number of ounces of product per car (1.2 oz.) = $.10/car. Your cost for this application is ten cents per car.

Now that you have the chemical and are happy with the results you are getting, you need consistency. Consistency is the key to building repeat customers for your car wash, and the chemical rep has to help you provide it. In order for a rep to do this, they have to understand their product and the car wash equipment being used to apply it At a minimum, your chemical rep should be at your wash on a bi-weekly basis. It is also good to have a rep that will provide you a list of problems he/she encountered, whether or not these problems were addressed, and any adjustments made to the equipment or products. A rep should also be willing to make sure you understand the equipment and products so you can make any adjustments in their absence and eventually, you will be able to confidently make any adjustments yourself.

Having a rep who supports their product at your business is priceless and delivering consistency in your service will help raise car counts. As always, I hope this tip will help you in running your business and save you money.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.