Today, doors are more important than ever in the carwash industry. In fact, a set of properly installed doors can help carwashes regulate traffic, control utility costs, reduce upkeep and attract passing customers. To learn more about the advantages that carwash doors offer, PC&D turned to Tom Zimmerman, national sales manager with Wynd Star Doors.
Phillip Lawless: How can doors make a good first impression on a carwash customer?
Tom Zimmerman: Well, doors are important, particularly in giving a lot of color to the site and … making the site look all together. We sell doors that have different color choices available. It also can communicate to the customer that everything is put together professionally, and it all works together. If you match your awnings and your canopy and your doors, it gives the overall site a very good look.
Phillip Lawless: Have you noticed any new door trends recently in the carwash industry?
Tom Zimmerman: Well, we do the high-performance vinyl doors, and that’s been a trend that’s newer to the industry. It fills the needs of customers that want a low-maintenance, high-cycle, high-speed door. [Owners are] expecting more out of the doors than they ever have in the past, and they use it as a selling tool to keep customers inside the bays longer on the self-service end of the business. On the automatic, they use them to control traffic. And then in the conveyorized tunnels, where in the past they weren’t using doors to control spaces in the conveyor, now they’re putting more doors between spaces inside the tunnel to get the best utilization out of that as they can.
Phillip Lawless: So, you’re seeing more roll-up vinyl doors in the industry. Why are owners interested in using those in carwashes?
Tom Zimmerman: Well, they’re interested in them because of the low maintenance on the door [and] the simple operation. If the door was to be hit by a vehicle in the past, using a traditional track door, you’d have to shut that wash bay down, get a service provider out and get them to repair the door before you could open … the bay back up. With the vinyl doors, they will auto repair themselves. If they get hit, they will not damage the vehicle.
Phillip Lawless: What are some other features that carwash owners are looking for from their doors today?
Tom Zimmerman: They want a door that’s not going to close the bay off to light, and to make the bay look open. So having a clear door, or a door with mostly clear panels and a color on the border, keeps that bay looking open and enables natural light to get into the wash bay.People aren’t feeling like they’re in a tunnel when they’re in the carwash. As well, it will not discolor and fade like a polycarbonate door will.
Phillip Lawless: New styles of doors now open and close quicker than in the past. Why is this an advantage to a carwash owner?
Tom Zimmerman: They do open and close faster, and it gets people on and off the site quicker. Particularly a high-capacity conveyor, where you’re wanting to wash 100 cars per hour, 130 cars per hour, it enables [you] to open and close the door in between cycles of the wash. As well … if the customer is in the drive-through bay and they’re trying to get out of the bay quickly, they jump the gun, the doors not going to be in the way. So the faster the better. And also, the faster the going down the more heat it keeps inside the bay.
Phillip Lawless: Does the weather influence whether a carwash uses doors or doesn’t?
Tom Zimmerman: Very much so. Where we do most of the business on the winter weather [is] Tennessee and above. Prevention of freezing is the biggest use of the doors. However, we are seeing more people down South use them, particularly in a touch free bay, to control the wind going through that bay, to keep the chemicals on the vehicle and not on the next car coming in, as well as to control traffic. A vast majority of [doors] are in the northern part of the territories, but there is some growth in the southern part.
Phillip Lawless: How can doors affect upkeep costs inside a carwash?
Tom Zimmerman: When you’re keeping the temperature of the bay higher, you’re freeze-up costs are going to be much lower. [A customer] was talking about the amount of money that he is saving in “weep” water. The machines will not weep the water in order to keep them going. So, he saves money on water, he saves money on natural gas because the wind is not constantly carrying the heat of his bay outside of the bay. Hoses, fittings, all those types of things that are prone to damage when it freezes. If you’re using doors properly, you’re not needing to do that work. And it’s usually in the winter when you’re getting your highest volumes and your biggest problems.