Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Five secrets to success from Cloister Car Wash

October 11, 2010
All it takes is a quick glance around the newest Cloister Car Wash facility in Sinking Spring, PA, to realize this ain’t your average carwash. From its picturesque landscaping, to its breathtaking wall murals, to the motorcycle wash, the flat-belt conveyor and the almost-too-neat fast lube facility, this wash has got a lot going for it.

This isn’t the first time Professional Carwashing & Detailing has visited and featured a Cloister Car Wash in its pages. Back in 1999, after touring the chain’s new Lancaster, PA, location, PC&D’s Paul Amos remarked, “Cloister is a marvel — massive in scope and loaded with innovations.”

And the innovations didn’t stop in 1999. Since then, they have doubled the size of their four-acre Lancaster facility by opening their newest site in Sinking Spring. It covers eight-acres, all of them totally dedicated to washing and lubing.

And in the last eight years, the company has perfected its signature flat-belt conveyor technology, invented a self-serve motorcycle wash that includes a Cloister engineered and fabricated two-foot lift for customers who prefer two-wheels to four, and explored the world of pet washing. Cloister invented and constructed a downdraft heated drying room — and this is just mentioning a few innovations. The chain is committed to moving the industry forward.

Today, owner Mike Mountz, together with wife, Rhoda, and the rest of the Cloister team, operate four carwashes and continually strive to improve and perfect their services. In an article as non-traditional as the carwash itself, PC&D has elected to let the pictures of Cloister’s new facility do the talking. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Idea #1:
Diversify your offerings
Cloister Car Wash offers its patrons nearly every carwash option from, self-serve bays to pet wash bays to conveyorized full serve and express detailing. Cloister offers motorcycle enthusiasts a specially-designed motorcycle wash, using chemicals formulated with the help of Harley-Davidson.

While the motorcycle wash is too new to have any numbers serve as a testament to its success, Mountz feels just offering customers an additional, specialized service has fulfilled its purpose, not to mention all the raving reviews.

“Our customers see that we’ve gone the extra mile to offer them this extra service and that generates a lot of goodwill,” Mountz explained. “And we really made it special. We made it specifically for motorcycles — cars can’t even drive into this area.”

Mountz said he got the idea for a motorcycle wash at a Car Care World Expo a few years back. One booth featured a chopper from Orange County. As Mountz was bending down to check out the bike’s engine and design, he realized what a pain it must be to thoroughly wash and dry a motorcycle.

So Mountz gave the idea to Team Cloister, his employees who also serve as engineers and architects for his fanciful ideas. They turned out a design that operated similar to a fork lift and it spun out from there.

Several Cloister Car Wash sites have lube facilities in order to offer a more complete car care package for customers. Inside the lobby of the Sinking Springs site, a wide-range of car care products can be found amid a cleverly-themed antique auto interior.

And if offering a complete and total car care package wasn’t enough, Cloister is also into the pet washing game, undoubtedly giving them yet another edge over the competition.

Idea #2:
Spread the word name
Cloister uses its name everywhere. From air fresheners to goodie bags and window cleaner to their own named street with traffic signal. Not only does Cloister market itself well on its premises, but it also encourages customer to continue to display its name around town. If a vehicle is seen parked off-site with a Cloister air freshener dangling from its rearview mirror, a coupon for a free carwash is placed under the wiper blade as a reward.

“I love driving around town and seeing our name on the air fresheners,” Mountz said. “It really helps spread the word, and we want to be sure to properly thank them for helping us.”

Idea #3:
Beauty sells
Some of the best compliments Cloister receives from customers don’t even concern the carwash or its many services — but the landscaping.

“It is very important for us to have a beautiful site,” Mountz explained. “A lot of times, we have people come by the wash just to check out the flowers. I’ve seen people out their with cameras.”

And if the gorgeous landscaping didn’t capture your attention, the murals on the inside walls most definitely will. Remarkably, the paintings were all done by Cloister employees.

“Team Cloister, from some of our innovations to our murals, is really involved with the success of the carwash. We wouldn’t be anywhere without such an incredible staff,” Mountz said.

Idea #4:
Happy employees, happy customers
Mountz’s idea here is simple: treat your employees well and they will treat your customers well. It’s a concept many carwashes try to live by, but Cloister has made a name for itself by doing so.

“We hire a lot of high school kids and college kids, and we know their value,” Mountz said. “We give them good working conditions, and in return, they give our customers a great wash.”

Idea #5:
Go big or go home
In the end, Cloister Car Wash really is about giving the customer as much quality service as possible. Cloister site’s are large and offerings are many, but “going big” also means giving customers their money’s worth with outstanding service for the total “WOW” experience.

“Our vision really was to just give the customer a good carwash,” Mountz said. “I think that means continually reinventing your wash and what it offers, and giving the customer as much value as possible. We’ve done a lot over the years, and I haven’t been afraid to try something new even if it might not work out. I think that is what has made us such a success.”