Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Has the carwash industry gone to the dogs?

October 11, 2010

Offering multiple services to customers is becoming more common every day in the carwash industry. Simply offering your clientele an air freshener and heavy-duty vacuum just seems so passe. Coffee, sweets, sandwiches, entertainment — they’ve all found a place in carwashes across the U.S.

So naturally, carwash owners are taking the next evolutionary step in the process — offering their clientele and furry friends a pet wash.

With more national distributors offering pet wash units to carwash operators, the topic has surfaced and is up for debate (see page 78) among those looking to add something to an existing under-performing wash bay.

Expanding in the pet wash market
For those interested in expanding their customer service base even further, consider vending. Many carwash owners are already in the vending market and offer their customers everything from air fresheners to windshield glass cleaners. For those breaking into the pet wash market the next step is obvious — start offering pet related products; such as different types of soaps, treats, leashes, towels and anti-flea spray. There’s no reason to confine yourself to carwash products if you’re breaking into the pet wash market — pull out the stops and figure out what works best for you.

Troy Berry of Wash Tech, a Calgary, Alberta company that sells pet wash equipment, said vending doesn’t have to be limited to pet amenities, either. Items for kids are also popular.

“I think the one that really caught on here has been the dog treats,” he added.

Disposable aprons and towels are good sells as well he said.

Standing out from the crowd
If you want to succeed in the pet wash market there’s one thing you have to do — choose the right location.

Vince Porcher, owner and consultant for Pet Clin USA said the biggest mistake people make is not putting their pet wash in the right place. Instead of grouping it with the rest of your carwash bays, set it apart. Give your pet wash its own area and make it stand out.

“Treat it just like a self-serve carwash and put your pet wash in a visible place on your property,” Porcher said.

Make sure it’s away from other car traffic and make it as attractive as can be. Add a bench under an enclosure so customers have a place to sit and wait. The key to being successful is meeting your customer’s needs and setting your business apart from your competitors.

On that note, there’s no rule that says you can’t make things a little flashy if you want. The key is to catch people’s attention. Try adorning the pet wash with an attractive sign or surrounding the area with a picket fence. But remember, just because you are trying to stand out doesn’t mean you have to make your establishment look gaudy. Once people try the product they will probably be sold.

Porcher’s Pet Clin pet wash is user-friendly and offers everything a self-serve carwash offers.

Investigate the market you’re trying to attract.

“A pet wash is convenient for a person to utilize time,” Porcher said. “Someone could be washing their car and washing their dog essentially all at once.”

Marketing yourself
Consider calling up your local newspaper or TV station and tell them exactly what you’re offering the community. The idea of a pet wash is nothing new to those in the carwash industry, but many communities throughout the U.S. are new to the idea. Consider advertising in local stores and restaurants — get people’s attention.

Marketing doesn’t have to be costly. You can do something as simple as purchasing a sign to grab the attention of passing residents. Most pet washing machines are all-in-one and relatively attractive so the only thing you have to do as a carwash owner is draw them in — from there the product sells itself.

When you first start out, you might consider asking friends and family to use the pet wash frequently to draw attention to the bay’s newest addition. The more “usuable” it appears to customers, the more they will use it.