Professional Carwashing & Detailing

In-Bay automatics

October 25, 2011

1. Low consumption of consumables.

According to Steve Robinson, director of marketing at Mark VII Equipment Inc., IBAs can go a long way without using too much water, chemicals or power. And, they are continuously looking for ways to lower operating costs as well. Robinson said new innovations are emerging that will allow for operators to minimize their impact on the environment even further.

2. Less room.

According to Robinson, IBAs will continue to be "a vibrant segment of the carwash market because they fill the need for a fast, high quality, automatic wash process using a limited amount of real estate."

3. Keeping it real.

Shawn Everett, owner of Green Clean Auto Wash, a chain of 16 IBAs throughout Virginia, said they work hard to make sure the customers feel a personal connection when they visit.

"We are very interested in the personal relationships we can develop with customers during attended hours," Everett said. "Great wash technology and signage alone cannot replace the one-on-one dialogue that takes place at the entrance to our IBAs. This is where we really get to know our customers and better match our service options to their needs. Each day we are reminded that a little prep and a few moments of friendly conversation can make a world of difference when it comes to pleasing our customers."

4. A nation's first.

The family owned Lakeshore Car Wash, run by John Athan and his wife and two sons, was the first multiple in-bay automatic carwash to open in Canada in 2006.

The carwash, which is located in Tecumseh, Ontario, offers a friction wash and a touch-free wash in an effort to attract both types of customers.

5. Rounding the bases.

Bobby Willis has been in the carwash industry for 15 years and currenlty owns Cool Wave Carwashes in Virginia and Wash Consultants LLC, a consulting firm. He said an IBA needs to establish its basic wash package.

"Decide the number of base wash packages you will have (typically three or four). Take into consideration your market conditions and if any seasonal adjustments are necessary," Willis said. And, he added, when deciding your base services, ask yourself the following questions: What base wash packages are the successful competitors in your market offering? What additional services can you add to your base services to make you stand out? What has been successful?

6. Seasons change, so should the menu.

Doug Marquis, vice president of business development for Lustra Car Care Products, said that offerings on IBA menus should change according to the season.

"Owners and operators need to determine what the most beneficial aspect of each extra service product is for their specific market and demographic, and then they need to build their marketing pitch around that item," Marquis said. "For instance, in the Northern areas during the winter months, the protection aspect of super-sealants might be more desirable than the improved shine, but in the Southern regions it is the opposite. The clear, main marketing message should be heavily focused on the benefit that will most excite the customers in that area."

7. Chemical trends?

Marquis said that super sealants, on-line tire dressing applications and break dust repellants seem to be continuing their momentum in the market.

Green chemicals are still a very marketable item, but not as popular as they are in other carwash markets.

8. Flower power.

Rick Frey, owner of the Please Wash Me Car Wash in Elverson, PA, went above and beyond with his landscaping efforts at his 24/7 IBA. Thanks to the planting of some sunflowers on his property, he has not only created a flowery wonderland, but his carwash now serves as the backdrop for wedding photos, and family photo shoots.

"It's a little act of kindness," Frey told the Tri County Record. "I know people out there are hurting, so if I can do something to help that, even if it's something small, I will."

Frey also gives away free coffee and hot chocolate to customers. "A lot of things are in limbo for people right now," Frey told the newspaper. "Things will get better; I believe they'll get better. I just want to help in the little ways I can."