Meals on wheels
The link between carwashing and fast food is that, barring long lines, they’re expeditious, convenient, and designed for people on the go. Similar to carwashes, there have been campaigns set out to negatively expound the virtues of fast food. Unhealthy, unsanitary, unethical and even un-earth-friendly, are a few of the adjectives that have been tossed around. Carwashes, often mistakenly referred to as water-wasters, or chemical dousers, have had a similar plight. But, thanks to new menu options, new eco-friendly packaging and animal-friendly welfare promises, fast food restaurants are on an upswing and could be a good fit for a carwash looking to profit off of the on-the-go customer.
According to FoodFranchise.com, a website that offers up information on the various fast food franchises around the globe, fast food revenues are predicted to top $500 billion in the next decade. And, while the economy has hurt almost all facets of the out-of-home-consuming public, including the fast food industry, sales are still positive. A new report MarketWatch that was featured in The Wall Street Journal said that McDonald’s profits are up 10 percent for the quarter as compared to last year, and YUM! Brands, the company which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s, reported a $357 million net profit for its third quarter, which is seven percent higher than last year’s.
Therefore, the consumer looking for a convenient and efficient carwash might also be looking for the same attributes with a meal and a carwash/fast food combo.
Carwash/fast food profile
Delta Sonic is a chain of carwashes with 28 locations spread throughout Syracuse, NY, Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, Chicago and Erie, PA. They include detail shops, oil change facilities, gas stations and convenience stores featuring Subways, Dunkin’ Donuts, and their vary own fast food pizza restaurant called The Brick Oven. The Delta Sonic website proclaims: “Subs, wraps, pizza, soups, salads and more… whatever your heart desires can be yours at Delta Sonic. All items are made fresh for you with love.” And, they even state that every item is made fresh to order or it’s free.
The company’s marketing director, Kim Canna, said, “Selling food is a natural fit because people washing their cars are usually on their way to work, on their lunch breaks or on their way home and are often sitting and waiting for their cars. People need to eat and we can provide that in one stop.” Not all of the Delta Sonics offer fast food and those that do are due to the size of the convenience store, the neighborhood demographics and traffic volumes per location.
Canna said that their Brick Oven profit centers, which offer pizza made from scratch, hand-carved turkey, subs, grilled panini’s, wraps and salads, are proving to be popular with the carwash chain. “We make it from scratch using the finest imported ingredients. We hired a 5-Star chef from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to develop our menu. Our hand-carved turkey is a favorite and we make delicious subs that start at only $3.99 for a foot long,” she said.
Plusses, negatives, roadblocks
Anyone who saw the movie, Super Size Me, must know that fast food restaurants have had a lot of work to do in terms of marketing their menus. Tweaks needed to be made to entice the health-conscious consumer and the recent growth in childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes cases has proven that people may be wary of fast food anything. Now, McDonald’s offers a fruit and walnut salad, Burger King offers veggie burgers and unsalted French fries, and Subway offers apples slices as a dessert for kids. And, according to an article that appeared in Parade magazine, fast food restaurants are offering and are continuing to offer more options for people concerned about their health and weight.
There are also dietary restrictions to consider including vegetarian-, gluten-free- and peanut allergy-requests. According to Vegetarian Times, 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians and another 22.8 are attempting to follow a vegetarian diet.
At Delta Sonic, they considered this health-conscious facet of their customer base as well. “We offer healthy options such as salads and vegetarian pizza, subs and wraps. You definitely have to have those options available in order to appeal to all of your customers,” Canna explained.
Some of the drawbacks, according to Canna, are that it takes a lot of work to establish a program that works. “Food service isn’t easy,” admitted Canna. “It’s hard to find good staff and it takes a long time and a lot of money to make a successful program. But, if you do it right and offer something your customers like and trust, it will be one more reason they will continue to come to you.”