Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Writing in favor of prep-less washing

May 11, 2006

Writing in favor of prep-less washing
Chad Palmer

Cold turkey. It's the only way to kick the habit. There's no self-help group out there to save you and trying to ween yourself only creates chaos.

I tell you now, today: Put down the prep-gun, turn your back and walk away from it forever.


As express washing grows in popularity (and more carwashes join the ranks daily) the competition becomes stiffer. The only way to grab your piece of the market is to cater to the desires of your customers.

They want what they want, and they want it NOW. And to put the "express" into express washing, you have to put down the gun!

At first you may think it's impossible, and so may your customers. But when they witness a fifty car line washed in twenty minutes, and they watch them come out clean and shiny, they will become your biggest fans!

Furthermore, when they haven't spent an hour in their car waiting to be washed, they will be happier turning over their hard-earned dollars to you.

There are four key reasons to part ways with your pre-sprayer forever:

  • Speed;

  • Consistency;

  • Reliability; and

  • Volume.


The first thing we need to consider in today's on-the-go society is getting the car washed as fast as possible. This is the main ingredient in increasing your volume and retaining customers.

The industry has now reached the point where we have extended the speed factor beyond the capabilities of the human body. Like John Henry facing the steam-drill, the pre-sprayer is doomed to lose the battle against today's innovations.

He has served his place, and done it well. He has carried us to where we are today, but now we must bid him farewell. He simply cannot keep the pace we now demand from today's modern carwash.


Second is the matter of consistency. As opposed to the pre-sprayer, the machines and chemicals will wash every car in the same manner.

They will not miss a spot. They will not have an "off day." Not to mention the fact that very few pre-sprayers will wash the final ten cars of the day with the same eye for attention as the first ten cars of the day.

With diligent maintenance, the machines will always perform at top level. To err is human, so why not eliminate the human factor? Why not eliminate the err?


Next we approach the matter of reliability. We've all witnessed the loss in production when someone calls in sick, doesn't show up or walks off the job.

The equipment doesn't ever leave. It's always there. It's always on time. It's always willing to stay late. The chemicals don't ask for a raise and then walk off the job when they don't get what they want.

Unlike a human being, when a pump breaks down you don't end up with doctor bills, increased workman's compensation premiums or a loss in production. Instead, you pull a spare off the shelves, install it, and go on with your day.


And finally we consider the matter of volume — as in water volume. Water is the essential ingredient in cleaning certain areas of the car that the pre-sprayer has thus far specialized in, especially along rocker-panels and inside wheel-wells.

I've not yet seen the person that can throw 300 gallons a minute from thirty to forty different angles, as certain carwash equipment can. This massive flood of reclaimed water stretches above and beyond the limits of a tiny little pre-spray gun, assuring the prep-less wash of a superior product at a much faster rate.

A clean car factory

To sum it all up: with the machines, the sky's the limit! As we in the carwash industry continue to demand faster and more precise equipment, and more effective chemicals, our suppliers are forced to compete for our business through research and development.

This in turn improves both the speed and quality of our "clean car factory," providing us with an increased level of profitability and allowing us to divert more money to our suppliers. Thus the cycle will perpetuate itself, allowing us to grow and expand our market.

For those of you who like cold hard numbers, how does 192,000 sound? At the carwash I manage, that was how many prep-free cars we washed in 2005. This year's pace is running well above that.

With these numbers to encourage you, I challenge you to bid farewell to your nasty old prepping habit, put the pedal to the floor and speed on into the 21st century!

Chad Palmer manages Travel Clean Carwash, an express tunnel wash in the Kansas City metro area.