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Take it away, Vince!

October 11, 2010
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After somewhere between 60 and 70 consecutive editorials at the helm of Professional Carwashing & Detailing, this month I am giving myself a well-deserved break.

Actually, I was fortunate enough to have an engrossing conversation recently with Vince MacNeil, who is vice president of MacNeil Wash Systems, Barrie, Ontario, and a member of one of carwashing's most respected families.

Vince made some great points about a terminology change he would like to see in what we currently call 'friction' carwashes. I really think Vince is on to something, so I humbly turn my editorial page over to him and invite you all to visit our bulletin board at to discuss his proposal.

Are we in the sandpaper or carwash business?
By Vince MacNeil, Vice President, MacNeil Wash Systems

Friction. Why do we continue to use this word to describe what we do to our customers' vehicles?

It seems to me that the only time that the word 'friction' has a place in current marketing jargon is when it relates to the sale of brake pads or sandpaper.

The motoring public has a right to believe that what we do to their cars is nothing short of the best care and treatment we can offer. By referring to our washes as friction systems, what message are we really sending them?

I personally would question the methods of any business that offered friction as part of their services. It has a negative connotation and is sure to raise eyebrows among some consumers.

This is a great reason to delete this word from the carwashing dictionary.

Marketing today is a very highly developed field of expertise and I bet that you would not find one advertising account executive that would stake his or her job on using the word friction in a carwash marketing campaign.

On the other hand, the word 'touch' means something else entirely. When relating to carwashing, tag lines like "The Added Touch" or the "Sensitive Touch" would be better ways to let our customers know how we intend to treat their cars.

In the carwash industry it's up to us to promote ourselves to the public. We are not big enough to employ international or national marketing campaigns to promote our industry.

In the meantime, we will have to rely on our own regional methods of promoting professional carwashing as an economical and safe method for consumers to clean their cars.

With the advent of soft materials and foam on the touch-type systems, we really have a new story to tell. So why not tell it?