From April 4-6, the professional carwash industry will converge in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. According to the International Carwash Association’s (ICA) website, 10,224 total carwash locations were represented at the 2015 show in Las Vegas.

Partnering again with the Automotive Oil Change Association, there will be plenty to see, hear and do again at this year’s The Car Wash Show™. Carwash owners and operators will have a chance to network with both an estimated 6,000 carwash professionals and more than 300 exhibitors as well as attend over 35 education sessions. With so much to see and do, planning is essential.

As always, the ICA, which is the event’s host, has planned a comprehensive program for this year’s show in Las Vegas. In addition to expo hours — and bonus expo hours for VIP pass holders — there will be no shortage of learning opportunities for carwash owners and operators.

This year, the ICA is offering dozens of workshops and seminars catered to various audiences, such as multi-site organizations, owners/operators, site managers and fast lube operators. The sessions will cover a wide range of topics, including people management, customer experience, industry trends, business management, marketing and vendor presentations.

Be sure to visit www.carwash.org before, during and after the show for more details and updated information about the show. Also, at www.carwash.com/category/the-car-wash-show, our editors provide show coverage and more information to help you maximize your time and investment in attending this great show.

We recently spoke with three fans of The Car Wash Show. They shared their thoughts on why they attend the show each year and how they gauge a return on their investment to attend.

Brett Overman, founder and chairman, Zips Car Wash

I have attended the last seven The Car Wash Show™ events. The reason why I attend is because it is an impressive show and the association does one heck of a job. The Car Wash Show is about higher learning, bringing like-minded people together for a few days to share their thoughts and getting together with our peers.

You learn more from meeting different carwash operators, and it is a great networking event. I believe in higher education and, at the end of the day, you are seeing the newest and greatest innovations that are coming from the market; then, we can go back and deliver that value to our customers.

We attend some of the seminars to learn about new concepts and to pick up tips, but I think the best stuff is done on the trade show floor: meeting with different vendors and catching up with people you haven’t seen in a while. It is just a great experience; the trade show floor is where we spend the most amount of time with our associates, and that is what I most look forward to.

For the show, I don’t know if it’s something that we look to get a specific return on investment from necessarily. It’s about higher learning and continuous improvement. Knowing that we are going to The Car Wash Show to stay on the cutting edge to see what’s coming and what’s going on around us is invaluable.

Carwash professionals who don’t attend this show are simply missing out. If the people who are investing huge amounts of money to build these carwashes — whether it is a self-serve or a full-blown full service spending millions of dollars — are not being a part of the largest thing in the industry, where you can network at one time with all of the vendors, key suppliers and the relationships you need to be successful, they are not giving  themselves a fair chance to succeed.

The ICA does a great job of bringing people together, and we’re very happy with our membership and involvement.

We bring a lot of people from our company. The Car Wash Show is a great way to open up their eyes so they think, “Wow, we’re not just a carwash in a small, little town, we’re part of a big industry that is doing some amazing things.”

It’s great for the morale at our carwash. Our hope is that our team members leave the show motivated and put some of these great ideas and technologies in place.

RL “Bud” Abraham, founder and president, DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems

I have attended every ICA The Car Wash Show™ since 1969 as a manufacturer/supplier, consultant and operator. The reasons have varied depending on my position at the time. As a manufacturer/supplier, my goals were to meet with operators, new investors and distributors as well as to network with other suppliers and operators. As a consultant, I attended the show to meet new operators and investors and to make educational presentations on carwashing and detailing. And, when I was an operator, it was critical to participate in and attend the education seminars that ICA presents for operators.

Primarily as a supplier/consultant, the show provides me the opportunity to meet in one place for three days with very serious operators and new investors who may be interested in our company’s products, especially the attendees from other countries.

Without question, ICA’s The Car Wash Show is the premier worldwide expo in the carwash industry, and it draws operators and investors from every continent.

It is not possible to try and put an objective dollars-and-cents number on attending The Car Wash Show. Certainly, you can measure money spent to sales made at the expo and immediately after the expo.

However, the “sales leads and contacts” that are made at the expo provide us with prospects that we can work on for the entire next year. Without the leads and contacts we make at the show, our sales activity would be much less. For a manufacturer/supplier, the opportunity to market to over 6,000 attendees is something you can never get anywhere else.

For existing operators, and certainly for new operators as well, the expo provides a number of benefits, including the opportunities to see “hands-on” the newest technology available in the industry; meet personally with some of the people you deal with all year long; attend very informative educational seminars; and network with some of the finest operators in the industry.

For new operators and investors, here is some advice. Before attending The Car Wash Show, educate yourself about the various forms of carwashing and even some of the major suppliers because if you don’t, you will be overwhelmed with the number of manufacturers and products available, and you will leave The Car Wash Show more confused than when you came.

However, a little “homework” about the carwash industry and the various suppliers will allow you to intelligently differentiate between the many companies and allow you to make informed decisions.

Julliete Silver, CEO, Car Wash World/Panaram/Continental Girbau

We have attended The Car Wash Show™ for the past 40 years. As carwash owners, my family always attended the show to learn about the newest innovations and trends in the carwash industry and to meet and compare strategies with other operators.

As a vendor for the past 35 years, we have never missed a show. We feel it is the best platform to meet with our existing customers and new ones. We are a national company and do business with customers all over the country on the telephone and by email. This show is the only opportunity we have to actually meet our customers face to face.

It is such a pleasure to put a face with a voice. I love coming to this show and look forward to it all year long. We also meet with customers that have seen our advertisements or have heard about us but know very little about what we offer. Meeting in person solidifies our system and products.

I love seeing my customers and interacting with them professionally and socially. It is a tremendous asset to have the opportunity to spend quality time with customers, old and new. 

I also bring my husband, and he loves going out socially at night and meeting my customers. There are carwash operators everywhere.

As for measuring the return on investment when attending the show, we know to the penny how much we spend on this show. We record airfare, hotel, booth pricing, shipping, meals, etc. We track every sale generated from this show and hope it is more than we have spent. However, even if the math doesn’t add up and we don’t turn a profit from attending The Car Wash Show, I would never not support this show and this association. I am very loyal to the International Carwash Association.

If you go one time, you will be hooked. There is so much to offer at this event beyond the actual exhibits. The meetings are very helpful, and I love hearing the keynote speaker. Las Vegas is an amazing location to combine business with pleasure. You can attend meetings and hear speakers by day and have an amazing night going to a show or great dinner. Last year in Nashville so many people brought their families, and it was so much fun.