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Articles by Phillip Lawless
LAS VEGAS — Keynote Speaker Mike Ditka sets a positive mood for the world's largest carwash show, telling attendees, "You people are the backbone of America."
Plato's ancient saying is widely known: Necessity … is the mother of invention. And if ever there was an era in the carwash industry that called out for invention and new ideas, it was the past few years. While some owners and operators chose to hunker down during the destructive financial storm, others soldiered on armed with fresh intentions and do-it-yourself ideologies.
Putting high-profit products within the reach of paying customers is one of the oldest tricks in the book. While general stores piled up penny candies, the grocers of today have selected slick magazines and cold sodas. And, for many decades now, carwash owners and operators have gotten into the act.
Predicting the future of the carwash industry can be a tricky affair. While some subjects require a powerful psychic or a crystal ball, others need no talismans or tea leaves. One area where ESP is not needed is energy usage. There is little doubt that decreased utility usage and increased tunnel efficiencies will drive carwash profitability in the future.
There it hangs, the same as always. The criss-crossed cobwebs and thick coating of dust bear witness to the fact that this carwash's menu has not changed in quite a long time. Yet, as that menu has hung dingy and ignored, carwashing costs and the number of competing washes have climbed exponentially.