What’s the best way to learn about the value of a specific, professional carwash industry trade show? Just ask those who have attended in the past. In this article, we offer the perspective of your industry peers regarding the largest professional carwashing event in the U.S. — The Car Wash Show™ 2018.

Presented by the International Carwash Association (ICA), The Car Wash Show is attended by carwash vendors, distributors, owners and operators, all under the same roof — the Las Vegas Convention Center — to network and learn more about the latest and greatest trends impacting the professional carwash industry.

More than 8,000 attendees, representing nearly 10,000 car care locations around the globe, will pack into almost 160,000 net square feet of exhibition space, where our industry’s top product and service innovations will be on display.

Taking place April 26-28 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the event will feature over 70 educational programs to complement the trade show and accompanying planned events.

This is a unique, annual show that is attended by carwashing professionals who are serious about elevating our industry’s status, improving our future and learning about ways to deliver better value and quality to their customers.

Simply put, there’s no better place to learn about the industry and the value of its events than those who know it best. We recently reached out to six carwash professionals (and fans) regarding the benefits of attending The Car Wash Show each year.

Travis Kimball, Partner/CMO, Quick Quack Car Wash

My first The Car Wash Show was in 2005 in San Antonio, and with the exception of a year or two, I have attended every year since then. I also took advantage of the Car Wash Show Europe™ in Amsterdam a couple of years back.

The reasons that I attend have evolved over the years. At first, I was just a sponge, learning everything I could and examining every aspect of the carwash industry. For the last few years, the primary purpose for attending for me has been to network with industry professionals.

While I might not learn as many new things in any given education session, I usually will have ideas come as a result of the conversations. We have also increasingly been bringing additional team members in order for them to share in the excitement and learning opportunities.

I would say that planning the education sessions that you would most like to attend is important. If you are bringing multiple individuals from your team, “divide and conquer” is a good strategy to cover as many sessions as possible. Afterwards, you can get together to discuss findings as a group.

Sue Chappel, Marketing Manager, MacNeil Wash Systems

The Car Wash Show is a fantastic venue for manufacturers and suppliers to showcase their equipment in a hands-on environment, reconnect with their customers and generate new business opportunities. It’s also a great opportunity to keep up-to-date on what’s new in the industry and where it’s trending.

I have seen many improvements over the last eight years. Booth displays have become more professional, and exhibitors are embracing technology, such as touchscreens and 3-D.  There are more sponsorship opportunities available for exhibitors, such as the booth crawl, mobile app alerts and banner ads.

Still, the show floor is huge and can be very overwhelming and intimidating for first-time attendees. Therefore, it is critical that you do some research and planning before the show to ensure that you get the most out of your time. Prepare in advance a list of the key exhibitors you want to visit and the questions you want answered. Map out your route, attend educational sessions, schedule regular rest breaks for yourself and wear comfy shoes!

Craig Kjorlien, Sales Representative, WashCard Systems Inc.

I have attended The Car Wash Show eight times. This show is building every year. I’ve been told stories of how big the show was years ago, and it has been positive to see the show grow in size and in new directions.

I primarily attend The Car Wash Show to meet with new and existing customers to show them what is new from our company and get feedback on how to make it even better.

In order to prepare for this show, I think it is best for you to have a game plan for what you need and what will help you grow your wash or business. For operators, look at the different players for the equipment you need so you can ask the questions at the show that will help you make a decision on what will be best for your carwash.

John Roush, Founder and Managing Partner, Moo Moo Express Car Wash

I have attended 10 previous The Car Wash Show events. In addition to the technology advancing, such as the mobile app, as well as enhanced delivery of directions, alerts and information, I feel the format of the educational forums is much better. This show provides great learning from experts and successful operators.

I primarily attend The Car Wash Show because of the education experience, to help in buying decisions, for the collaboration opportunities and to see new technologies. As I get longer in the tooth, I see fewer new “amazing” ideas but still pick up a few really great ideas at every show. This show is a definite, must-attend for new people entering or investigating the professional carwashing business.

In order to maximize the investment in attending, be sure to sign up for the classes. If you have multiple reps attending, it’s best to divide and conquer the classes; take notes, record video and document these seminars.

You should share the information you learned as soon as possible, while this content is still fresh in your mind. Create an action list and follow through with it. Your business will be better for it if you can maximize your time at this show.

Kyle Schindel, Vice President of Corporate Accounts, Zep Vehicle Care

I have attended The Car Wash Show for 25 years. The seminars and educational sessions have improved the most over the years. ICA has clearly focused on key issues and opportunities for the industry and has reached out to industry experts and those who have experienced these situations to help everyone in the carwash industry learn.

I attend The Car Wash Show to stay up on industry trends and to learn from those in the industry. I also like to see the new offerings from the industry suppliers. Lastly, I attend to see friends and colleagues that I have developed relationships with over the years.

Preparation is key to having a successful show. You want to know what educational seminars are available so you don’t miss any that are important to you. You also want to have a plan for your vendor meetings, or you will come to the end of the show and will not have met with everyone you planned to see.

Make sure that you plan some time at the end of the show for something that might have caught your eye or to follow up with a current or future vendor.

Brian Campbell, Carwashing’s No. 1 Fan

I have been going to The Car Wash Show for a long time (since 1993). It gets bigger and bigger every year. I like it when we get to go to different cities like Chicago, San Antonio and Nashville. There are a lot of educational sessions I go to, and I learn so much.

I love to go to the show and see all of my carwash friends. I feel like everyone is part of my family. Every year, I get to meet more friends at the show.

I also like to see all the new products and equipment that I read about in my carwash magazines. I like to go around the exhibit hall and pick up magazines and brochures to take home and look at. I like the best booth award that ICA gives a vendor every year. I am excited to present the trophy to the winner.

I remember when Walt Tack (past ICA president, pictured below) invited me to Las Vegas for my first carwash convention. I got to tour carwashes in a limo and see all the spinning brushes in the exhibit hall. I met lots of new friends. It was the best day of my life. It was better than Disneyland.