Auto dealerships and the carwash industry

Auto dealerships and the carwash industry

How dealers can take their businesses from cost centers to profit centers by offering carwash services.

Even though owners of auto dealerships might not realize they are part of the carwash business, most carwash professionals would say they definitely are. Since these businesses perform similar car care functions of a professional carwash location, dealerships are indeed part of this industry. In fact, what many auto dealers do not realize is that they could be investing in an automated wash instead of allocating the funds for the employees and labor to perform these tasks.

Many dealerships will implement post-sale strategies in hopes of boosting their Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores by incorporating carwashes within their promotions and discounts. For example, a dealer may offer a free wash with a service visit. Successful customer relationship management (CRM) programs keep customers loyal and CSI scores high.

Aside from CRM and CSI benefits, an auto dealership should include carwash services because of the benefits to the dealer that go beyond customer satisfaction, including an elevated public perception regarding the quality of that dealership as a whole. A dealership must not only consider if new customers are attracted to the business because of impressive curb appeal, but also if the cars on the property are clean and well-presented.

Washing away expenses

With an average of 921 new units sold per dealership in 2014, according to Automotive News, as well as promising projections for 2015 car sales, there is clearly an opportunity for a substantial amount of cars to be washed per dealership, including:

  • Vehicles in for service
  • New units delivered by means of transport
  • Trade-ins
  • Rentals
  • Courtesy loaners
  • Demos
  • Inventory rotation.

So, how do dealers keep cars looking their best and costs low? An automatic carwash is a great way to keep cars clean and costs at a minimum. The ideal scenario for an automatic wash at an auto dealership is to have one attendant to execute the wash process and drive the vehicle into the wash. Excellent wash quality is a must.

Additionally, a dealer does not need to have an employee touch up a car he or she just ran through the automatic. The vehicle should be dry and sparkle and shine when it comes out.

Providing carwash services at auto dealerships can not only keep customers happy while reducing costs and expenses, but they can also boost profits.

Cleaning up profits

What if a wash could be a profit center on its own? Commercial washes may be located nearby, but auto dealers can still profit from having carwash services. After all, many have been in the carwash business for years, right? The ideal scenario is to:

  • Provide free washes with a service to existing customers, which promotes higher CSI scores.
  • Offer discount washes to customers not combined with a service visit, which in turn brings in money.
  • Offer full price washes to the general public, leading to even more profits.

Better yet, offering this additional profit center may even lead to a carwash customer coming into the showroom to purchase a new vehicle.


Jack Allison is a 44-year veteran of the carwash industry. He is president and owner of Engineered Car Wash Systems of Birmingham, Alabama, a distributor of AUTEC Car Wash Systems (www.autec-carwash.com/CMS/MarketsAutoDealer). He can be reached by phone at 205-612-7471, or by email at [email protected].

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