When I was a kid, we used to play a game called musical chairs.

The premise was that there was one less chair than participants. Music would play, and the participants would walk around the chairs until the music stopped; then, there would be a mad scramble to sit in one of the available seats. If you were the one left standing after all seats were taken, you were eliminated from the game. This would continue until only one was seated — that person was the winner.

When I look around the industry now, I wonder: Are we all playing one big, expensive game of musical chairs?

If so, who is going to be left with the final seat, and who will be getting eliminated?

Let’s face it: The car wash industry has evolved more in the last 10 years than in the previous 50. Something has to give. What — or who — will it be?

Mom and pop operators? While this was what our industry was built upon, it’s becoming more and more rare to find any still in operation. Can they find a chair when the music stops?

Regional brands? It seems most regional brands are being absorbed into the bigger, national brands.

Will any remain independent, or will we see all of these industry icons rebranded?

OEM’s? Consolidation hasn’t been limited to the retail end of the business. Will this make it easier or harder to source parts and equipment in the long run?

This much I know. The industry I started in back in 1985 is no more. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing — it’s simply a fact. Where does it all end and when?

Those seem to be the million dollar questions, and no one knows the answer. In the meantime, line up the chairs, turn the music up loud, and have a blast!


Bob Fox has over 30 years of industry experience and is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

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