Hope you all have enjoyed the start to spring and as things thaw out a little, we should all begin seeing a nice bump in business as we head into summer and the busy seasons respectively.
In the March issue, in the column titled: The ins and outs of various carwashes, we were examining the different components of the full-service model and all the different facets therein. We covered the first half of the different wash stations and processes that involve the welcoming area, the vacuum stations, and the drive–on area.
Let’s now move on to the rest of the process that involves the tunnel and viewing area, the QC (Quality Control) area, the detail area, and last but not least, our all-important cashiers.
First, the tunnel and viewing area: How are your viewing windows? Are they clean and transparent, or are they water spotted with tons of build-up?
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One thing that customers notice are the windows and the overall cleanliness of the inside of the building. To them, the tunnel windows are part of the ‘inside.’ Keeping a ‘clean tunnel viewing area’ clean and your viewing area actually ‘viewable,’ will allow you to “see” your volumes increase (pun definitely intended here).
Now let’s move on to one of the most important positions in the carwash business: The cashier.
At my carwashes here in the South Bay of Los Angeles, I make a point to hire only the finest people who are not only trained in cashier and accounting, but who are also trained in sales and customer service. All of our cashiers are thoroughly trained in all areas of the carwash, also, including detail work.
I have found that many customers will not only ask the cashiers about time, pricing and tipping etiquette, but they will often ask them about detail techniques, products and procedures used at the carwash. By spending a little time and money on proper training, you will save yourself some very frustrating situations and this will help tremendously with overall customer retention.
Front of the business
Okay, onto the front area which I commonly refer to as the QC (Quality Control) area. This was actually a term coined by the famous Classic Car Wash chain started many years ago in Silicon Valley. To this day I have continued to use it and I think it is the best term to describe the dry-off area in the front.
In this area I suggest a methodical production line set up that involves crew members with one to two supervisors strictly dedicated to monitoring cars, employees, customer questions and quality.
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In this region we want to be paying attention to all areas of the wash process starting from the beginning at vacuum and service writing to washing of the car and rims/wheels. It is here that we will do any touch up on either wash process or other areas. Sometimes it will be necessary to actually run the vehicle through the tunnel one more time. I have found this to be the case with especially large and dirty or muddy trucks. In fact, it is often advisable to have the ticket writer/greeter let that customer know that they can expect their truck to be brought around one or even two more times as needed. It is much better to do it this way then to stop the entire line for several minutes while you have your drive-on guys prep the entire truck causing delays and big piles of dirt and mud that will get tracked in and throughout the carwash. If the trucks (or cars) are really bad, I will often send them down the road to a self-serve facility where they can get most of the dirt off before running through our tunnel.
Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at detail and the operations there. It is important to note that any detail should be treated as a separate service outside the normal wash process … in other words, do not simply tie them together or you will get customers expecting ‘detail’ type services as part of the regular wash process..i.e. “I was hoping you guys could remove that,” or, “Can you guys just get that one little scratch out”… etc.
If you set that up ahead of time, you will not get customers asking these and other questions that are off the scope of normal carwash packages.