Express exterior by the numbers
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Conveyors and Tunnels

Express exterior by the numbers

When it comes to express exterior, it is all about the numbers. How many cars do you wash per hour; how many club members do you have; how many feet is your tunnel; what’s your unlimited program’s price point; and, a recent favorite for many sellers, how much did you sell your carwash for? 

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Here are some other pertinent numbers about the conveyor segment of our industry that were recently published exclusively in this magazine. 

In the July issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing, I wrote the cover story, “The state of professional carwashing.” In that article, Bill Martin, operator and adviser, cited “some good data” that shows from March 2019 to March 2020, there were 1,000 conveyor carwashes constructed and open in the U.S.

For many veteran carwash professionals, this number might seem implausible. For decades, a carwash business offered decent margins as well as easy entry. Back then, a few locations were more than enough to handle. But today’s investors are more sophisticated, and they are keen on scaling fast. With deep pockets, in-roads and acumen in such allied fields as real estate, they are doing just that.  

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It is no secret that the express exterior format is their model of choice for many reasons. 

Here are some more numbers to consider. 

In 2016, I wrote an article titled, “Carwash industry growth and emerging competition signal profits for existing owners.” 

In the article, Senior Vice President of Distribution for Sonny’s Enterprises Inc. Robert Andre explained, “Express has had a huge impact on the carwash industry. At Sonny’s in 2015, for example, 81% of the new washes we built were express, 13% were flex-serve and 6% were full-serve.” 

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I recently followed up with Sonny’s Bob Fox, vice president – CarWash College and tech support, to update these numbers. In 2020, reports Fox, 98% of the company’s new builds were express, 1% accounted for flex and 1% went full-serve. 

While express exteriors continue to shape the market’s future, self-serve, in-bay automatic and other conveyor format operators are also riding the wave and reporting record sales and car counts in recent years. 

In most cases today for operators, the old adage remains true: If you build on a great location — and operate it right — customers will come.


Are you a potential seller of a conveyor carwash? Be sure to check out the below video interview to learn more about preparing your wash for a sale.

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