ICA’s state of the industry insights

ICA’s state of the industry insights

ICA leaders Eric Wulf and Ken Littrell gave their industry insights at The Car Wash Show™.

The Car Wash Show™ 2021 is currently taking place through Wednesday, Nov. 17 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Every morning of the show, leadership from International Carwash Association (ICA), CEO Eric Wulf and Board President Ken Littrell, have discussed the state of the industry in an informal “Car Wash Magazine Live” interview.

According to Wulf, the ICA has recognized five key trends in the carwash industry this year: the growth of the express conveyor wash, countless mergers and acquisitions, the success of the subscription model, the importance of technology and talent management concerns.

Express conveyor

It comes as a surprise to no one in the carwashing industry that the prevalence of express conveyor washes has continued to grow in the past five-or-so years. Out of all the sects of carwashing, self-serve washes have continuously seen less and less growth every year. While full service washes aren’t as common as they once were, Littrell doesn’t believe they will go extinct all together. “I think there will always be an opportunity for the full service carwash … not to the same level, perhaps, as the express,” he said.

Merger and acquisition

In 2021 alone, the carwashing industry has seen an immense amount of growth and added value, largely due to the quick pace companies are merging, expanding, selling and buying. While various companies have been adding new locations to their brand by the dozens, ICA leadership reassurers smaller, independent operators that they do not need to be overly concerned of this trend. “The independent operator has the advantage of being hands-on,” Littrell said. These carwash owners can keep a close eye on the operations of their wash, which allows them to provide the best possible experience and product.

Subscription model

When discussing the subscription payment model, Wulf and Littrell noted that this type of model, while newer to the carwashing industry, is not a new concept. They compared carwash subscriptions to a gym membership, Netflix accounts and even Panera Bread’s coffee subscription.

However, carwash subscriptions have proven to be a little more complicated than the ones found in other industries. “It’s going to be different than Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu … [customers] won’t have five carwash subscriptions,” Wulf said. This makes competition and the importance of brand loyalty a key concern operators need to think about today. This is especially important considering up to 3-5% of wash memberships will be terminated monthly, according to Wulf, which makes the search for new members a never-ending process.

Technology

When comparing The Car Wash Show™ 2021 to the show of years past, Wulf reflected on the changing make-up of the exhibitors. Less than a decade ago, the show floor was exclusively run by equipment, soap and chemical manufacturers. Today, attendees will find numerous technology companies promoting innovative solutions to carwash problems of days past.

Talent management

In every industry in the U.S. this year, the trend of the labor shortage continues to be a strong talking point. In the carwash industry, retention of great talent is as important as it has ever been. But Littrell, who as the president of Clean Sweep Car Wash has first-hand knowledge of employee-relations, explains that operators can take the labor shortage and spin it to their advantage. Regarding raising wages for workers, Littrell said, “I can raise my expectation for this individual I am going to pay more.” These expectations can include higher professionalism and better, more consistent results. By expecting more out of employees, it can be a win-win situation — employees have strong professional development that can lead to promotions and even management and owners and managers can see a better product.

The Car Wash Show™ concludes on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 at 1 p.m. PST. The next show is scheduled for May 9-11, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee, where attendees can learn more from the industry’s top leaders.


Camille Renner is the associate editor of Professional Carwashing & Detailing.

You May Also Like

BendPak to showcase equipment in 4 SEMA Show booths

AGOURA HILLS, Calif. — The company is planning to introduce at least half a dozen new products at the show, including boat lifts, EV lifts, personal air coolers and more.

AGOURA HILLS, Calif. — Equipment manufacturer BendPak, Inc. announced in a press release the company is doubling down on its 2023 SEMA Show investment, bringing new car lifts, evaporative coolers, EV lifts, boat lifts, wheel service equipment and more to four dedicated booths at the annual automotive trade show.

The company’s many automotive brands will be represented, including BendPak, Ranger, Autostacker, Cool Boss, QuickJack, MaxJax, Ergochair and JackPak.

33rd NRCC breaks records

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The event surpassed its 2022 booth count with 386 exhibits and beat its highest attendee number set in 2019.

Q&A with NRCC’s Bob Rossini

The chairman of the 2023 event discusses the show.

NRCC 2023 exhibitor list and floor plan

Here’s who will be exhibiting at the event and where attendees can find them.

NRCC 2023 Schedule of Events

All the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention’s educational and social events taking place at the Atlantic City Convention Center Oct. 2-4.

Other Posts

PRT Releases 15 New Products on Complete Strut Assemblies

The new items come to extend the PRT portfolio in North American Market and represents more than 5 million vehicles in new coverage.

Honoring carwash vets

In the November issue, we salute several carwash professionals who also served in the military.

American flags, memorial day, veterans, flag
PRT Will Present Various Product Lines at AAPEX 2023

Performance Ride Technology (PRT) will be exhibiting various product lines and new applications in booth A5072 at AAPEX. Related Articles – Lucas Oil announces executive promotions – Valvoline to advertise

33rd annual NRCC bound to be the best

This year’s show boasts a record-breaking sold-out trade show floor, thought-provoking speakers to get you motivated to improve your business, networking and educational events included for all guests, giveaways and much more.