In the March issue of this publication, I wrote an article titled, “Site insights.” The article offered practical best practices for operators looking to build a new carwash. Among other questions relevant to site selection and design, I asked Henry Shine of WhiteWater Express Car Wash and Michael Murry of Champion Xpress Carwash, “What does a modern carwash look like in 2022?”
However, as I was recently reminded by one of our readers, proper site selection and design are more than meets the eye. Robert Johnson, senior engineer of Civilogistix in Roswell, Georgia, was kind enough to take some time to share his thoughts in the following letter to the editor.
Rich: I just wanted to commend you on the editorial and article in the March issue of Professional Carwashing and Detailing magazine. I would only add greater emphasis on property selection and site design.
I began engineering fast-food drive-thrus, convenience stores and fuel stations nearly 40 years ago; since that time the business has evolved greatly. The automated carwash industry is no exception — in a very short period of time.
One big mistake I see smaller business owners make is plunging headlong into site selection — following all the basic carwash business advice — hellbent on acquiring what appears to them to be a perfect site … only to find out that site, downtown, in the perfect location, at a reasonable price, that has been vacant for 20 years has been vacant for a reason. The reason may be unnoticeable to the untrained eye.
As engineers, who specialize in this type of development and who have several carwash clients, we see the end result of what happens when investors pick the “wrong site” and have to spend many days and dollars trying to make it work.
The major carwash investors have learned that they need experts on every level to achieve their desired result. But, the smaller guys, some just trying to save a buck by “self-developing,” often run aground of development codes, utility restrictions and environmental regulations, and they tend to get discouraged very quickly when the site is not finished and making them money as soon as they expected.
As a service to prospective carwash owners/operators, someone should tell them it is money well spent to engage a professional engineer, who is experienced in this particular kind of land development to guide them through procurement and entitlement phases, produce the latest in efficient and aesthetically appealing site design, and guide the process through satisfactory completion. There is much more I could say, but time and space prohibit.
Back to my first thought, nice article, good reading and please keep providing this much needed information.
Regards, Robert Johnson.
Robert, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for reading PC&D.