The carwash has already come a long way from chaining cars to a conveyor belt and washing them by hand. But thanks to technology, the future promises even more process advancements for an industry that could one day be servicing the Space Car. 

Today’s carwash owners can use state-of-the-art functions like sensor technology and a reliable network connection to streamline operations, increase customer satisfaction and even differentiate from competitors by being the “cool” carwash on the block.

Sensor technology offers business solutions

In the modern age, businesses are reaping the benefits of using technology like cloud computing and digital payment applications. Carwashes in particular stand to gain from this technological revolution through the use of sensors.

Sensors are devices that detect events or changes in the environment surrounding them. They gather data based on their observations and then send it to other electronic devices, like a computer processor, for further review. With the development and expansion of the Internet of Things, sensor technology has been applied to virtually every aspect of life and is useful for surveillance, diagnostics, exploration and environmental monitoring. 

Now, sensor tech can also be used within a carwash. Modern sensors have become so sophisticated that they are now able to track moving vehicles within a carwash, constantly monitor for vehicle collisions and even halt the wash sequence before any damage has the chance to occur.

Refine and innovate company operations

Carwashes use gallons of soap and water every day, often without knowing exactly how many materials they use and what cost it creates for the business. The right technology can help remove such operational inefficiencies. Using a vehicle tracking system equipped with video cameras and sensors allows carwashes to monitor a car’s progress and even modify soap and water usage in real-time. In this scenario, the wash cycle is optimized and the material waste is reduced, which can over time create tangible monetary savings for a business. 

Through that same tracking system, carwashes can also become more environmentally friendly. The precise measurements of customers’ cars paired with exact allocations of water and soap helps businesses conserve both water and washing resources. Over time, this “smart” process can create a substantial positive impact on the ecological footprint of a carwash. 

Technology can also be implemented to improve a carwash’s efficiency before a vehicle hits the conveyor belt. Carwashes can make customer information — such as accounts, payment details and wash preferences — accessible via an RFID chip attached to the vehicle’s windshield or even the license plate. A quick scan minimizes wait times and allows customers to get a complete wash service without ever having to roll down their windows.

This technology is useful for more than managing real-time business operations. Data collected from sensors can be uploaded to the cloud, aggregated and analyzed to find interesting trends. With this data, information — including a carwash’s peak business hours, return visitors and popular services — is easily accessible. Based on the data collected, carwashes can identify business needs and modify their services accordingly.

Create a modernized customer experience

Much of a business’ success stems directly from treating its boss — the customer — to the best possible experience at every visit. Using technology to offer personalized carwashing experiences can increase loyalty. For example, instead of choosing a standard wash once they arrive, customers could preschedule their preferred wash settings. Their washes would be loaded onto their assigned RFID chips or license plates and immediately processed by sensors at the carwash.

Outside of providing innovative services, technology also has the potential to create positive perceptions of a business’ corporate social responsibility efforts. According to Sustainable Brands, as of 2017, 87% of consumers say they would purchase from a company that advocates for an issue they care about. As discussions around environmental conservation and climate change continue to impact business best practices, a carwash that has the technology and processes to mitigate pollution and waste concerns is more likely to generate positive reviews as well as new customer referrals. 

Implement your technology

Interested in upgrading, but not sure where to start? Surveying customers can help a business identify what services are most popular as well as how they would like to see their experience change. Once customer insights are gathered, get in touch with local telecom providers to discuss what products and services are available to integrate into the carwash. 

For example, since partnering with Comcast Business to install customized solutions, Crew Carwash has experienced improved reliability and network performance, all while increasing data security. Now, data transmits between all 33 Crew Carwash locations within three minutes, and customers’ RFID chips synchronize quickly, allowing unlimited club members to enjoy a “Clean, Fast and Friendly” experience the moment they pull in. 

Even once your business has established its technology solutions, a bit of creative thinking can further elevate service offerings. For instance, using the data collected from sensors, a business could identify its most loyal customers for a special promotion opportunity or test various “specialty” business hours to determine which times are most preferred. As vehicles with connected technologies continue to become more popular, carwashes could even consider adding controllable ambient lighting choices for their visitors or offering a music playlist that can be streamed right to each car.

Next to a home, a vehicle is likely one of the largest investments a person will make, and caring for it safely is a privilege that carwashes should not take lightly. Sensors paired with a strong network can play an important role in creating and developing customer loyalty while keeping business operations nimble. Perhaps as more businesses implement technology solutions, they will even create a world where there’s no such thing as “an average carwash.”  


Todd Bandauski is the chief information officer at Crew Carwash, an Indiana-based, family-owned business with 33 locations across the state. Its innovations include computer-controlled equipment, anti-collision technology, cloud-based computing and a water reclamation system that allows for the filtering and reuse of water. Collectively, their innovations help provide that “clean, fast and friendly” service that they’ve come to be known for.