How carwash operators can gain an edge through technology

Tech talk

Professional carwashes are increasingly using technology to remain competitive.

After a period of heavy merger and acquisition (M&A) activity at the operator level — and to a lesser extent on the supplier side — the carwash market now seems to be turning its attention to advancing technology to improve results, accountability, security and safety, revenue, efficiencies, and productivity. And, while the top carwash chains, backed by large investors, will continue to build out portfolios through acquisitions and greenfield development, market insiders note that M&A activity has slowed in this market as financing has become more expensive and multiples peaked within the past two years — particularly for single-location businesses and small chains — among other factors.

Many of the larger companies have realized that it’s one thing to scale a carwash chain, but it’s another thing to scale and replicate a successful carwash location as so many local factors are in play and close in-person oversight at each location is difficult at best. The result is more and more operators are focusing on quality over quantity, which has resulted in a boom in technology in this market. 

In the coming years, leading modern carwashes across the U.S. will undoubtedly see an increased level of robotics and artificial intelligence.  

Evolving technology has already started to play a role in streamlining operations through automation in this market. In recent years we’ve seen many tech-focused solutions companies enter the space offering digital marketing strategies, damage control and prevention, automation, membership management platforms, and much more. Many longstanding carwash manufacturers have also invested in tech offerings as stand-alone solutions or incorporated in existing equipment. These advancements will only improve and accelerate.

As the new host of Wash Talk: The Carwash Podcast, I have had the privilege of speaking with many of these forward-thinking companies to discuss the incorporation of technology in this market and what the future of carwashing looks like. We’ve also published many tech-focused articles on our website in recent months. You can view all our archived content, including our podcast interviews, on Carwash.com. 

Although trends continue to emerge in this industry and others, the extended incorporation of technology will open doors for some and allow others to penetrate deeper into target markets without relying on heavy labor or local representation.

If you are currently reading this issue at The Car Wash Show™ 2023 in Las Vegas, be sure to seek out these providers and put technology to work for you. Also, stop by our booth 1562, we’d love the opportunity to meet you and get your thoughts on the market. 

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