Vacuums have long been a carwashing standby, cleaning hard-to-reach dirt and debris from a car’s nooks and crannies. The powerful vacuums available today enable customers to affordably clean floormats, seats and consoles in just minutes. PC&D spoke with two industry experts to learn more about the newest trends that can be found in these carwash classics.
One of the biggest vacuum trends in the carwash market seems to be combination machines that offer more than just a standard vacuum, according to Tiffany Tipton, marketing and sales director of American Products.
The most requested combination is the air/vacuum machine, Tipton stated. This machine offers air to fill up the customer’s tires as well as a vacuum in one location. The air and vacuum sides each have their own coin acceptors and timers. Customers can use both sides at the same time, and the separate hardware lets an owner charge a different amount for each service. Many operators especially prefer this combined unit over purchasing two separate machines.
David Roush, product marketing manager for Ryko Solutions, agreed that having a combination of options on the vacuum itself is important because it can answer multiple customer needs in one location. Ryko has models with vacuum only, vacuum with a shampoo option or vacuum with an air freshener option. These multiple offerings at a single vacuum location also help drive revenue.
Today’s vacuums have shown the ability to operate more efficiently than the vacuums of the past as well. Newer styles of motors have become more efficient over time, and new vacuums reduce the amount of energy used when compared to some of the older systems, Roush stated.
Tipton said the technology of the vacuums along with the parts that make up the vacuum — the timers, coin acceptors and vacuum motors — have all improved. These improvements have helped the efficiency, durability and longevity of the equipment.
Free no more?
In the current economy, more owners are charging their customers to use the vacuums rather than offering free vacuum service, Tipton explained. Also, the general cost of a vacuum service has gone up from the simple 50 cents to at least $1. Some carwashes will use the vacuum as an additional marketing tool to draw more customers to their location. For instance, they may offer them a free vacuum token with the purchase of a carwash.
The offering of free vacuums really depends on the type of carwash. Roush said, “We see some free vacuum options, but this is done mostly at conveyor sites, while vacuums that charge are used at conveyor as well as automatic and self serve locations.”
If vacuums are no longer free, what types of payments do they accept? The most common vacuum machines still accept coins and tokens, but many companies offer vacuums that accept bills or even credit cards, Tipton stated.
Roush listed vacuum payment choices as carwash codes, credit cards and cash. “We … have the ability to tie in the code that you may have used at the carwash in with the vacuum, so the customer only has one point of purchase,” he revealed. “Many customers like this option.”
According to Tipton, general maintenance on vacuums should include:
- Emptying dirt and debris from the bottom of the unit;
- Making sure the door gaskets have a tight seal;
- Shaking the dirt out of the filter bags;
- Checking the filter bags for holes;
- Inspecting the vacuum hoses for holes; and
- Making sure the vacuum motors are free of dirt and debris.
Outside the units, owners may clean their stainless steel vacuums with stainless steel cleaner and wax the parts of the vacuums that are not stainless steel, such as powder coated domes or painted sections. Tipton recommended keeping all decals looking fresh and legible as well.
Roush said it is important for vacuums to have a clean appearance because it is inviting to customers. Also, emptying the vacuums on a regular basis is an important factor because it allows the units to work more efficiently and provide a better clean for your customer.