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What the express market could mean for Australian washes

The express wash market in the U.S. has some parallels with the current Australian market.


In the debut issue of our Australian magazine, Craig Campbell, the managing director of WashTec Australia, explained why he believes the tunnel market will improve in the country. “I expect there to be more [tunnels] in the future, as labour costs increase and health and safety compliance becomes more and more of an issue.”

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Read also: PC&D magazine

In California, there are similar problems with labour laws, as chronicled by Carwash Consultant Chris McKenna in a July 2014 column for PC&D. “[Labour] laws make it increasingly difficult to open and run a full-serve carwash, and operate at the same profit level that was once enjoyed many years ago.”

One advantage of the express wash, notes McKenna, includes virtually no labour, which is a major advantage in the current Australian market.

Read also: PC&D Australia

McKenna detailed what an express wash entails in the article:

  1. Due to the size of the property, the line to the carwash entrance and queuing area is in a straight line, but sometimes it can be in a curved pattern or shaped like a U-turn to enter the actual wash, to save on room. For the exit, drivers might also have to drive straight out, or off to the side or do a U-turn to leave the property or to get to the vacuum area.
  2. The greeter/greeting station is all automated and contained in a kiosk. However, there are still some express carwashes that use an actual live person inside of a booth, and this has proven to be useful and appreciated by the customers. This call is up to you.
  3. The tire cleaning, wheel cleaning and tire dressing applicators are all automated and actually work really well and in many cases look better than hand applied methods which of course, will cost much, much more.
  4. The tunnel itself tends to be a little longer (100-200 feet) and full of very high tech and expensive equipment that is usually geared towards high strength industrial type cleaning vs "gentle hand wash" type equipment.
  5. There is also a growing trend to add some type of vending which offers customers various car care products (towels, interior cleaning products, fragrances, etc.)
  6. Usually, there are also free self-serve vacuums available to customers, and some owners have installed air nozzles. Please note: Some carwashes (particularly the busy ones) put a sign reading: 5 MINUTE LIMIT.  This helps reduce complaints and gets customers moving along much faster.

Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, CA, can be reached at 310-947-9711, or via email at [email protected].You can also visit his website at www.carwash-consultant.com.

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