Car Wash Investor Guide
What Services Should You Offer Your Customers?
You may have the best location possible and a beautiful facility to
attract customers, but if your wash doesn't get cars clean, you will
not get the steady repeat customers that are the backbone of any
business. Today's customers demand service.
The services you offer must satisfy your customer's demands. Customers
come to your wash for only one reason: to clean their cars. If they
don't get the service to accomplish this task, they won't return. The
following wash bay services are available and should be offered to
* High Pressure Soap
* High Pressure Rinse
* High Pressure Wax
* Foaming Brush System
* Foaming Tire Cleaner
* Spot Free Rinse
* Mat Hangers
* Detailing Centres
* Vending Products
* Change Making Equipment
* Other Services
One of the original car washing services, high pressure soap remains a
basic feature of Self-service car washing. Even though the foaming
brush has become the most popular method of washing, high pressure
soap still has a place in the Self-service wash bay.
Customers use high pressure soap to wash their engines, tires, wheel
wells, and undercarriages. High pressure soap can also be used to wash
motorcycles, boats, lawn mowers, trailers, attic fan louvers, screens,
pickup truck beds, lawn furniture or anything else portable and
High pressure soap is also the best method of washing off heavy mud,
and a few customers still prefer the high pressure method instead of
the foaming brushes.
The other original basic service, high pressure rinse is used by every
customers in a Self-service carwash. Soft water is required here, and
cold water is recommended except in extremely cold weather. Cold water
rinse is a significant energy saving feature.
Wax is used by about 17% of Self-service carwash customers and adds to
the average income per vehicle. Spray wax is applied with warm, soft
water through the high pressure wand.
Foaming Brush System
Until 1979, the Self-service method of washing was at best, just fair.
Operator incomes were also just fair. But 1979 saw the beginning of a
new era for Self-service car washing with the advent of the foaming
For the first time ever, customers could easily remove road film from
their cars using Self-service washes, and they liked it. Customer
satisfaction brought them back more frequently and also caused them to
recommend the wash to their friends.
The foaming brushes are used for longer periods of time than the high
pressure wands. This increases your gross income. At the same time,
your operating costs are reduced because the foaming brushes use less
water, use less soap, and they do not require the operation of large
Operators report that over 75% of their customers use the foaming
brush during the wash process. But most important of all, every
operator who has installed a foaming brush system has reported an
increase in net income.
The pre-soak is a concentrated detergent solution that is dispensed
through the wash wand at low pressure. It is absolutely essential for
breaking down "road film" if pressure washing alone is to be used.
Many operators feel that having pre-soak and foaming brushes is
redundant since both will remove road film. Other operators however,
believe that offering both services gives their customers a choice and
provides a quality wash either way.
Foaming Tire Cleaner
For a long time, Self-service carwash customers have needed a method
getting their whitewall tires clean and bright. Equipment now exists
that will do a good job of cleaning tires. A concentrated foaming
chemical is applied to the tires and loosens the embedded grime. High
pressure rinse is then used to flush the tires, leaving them clean and
bright. Non-foaming tire and engine cleaning systems have been around
for some time. These type of systems however, are very expensive to
operate and are very wasteful, since much of the chemical runs off of
the tire and down the drain.
Foam however, clings to the tire and allows the chemical to stay where
it's needed. Operating costs are much lower, and nothing sells the
product better than the foam itself.
Spot Free Rinse
Even after a thorough washing and rinsing, customers may still see
spotting on their car due to excessive, dissolved solids in the wash's
domestic water supply (municipal or well). This problem can be
eliminated by the use of an ultra pure water treatment system. After
customers have rinsed off the dirt and soap with regular high pressure
rinse water, this ultra pure water is then dispensed, at low pressure
as "spot free" rinse. The result is a vehicle that will air dry to a
gleaming spot free shine.
Although seemingly unimportant, mat hangers are used by over half of a
Self-service carwash's customers. Mat washing adds to the time of the
overall wash, and to your wash bay income. Dollar for dollar these are
one of the best investments at the carwash.
The self-service carwash also has the potential of generating
significant income from a detailing centre. Located outside of the
wash bay area, detailing centres should offer vacuum cleaner services.
Vacuums provide the means for self-service customers to clean the
interiors of their vehicles. Vacuums also provide a very profitable
source of additional revenue. Because they are outside, vacuums can
generate income simultaneously with the wash bays. Stainless steel
vacuums attract more customers and stay looking good for years with
only minimal maintenance.
A variety of products can be sold through coin-operated vending
machines. The most common products sold are paper towels, window
cleaners, air fresheners, polishes and tar removers. If marketed
properly, vending products can produce significant income.
Change Making Equipment
Bill changers are essential for self-service carwashes. Most customers
need change but are reluctant to ask for it. If they can 't get it,
they won 't spend as much money as they should, or even worse, none at
all. Because of this inconvenience, they may never return to your
wash. Machines are available that change $2.00, $5.00 and $10.00 bills
along with "loonies". Larger washes should have more than one changer.
Your income will be severely reduced if you do not have good
There are a number of other services you may wish to consider
offering, including Low Pressure Foaming Wax, Foaming Conditioner, Engine Cleaner,
Bug Remover and Undercarriage Protectant.
Next Section: Marketing your Services
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