5 Carwash Trends to Watch for In 2019 and Beyond

 

The car wash industry has entered in a period of rapid transition, with new technologies and practices making inroads and bringing change to both customer expectations and industry norms. As we look forward to the coming year and beyond we’ve come to expect the following five car wash industry trends to play an increasingly central role.

 

 1. Paid Vacuum Center Systems Replacing Freevacs

Free vacuums were originally deployed as a way for express or exterior-only car washes to compete with full-service model car washes. However, in most of the country there are very few of these full-service carwashes left with which to compete.

 

So many operators in the country are tired of expending significant resources on high-maintenance, high-cost vacuum centers without a clear return on investment, and systems are being tested to address this issue. We expect to begin seeing operators retrofitting large, costly free vacuum centers with credit-card or membership-integrated alternatives. This strategy has the added advantage of increasing the value that comes bundled inside club memberships.

 

2. Revival of Interior Cleaning Services

In another strike against free vacs, we anticipate interior cleaning services becoming more common once again. Free vacuums were an effective option to include for the benefit of customers during the great depression a decade ago. However, the economic boom of recent years brings with it a willingness and desire among customers to pay more for expanded services in the name of convenience.

 

We anticipate slow move away from the current low labor exterior only concept and towards new Flex models which are able to process vehicle interiors far more quickly than traditional full service washes using assembly line-like procedures.

 

 3. Changing Automotive Technology

Vehicle technology is advancing, and while driverless cars are still years away there are already standard automotive features that that make it difficult if not prohibitive for some modern vehicles to wash in traditional chain and roller style car washes.

 

Notably these systems include Electronic Parking Breaks (triggered by tire rolling) and Automatic Emergency Braking systems (triggered by incoming objects, such as mitter brushes). Both of these can automatically engage the vehicle’s brakes in the wash tunnel, causing it to jump rollers and collide with incoming customer vehicles behind.

 

While these systems can *usually* be deactivated, the methods used to do so are non-standard and often complex, and disabling them introduces car wash operators to potential liability. However, both systems are compatible with Tommy Transporter Dual Belt Conveyor system, which carries automatically braking vehicles through the tunnel without issue.

 

Upgrading a conveyor to a dual belt system costs $100,000 and takes around two weeks. Washes that reinvest in this improvement will gain a quick competitive edge. Overall we anticipate an inevitable cleansing of obsolete car washes across the market.

 

 4. Inbay Automatic & Rollover Wash Conversions

Most of small-town America is serviced only by old, slow-processing rollover or in-bay automatic washes, each of which is its own missed opportunity. However, these facilities may be readily converted into short, conveyorized tunnel washes.

 

The conversion process involves removing the floor, re-pouring the conveyor pit, and installing new equipment, ultimately improving the processing speed from 8 cars/hour to 40 or more. This opens up a tremendous opportunity for car wash-minded operators to acquire and execute these conversions now, particularly in small towns unable to support tunnels or in urban centers with no land available.

 

 5. Teardown & Rebuilds

Even among full-size tunnel washes, there are countless outdated and struggling facilities waiting on extraordinarily valuable land in locations brimming with untapped potential. In the past these aging sites would be readily purchased and propped up with new branding, fresh paint, and maybe an updated equipment package to provide moderately improved performance.

 

But this practice is no longer sufficient. Old sites will increasingly be closed, demolished, and replaced with modernized buildings and equipment able to take full advantage of the local market.

 

Two years ago our sister company acquired a car wash that had recently closed, leaving a sturdy building bordering a major roadway. Instead of investing in the old facility everything was promptly leveled and a full acre of concrete removed before being replaced with a brand new 130’ Tommy’s Express franchise.

 

This modern site, in the same lot that couldn’t support an outdated car wash only years before, washed over 400,000 cars in 2018. We believe this same lesson will soon be proved over and over again in locations around the nation.

 

 

About Tommy Car Wash Systems:

Built on fifty years of car wash experience and innovation, Tommy Car Wash Systems provides designer stainless steel equipment, high performance detergents, car wash conversion services, and performance-focused facility designs while supporting the design, development, and logistics of the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise.

 

Tommy Car Wash Systems

.

Lockout / Tagout Systems and Car Wash Safety

 

The Guardian Wash Control System, and the Tommy Car Wash Systems equipment line as a whole, incorporate lockout/tagout (LOTO) devices and procedures as a critical part of both routine and urgent car wash maintenance activities.

 

If you aren’t familiar with lockout or tagout programs, the systems comply with OSHA Subpart J, 29 CFR 1910.147 “The Control of Hazardous Energy” and use either locks or tags to physically disable a powered device or system (including electrical, air powered, or hydraulic systems) so that that part of the car wash is unable to engage (power up) until the staff member who locked it is finished with their work, returns to a safe area, and removes the lock or tag from the system.

 

For those who have worked with them, the extra steps that LOTO involve when performing car wash maintenance can seem burdensome or over-the-top. But in the car wash tunnel or backroom, strict adherence to LOTO procedures is important for more than OSHA compliance. These procedures keep employees safe and prevent potentially deadly accidents every single day.

 

Car wash equipment is extremely powerful, involving high pressures, moving parts, and various voltages contained in a wet and potentially slippery environment complete with hoses (potential tripping hazards) and even a conveyor pit for good measure. Without a LOTO system in use employees working on equipment could potentially find themselves surprised or in a terrible situation with scant seconds of notice if a co-worker doesn’t realize where they are and what they are working on.

 

 

These hazards are real, and it doesn’t take long to locate real-world instances where poor, ignored, or lacking safety procedures resulted in employees suffering serious physical harm on the job. If you are in the process of developing your own car wash you must take the time to thoroughly review the appropriate regulations before developing comprehensive safety procedures and a training regimen to share them with your staff.

 

And, beyond these foundational steps, share with your team the principles and mindset of good car wash safety so that they are able to think, plan, and adapt to new or unexpected situations on their own. The physical well-being of your employees and customers must remain a core concern.

 

To learn more about the Guardian Wash Command system or to configure your own, visit washcommand.com.

 

Tommy Car Wash Systems

.

Designing a Digital Storefront for your Local Carwash

 

Today we’re taking some time with Caleb Eckman, Web Developer and Designer here at Tommy Car Wash Systems, and exploring car wash websites and the digital storefronts that play such a significant role in modern car wash customer service and advertising.

Read more

Conversations: Brand Voices in Car Wash Digital Marketing

 

If advertising is a shout that goes out to customers, attracting and informing them, social media marketing is more of a conversation, a conversation held in a very public forum. In this new arena your brand’s voice and your approach has tremendous consequences.

Read more

Tommy Car Wash Systems Welcomes New Chief Operating Officer

Tommy Car Wash Systems is pleased to announce that Alex Lemmen has joined the company in the capacity of Chief Operating Officer.

 

Lemmen brings an international perspective and growth-centric mindset to the Tommy Car Wash Systems team, having served for approximately five years with distinction as a management consultant at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG is a highly respected global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy.

 

Ryan Essenburg, President of Tommy Car Wash Systems, stated: “Alex brings a perspective and skill set that is essential to our sustained growth and profitability. His experience with BCG puts him in a select group of individuals with the experience needed to scale a business to a national and international level.”

 

While his former responsibilities focused on global consumer goods and retail sectors, primarily concentrated in Latin America and the United States, Lemmen will now be responsible for helping the company navigate the aggressive growth triggered by the successful launch of the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise.

 

Lemmen is a native of West Michigan and holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M Ross School of Business.

 

Tommy Car Wash Systems

.

Getting it Right, the Importance of Proper Car Wash Site Layout

 

The location and layout of a new car wash can make or break its long-term success, which makes proper design and good site selection some of the most critical and strategically demanding early steps in the car wash development process.

Read more

Understanding the 5 Elements of Wash Quality

 

For the best operators, wash quality is an obsession to be checked and maintained every, single, day. But first new operators must first understand each of the factors at work in the car wash tunnel and how they fit together to determine wash performance—particularly during busy, high volume periods.

Read more

Five Ways the Totally Tommy Car Wash Design Reduces Car Wash Labor

 

Ask most car wash managers, or retail business managers in general, what the hardest part of running the business is, and they’ll likely to tell you that it’s not the equipment, the materials, or the customers – it’s managing the people. Even with a fantastic team, balancing everyone’s schedules, hiring, and training requires a huge amount of time and energy.

Read more