Automechanika Convention in Frankfurt Germany: the Future of the In-Bay and the Car Wash Industry

I’m writing you live from Germany on my iPad, which has become a very useful tool to date for sharing the Tommy Car Wash Systems story!

A few notable changes in the car wash business industry have become clear to me this week, day 4 of 6 at the show. The global car wash industry as it currently exists seems down, but new construction opportunities remain huge and many cities – particularly smaller cities – remain largely under served. There are opportunities for over 20,000 new car washes to be built internationally. Most markets are far under served in that they lack quality car washes.

What are we doing wrong in our industry that we can’t capitalize easily on under served markets?

The largest car wash chain I know is Imo. No one seems to have much good to say about these car washes; general consensus is that they tend to be dark, dirty, ugly, and cheap.  In-bay car wash models remain the most common, despite its high operating costs and mediocre customer satisfaction Is this the common model? When will the industry be dominated by Southwest Airlines-style car wash? Fast, friendly, clean, and cost effective?

Not necessarily. I believe the rest of the world will catch on and skip the over inbay car wash era with the help of industry education and new technology. Developing countries are saving money and providing better service by building conveyorized hand washes and mini tunnels rather than in-bay car washes.

Overall, this week’s Automechanika was an excellent show for us, even though the car wash section is much smaller than 2 years ago. Earlier this week we toured a Mr. Wash facility, much to our delight. Several acres, 3 stories, targeting 400,000 – 500,000 cars per year or more. Wow!

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