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How to Make More Money at Your Automatic Car Wash

I have been in the car wash business for over 27 years, having owned and operated a full service tunnel with six self serve bays and a separate self serve with 12 bays. Owning a car wash is not much different from owning a restaurant. If you want to make more money at your car wash then you first have to provide a good product and customer service. You must be consistent, polite with customers, keep the place clean (since we are in the business of "clean"). For example, no matter which McDonald's you go into - the food is consistent, establishments are clean and service is the same - with a smile.

Car washes provide a service to the customer while utilizing products in the car wash process. Not enough can be said about using good products and good equipment. The set up at my car wash (Crown Car Wash in Pittsburgh) was a hybrid system - meaning combination of friction and high-pressure. We would apply a good presoak - Alkaline presoak in summer and a low PH presoak in winter.

Next would be a triple mitter and then through the rocker panel brush (cloth of course) and wraps. Lastly would be a high pressure blast arch (rinse) which encircled the vehicle along with wheel blasters. The idea of the high pressure arch was that all dirt and other items should at this point, if missed by the miters, rockers or wraps would be very loose on the vehicle. High pressure blast would simply finish the process of removing any left over grime. After the high pressure rinse would be rain arch - a good dumping of fresh water over entire vehicle. Lastly and very important is the rinse wax - Dri and Shine rinse wax.

A lot of car washes apply rinse wax and then rinse again. My process was contrary to this method. I would apply a good rinse wax (Dri and Shine) at 120:1 (120 parts water, 1 part wax) by light spraying of the vehicle. I would perhaps use one gallon per vehicle and would not rinse off. This would then go through the blowers. My cars came out looking almost as though they were quick detailed. The vehicles would shine more - not that semi-shine that most car washes produce. Why do most car washes apply a rinse wax then wash it off? Sure the car is clean, but customers want to see a little shine as they look across the hood while leaving the wash. We are selling a finished product. Make the finished product look as good as possible.

Second item to talk about is converting your the vacuum on your site to make more money. All self serve car washes have a vacuum or two that are low revenue producers. Customers generally prefer to use certain vacuums - closer to the road, closer to vending machines, etc. These vacuums seem to make more money than some other vacuums. Why not convert a low revenue producing vacuums to sell something else such as Tire shine and air (combo) for tires. More money could be made if you could vend another product or two - something different.

Crown Equipment and Distributing manufactures Vacuum tire shine conversion kits. Convert your vacuum to dispense Tire Shine or Tire Shine and Air (Combo). We also have kit that converts a vacuum to dispense Tire Shine, Air for tires and Two Fragrances (ultra conversion kit). So, instead of previously only selling vacuuming from a low producing vac and making little money, you can now sell value added services. It is almost a no brainer. We provide all needed materials to make the conversion - pumping system, hoses, applicators, bracket to hold hoses, new decals, including a five gallon pail of tire shine.


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