The opening of a brand-new Mobil 1 Lube and Express site in Calgary, AB marks the start of an entirely new venture for Al Lalani. After 40 years in the dry cleaning business, Al and his father opened their first lube shop and car wash in October, and couldn’t be happier about this new opportunity.
“What we’ve built is a three-bay lube shop, which is Mobil 1 branded. And we have a touchless car wash in addition to the lube shop,” says Lalani. “I’ve been wanting to buy a car wash for a long time, and we’ve looked at several different sites for self-serve washes, but nothing really panned out. This time around, we just decided to build one ourselves.”
So what sparked this significant career change? Lalani says it comes down to passion, and also just being in the perfect location to try something new.
“Calgary is a very unique market for car washes, and the reason is our weather patterns,” he explains. “Even in the winter, we get Chinooks, and when that happens, we go from -20 to 3 degrees. Vehicles get very dirty, and when it gets warm, everyone wants to wash their vehicles.”
Getting their feet wet
Starting in an entirely new industry can be a challenge, but the family took it in stride, diligently conducting their research before getting started.
“My dad and I have attended car wash shows for a couple years now. The first time, we went because we were planning on opening a self-serve. The second time, our plan to open a self-serve went downhill because the city’s parking restrictions changed, and because they wanted more parking for each bay, it limited us in the number of bays we could put on the site,” says Al.
“When we went to the show the second time, Mobil 1 had a booth for Mobil 1 Express branded lube shops, and that’s where we were introduced to the Mobil 1 family, as well as Hamilton Manufacturing.”
Maximum drying power
After talks with these suppliers, the family decided on a state-of-the-art wash from Belanger, with a Hamilton Manufacturing payment system.
“It’s a Belanger Saber, and it’s a top wash they sell in terms of touchless. I went above and beyond what most customers purchase, because I’m into cars and I’ve used a lot of other touchless washes in the city, and I find that they just don’t do a great job in general,” says Lalani.
“I’ve added an additional dryer, so we have about 30 horsepower of drying power, and most washes have about 10-20,” he adds. “The biggest problem is, even if you buy the top end wash, the car will come out and there will still be water on it, and if it’s warm outside, the water will dry and leave water spots. So that’s something I wanted to address when I purchased the equipment.”
The family officially opened their site on October 17, and are excited to see how customers respond to their state-of-the-art wash experience.
What can you learn from this reno?
1. Invest in the right equipment. Installing the most up-to-date equipment will give your customers the best wash experience.
2. Pay attention to the weather. Adjust your equipment to adapt to the weather patterns of your area.
3. Speak to suppliers. Interact with suppliers at trade shows to learn about their equipment and services.