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Car wash renovation: Setting new limits

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0006_Palmer_YCM March 2015_BC RenoRaj Aadmi’s love of cars as a young boy growing up drove him into the car wash business, where he worked and eventually ended up owning and operating a chain of self-serve and rollover car washes in British Columbia’s lower mainland.

Aadmi realized over time there was a better way to run the business and serve customers. He researched some 200 car washes in the United States and discovered that washes using express tunnels were starting to dominate and eliminate other types of wash systems and technologies.

“With climate change producing more chemicals and dirt in the air, and more oil on the roads, and with changing demographics, you have to approach car washing differently,” says Aadmi. “I began to realize the future of the industry was to concentrate on speed, quality and price, and I set out to develop a business model based on those principles.”

Crank up the volume

Aadmi spent about $6.5 million to build his Speedwash in Surrey, BC. The car wash features a MacNeil double 125-foot express tunnel, one of the first of its kind in Canada. The wash opened in April 2014 and is capable of handling up to 200 cars an hour, about 10 times the volume of a traditional rollover wash, with the average wash taking about four minutes.

Because of the high volume, Aadmi is able to reduce prices and offers three wash packages – $6 for a basic wash, $10 for a wash with wax, tire cleaner and rinse, and a supreme package for $14 with a champagne wax, tire shine and Rain X rinse and treatment, providing customers with a show-room shine. The wash is open 24 hours a day with a manager on duty at all times, and all vacuums are free.

A key to the success of a high-volume wash like Speedwash is just that: high volume. Aadmi searched for a location with a daily traffic count of more than 60,000 vehicles, easy access, and enough space to accommodate a lineup of up to 20 vehicles at any one time. He spent about a year working with an architect and the city to get all necessary approvals and plans in place.

Speedwash Surrey hasn’t even been open for a year yet, but is already putting through about 800 cars a day. Aadmi expects to see a return on his investment in five years or less, and is already targeting to have 10 more express tunnel locations up and running in the next two to three years. Speedwash Surrey proves that if you have a faster, less expensive wash with great quality and service, the cars will beat a path to your door.