Lone Star Mercedes-Benz’s Belanger automatic car wash may be small in size but it’s big in terms of customer value, expectations and satisfaction.
One of two Mercedes dealerships in Calgary, Lone Star moved into its current building in 2007. After numerous expansions necessitated by overwhelming growth, it now occupies about 50,000 sq. ft. and records sales of more than $18 million of some 1,800 new and pre-owned cars and vans a year.
Lone Star invested more than $800,000 in its car wash facilities to keep up with larger volumes and improve quality. The new Belanger Insta-Kleen wash, located in a 36-foot-long bay, has decreased wash time to two minutes per car from seven minutes in the old wash. On a typical day the dealership will put through a total of about 120 vehicles, which includes between 80 or 90 which come in for servicing and the rest shuttle vehicles, service loaners, pre-owned and new-demo cars.
Instead of installing Belanger dryers, Lone Star chose the three-component Aerodry Advantage system. “We were very concerned about the noise (decibel) levels created by the dryers because they are very near our mechanics area, and this was the quietest system that was available to us,” explained Operations Manager Doug Smeed.
Besides the automatic wash, Lone Star also has a detailing facility, a prep bay and a hand wash, which has been specifically designed to handle the dealership’s Sprinter vans, which are almost 10 feet high. The wash features a Cat 1540 pump, and another Cat 310 unit as a backup, which can produce more than 1,400 psi and run all seven pressure washer guns at the same time. It has a manifold that will enable the system to operate should the pumps happen to fail.
Along one side of the bay, Lone Star installed a catwalk with an extra-long wand designed specifically to properly clean the top of the Sprinter vans. It installed Aqua Air Auto Detailing signature series vacuum systems, giving it three vacuum stations in the prep bay, one of them being a wet/dry station, and in the hand wash bay there is a chemical station that can dispense up to five different chemicals through a foamer. Lastly, and most recently, the dealership installed a Rhino Mat floor mat washing/drying machine so every car comes out with clean floor mats.
The improvements Lone Star have made are designed to provide a quality of wash and detailing that are consistent with the premium brand of vehicles that customers are purchasing. “We are a bit of leader in the city in terms or our wash capabilities and quality,” Smeed says. “When we first opened other dealerships would come by to see what we had and what we could do. We’ve had tremendous response from our customers. It’s not a matter of getting a return on our investment, it’s all about giving customers the quality of product and service that they expect and deserve.
Wash System: Belanger Insta-Kleen
Dryer System: Aerodry Advantage
Pump Units: Cat 1540 and Cat 310
Vacuums: Aqua Air Auto Detailing Signature Series
Floor mat wash/dry: Rhino Mat
Research your options. Find out what’s available from a variety of manufacturers, so you can be well informed when making equipment-buying decisions.
Customize when possible. Figure out the unique needs of your site, and find equipment that will work for you.
Know your customers. If your customers are bringing in premium cars, they’ll expect premium service. Invest in quality upfront and your customers will thank you.