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Stepping-up for safety

Wash and fuel sectors look outside the box

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.06.50 PMCOVID-19 has created trying times. Both wash operators and manufacturers have pivoted to create service and product innovation amid these challenges.

A good example is ISTOBAL, a leading manufacturer of car wash equipment with a presence in 78 countries. This company has reinvented uses for its automatic wash arches that are now being used to disinfect the personal protective equipment (PPE) and vehicles of health, security and emergency personnel combatting coronavirus/COVID-19.

The company reports that over two weeks it adapted its chemical application technology that has been in use in car washes around the world. This arch adaptation, first in use in Spain’s battle with COVID-19, now disinfect personnel, vehicles and gear in just 15 seconds.

The company’s equipment can be installed near main accesses, quarantine areas, operating rooms, ICUs and other points. With a capacity to disinfect more than 4,000 people with PPE a day, these arches measure two meters in height and are made up of eight sprinklers that spray a disinfectant product on the PPE of health and safety and emergency forces and are automatically activated in its path thanks to a photocell detection system that activates the sprinklers.

ISTOBAL is also producing arches for the external disinfection of medical vehicles such as ambulances and fleets of the security forces with an average disinfection capacity of about 1,000 vehicles per day. This system is designed to spray vehicles with a biocide.

In the face of some operators turning away truckers and others during this public health emergency, Shell has stepped up to show its support of drivers and frontline workers. In more than 15,000 participating retail sites across 30 countries, Shell will be providing free food and warm beverages to healthcare professionals, such as EMTs, nurses and doctors. “As a small thank you for all you are doing for our communities, we invite Canadian healthcare professionals to stop into any participating Shell gas station. All you need to bring is your medical ID and we will provide a free sandwich and warm beverage to keep you fuelled throughout your day,” says Andrea Brecka, general manager Retail, Shell Canada.

The petroleum company also announced that not only will its sites offer free sandwiches and beverages to medical crews as well as commercial drivers such as couriers, long haul and grocery and fuel delivery drivers as well as others. Drivers only need to be uniformed with a company truck.

At Petro-Canada’s 1,500 + sites operations offer plexiglass shields at cash, social distancing prompts and stations are disinfecting all internal surfaces, such as the pay-point, door handles and washrooms every two hours or more. Surfaces outside, such as pumps squeegees, vacuums and air pumps are cleaned multiple times a day.

Suncor spokesperson Nicole Fisher tells OCTANE that Petro-Canada sites are being made as clean and safe as possible. She reports stations are:

  • placing indicators on store floors to ensure people remain at a safe distance from one another
  • installing plexiglass shields at the main pay counters
  • limiting the number of customers in each of our larger stores
  • increasing cleaning and sanitizing procedures
  • reducing contact points, including closing all fountain pop and slush machines

The Chamois Car Wash and Detail Centre, a three-site business located in Winnipeg is offering a full interior sanitizing service. The wash group offers both automated tunnels and full detailing packages in its normal menu. Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, Chamois closed its standard interior service and runs only its automated lines where customers must remain in their cars. Groups such as taxi operators and first responders and others told them people were looking for safer virus-free vehicle interiors.

Chamois turned to their expertise to create a service that had to be safe for employees. At their wash sites, they bath the interior with a liquid germicide that is allowed to sit for a full 10 minutes. Then a single staffer can enter safely to wipe off the residue and perform a deep clean on the interior. The service takes about 45 minutes and costs customers $49 for cars and $59 for vans. The service includes their best-selling Gold wash package.

 Originally published in the May/June issue of OCTANE.


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New London, Ont. service site breaks away from the competition

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 12.24.09 PMOperator Harsha Nimrani is making a strong play with the opening of her latest business in London, Ont. Nimrani’s winning hand includes her partnership with Greenergy Canada and its Breakaway brand as well as her development of an innovative new car wash that uses state-of-the-art technology. Already, she operates five other fuel and vehicle service sites in Ontario with a variety of gas brands, but this is her first with Breakaway and she is enthusiastic as the facility opened this January.

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 12.25.00 PMNimrani reports that after coming to Canada in 2012 the family got involved with the service station business when her husband took on a job as an accountant at a location in Mississauga. “My husband and I agreed after our children were born that we needed to get into businesses of our own. We had experience with gas stations so there was a natural fit. My first location was in Niagara Falls and now I have five sites in Ontario and we are looking at two more this year,” she says commenting that she brings a background in banking and real estate to the business.

Development on Nimrani’s new London Breakaway station began last September and lasted five months with the opening in mid-January. What Nimrani has on offer is a triple threat site with c-store, gas bar and car wash. Under the Breakaway canopy, her new business features six gas dispensers with two diesel pumps. Fuel is provided by Greenergy, a growing supplier that launched Breakaway in 2018 and Inver in 2019.  The c-store and gas bar are branded as a Breakaway location and comes with all the bells and whistles such its signature hockey-themed look and feel and promotions in the c-store and under the canopy. Majestic Auto Wash features a 90’ tunnel Fusion Process wash as well as detailing area.

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“This site was previously a Shell,” says Nimrani. “When we looked at this location we had interest from both Mobil and ESSO, but after our research, we decided to go with Greenergy and Breakaway. Early on we saw that they could do more for us and would be a more willing partner in our success,” she says, mentioning that the simple fact that Greenergy staff just pick up the phone when she calls was a big improvement over her experience with other fuel brands.  “Breakaway gives us the flexibility to price match on fuel. This is important to us. We are competing as the best price option in this market and are selling 17,000 litres of fuel each day. It is the fuel quality and price that gets people onto our site where we can sell them other goods and services such as car wash and convenience products.”

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 12.23.44 PMHere, Nimrani mentions the Breakaway c-store and points to the business as a key aspect that drives the location’s success. The c-store kiosk is approximately 200 square feet and is replete with sports themes throughout. “Canada is hockey crazy. We saw this theme as highly attractive to our target market here in London,” she says, noting that Breakaway’s hockey-theme makes their site stand out from the competition in a tough local market.

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 12.23.56 PMThe car wash is yet another key point of market differentiation and innovation. Nimrani went with a Fusion Process system from Diamond Shine and Sonny’s. “We turned to Washlinks for advice and came up with this new system that is the first in Canada. The tunnel can clean 90 cars an hour with a staff of seven or eight on the crew that handles detailing as well.” She reports that their Majestic Auto Wash offers four clean packages – Ace, King, Queen and Jack. “Every gas fill gets a free ‘Jack’ wash,” she says mentioning the basic exterior service. Products such as their King wash with interior and exterior clean is $60 and the basic with an interior clean is $36. Customers can choose between a monthly subscription for $29 or an a la carte offering where they can add on services such as tire and rim cleaning.

Helping to drive wash business is a dedicated app for payments, loyalty program and promotions. “We went with ICS for this system and have found that our growth in this area is very good. The app allows us to better know our customers and their preferences and it makes it easier for customers to access our services. Already we have more than 1000 customers signed up to our club membership and expect this to grow to 5000 customers over the next several months as more people learn about us.”

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 12.25.20 PMIn the wash, Majestic’s Fusion Process system offers six-stage cleaning, a step up from the usual four stages typically found in most wash tunnels. It starts with a Fusion Bath designed to break the bond of surface contaminants with a specialty low pH detergent. Next is a Fusion Prime application, an ultra-low pH chemical coverage that preps the surface of the vehicle for better adherence of the upcoming sealant and makes the painted surfaces shine. The Fusion Rinse cycle is step three. Here a thin sheet of water with a chemical additive helps dissipate any remaining foam on the vehicle. This step clears out vehicle crevices and removes any left behind soap or hard water in preparation for the upcoming paint sealant. Fusion Seal is the next step. Fusion Seal is a paint sealant that, with the help of the Fusion Prime, bonds with the vehicle’s paint to capture the shine and smooth out the surfaces. The seal forms a glossy shell that protects the paint against UV rays and contaminants. Applying it in a stream of droplets ensures the chemical penetrates and completely coats all surfaces. The Fusion Wax cycle provides an additional layer of protection on top of the sealant that helps the vehicle retain the benefits of the full Fusion Process for longer. Lastly, the system applies Rain Repel, a glass specific step where finishing touch applicators are targeted at the glass surfaces of the vehicle and apply the chemical in a fanned spray. Once the Fusion Rain Repel is applied, water beads and runs off the glass providing additional safety and visibility in adverse conditions.

The Fusion system uses Sonny’s Bullseye backroom chemical storage and distribution system. Nimrani remarks that she likes the ease of calibration, lack of waste and total control over chemicals. “The environment is important to us. We already have water reclaim where we reuse 70% of the car wash water. We don’t want to use more chemicals than necessary and the Fusion system allows us to be very careful with amounts and its easier on our staff who don’t have to lift heavy pails and containers of detergents,” she says, noting that Bullseye features a cost measuring sight tube, instant cost per car analysis and easy product mix.

“Establishing a new site is always a challenge. There is much to do and much to learn. We were fortunate to have partners in the process that helped to take some of the bumps out of the road,” she says concluding that their upfront research, previous experience and leading suppliers helped them enter the London market with a winning hand.


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Car wash operators share 5 training tips to boost retention

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Good training delivers worker retention and enhances customer service. Here are five suggestions from leading wash operators that help raise the bar on workplace labour challenges.

  1. Give new hires a proper orientation not just a manual

“The orientation is your first opportunity to create a positive culture and direct workplace behaviour. Don’t just hand new workers a booklet and think the job is done. Spend some time here and reap the rewards with motivated crews and incoming staff that has a basis of core knowledge,” says Karen Smith, training and Compliance manager, Valet Car Washes.

  1. Do a full safety tour on the first day

Explain the equipment and talk about the various noises in the plant. “Car washes can be intimidating places to work. They are noisy and dangerous environments that require a presence of mind on the job. In-coming staff need to be walked through the full operation and shown all the hazards and how to work safely in this setting,” says Smith.

  1. Shadow established workers

“Our training program is two weeks long. We team a new worker with one and only one of our established staffers. Over two weeks they follow and mirror the job with the experienced worker,” says Smith.

  1. Train to develop a team culture

“A lot of our detailing staff have been with us for the long haul. This has enabled us to develop a crew with unique skill sets that deliver quality performance and customer engagement,” says Chris Skoglund of Skogie’s Auto Spa, where they start by paying staff a higher wage than competitors. “We also pay a commission to any staffer that sells products and services. Tips are also shared at the Kelowna Auto Spa and this helps level things out and makes a positive addition to wages. The result is a highly competent team that is supportive of the business. It’s a win/win for everybody.”

  1. Be proactive

“Anticipate a problem before it becomes a problem. A customer that receives a wash and was not happy after leaving is a lost opportunity. Not only the single wash but the washes they would have purchased afterwards. We train specific staff to conduct daily, weekly and monthly preventative maintenance checks. The checks are all documented and followed up with our maintenance supervisor to ensure the problem is corrected,” says Randy Andrusiak, gas bar operations manager, Red River Cooperative Ltd. “The very first thing we do every morning before opening is to conduct a test wash. Is everything turning on like its expected? Are there any nozzles plugged? Is their enough chemical in the barrels? Are the doors and bays clean? Is the garbage at the entrance emptied?”


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COVID-19 cleaning strategies: A Q&A with Dr. Andrew Landa  

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 12.35.06 PMCanada’s car washes know a thing or two about making vehicles shine and look their best. With the COVID-19 challenge, this expertise may be called upon to not only remove grit and grime but get cars and trucks clean on a microbial level as well. Recently we had an opportunity to discuss these needs with ZEP Vehicle Care’s Director of R&D, Dr. Andrew Landa a medical microbiologist who spearheads the science behind the clean.

OCTANE: How are you seeing car wash operators step up to help with COVID-19?

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Dr. LandaWe are seeing that operators are taking the safety of their staff very seriously. It can be a huge challenge to have people sanitizing car interiors. However, this must be done for police, first responders, taxis and other essential services as well as rental cars. UBER has reached out to us for advice and assistance with products such as hand sanitizers and other disinfectants.

At the gas station and car wash, bathrooms must be kept spotless and monitored well beyond what is done on a usual basis. Pay Stations and other touchpoints must be cleaned after each use and care should be taken to clean and sanitize those touchpoints while not possibly damaging the electronic components.

There is fear among businesses and staff. Organizations such as ours can help with knowledge about techniques and products. We can discuss the type of cleaning necessary, how to sanitize and show the steps. For example, just using a sanitizing spray on a dirty surface is not effective. A surface must first be cleaned of surface grime and then disinfected to achieve the desired results.

OCTANE: Do you have advice on best practises for car wash sites in this current crisis?

Dr. LandaAutomatic wash sites offer a no interaction service and are the safest option for exterior cleaning. Express exterior wash sites may be a bit more interactive with customers often having to choose their wash options. Here sites could offer clean styluses (a small pen-shaped instrument where the tip can be detected on a touchscreen. It is used to draw, or make selections by tapping, on devices such as mobile phones, ATMs, and car wash selectors) to customers to use on the pushbuttons. These devices can be placed in a small container of disinfectant for customers who can use them in place of fingers to push selections. The best case is for customers to utilize digital apps on mobile devices that allow choice and take payments. Interior detailing services are very quiet right now, but with the right protective equipment and proper knowledge, operators can offer their special skills to clean vehicles belonging to essential services.  

OCTANE: What are the products that are useful in the fight against COVID-19?

Dr. LandaWe have a wide range of products such as Spirit II, a hospital-grade germicidal detergent and Whirl Away aerosol germicidal surface cleaner that are useful in this challenge. However, we ask people to look to organizations such as the CDC and EPA in the US and Health Canada in Canada for guidelines. It is important to read and follow all label instructions and guidelines for these products to be fully effective. Most products need to be applied and then allowed to rest on surfaces for several minutes to do the job. First, clean for debris and general grime and then apply a germicide. It is the same for hands. However, hands can have other challenges caused by frequent washing and for this reason, we advise health care professionals as well at the general public to utilize lotions to keep the skin smooth and in better shape to hold off germs and viruses.

OCTANE: What other advice do you have for operators?

Dr. LandaFirst and foremost would be to wash your hands. As well, post guidelines where not just staff can see them, but let customers see you are taking this challenge very seriously and let customers know you are cleaning and sanitizing all touchpoints constantly. Monitor your staffs health and be prepared to take action immediately if a team member shows signs of illness. And, lastly, work with your chemical suppliers to get the right products to do the job.


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Sinclair Cleaning Systems: Combat COVID-19 with a proven cleaning and disinfecting combo

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Optima Steamer XD

Clean, disinfect and knock-out viruses with the one-two punch of dry vapour steam and an EPA-approved botanical disinfectant.

In order to properly clean and disinfect, even tiny nooks and crannies, Sinclair Cleaning Systems recommends the Optima Steamer XD in conjunction with Concrobium Disinfectant Cleaner II. The two work together to offer an effective cleaning and disinfection strategy that both sanitizes and deodorizes.

Ideal for many uses, from general retail cleaning to foodservice and automotive detailing for fleets, it’s the perfect combination to help protect your staff and customers.

unnamedConcrobium Disinfectant Cleaner II is next-generation botanical disinfection technology that safely and effectively eliminates viruses and bacteria.

The Optima Steamer, which reaches a temperature of 275°F at the sprayer tip, even cleans and sterilizes hard to reach areas. This next-level steamer uses the latest technology to remove stains, grease, dirt and odours in a quick and efficient manner, all while generating no waste water run-off.

Steam is proven to be safe for a variety of surfaces, including upholstery, vehicle interiors and exteriors, and floors, as well as other non-porous surfaces – indoors or out.

Contact Hugh Sinclair TODAY at:

1-800-265-0505 or 1-519-436-9539

For more information, visit Sinclair Cleaning Systems

 


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PECO Car Wash Systems selected for ‘World’s Greatest!’ television series

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 11.29.21 AMHow2Media, the producers of the television show “World’s Greatest!…” selected PECO Car Wash Systems to be a part of the popular television series.

PECO Car Wash Systems is a family run business and has been for over 50 years.  As a manufacturer, distributor and operator of carwashes, they understand all aspects of the business.  Their ultimate goal is to make their distributors and their customers, successful and profitable for the long term.  “We think their story is meaningful as well as educational to our viewers” said Gordon Freeman, Executive Producer of the show.

As part of the show, How2Media sent a film crew to spend time at the company’s facilities in the Detroit suburbs of Auburn Hills, Michigan, to find out what the story behind the story was with this great and growing company, and to show the “World’s Greatest!…” viewers why PECO Car Wash Systems was selected as the best in their category, and therefore featured on the show.

“World’s Greatest!…” is a thirty minute show dedicated to highlighting the world’s greatest companies, products, places and people.  Each show is a fast paced tour around the world featuring behind the scenes footage, informative interviews and exciting visuals.

This show, which recently aired, was Episode 278 and can be viewed online HERE, or on the PECO Website.


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Vending systems deliver the goods at car wash sites

At Valet Car Wash sites, on-site vending systems are must-have pieces of equipment that contribute significantly to the chain’s high level of overall customer satisfaction by ensuring necessities, such as car air fresheners, wipes and drying towels, are easily at hand.

 The company uses drop-shelf vending units that accept tokens, however a tap-and-go credit card payment option is coming soon, says Mike Black, managing partner with Valet Car Wash, a 10-unit chain based in southern Ontario. “We have five choices of Little Trees air fresheners in one unit and individual units that dispense Armor All pads, moist window wipes and cloth drying towels. The wipes and drying towels are probably our biggest sellers.” 

Convenience is key to vending success. At Valet, vending machines are located front and centre where customers can’t miss them. Operators agree that vending systems should be strategically placed in areas close to change machines, vacuum islands or customer service desks.   

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 5.36.31 PMRed Hill Car Wash in Hamilton, Ont. takes convenience up a notch by connecting its drop-shelf vending machines to its app. “I use these because they can interface with our digital app,” says proprietor JJ Woodley, who operates two car washes in ‘Steeltown’. He suggests drop shelf units are more durable and this means less maintenance and fewer breakdowns. Fewer breakdowns mean happier customers.

 

Red Hill is further upping the convenience factor with Nayax, a Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 5.36.11 PMglobal provider of payment solutions for unattended market. Nayax systems work alongside digital apps, as well as bill readers and coin mechanisms, to offer a complete turnkey approach to payment that allows customers to use all formats so businesses don’t lose sales. 

Convenience and professionalism are two key factors in Red Hill’s success. “Our app gives us an edge and makes it easier for us to service customers. For example, we can offer rewards that allow customers to select an item, like an air freshener, from the vending system or a complimentary vacuum. This all happens electronically through the digital app,” Woodley says, adding that customers easily select the vending machine on the app and then toggle to obtain a product that is charged to credit or debit cards. “It’s seamless and very easy and digital payment means less cash on hand. We can also operate machines remotely and have them dispense goods to customers when asked.”

What’s selling at Red Hill’s vending systems? “Dry towels are our biggest seller,” says Woodley, adding Little Trees Black Ice air freshener is the leader in car scents, ahead of New Car Scent, Pure Steel, Vanillaroma and Watermelon. They also offer Armor All packets, glass cleaner and re-usable microfibre towels. 

App connectivity is only one aspect of new technology impacting the vending sector. New equipment, such as PepsiCo’s new Social Vending system, is stretching boundaries. Using a touchscreen interface, PepsiCo customers can buy a soft drink, but also gift one via social media using onboard digital interfaces that send messages to operators about inventory levels, sales and other information. The Social Vending machines also drive customer engagement by playing media content, including advertising and music during downtime. The idea is to motivate impulse purchases and generate sales growth. 

At the car wash, systems may not be as advanced as PepsiCo’s offering, but manufacturers are constantly evolving with new tools to drive sales. For instance, the Digi-Max Three Column Display Vendor units (manufactured by Laurel Metal Products and sold by Kleen-Rite) prompt customers with easy-to-read instructions on display screens. Prices can be set from 25¢ to $99.75 and the optional Cryptopay credit card swiper can be configured for higher-priced items, such as earbuds or car accessories. 

“A car wash can be more than you expect and vending systems can be part of that surprise,” says Woodley, adding the industry is evolving to deliver more technology with displays and promotion capability to drive those impulse purchases. “People expect to find a well-stocked vending system at their neighbourhood car wash. New vending capability allows us to deliver the goods on this expectation.”

Originally published in the March/April issue of OCTANE.  

 

 

 


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Car wash chemistry moves to a gentler eco-footprint

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 10.36.33 AMToday’s car wash operation is a much ‘greener’ environment than it was in the not too distant past when harsh chemicals were the staple of the industry. Now, manufacturers have softened the touch of detergent chemicals and enhanced their efficacy in a one-two punch of commitment to creating wash operations that are much kinder to the environment than in the past.

 Car wash customers approve of this change. For example market researcher Nielsen discovered groups such as Generation Z (72%+) Millennials (73%+) and Baby Boomers (51%+) will pay extra for products they see as having a reputation for environmental stewardship.

 Tony Heembrock operates Okotoks, Alberta-based Dreams Eco Xpress Car Wash. He reports that over his 35 years in the industry he has seen major changes from the highly corrosive chemicals that used to be the norm. “Workers would get rashes and burns and inside staff would have coughs and lung irritation from the products in use back in the day. Now there is so much more choice and new products are far less toxic as well as much more effective in creating a great clean,” he says mentioning the AHS line from Zep as an example.

Another Alberta operator that is seeing the value of going green is Sylvain Blouin. Sylvain is building a new site in Sherwood Park and mentions that he sees the marketing power of a positive environmental statement. “ We stay away from any chemicals with phosphate and we work closely with our chemical suppliers to ensure all of our chemicals are biodegradable,” he says, adding that they have also turned to a Danish supplier for cleansing UV Light technology in their water recycling treatment system instead of using harsh chemicals.

Paul Romaniuk of Transchem agrees regarding the changing face of wash products. Today, Paul sells products like Turtle Wax Pro and AutoLux, but a few years ago he too was an operator just like Tony and Sylvain. “Caustics such as Ammonium Bifluoride (ABF) or Hydrofluoric acid (HF) would be very aggressive on your brass parts in the pump room. Having to change these parts to stainless steel made the operation much more costly. I have seen how aggressive the chemicals were in the bays first hand with my old wash. The metal structures and galvanized trusses would corrode from the effects of some of these items,” he says, adding that they were also hard on the overall environment with challenges to the soil and water table as well as the air with nasty vapours leaking into the atmosphere.

“The new eco-friendly products that we are manufacturing today are cost-effective, safe all around and work very well. Chemistry and technology have come a long way in today’s car wash world,” he says noting that Transchem is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) certified and does not use any alkylphenol or nonylphenol ethoxylated surfactants in any formulations.

At Dreams Eco Xpress, everything they do has to be ‘greener’ in scope because they reclaim all their water. According to Heembrock his PurClean system uses 100 gallons of water a minute and he is pleased with less corrosive chemistry that does not contribute to a chemical slush or slurry that clogs applicators.

To further enhance effectiveness in the wash he modified his Lava Arch to accommodate more application to vehicle sides and also uses softer touch products on pre-soak. “One thing that our customers have noticed is how effective these products are at keeping vehicles clean longer. It’s also a benefit when they come back because the chemistry makes it easier to clean them the next time around.”

For this reason, Heembrock suggests operators consider not buying chemicals based on price, but consider how well they get the job done. “Today with tunnels being more compact this means less drip space. Operators need better drying agents. Current eco-sensitive products work to break surface tension and vehicles dry better. This means less blowing at the end, a feature that saves power.

“We also save water. From the onset, our costs were higher until we added check valves in the tunnel. Using less water means you also use less chemicals and this has saved us money.”

At Ontario’s Valet Car Wash chain, operator Mike Black has turned to products like Simoniz to help his staff stay on top of greener detailing solutions. Simoniz offers a full range of EPA approved car wash products. “We purchase wash products based on their safety and effectiveness and use technology to help us make sure mix rates are accurate,” he says pointing to blend centres that proportionate solutions to make it fast, easy and safe for staff.

Black’s view is that when it comes to detailing (a big part of his business) if products are harmful to staff they are likely not good for sensitive interior surfaces either. “We are also very strict on labelling. All products our staff utilize must have full instructions intact on packaging so that crews are fully aware of application and any hazard.

“The days of acids for car washing are finished. The only use for these harsh chemicals might be for cleaning the tunnel itself during a major maintenance cycle,” he says, concluding that with all the greener options currently available, operators should pay attention to this trend.


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COVID-19: 5 ways to safeguard workers and customers

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Cleanliness is next to godliness, especially in the face of this COVID-19 pandemic. C-stores, gas stations and car washes can do their part to help keep the population healthy with a few simple steps.

1 – Talk to staff about the seriousness of the situation and the need to take special efforts to safeguard both workers and customers. Health authorities indicate the virus can live on surfaces for a few hours and up to several days.

2 – Have cleaning solutions and tools ready. According to Public Health Ontario (www.publichealthontario.ca) many commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Use only disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and follow manufacturers’ instructions.

3 – Establish a cleaning routine and follow it. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least twice per day. These include dispenser nozzles, payment buttons, squeegee handles, fuel selector switches and trash receptacles. Pay attention to door handles and light switches to the c-store and wipe all counters and cooler doors with a disinfectant. Bathrooms need to be a constant focus and all surfaces need to be disinfected repeatedly throughout the day. Wipe and clean all vending systems as well.

4 – Staff safety is important. Make sure crews have disposable latex gloves if they are detailing cars and discuss the importance of keeping hands away from faces. Gloves should be discarded into a lined receptacle after each vehicle is cleaned. If reusable gloves are used make sure they are only used for a specific task.

5 – Know your cleaning products.

Cleaners: These break down grease and remove organic material from the surface. Cleaners can be used separately before using disinfectants and can be purchased with cleaner and disinfectant combined in a single product.

Disinfectants: These have chemicals that kill most germs and are typically used after surfaces have been cleaned. These have a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

Disinfectant wipes: These have combined cleaners and disinfectants in one solution. Disinfectant wipes may become dry due to fast-drying properties and should be discarded if they become dry and are not recommended for heavily soiled surfaces.

Bleach solution: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per five litres of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per litre of water.

RELATED READ: Prevention training video for operators and staff


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Two days of discovery at The Convenience U CARWACS Show

Con UThe Convenience U CARWACS Show, which took place March 3-4 in Toronto, continues to stand out as Canada’s leading location for insight and discovery for members of the car wash, fuel retail and c-store sectors.

Day 1 highlights

Attendees on the car wash side gathered to hear Karen Smith, compliance & training manager at Valet Car Wash discuss safety inspections and how operators can prepare. Smith took  attendees through a full slate presentation (Compliance in the Workplace; Are you ready for an inspection) that covered all the bases. She offered insights from information posting to Ontario Health & Safety requirements, to action plans and program excellence. Key takeaways were that its never too soon to implement a safety plan and the payoffs help keep your operation running smoothly. “If you see an issue, act on it,” she told participants. “Don’t wait for inspectors to discover a problem. Be proactive.”

Next, the stage was opened to Barry Munro who was promoting Car Wash for a Cure, an offshoot from Paving the Way for a Cure, a fundraising program that has raised more than $250,000 for the Canadian Spinal Research Organization (CSRO), a group that assists those challenged with spinal cord impairment. Munro is a survivor of a serious spinal cord injury. The injury has not slowed him in his efforts to bring this condition to the forefront of public awareness and his speaking date at the CCA’s morning seminar sessions is a good case in point. With Car Wash for a Cure, Munro invites members of the industry to help raise funds for a study of neuromodulation, one of the most promising therapies in spinal cord injury research today.

Next on Day 1’s agenda was a round table discussion hosted by Canadian Car Wash Association (CCA) president Jason Kaye and Terry McGowan, business development manager, Mosaic. The duo led attendees through a series of questions on marketing and building your business. ‘Do you use flyers, social media and other tools?’ and ‘How do you stand out from the competition?’ were questions thrown out to the crowd who took 15-minute breaks to discuss topics among table members. The questions earned a considerable buzz in the room with attendees creating a very vigorous discussion.

Meanwhile, in the packed Cohen Ballroom, attendees heard from Ontario Convenience Stores Association CEO Dave Bryant, who spoke about the importance of uniting to stand up for the convenience industry to fight for, among other things, fair vaping regulations and the right to sell beer and wine in Ontario. He also highlighted the important of C-store Day, which is to take place August 22, in support of Ontario’s Children’s Hospitals.

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 1.14.55 PMNext up, keynote speaker Lee-Anne McAlear took to the stage to talk about “Disrupting the disruptors” and exploring the convergence of technology and convenience. She pointed to block chain as a game changer in the convenience industry and challenged people to consider: “What does technology reveal that we can take advantage of?” She spoke about innovation and creativity, sharing four hacks to fuel disruption.

“It is not always the experts in the field who come up with new ideas,” says McAlear. “If we are going to meet the challenges of our future we need to be able to take in different points of view—different thinking.” She encouraged attendees to work across the innovation continuum, moving from incremental through to disruptive and pointed out that, especially in retail, “small changes—such as listening to employers, suppliers and customers—can be remarkably effective.”

Next up, Ontario Lottery and Gaming hosted a lunch-and-learn session designed to help attendees drive lottery commissions in store.

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 1.14.42 PM“We are the single largest traffic driver into the convenience channel—in terms of transactions,” says Larry Colatosti, executive director retail sales, adding OLG has achieved $2.846 billion in C&G sales so far this fiscal year, ends at the end of March. That translates into $207 million in commissions for stores.

He spoke about new games, as well as a pilot project introducing new improved terminals

“This is one example of how we are committed to retail. Making sure you, we, have the right equipment in place to bring us into the future,” said Colatosti. “We continue to innovate at retail to make sure you can serve your customers, our customers.”

Dante Anderson, director, brand marketing for OLG, spoke about an exciting new initiative to reinvent the brand. “The opportunity is for us to reintroduce the OLG brand and create a new brand image that stands for fund, excitement and play.”

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Dave Ayres signs autographs

The afternoon kicked with the opening of the tradeshow floor. The room was abuzz with excitement, thanks in part to two special guests—Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Carolina Hurricanes emergency backup goalie Dave Ayres, courtesy of Last Call Beverages.

Day 1 culminated with a cocktail reception and the OCSA gala dinner.

Day 2 highlights

On the second day, car wash attendees gathered in the morning to take in a tour of southern Ontario’s leading car wash sites. More than 80 people boarded two highway coaches to head off to visit three locations-Crosstown Car Wash in North York, Popular Car Wash in Etobicoke and AutoSpa in Mississauga.

Crosstown featured equipment from MacNeil, Belanger, ICS and Autovac. Crosstown sported a 12-unit free vacuum ‘farm’ and showed off the power of its marketing efforts. Crosstown offers a monthly and annual pass program as well as other features such as a buy one Works wash and get another free (with-in 14 days). Popular Car Wash also featured free vacuums with LED lighting, a detailing centre and full-service 100-foot tunnel wash. Equipment came from Sonny’s, Mondo and Transchem. Promotions included three-tier rustproofing as well as ten automotive maintenance services and oil change. Popular also offers a subscription wash service.

Last on the tour was AutoSpa. This site is likely Canada’s best car wash facility and is run by Fred Misheal, an acknowledged leader among his peers in the industry. This facility has two conveyorized tunnel washes and three conveyorized detailing lines. This is in addition to its window and lube centres and Starbucks café. The wash system was built by Washtec with both Mondo and Mark VII supplying additional features such as chemicals.

Other attendees spent the morning with business coach George Anastasopoulos, who spoke about the new reality of mangers, who are being asked to do more and more. He shared three valuable and practical techniques designed to help people do less and accomplish more, including arguing effectively, confront easily and accountability contracting.

In turn, ShipperBee presented about effortlessly increasing revenues through passive profit generators, such as its network of transfer mailboxes, called Hives: Hive hosts are paid for every parcel that passes through the Hives. They also benefit from moving two potential customers—the drop-off driver and pick-up driver—through their locations as parcels move through the Hive network.

“With more than 5,000 attendees, the 2020 Convenience U CARWACS Show provides an ideal opportunity to showcase our Hives, and their value, to gas and convenience retailers throughout Canada,” said ShipperBee’s founder and chief executive officer, Jim Estill.

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 1.10.41 PMThe show itself was well attended and well exhibited. The car wash and fueling sector-related part of the Convenience U CARWACS Show was a buzz of the latest equipment and offered a Who’s Who of the industry. “This is where people have been coming for solutions to operation questions and finding them,” said Steve Wickens, account executive, ChargePoint, a company showing off new equipment for fast EV charging. 

On the convenience side, exhibitors and attendees connected to discuss the latest product and equipment innovations, as well as burgeoning opportunities for c-store operators looking to diversify their offerings.

Norman Katz, sales manager, Maple Leaf Displays, comes to the show year after year: “I found it was well attended and lots more vendors to meet and conduct business with. I am looking forward to 2021 show.”