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Klassic Car Wash from the side.
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04/05/2023

Klassic Car Wash found success in Ontario by looking south of the border

Klassic Car Wash adopts the latest innovations out of the U.S. and in Canada with its new hybrid high-speed express tunnel car wash.
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Tony Thind and Rozy in front of Klassic Car Wash's automatic carwash system.
Tony Thind and his business partner Rozy.

As owner of Klassic Car Wash, which has five locations in Barrie, Ont. (plus a sixth about to be opened), as well as a location each in Mississauga, Toronto, Wasaga Beach and Hamilton, Ont., Tony Thind loves to keep a pulse on what is happening with car wash advancements south of the border: “The car washes in the U.S. are like 10 years ahead of Canada in terms of innovation and service.”

“They do all the hard work on development, and so if you just clone them, you know you’ll be successful,” he quips with a chuckle.

That is what Klassic has done at least in part with the recent rebuild of its Dunlop Street location in Barrie, which Thind, with his brother and business partner, Rozy, purchased from a car dealership in 2016. They have created a U.S.-style super car wash, with some Canadian innovation for good measure.

Gone are the two in-bay automatic car washes, which had been underperforming despite the location being heavily trafficked. Working with Deltic Wash Force in Barrie as its equipment distributor and installer, Klassic has reopened on Dunlop Street with a new state-of-the-art, high-speed 160-ft. hybrid touch/touchless express tunnel.

It is the company’s first car wash that uses a drive-on belt conveyor, which is 140-ft., rather than the traditional conveyor with rollers and chains. “Now we can wash cars with any size tires because it is traveling on a belt,” says Thind. “Because they are more north in Barrie, a lot of people drive a dually [truck with an extra set of tires on the back] but couldn’t get [it] washed anywhere.”

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Klassic Car Wash tunnel in action

Quality options

Brett Bunston, president and co-founder of Deltic, who partnered with Thind on other Klassic location upgrades with MacNeil Wash Systems, got fully behind Thind’s vision. “He wanted to turn the car wash into a much richer, higher-quality experience,” says Bunston.

One of the biggest challenges to the design was giving customers the option, in the same tunnel, to choose a high-speed soft-touch foam brush wash or a touchless wash: Offering both at the highest standard in the same tunnel was an opportunity to set the location apart from competitors.

“I’ve done dual washes before, but inevitably there is always some element of compromise,” says Bunston. “That is because a perfect touchless tunnel runs at a certain line speed and a perfect brush tunnel might run at a faster line speed to get the same cleaning outcome. But we were able to find a happy medium and really get excellent results for both.”

The touchless wash features a high-pressure spray system from Petit Auto Wash Equipment in Norton, Ohio, called The Tunnel Accutrac 360-t. With as little as 30 inches of space between vehicles, the system can clean up to 180 cars per hour depending on the set-up. Klassic’s line speed is about 130 vehicles pers hour for both touchless and touch. 

“It is relatively new technology and the Accutrac 360-t may be the only one in Canada,” says Bunston. Compare that to most touchless roll over washes, “which average 15 cars,” he notes.

Further down the tunnel is equipment from Truck Wash Technologies out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. “They have been specializing in big rig and trailer washing for years and have adopted some of their profiling technology to car wash tunnels,” says Bunston. “Their equipment enables the car wash to sense the height of the vehicle and turn on and off the nozzles, so we are not wasting water by spraying overtop the car. The profiling also gives us the ability to vary the wash pressure based on how close the nozzles are to the vehicle and thereby reduce the risk of damages.”  

The Dunlop location also provides 16 free vacuum stalls upon exit, a trademark perk of Klassic. “We were the first car wash to bring the free vacuum model to Canada from the U.S. at our Toronto location around 2005 and it worked really well in attracting customers,” says Thind. “Now we offer free vacuums with washes at all of our locations.”

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Relax and Go sign reads relax.

FAST FACTS

LOCATION: 416 Dunlop Street West, Barrie, Ont. EQUIPMENT/DESIGN PARTNER: Deltic Car Wash on a 160-ft. high-speed hybrid touch/touchless express tunnel with a 140-ft drive-on belt conveyor. LINE SPEED: 130 CPH PRODUCTION RATE: 120 CPH for touchless and touch KEY FEATURES: A hybrid tunnel version, with an MCE Wash Conveyor Belt for easy loading and close stacking. A high-pressure spray system, The Tunnel Accutrac 360-t from Petit Auto Wash Equipment in Norton, Ohio, which follows the vehicle as it moves along the conveyor. Vehicle profiling sensors, made by Truck Wash Technologies out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., helps reduce risk of damages and reduce water waste during a wash. The brush equipment features the latest in soft-touch foam brush technology from MacNeil in Barrie. Drying system includes energy-saving intake power locks. TOTAL COST: $2.2 million REVENUE MODEL: Monthly subscription EXPECTED PROFITABILITY: 3 to 5 years
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Relax and go sign reads go.
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Klassic Car Wash sign on snowy street.

Subscription perks

Klassic has built its customer revenue model around a monthly subscription for unlimited car washes and today has just shy of 17,000 members across its 10 locations.  Membership costs between $30 to $40 per month, and before the holidays it promoted a new family plan option—up to four vehicles could be added to a membership at a price of 50% off per car.  “People were buying family add-ons to their memberships during the holiday season, and they haven’t cancelled them because it is just $15 per month,” says Thind. “And so, on a membership with four additional cars, we are averaging about $100 per month on it.”

As for the Dunlop location? Thind has been pleased with the customer response since its soft launch in December 2022. Within a month, it signed up 260 customers to a monthly membership, either for the touch or touchless option and did almost 10,000 washes. Thind says 50% of members so far have opted for touchless, which has exceeded his expectation and has proven the validity of a hybrid model.

Thind’s target for the location is for the car wash to reach a minimum of 150,000 washes and $2 million in revenue. Operating expenses will run about $1 million annually. With those kinds of figures, Thind expects to have the $2.2 million initial investment in the state-of-the-art car wash paid off in three to five years.

On March 25, Klassic is planning a grand opening event in partnership with Deltic and will offer car washes, proceeds of which will go to Youth Haven, an emergency shelter for young people in Barrie run by Barrie Police. (Klassic has a contract with the police force to wash its vehicles.)

Klassic and Deltic have also partnered on the construction of a brand-new car wash, in downtown Barrie, which will open in spring, and it has followed the Dunlop Street blueprint. “People really want that ‘wow’ factor and options in their car wash, because a car is their second biggest investment,” says Thind. “And with all the new technology, we can deliver on that.”