Motorists are turning more often than ever to car washes for the professional services they offer. According to the International Carwash Association (ICA), there has been a 30% uptick in wash site usage over the past 15 years. Driving this growth is convenience, cost and efficacy. Full-service interior/exterior washes deliver it all.
At Mississauga’s AutoSpa, they are open during COVID-19 lockdown by appointment for their Express Interior/Exterior cleaning. Their crews wear full PPE (personal protective equipment) for safety. Customers, such as first responders and other essential workers that include taxi and courier drivers, bring vehicles onto a flat deck conveyor at the front end of the wash system.
Stage one is a designated prep area where AutoSpa uses high-pressure nozzles to soak and rinse the vehicle. This process loosens dirt and grime and moves soils away from the tunnel and conveyor washes. According to operator Fred Misheal, this first step helps the overall water reclaim systems and keeps moving parts such as those on conveyor belts in top shape thanks to lower maintenance needs. Dirt and grime from this first step are deposited in below-floor tanks where grit settles. Stage one is also where AutoSpa staff greet customers and discuss their car wash needs.
On the flat deck conveyors, teams of detailing pros travel along with the vehicle in a 24 minute, five-stage process. Thought-put is 600 cars per day. This side of the wash uses an average of 16 people who rotate job functions after each wash completion to maintain a fresh approach to tasks.
Helping AutoSpa crews is a system design that places tools close at hand while they work on the conveyor. A good example is the vacuum system. Supplied by Eurovac, AutoSpa uses dual 30 horsepower vac systems that are powerful and quiet thanks to motor placement in the compressor room. The hoses run above the conveyor on a rail system. This equipment allows wash detailers to limit reach for hoses and always have a vacuum at hand.
At Winnipeg’s MidTown Car Wash, a site that has been cleaning vehicles for more than 50 years, they offer one of Canada’s best values for a full interior and exterior wash. Midtown operates an automatic tunnel with a crew of five technicians handling the details. At the front end, customers are greeted as they leave the car. A team of two takes over with high-pressure wand wash to remove exterior grime and get at hard to reach places such as door jambs. The interior mats are removed and sprayed and crews perform a basic vacuum and wipe down before the vehicle heads onto the chain and roller and into the tunnel. This initial prep process takes about five minutes.
At the tunnel exit, MidTown crews are ready with cloths to wipe down seats and dash as well as windows. The exit crew hand wipes door jambs and exterior mirrors. The entire process takes about 15 minutes and costs less than $20.
In Kingston, Aqua Car Wash opened in April of 2019. This site is Kingston’s only full-service car wash. “Business has been good,” says general manager Sharon Walia. She remarks that Aqua offers a 120-foot tunnel to handle to exterior wash with multi-person crews ready to get into the interior work.
“As soon as the car comes out of the tunnel it is moved to a separate bay where we add our personal touch to the service. This is where we do the interior,” she says, mentioning that when the crew takes the car at the front end they spray a COVID-19 sanitizer into the interior. “By the time it comes through the tunnel the interior is safe for our crews. When we are done we spray again to increase the level of safety for our customer.”
According to Walia, important to the whole process is the inspection at the end when the wash technician gives back the car. “The inspection allows us to offer complete customer satisfaction. We aren’t satisfied until our customers tell us it's right.”
Five tips for full-service excellence
- Communicate with customers, so they know to leave unnecessary items at home. Objects such as sports gear and large boxes make it more challenging for interior cleaning crews.
- Spend the extra time at the front end with high-pressure hoses to loosen dirt and pull off mud before the tunnel.
- Make connections with regular customers via loyalty programs and memberships and note preferences for scents on their customer profile.
- Training, training, training - This lets staff know their performance matters and good training shows. A well-trained staff is an obvious advantage that customers quickly notice.
- Window-side selling. Get the upsell. Have greeters ask customers about air fresheners, leather treatments, tire shine and other items on sale inside.
Originally published in the March/April issue of OCTANE