Car Wash Industry Embraces Technology

    Car Washes: Embracing Technology for Profitable Operations

    Car wash operations are continually evolving to incorporate new technologies that enhance efficiency and profitability. Just as convenience stores (c-stores) have embraced advancements to streamline their operations, car washes are also capitalizing on updates to attract customers and boost their bottom lines. The advent of touchless systems and car wash apps are two notable examples of technology-driven transformations in the car wash industry.

    Touchless car washes, which have gained popularity in recent years, utilize high-pressure water and chemical solutions to clean vehicles without any physical contact. Unlike traditional car washes that employ moving parts, touchless systems reduce the risk of damage to vehicles. These systems not only save time but also offer cost savings, making them an attractive option for both car wash operators and customers. Additionally, touchless car washes eliminate the need for constant supervision by a maintenance wash attendant, further streamlining the operations.

    According to Mike Gewirtz, the general manager of Lanman Oil Co. Inc., a company operating Lambo’s convenience stores with car washes, incorporating vending items into the car wash setups can generate additional sales. Items like air fresheners and cleaners, which are daily essentials for car owners, can be conveniently offered alongside the car wash services. This strategy allows operators to tap into opportunities for additional revenue while providing customers with value-added offerings.

    Tunnel car washes, an alternative to touchless systems, have also witnessed ongoing growth in the industry. These car washes use conveyor belts to guide vehicles through a series of cleaning stations. Giant Eagle’s WetGo Car Wash division, operating in conjunction with GetGo Café + Market convenience stores, has recognized the potential of tunnel car washes as steady revenue generators. To capitalize on this trend, the company has been actively promoting memberships to its car wash services. Memberships not only provide customers with great value but also ensure a predictable revenue stream for the car wash business.

    In line with the growing emphasis on technology in the car wash industry, several innovative advancements have been introduced to enhance the customer experience and operational efficiency. For instance, Warrenton Oil Co. launched the Car and Truck Wash App, offering a subscription-based approach to monthly car and truck washing. This frictionless and contactless solution allows customers to choose from various car wash subscription packages, providing convenience and flexibility.

    Family Express, a convenience store chain operating in Indiana, has partnered with Innovative Control Systems to introduce car wash kiosks at its locations. Equipped with 15-inch touchscreens, these kiosks aim to enhance the customer experience by allowing them to easily select and purchase car wash services. To extend convenience beyond its store locations, Family Express plans to enable customers to buy car wash codes in-store and at the pump for use at their car wash locations. Additionally, the company will launch a mobile app platform in collaboration with Mosaic, enabling customers to purchase unlimited car wash subscriptions and individual washes through the app. The platform will also enable customers to manage purchases and payment methods using their mobile wallets while earning rewards for utilizing the car wash services.

    However, it is essential to note that not all convenience store retailers share the same sentiment when it comes to car wash profitability. Some operators, such as Sam Odeh of Power Energy Corp., have opted to discontinue car wash operations due to challenges in competing with low-cost alternatives and managing labor and utility costs.

    Nonetheless, the overall trend indicates that car washes are increasingly reliant on technological advancements to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive profitability. As the industry continues to evolve, new features, equipment, and sustainability options will emerge, providing further opportunities for car wash businesses to thrive.

    In conclusion, the integration of technology into car wash operations is revolutionizing the industry. Touchless systems and the introduction of car wash apps are significant advancements that cater to customer demands for convenient and efficient experiences. By leveraging these innovations, car wash operators can secure a competitive advantage, attract more customers, and ultimately achieve profitable outcomes. It is clear that technology will continue to be a driving force in shaping the future of the car wash industry.

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