Drying System Maintenance - It’s All About First (and Last) Impressions
By Chris McElroy
We know how important it is to make a good first impression. After all, it is said you really only get one opportunity. In both personal and business relationships, people form opinions of us very quickly — sometimes in just a few moments. We should be ready to show our best at all times. Not only should this apply to person-to-person relationships, but this should also hold true for your car wash business. Customers will develop their first impressions within a few moments of visiting your car wash. If it’s clean, all equipment is functioning properly, and staff is well perceived then they are sure to become a repeat customer.
The dryer is the last piece of equipment customers see. Make sure they leave with a good impression.
Let’s face it, the inside of a car wash is a harsh environment. It is not the easiest place to keep clean. The equipment is exposed to all sorts of grime, wax, and dirt buildup on a daily basis. When a customer pulls up for the first time and the wash tunnel looks like it’s never been washed itself, what kind of impression does that leave? If the equipment is not functioning properly or the end result on the other side of the tunnel is not what the customer expected, this is not going to produce a good impression of your car wash. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to combat some of these problems — and some not so easy. However, the price you might pay for not taking these cleaning and maintenance steps could be big.
One very important place to start when maintaining and cleaning your wash equipment is at the end. The dryer system is an integral part of the car wash process and the need for proper maintenance goes without saying. Let us take an in-depth look at maintenance and cleaning of the dryer system. This way we can help ensure a good lasting impression as customers pull away from your wash.
Do you have a daily and weekly cleaning schedule for your car wash? If not, you should start them right away. Before the wash opens and after closing time are when the cleaning should begin. There should be a detailed checklist for daily and weekly cleaning duties that need to be performed. Along with general cleaning of the dryer system, there should also be regular maintenance of the equipment as part of that schedule.
With all the other duties involved in running a car wash, it can be tough to adhere to a strict cleaning schedule. However, the time spent cleaning and maintaining wash equipment is worth it, as the equipment always looks its best and operates efficiently, keeping customers satisfied and willing to return again and again. Besides, staying on top of regular cleaning and maintenance may save you big bucks in the future.
As with any piece of car wash equipment, proper maintenance and periodic inspection of the dryer will greatly reduce chances of downtime due to mechanical failure.
Whether nozzles or bags, make sure the air delivery devices are free of holes, tears, and grime buildup.
An area to pay particular attention to is the inlet region. When blocked or obstructed, this can create many adverse effects on the dryer’s operation. In order to keep the dryer running at peak performance, it is imperative to clean this area often and inspect the impellor(s) in the blower. Look for any wax or dirt build-up that could be impacting the impellors movement. This is a simple maintenance procedure that can be done very quickly and have a great impact on overall dryer performance.
An abnormal increase in vibration can also be a cause for concern. Any blower is going to produce minimal vibrations in normal operation. Any unusually strong vibrations can be signs of problems like a foreign object in the blower, worn motor bearings, or even a missing balance weight. Catching these problems early is crucial as prolonged use in this condition can do permanent damage to the impellor or other expensive parts of the dryer.
If the dryer has air delivery bags or a similar air deployment device, check for holes and tears. Having a tear in this material means some of the air pressure is escaping before it hits the vehicle surface. Depending on where this tear is located it could greatly affect the dryer’s performance. Many times these tears can easily be patched or the device itself sent in to the manufacturer for repairs.
Along with maintaining the mechanics of the dryer equipment, overall cleaning is a necessity. Thoroughly cleaning the dryer equipment not only keeps up the overall appearance of the wash but also prevents corrosion and damage from chemicals. While many dryer manufacturers build their equipment using high-grade materials that already combat these harsh conditions, it’s still necessary to keep regular cleaning habits. There are specific areas that should be checked and cleaned often. If your dryer uses nozzles to direct air flow, check for buildup on rollers and the airway openings. By failing to remove this buildup the vehicle may not be dried properly and the customer is sure to notice these imperfections afterward. Some dryers have high-pressure air delivery devices for precise airflow. While these devices, (sometimes called bags) are built to withstand the car wash environment, over time they can show their age. Keeping them on the forefront of your maintenance and cleaning schedule is a must. Check with your dryer’s manufacturer as they may have cleaning solutions made specifically for cleaning this type of equipment. It is highly recommended to clean equipment with the cleaning solutions provided or recommended by the manufacturer. Using cleaning solutions other than those recommended by the manufacturer could cause damage to the equipment and may be a waste of time since it may not clean thoroughly.
REPAIR OR REPLACE
There are times when it might be more cost effective to invest in new drying equipment than to continue fixing, maintaining, and cleaning the old. Especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained throughout its life. If this is the case, and purchasing new equipment is in the budget, than make sure to properly maintain your new investment after the purchase. Begin your strict cleaning schedule right away.
Adhering to proper cleaning and maintenance of the car wash drying equipment can be a big money saver. It is the last piece of equipment customers see and use as they exit the wash. Let’s leave them with a great impression and keep them coming back time and time again.
Chris (Woody) McElroy is president of Glendale, AZ-based Proto-Vest Inc. With many years of experience in the car wash industry, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the business. You can visit the company on the web at www.protovest.com.