Forget politics. There’s no shortage of fake news being spread about the car wash industry that must stop now! Here’s the real truth about some of these fake car wash claims.
By Anthony Analetto
Fake News #1: You Can’t Wash an Electric Car in an Automatic Car Wash
This one must be nipped in the bud. A professional car wash, whether touch-free or friction, is the safest way to wash all vehicles. Electric, hybrid, gas — it doesn’t matter, a vehicle is a vehicle. Yet, there seems to be an alarming misconception fueled by misinformation to the contrary being spread.
We aren’t talking about paint here; we’re talking about electric cars.
Every professional car wash operator must be proactive. Start with a sign. Display a sign at the pay station or tunnel entrance, or a windmaster — anywhere and everywhere — with a message “electric-car-friendly.” Maybe host an “electric cars wash free” event on Earth Day, Thursday April 22, 2021. Spread the truth on social media. Add it to your website. Get creative.
According to a Deloitte study, total EV sales are forecasted to reach 31.1 million by 2030 or 32 percent of the total market share for new car sales. We must come together as in industry to set the record straight.
Fake News #2: Car Washes Cause Scratches and Damage
Modern friction wash equipment and materials that are properly maintained and used with appropriate chemistry do not cause scratches. So how do you prove that to customers?
Highlight your use of gentle materials and detergent in rack cards and signage. Create a display with the materials for customers to touch and feel. Feature videos of clean, dry, shiny cars exiting the tunnel on your website, pay stations, and digital menus.
Most of us have fielded a complaint or two about vehicles being scratched at our car wash. When a customer sees a scratch after the wash, their first assumption is that the wash caused it. Typically, the scratch was already there under a layer of dirt you just cleaned away. It’s nearly impossible, however, to explain that to a customer without two things: cameras and training.
Installing a multi-camera vehicle inspection system and training your guide-on attendant can help prevent these false claims. Have the attendant look for pre-existing damage and point to (document) any issues they see with the camera recording. This proof will calmly disarm an angry customer with proof that the wash equipment didn’t create the scratch.
Fake News #3: Car Washes Waste Water and are Bad for the Environment
Admit it, when you recycle an aluminum can or place paper in the paper bin, you have a good feeling knowing that you did your part in saving planet earth. Your wash can do the same for your customers if you teach them why the decision they made is good for the environment.
Place “did you know” signs around your property with nuggets of feel-good statistics: Washing a car at home can use up to 9x as much water compared to visiting this professional car wash! Thank you for doing your part!
And just as important: Every member of your team should know and be trained to educate customers that a professional car wash usesan average of 15 gallons of fresh water versus 140 gallons at home. And how is this possible? The pressurized system at a professional wash requires far less water than the low-pressure water hoses used at home.
Staff should also be educated on the soaps used and the water reclaim system. When washing at home, chemicals wind up in storm drains (not the sewage treatment plants)and make their way into the ecosystem. This harms plants, animals and has the potential to pollute our drinking water. Whereas a professional car wash uses environmentally safe soaps, and water is reclaimed and filtered before being returned to the municipal sewer system (not storm drains) to be further treated. Continue this messaging on-site and on your website.
And if you’re a member of a municipal, regional, or nationally recognized environmentally friendly organization, post it! You may also want to become a member of the ICA WaterSavers program. Being a member of WaterSavers demonstrates that you promote environmentally responsible business practices and gives you the marketing materials to prove it. Visit www.carwash.org/watersavers to learn more.
Fake News #4: It’s Time-Consuming
A car should take no more than 3 minutes to be processed through a drive-thru tunnel car wash. Express-detailing services should take 12 to 15 minutes. Once you’ve installed the equipment and implemented the training procedures and site layout to achieve time targets, promote it heavily. Advertise on your website and on signage so your customers know what to expect.
Fake News #5: There’s no Difference Between Your Top and Bottom Packages
Yes, there is a difference. But customers need to believe it, see it, and understand it. There are a few ways to go about this. First, the obvious: upsell with products they understand — tire dressing, rain repellants, and confirmation signs do this well. More recently, ceramics has been added to the value equation.
Second, deliver a better experience with each higher package. Absolutely add more LED lights and signage that activate with each additional application. Use different foaming application styles such as sheets, drips, and streams so customers can distinguish each application they paid for. Install a new video menu board that lets customers experience the show while deciding on a service.
Finally, make sure your staff knows the difference between your top and bottom packages.
In closing, if you think about it, there once was a time when the Internet was going to educate us and elevate our intelligence. But we all know that’s not exactly what happened since every search returns a combination of opinion and news. Fake news isn’t new. However, with a little coordinated effort, as an industry and as individual business owners, we can make progress in communicating the truth. There is no safer, better, faster, or environmentally friendlier way to enjoy a clean, dry, shiny car than the professional car wash.
Good luck and good washing!
Joining the company in 2000, Anthony Analetto serves as the president of Sonny’s CarWash Equipment Division. In this role, Anthony leads the innovation of new products to drive client success, and oversees all operations, engineering, and supply chain management. Washing cars for over 30 years, Anthony was the director of operations for a 74-location national car wash chain prior to joining the company.