Turning your Car Wash into Cash

The Emerging Trend of Car Dealerships Upgrading to Commercial-Grade Car Wash Systems

Here’s a question: when was the last time you ventured into the dark, damp, cramped space where your dealership preps cars for delivery? Why would you even go in there in the first place? One reason may be a surprising trend taking place in the lowly dealer car wash operations. In the last few years, a small but growing coterie of dealerships have literally upended a low priority cost center operation into a revenue stream and marketing dynamo.

Before dismissing the idea as trivial or ludicrous, hear us out. Today’s dealerships spend an average $222,000 per year washing cars [Auto Laundry News] and from that expense comes neither a dime of profit nor a single showroom car buying prospect. Recently some of our peers thought to ask, “why not?”

Why not spend a bit more on decent equipment and surroundings, save on operating costs like labor and chemicals, actually clean the cars, open it to the paying public, and draw another 500 people onto the lot per week? Glen Smith of Auto Solutions Group was one of the first to ask and then act on the “Why Not?” question he posed. Glen, along with his manager of vehicle prep, Peter Richold, began seeing success when they provided complimentary car washes to customers (car buying and service). The initial positive response of this perk warranted Auto Solutions to expand the offer to include showroom visitors.

Naturally, as word of this free wash incentive spread an uptick in ups resulted. That’s when Smith and Richold determined the need for higher quality car wash equipment than the typical dealership systems, and ultimately selected the IQ 2.0 Soft Touch In-Bay Automatic System from D&S Car Wash Equipment Company. In addition to improving cleanliness and consistency, this advanced equipment saved car prep costs including labor, water, chemicals, and utilities.

With these cost savings, the dealership began marketing their state-of-the-art car wash via advertising, promotions and the media. Like most dealers, Auto Solutions’ location was also ideal for a profitable commercial car wash, and soon enough transitioned theirs into an income generating entity. So, within a relatively short time span the firm saw its run-of-the-mill vehicle prep evolve into a money-making marketing engine for their core business.

That’s the kind of win-win idea catching on among Fixed Ops Managers and driving a new trend taking place in our industry.

Jeremy Bene is Marketing Communications Specialist for D&S Car Wash Equipment Co. in High Ridge, Missouri.