Pimp My Car Wash Equipment

I often think about what I would do now vs. 8 years ago when I built my first car wash or even 5 years ago when I built my second car wash. What’s amazing that even after being in the business for three years in 2007 when I built my second wash I made many of the same mistakes I made when I built my first wash in 2004. Most of the mistakes I made were car wash equipment related and to be brutally honest many of the decisions that were made as far as equipment were the result of taking the path of least resistance. I bought equipment that was overpriced and in many respects under performs. I really don’t want to throw any car wash manufacturer’s under the bus right now so I’m not going to discuss what manufacturer was the primary vendor for most of my equipment. With all this said, I often think about what I would purchase now if money were not an issue and I were to upgrade all of my equipment right now.

In-Bay Automatic Car Wash Equipment

Very high on the list would be PDQ Manufacturing’s Laserwash (or similar touchless model) and possibly a complete mind shift away from touchless car washing with a friction Protouch by PDQ in my other bay. PDQ is high on my list for a few reasons. First, I bought their Access entry unit about two years ago and it eliminated about 50% of the phone calls I received from user problems. It also has been highly reliable with only two service calls in two years for small modules that needed replaced (although I personally replaced two monitor ribbons that also went bad). All in all though, they have worked quite flawlessly and are feature rich. PDQ Manufacturing is also owned by the Dover Corporation which leads me to believe that they are much more financially sound than many of the other manufacturer’s in the car wash industry right now. I also have met some owners of this equipment and they seem to have a cult like following of PDQ with loyalty that makes me feel confident about their offerings. Their local distributor support has been very good as well. Some of the drawbacks of PDQ are really not their fault. One, they sold a unit to a local convenience store who undercuts everybody, and I would be competing with a wash located about three miles away and it would have the same equipment but a much lower price making any perceived value to my customer’s difficult to justify. Two, my perception is that they’re very expensive. I haven’t done research on this yet but my perception is that they offer great car wash equipment at a high price. I looked at this equipment when I built my first wash but decided against it when my local distributor had an interest in a local chain of washes that was rapidly expanding in my market and felt that I didn’t want to support my competitor. They did open a wash three miles from me. This still sours me on buying this equipment even though I was told that he no longer has an interest in this local competitor. This moves me to another manufacturer that would be high on my list.

Washworld is another car wash equipment manufacturer out of Wisconsin. It is my understanding that it was formed from former PDQ Manufacturing engineers but I have not confirmed this. When I first looked at this equipment at the Las Vegas Car Wash Expo this past June I realized it was a PDQ knock off, which in reality, doesn’t bother me. It might even be an advantage in that the engineers might have taken a good product and made it even better. I do not have enough information about the financial strength of Washworld to discuss their financial stability but I would research this quite thoroughly before making any purchase in this area. They have both touchless and friction machines and my perception in that they would not be as expensive (I do not know this for sure). My first impression is that they are a progressive company that would most likely offer a quality product. I have read positive feedback about them on the Auto Care Forum and feel that they could be a top contender for my business. The other factor that I need to consider is that I have experience with the PDQ distributor’s technical support, and it is good while I would be forging a new relationship with the Washworld distributor and do not know how the service experience will turn out.

Self-Serve Car Wash Equipment

Self-serve car wash equipment is a different animal. More basic in nature, the manufacturer strength and support would not be as important to me. There are however features that I would require if I were to do it all over again. Here are some features I would look for in self serve car wash equipment:
1. Easy user interface (control/coin box)
2. 10 – 12 position selector for the following functions and expansion. Presoak, tire cleaner, high pressure soap, high pressure rinse, high pressure wax, high pressure clear coat, low pressure spot free, new blow dryer function, and a foaming condition gun.
3. Coin box that would have reliable coin acceptor, mars bill acceptor, and credit card swipe at each bay.
4. A wash club interface to sell magnetic strip card or some other type of loyalty card preferably that would tie in with my in-bay automatics. My current manufacturer had all these features but I learned after opening that the system was unreliable and lacked a good user interface.

Vending

My vending machine would be a through the wall glass front vendor like I already have but a more reliable unit than my current manufacturer.

Car Wash Vacuums

Vacuums and combo vacuums that offer both fragrance machines and shampooers

Car Wash Vacuums

Dog Wash Equipment

In the self serve segment of the car wash industry it is almost a necessity to install at least one dog wash bay. It is a new upcoming trend in the industry. I have two dog wash bays and to brutally honest I am not a huge fan. The problem is the mess that is created and keeping it clean as well as the higher shampoo supply costs. Because this has become so popular among car wash business owners, you need to keep a competitive advantage so your customers don’t start going to your competitor down the street who is offering this service.

 

Other Ancillary Pimp My Car Wash Equipment Items

Full Color LED signage – I have this now and I love it. Could not live without it. It gives the wash a much more vibrant feel.
Music in the bay – I also have this now and could not live without the ambiance of music playing through my wash gives it a much more friendly feel and experience.
Tire Pressure Machine – I don’t have one yet and I regret it especially because there is no place around that has a working machine. I have even considered giving this free to get people to my wash.
Landscaping – I do not have this now and I think about it everyday. So I need to get out and start making some flower beds and planting some flowers and shrubs near my signage and other areas so my car wash business is viewed and recognized as clean and pleasing.

 

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