Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New England Car Wash Assn
Dinner Meeting
I attended the New England Car Wash Assn. dinner meeting last night. It was good to catch up with old friends.
During dinner I was having a conversation with an area operator on the subject of "Lava Foam" applications in today's car washes. His comment to me was that he couldn't see the purpose of the application even though it would increase his car washes income per car.
The featured speaker at the dinner was Clark Merrill from the Dale Carnegie Institute.  He said that when he goes to get his car washed he always gets the most expensive package. He wants everything the car wash has to offer applied. Why, because he enjoys the visual colors and the fragrance of the products. What he was really saying was that he enjoys the overall experience of getting his car washed. It makes him feel good. So there it was. The answer to the earlier conversation I was having with my car wash operator friend.
As car washers we have an obligation to give or offer the customer everything they want. If the competitor down the street is offering s feature you are not guess where he is going to go to get what he wants. Down the street. This all comes under the heading of "enhancing your customers wash experience." When your customer has a positive experience at the car wash they will return more often and tell more people.
So, the bottom line is "give your customer what they want."  Enhance their experience and make more money.     

Tuesday, November 17, 2015



Vacuum systems are in residence at virtually every carwash across America. They are lined up like robots ready to do your customers’ bidding in their attempt to give the interiors of their vehicles a fighting chance against dirt and grime. While consumers primarily use your carwash to keep the exteriors clean and shiny, they quickly take advantage of available tools, such as your vacuum system, to clean up the interior as well.
In fact, if a consumer pulls into a carwash and doesn’t spot those mighty sentinels ready to do their bidding, they may pull back into the street and continue their hunt for a carwash that has a convenient vacuum system. After all, they could vacuum their cars at home, but they don’t want to.
This makes installing reliable vacuums at your carwash a smart business practice. Although your customers may not use them each time they visit, the option keeps them coming back — as long as the actual carwash is performing as expected.


Stuart Levy is the president of Auto Glanz Solutions and owner of Clean Car Consulting. He works closely with the express carwash segment of the industry.
When choosing the vacuum system for a carwash, Levy advises clients to look at the projected volume of the wash, as the site must have enough vacuums to handle overall usage. Nothing can chase a customer away faster than being frustrated at a long line of vehicles waiting impatiently to use a vacuum.
To do this, according to D. Scott McConnell, the national accounts manager with Eurovac, look at the number of car bays and figure two hoses per bay. “And design the vacuum size to handle 75 percent in use at one time,” he adds. “No one wants poor suction — pay for the power upfront.”
Wes Taggart, a partner and CEO of Auto Vac, says it is important to carefully choose your vacuum producer when implementing a central vacuum system. “It is the heart of the central cleaning system. It must be strong, durable and dependable,” he advises. “Are there any special circumstances at the site location such as high altitude or out-of-the-ordinary debris being vacuumed?” he asks. If so, be sure to consider that information when outfitting a new carwash or refurbishing an existing carwash.
While the carwash industry is experiencing rapid growth, according to McConnell, and consumers are keeping carwashes busy, you have to build your carwash business based on a long-term outlook. “It is the physical building and outer appearance of the carwash that presents the sizzle to get customers in, but once the customer enters, it is the quality of the experience that keeps them coming back.” A modern vacuum system will give these customers reasons to return.
But, what about costs? When investigating vacuum systems, it would be smart to look at the cost of running the system in addition to initially outfitting or refurbishing the carwash.
Energy consumption is an obvious expense and concern for most carwash operators. “Many vacuum systems require high energy use,” Levy says, “and vacuum motors can range from 25 horsepower and more. These vacuums are generally left on all day regardless of usage. Stand-alone vacuum systems can be turned on and off by the user, thus reducing overall power consumption.”


Vacuum systems are mechanical and have moving parts, and that means they need proper, scheduled maintenance. And, yes, they will break down from time to time.
“The customer will suck up anything,” states McConnell. “If it clogs the main line, the whole system could be down.” Sooner or later, McConnell adds, there is going to be a clog, and now is the time to plan for how you will resolve it.
Taggart suggests the need to separate dirt and debris from the airflow before it returns to the vacuum producer. “In standard central systems, this is accomplished with a filter separator immediately before the air enters your turbine. In each separator, waste is deposited into convenient dirt containers for easy disposal,” he notes.
Another concern, according to Levy, is with pathogens. “Dirt containers that are not self-contained may have pathogens that can become airborne in the form of dust when emptied by an employee,” he explains. These pathogens can carry some form of disease that can be absorbed by an open orifice or wound, Levy warns. “A dust bin that is self-contained dramatically reduces this possibility.”
McConnell also shares that customers aren’t always observant of what’s going on around them. “Without a planned hose delivery, customers will drive over hoses, increasing clogs and reducing hose life.”
Imagine the frustrated customer visiting your carwash for the first time, enjoying the experience until they try out your vacuum that has a hole in the hose.


It’s an important question and your decision will impact the profitability of your carwash: should I charge for the use of my vacuums at my carwash?
Some carwash owners offer do-it-yourself vacuum services for free, but usually they are tied to the purchase of a carwash, such as receiving a coin or code to be used after the exterior of the vehicle is clean.
Others feel the vacuum option should be paid for, and have even raised their prices in recent years to reflect this belief. They have adjusted with the times by adding credit card payment options in addition to the traditional coin-fed systems.
“I’m in favor of not charging for vacuum services,” Levy says. “In the express carwash model, the whole concept is to bring the consumer either onto the property or to provide a valued service that will keep them coming back.”
Levy adds the free vacuum model helps to accomplish these goals and create a loyal customer base that, over the long term, will motivate customers to return to wash their cars on a more frequent basis.
“With a free vacuum, the experience is more inviting,” according to McConnell. “You make it an inviting place to visit.”
Collecting money for the use of the vacuum system, should an operator decide to charge for this self-service option, requires coin or token operations and that adds to “what can go wrong,” McConnell continues.
Taggart offers an interesting twist to the challenge of free carwashes. “It is possible to generate money with your free vac. Not simply by counting on the increase in wash sales, but by charging for your free vac. Sounds silly, but it really isn’t,” he states.
The idea, Taggart believes, goes like this. When the customer comes into the wash, offer them either a token or code in order to participate in the free vacuums offered at your site. This token or code allows the customer to vacuum for a predetermined amount of time, such as five minutes. If the customer then is not finished within the allotted time to vacuum the vehicle, they can then purchase a token for the additional time needed to complete their vehicle.
“This way, the operator is not concerned with how long they are vacuuming so long as they are now offsetting the cost,” Taggart explains, “and it stops the ‘freebie’ from coming in without having to first pay for a vacuum token.”
If that doesn’t help the situation, Taggart offers other advice. “You can monitor the time in the vacuum stall, install polite signage, a countdown timer, a ‘red’ light announcement for time up, an installed timer that stops the vacuum at that spot and directional information that first takes the customer through the wash and then into the vacuum area.”
No matter which decision you make — free or not free — having a reliable, powerful vacuum system in place is vital for the growth of your carwash. And don’t think that reliability and power are the only considerations you should have. Keeping them clean and shiny with smelly odors at bay is just as important. No consumer is going to enjoy using a sticky vacuum hose or a vacuum that discharges foul odors.
So take a moment to inspect and even use your own vacuum system. Your consumers want the best and you want to give it to them so they keep coming back again and again and again.




Stuart Levy, President of Auto Glanz Solutions has announced the introduction of the companies new AGS Pro 100 Industrial Vacuum for the express car wash market. It is a stand alone vacuum made from durable stainless steel. It uses a 3.5 horsepower motor and draws only 4.5 amps of electricity per unit. It comes with a heavy duty, pillow like filter system that filters out dust and dirt that can be washed and cleaned. In addition, the vacuum has a roll out dirt bin that holds a 25 gallon garbage bag that can easily be removed and thrown away. Secondary emptying containers are not needed, thus eliminating airborne dust.

According to Levy, “unlike other types of vacuum systems the AGS 100 low amperage keeps electrical costs down for the operator and is only on when being used. We use a soft start push button mechanism that keeps the electrical surge down when the motor is turned on as well as a timer that will turn the motor off,” says Levy. Also, the vacuums suction at the nozzle is amazing. Customers will love how quickly interior dirt is vacuumed up.

For more information contact Auto Glanz Solutions at 978-828-7712 or visit the companies web site at

Monday, November 16, 2015

Technology On The Rise

Technology on the rise
Here are some of today’sT general innovations catching carwash professionals’ attention.
By Rich DiPaolo │ Group Editorial Director/Editor in Chief

Each year Professional Carwashing & Detailing compiles information for its annual Buyers Guide, which is included for most of our readers with this December issue. This comprehensive directory — sourced from our online version found at — features a multitude of product innovations in the professional carwash market. With a healthy combination of the tried-and-true products and the new and improved innovations of today, our industry is staying ahead and offering solutions for customer satisfaction through high-end results.
In a recent Professional Carwashing & Detailing poll, 70 percent of respondents noted that they read our publication for “new product information.” But, why are the tools of the trade so important to focus on? Simply put, many of today’s manufacturers are doing their homework and offer cutting-edge solutions intended to entertain, inform, perform at a high level, enhance the customer experience or, in many cases, achieve all of the above.
We reached out to a few carwash professionals recently to find out which product innovations are catching their attention and why.

Erupt with sales
Effective, profitable carwashing is fun and entertaining. This strategy has several advantages, including more customers will remember your wash, resulting in repeat visits; and it offers an enhanced ability to upsell packages. One such product innovation that has become a source of entertainment, performance and information is lava foam applications, according to Stuart Levy, president of Auto Glanz Solutions.
In my opinion the most significant change in the carwash industry over the past few years has been the advent and development of the lava foam wax application system,” asserts Levy. “Not only do these colorful products help to generate more income per car, but [carwash operators can also benefit from] the marketing that is associated with the application. We have always been a visually oriented industry for the carwash customer. Now through the development of the lava foam application system, the overall customer experience has been greatly enhanced.”
In addition to the development of this type of application, which usually features colorfully lit arches with outstanding graphics to draw attention, Levy has also noticed the positioning of these arches change for the better as well. “The application process [in many cases] is at the entrance and not down line near the exit as has always been the case with the typical polish wax or conditioner applications. Bravo to the product manufacturers and suppliers of these wonderful arches,” he proclaims.
Darrin Baum, vice president and general manager for Zep Vehicle Care, notes that improvements in equipment and chemistry have created opportunities to build upon one of the top reasons people wash their cars, which is because it feels good. “Improving the ‘show’ with equipment applications, high-impact chemistry, lights, etc., have helped operators increase top package sales and consumer satisfaction.”

Easy money pays off
Mobile is now in our society’s DNA. Your customers are being inundated with more information and have easier access to that information more now than ever before. As a result, the business of carwashing is changing with the times, and more changes, particularly with app-based and online payment options, are ahead.
Point-of-sale technology improvements have had a huge impact on the industry,” notes Baum. “The ability to upsell [and] drive loyalty programs, all while making it more convenient for consumers, has driven growth and profit for the industry. Loyalty programs continue to help operators wash more cars. While many think of loyalty programs as a pricing strategy, the impact on convenience for consumers shouldn’t be overlooked. Gaining a loyalty club member helps connect a customer emotionally to ‘their’ wash, and removes another decision they need to make.”
The popularity of loyalty programs is gaining momentum today from the consumer side. Finding new ways to market a carwash has always been a challenge, but the Internet has certainly helped. And, with Web-based promotions and payment options, selling these loyalty programs is even easier. Still, say experts, a mix of Internet marketing and traditional methods is effective.
The development of Internet marketing, such as Groupon, Foursquare and Facebook, has really changed the way today’s modern carwasher [reaches] a new audience. However, nothing beats the development of a strong wash club program. Successful carwashes heavily promote their wash clubs. They not only use the Internet for promotion, but they also may have employees actively promoting and selling wash club memberships on-site. It is not a hard thing to do, but it does take effort,” notes Levy.

Looking ahead
More of your customers are going to take advantage of paperless transactions moving forward. Your carwash must invest in the technologies needed to accept and embrace emerging online/mobile payment methods. As more people who take advantage of technology continue to visit your wash, convenience throughout the entire carwash experience will be expected.
Creating value as well as a memorable experience should continue to be owners’ and operators’ primary objectives when procuring equipment, chemicals and supplies.
I see great opportunity over the next 10 years for our industry,” says Baum. “‘Do-it-for-me’ continues to grow, convenience is more important than ever and regulatory and environmental awareness will result in greater use of professional carwashes.”
However, adds Baum, carwash consumers will continue to be better educated and have higher expectations of quality and professionalism. “Value, convenience, quality and a positive experience will be requirements, not stand-alone characteristics. Poorly maintained facilities will lag behind, while operators that focus on a positive consumer experience, and provide fast, convenient service will win,” he says.
As you navigate through this year’s print Buyers Guide or our online directory, you will notice several innovations and reputable manufacturers that can move your business forward. It is an exciting time in the carwash industry in the area of new product development. But, as Levy concludes, “The innovation in this industry is truly amazing, but there is always something to look forward to.” What’s next?

New England Car Wash Assn Vacuum Article

So Many Options: Selecting a Car Wash Vacuum System for Today's Car Wash Market
by Stuart Levy

Having recently returned from the South East Car Wash Show in Myrtle, Beach S.C., and knowing that I was asked to write an article on vacuums for the NECA E-News, I paid special attention to the different types of vacuums that were on the association's car wash tour. I thought that identifying the different types of vacuums now available on the market might be an interesting tutorial for New England members.

I found that in the express car wash model, vacuums with colorful stanchions and many available vacuum drops customers, have become extremely popular. There is no doubt that stanchions and shade canopies are attractive accessories and help provide better car wash identification. Too often, the motorist who is looking for a particular car wash location will drive by the site simply because there are no identifying landmarks to see from the street. However, be aware that these systems can be expensive to install.

One concern I have about these systems is that they use very large motors, typically 25 to 30 HP, and draw a lot of electrical amperage. I personally am not a fan of vacuum drops running when not being used by the customer.

A new type of vacuum system that has recently been introduced is called a “stand alone” system. These vacuums use a single low HP motor and provide plenty of suction for the customer. One of the main differences between this type of vacuum, besides lower operational cost, is that they are operated by a push button, soft start mechanism with a timer. The customer pushes the start button and the vacuum goes on for the predetermined set time. If the vacuum shuts off before the customer is finished, they can restart the unit. Since the vacuum is not running when it is not being used, electrical costs are kept down.

Self-service type vacuums have been around forever. You now can purchase a vacuum that combines vacuuming and shampoo interior cleaning as well. The self-service vacuum is an income generator. Many come with electronic coin and credit card receptors to make it easy for the customer to use and charge for the time used. This method is a lot better than having to run to the change machine to get the correct amount of quarters to make the vacuum operate. In addition, these vacuums are relatively inexpensive to purchase. They are colorful and attractive. Lighted tops provide aesthetic value to the site as well. Self-service customers need to feel secure when they are outside vacuuming; the better the lighting the more secure the customer feels. There are many different types of self-service vacuum systems available. Some are even now being used to compete with the express model vacuum.

When it comes to vacuums there is something for everybody. It just depends on your personal circumstances and what you are trying to achieve.

Happy Vacuuming!

Stuart Levy is President of Auto Glanz Solutions located in Chelmsford, MA. He can be reached at 978/828-7712 or