Clean Up Your Customer Satisfaction and Retention with Car Washing

Auto dealers can build valuable long-term relationships by installing modern automatic car wash technology

Frustratingly for many auto dealers, great products do not always translate into long-term customer relationships – the disconnect between ‘happy customer’ and recurring business often comes down to loyalty.
Quality vehicles may drive the initial purchase, but if the customer has no reason to return regularly, Dealers can find it difficult to recapture them later on when they’re ready to buy another vehicle. If the customer is loyal to the dealership however, they are more likely to become a repeat customer.

While the Dealer’s financial success depends on its retention programs, only recently have service departments added strategies designed to drive retention and develop loyalty.

Make Loyalty A Revenue Creator

Maintenance programs can be effective at keeping customers returning to the service department. A 2013 survey by marketing-analytics firm DMEautomotive, revealed that 86% of drivers who return to the dealership regularly are also more likely to purchase their next vehicle from that site. So why not offer more opportunities at your dealership to build loyalty?
The correlation between customers returning to your dealership and increased loyalty cannot be ignored.
All auto dealers need to wash cars.

However, instead of seeing a carwash operation as a way to keep the cars on the lot clean, consider car wash as an ancillary profit centre that has the potential to bring customers to your dealership on a regular basis.
Actively working to connect with existing customers should be the first objective when starting a successful car wash program.
The car wash should become an attraction that brings customers back for a positive reason, unlike the ‘grudge purchase’ of vehicle servicing. Car washing can strengthen the positive bond much more frequently than oil changes or calendar-based maintenance.
Then there’s the revenue opportunity. If you’re willing to use a car wash operation as a resource to hold onto customers, why not embrace it as a potential revenue-generating opportunity for the surrounding community? (Providing that this is allowed in your area of operation).

Available Technology

Brush Control

Some ‘friction-wash’ systems still rely on hydraulics and air cylinders to control brushes as they contact the vehicle. This offers no sensitivity in the movement of the brush arms and can lead to damaged vehicles due to poor brush control, and environmental or safety issues from hydraulic oil leaks.

Newer car-wash technologies have brought added benefits to friction cleaning, including:

  • Closed-cell foam brushes; meaning less weight on vehicles
  • Auto-retract top-brush balancing systems
  • Sensors for vehicle side positioning
  • Variable frequency drive control for all brushes – no hydraulics
  • Electronic feedback for brush pressure that compensates for brush wear
  • Gantry movement and brush pressure calculations coordinated to prevent damage
  • Variable brush-rotation speeds
  • Sophisticated software to monitor operating conditions

Traditional friction-wash brushes are strips of cloth. While cloth brushes were good in their day, next generation brushes are constructed using closed-cell foam. Foam is lighter, softer, quieter and more efficient than cloth, and much safer for the vehicle.

Touchless Efficiency

Another car wash option is the touchless in-bay automatic wash system. A number of recent industry surveys indicate that drivers prefer touchless vehicle washes, which they say provide a more efficient high-quality wash than friction, without the worry that brushes or other moving parts might damage their vehicle.

Rather than brushes that contact the vehicle, touchless washes feature an overhead bridge that moves a spray arch around the vehicle. Special nozzles apply cleaning solutions, polishes and rinse water to clean the vehicle. Today’s touchless wash systems offer a simple design with easy operation and low maintenance costs for the operator.

In conclusion, frequency of visits and a positive experience are critical to paving the road to loyalty for auto dealers. Creating more reasons for customers to visit a dealership and to experience a modern car wash can pay long-term dividends.

A car wash is a necessity for any auto-dealer operation, but utilising modern technology to create new revenue streams and bottom-line impact for an existing operating cost can easily pay itself off over time.


Rob Lewis
International Sales Manager – PDQ Manufacturing

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