Use a Burst of Color to Freshen the Car Wash

How changing brushes and hangdowns can draw customer attention
Photograph courtesy of Erie Brush & Manufacturing

CHICAGO — For tunnel-wash owners, one of the easiest ways to give the business an instant visual makeover that will catch customers’ attention is by changing out all the cloth hangdown, foam and brushes at once, instead of a few at a time. When these materials are worn out and need to be replaced anyway, this is a zero-cost proposition. The only choice is which color best reflects the brand or stands out the most.

The visual upgrade is all the more striking when all the items are changed at the same time, which can give customers the impression that you have invested in brand-new equipment to enhance the wash. Even if this means switching out some materials before they are fully worn out, the cost is nominal in comparison to the benefits that can include new customers, return visits and more club memberships.

When we installed new cloth hangdowns of a different color throughout in a tunnel wash, a vehicle owner assumed we had installed all new equipment. You don’t actually have to change that much to make a major visual impact.

Anytime you replace the foam, cloth hangdowns or wheel brushes with a fresh, new color, people are sure to notice. Customers will also see that you are constantly improving and keeping your materials fresh.

To accomplish such a makeover, tunnel-wash owners first need the option of choosing and coordinating their colors on replacement equipment. Typically, the industry offers few colors, so when the materials are changed out, most of your customers will hardly notice the difference; however, with a complete changeover to a new color, they will see the difference.

Instead of resigning themselves to a limited set of stock colors, car-wash owners should insist on having a full range of color options to choose from when it comes to foam and cloth replacements, hangdowns and wheel brushes.

To have the greatest effect, tunnel-wash owners should also coordinate the colors to reinforce their signs, logo and any corporate or location-specific color schemes. The colors should complement those in their operation. Having a wide array of colors can facilitate this. As an example, Erie Brush & Manufacturing offers foam, cloth brushes and hangdowns in red, green, light blue, dark blue, yellow, orange, gray and black.

For those who want to contrast colors, this can be even more eye-catching if done tastefully. For instance, some suppliers offer wheel brushes in combinations such as blue and yellow, dark blue and light blue, red and blue, and red and black.

While giving a tunnel wash a makeover by changing material colors can offer a distinctive advantage over rivals that do not, so can using a higher-quality cloth, foam or wheel brush to clean vehicles better so customers keep coming back.

Beyond a visual upgrade with new cleaning material colors, avoiding inferior wash products and using quality ones can further raise the bar on the customer’s experience.

As an example of what to avoid, tacky threadbare cloths not only result in a subpar clean but also reflect poorly on the establishment.

On hangdowns, wider slits last longer but don’t clean as well as the thinner slits, which reach into nooks and crannies better. So it’s a good idea to go with thinner slits if you can. But rather than hold onto materials until they become ragged or no longer clean well, it’s best to periodically change them out.

The bottom line is that tunnel-wash owners can impress their customers with an easy, cost-effective makeover by routinely changing the colors of their foam, brushes, cloth hangdowns and wheel brushes when it is time to replace them.

Each time the colors change will be a visual reminder that the car wash is investing in new, fresh, high-quality materials to take better care of clients' vehicles. In addition, with the use of quality materials that avoid subpar washes, vehicle owners will have every incentive to become regular, repeat customers and car-wash club members.

Dan Pecora is CEO of Chicago-based Erie Brush & Manufacturing.

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