Blog Equipment and Chemicals

Save Water and Money with Carwash Reclaim Water Systems

Water is a necessity for any carwash business, but more and more, it’s becoming an expensive commodity. To mitigate these costs, a smart alternative is a reclaim water system. This process has become the norm for most carwash facilities as a means to operate more efficiently. Technology has now made the process even more efficient. By adopting a modern approach to water usage, carwashes can save money and resources.

How Reclaim Water Systems Work

A water recycling system is standalone but works with other equipment. The system works by drawing water from the carwash settling tanks and processing it on demand back to the equipment for reuse. To reuse the water, it must be treated to kill bacteria and remove the odor. The cleaner the reuse water is, the better for every step involved in car washing. Aeration is a process used to provide oxygen to the bacteria, treating and stabilizing it. The oxygen allows the bacteria to break down the organic matter containing carbon to then create carbon dioxide and water. Aeration is one way to control odor and remove car wash chemicals.

Another tactic used is introducing bacteria to the system. Bacteria can be formulated to remove oils and greases in the reclaim water and quicken biodegradable chemical breakdown. Ozone is another treatment solution. It’s much more powerful than even chlorine or other oxidizers.

The reclaim water process has become essential to a profitable carwash because water and sewage costs continue to rise, especially in drought-prone areas. It’s typically one of the largest costs to an operator. If you aren’t using a reclaim water system, you will see that the cost to wash the same number of vehicles has increased when compared to the previous year.

The key to a successful reclaim water system that also delivers a clean car is using the reclaimed water integrated into the workflow and then rinsing with fresh water. The “new” water that must be obtained is therefore significantly less.

Recycling Water Reduces Costs and Dependence on the Municipality

Since water and sewage costs are controlled by the municipality, there’s no room to negotiate. Instead, a recycling system is the best way to lower this cost.

The closer you come to being self-sustainable with your water, the less you have to depend on the municipality. The municipality may already be under strain, especially in growing urban areas, due to new development.

Additionally, some areas have such extreme drought that a carwash may be on restriction for how much new water it can use. A reclaim water system can be vital to keeping your business open. With a water recycling system, your business won’t be disrupted, so you don’t lose sales.

As you can see, the importance of an effective reclaim water system is critical to operations and the bottom line for carwash operators. When it comes to knowledge of the carwash industry, you can count on Iron Fox to deliver the solutions you need. Our expertise can help you navigate all the intricacies of the industry, including experience with installing and serving multiple equipment brands. We can also help you best determine places for your individual wash to use reclaim water.

Learn more about our expertise and how we can help elevate your carwash operations today.

Blog Equipment and Chemicals

The Pros and Cons of Flat Bed Conveyor Systems 


One of the most talked about innovations in the car industry is the flat belt conveyor. If you own or operate a car wash, you may have asked yourself: “Is a flat belt conveyor right for my facility?” Like most business decisions, the answer is dependent on the business. Flat belt conveyors are a great option, but not the best solution for every customer or every situation. With that in mind, let’s take an objective look at the pros and cons of flat belt car wash conveyor systems.

The Pros

Let’s begin by examining the advantages of flat belt conveyors compared to traditional conveyors:

  • Easier to load vehicles – Vehicles can simply be driven onto the conveyor. Drivers then have the option to put the vehicle in park for safety, or, if the driver remains in the vehicle, leave it in neutral so that the vehicle can easily exit the wash.
  • Less anxiety for the customer – In traditional guide rail conveyors, customers are given a stressful list of directions: steer the tire into a narrow slot, look at the mirror, obey the attendant’s shouted directions, read the signs, keep feet off the brake, and don’t touch the steering wheel. With a flat belt car wash conveyor, they simply drive through the door and onto the conveyor.
  • Perception that traditional conveyors damage wheels – The steel guide rails in traditional conveyors leave little room for error, creating concern in customer’s minds that they may damage expensive rims, tires, wheels, and hubcaps.
  • Vehicles are more likely to stay on than with traditional conveyors – There are no rollers to jump and no rails to climb. With all four tires solidly on the belt, the car won’t wander, and braking and steering have no consequences.
  • Safer for newer vehicles with safety features such as auto-braking – In a traditional conveyor, a car equipped with an automatic braking system may perceive movement of the wheels, causing the system to engage. This could lead to a sudden stop, causing a rear-end collision. With flat belt conveyors, the wheels remain stationary.
  • Can accommodate dualies and exotic cars – The wide belt on these systems easily accommodates pickup trucks with dual rear wheels. Low clearance problems are eliminated as well, allowing most other automatic cars and those with low hanging battery boxes to be washed without damaging the undercarriage.

The Cons

Of course, flat belt conveyors have some disadvantages to consider as well:

  • More expensive – As with any new technology, equipment costs for flat belt car wash conveyors are currently 2 to 3 times that of older systems, but the higher costs may be somewhat offset by reduced damage claims and higher throughput.
  • Repair and Maintenance Concerns – Flat belt conveyors are typically more difficult and expensive to repair and maintain than other options.
  • More difficult to clean wheels and tires – Wheels and tires remain stationary and do not spin, making it more difficult to clean them thoroughly. However, the stationary wheels allow for increased safety in dealing with auto-breaking cars.
  • Greater Risk of Damage – Dirt and other sediments can get caught in the pin connections of flat belt conveyors, causing the connection to wear at a faster rate.

Given the cost associated, if you expect anything less than 100,000 cars per year, you should think long and hard on whether this is the right fit for your project.

Iron Fox Can Help You Decide if a Flat Belt Conveyor is Right for You

With so many factors to consider, choosing the best conveyor system for your car wash can be a challenge. Iron Fox has the expertise and knowledge to help you choose what’s best for your location. We provide valuable advice to those wanting to start their own car wash, providing expertise gained through years of personal and professional experience.

To learn more about how we can help you choose the right equipment for your car wash, contact us at Iron Fox today!


Blog Operations

The Power of Self Knowledge

For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the idea of opening a business is one that probably sparks great excitement, as it should. Smart potential business owners know that they must learn the industry and have a strong knowledge of scheduling, finances and other detail-oriented tasks. But the brilliant business owner realizes that personality is key in choosing the type of business to run and how to create and execute a successful plan. The car wash industry is certainly no different.

 Entering the Car Wash Business

A car wash is an excellent start-up option for a motivated individual with little previous business experience.[1]According to the International Carwash Association, the average salaries for these startups is in line with or above the averages for other new businesses. However, entrepreneurs looking to enter the car wash industry should consider which type of personality they have before jumping in. There are various business models to consider, and some honest self-reflection is a must if the owner wants to succeed. So, let’s take a look at personality traits and business models.

Pensive afro american businessman thinking about startup project sitting at desktop concentrated on idea.handsome serious dark skinned entrepreneur pondering on problem solution during working day Know Yourself

It’s time for honest self-examination. First, determine what type of business you want to run. Then be realistic. Ask yourself some personal questions:

  • Am I a people person? Introvert? Extrovert?
  • How many people do I plan to have working for me?
  • Do I want to be a manager, owner, or both?
  • Am I interested in running a detail-oriented business?
  • Am I a team player or a lone wolf?
  • What type of equipment would be in my comfort zone?
  • How much income do I want/need to generate?

Know the Business Models

There are multiple models from which to do business when owning or managing a car wash. Let’s examine them one at a time:

  • Full serve and flex businesses: This model requires the operator to interact with several employees. In this model, the owner needs strong social skills and patience with various personality types. This hands-on model focuses on customer relationships and demands a detail-oriented approach. With the high number of customer influx and employees to manage, only the most personable and extroverted individuals are likely to enjoy this model. The demands are high, but so are the rewards.


  • Bay Automatic (IBA) and self-serve: These models are the least interactive types of car washes. Fewer employees means fewer personalities to cope with. With fewer social demands, these businesses are ideal for the more introverted or independent personality types.


  • Express car wash: This business type falls in the middle of the spectrum. This model is characterized by fewer employee/customer interactions than Full/Flex, but more than IBA and self-serve. The exterior-conveyor car wash offers the third highest income and will require maintenance for the machinery. So, while this model requires an average degree of people skills, the machinery maintenance is a higher priority to the owner compared to other models.

The text Turn Knowledge Into Action appearing behind torn brown paper

Iron Fox Delivers

Now that you have examined your strengths and desires, likes and dislikes, and have projected the income you need, it’s time to push forward. That’s where Iron Fox arrives on the scene. We love to help new entrepreneurs take their first steps, and we are poised to help you make the best choices for your individualized vision. We offer site selectionadvisory services, sophisticated site volume analytics, equipment and chemical consultation, sales and service, and further training and advisory services even after project completion.


To learn more about Iron Fox and how we can move you from dreamer to thriving entrepreneur,  request a free initial site consultation.


Blog Real Estate

9 Considerations for Car Wash Site Selection

There are plenty of reasons car washes might fail. Poor management and bad employees certainly top the list in the minds of many. Perhaps the most impactful choice leading to success or failure, however, is made before the doors even open. It all comes down to that all too familiar mantra: location, location, location.Pushpin on map

Site selection can make or break a business and so it’s important for entreprenuers to do their due diligence when it comes to choosing where to open shop. Just because a street corner has a lot of traffic doesn’t mean it is a sure thing. Similarly, if an area doesn’t have much competition, it doesn’t mean the opportunity is simply waiting. The decision of where to build your business is as important as it is complex. While we certainly can’t cover every aspect, we’ve put together ten things to consider when picking your parcel.


  1. Define your Target Areas – Do you want to set up shop downtown? Out in the suburbs? By a mall? Right off a highway? Site selection involves narrowing down your parameters to fit with your business plan. You have a vision for the area your business is in, so make sure you’re not straying from that. Being next to daily needs vs. infrequent retail therapy uses.
  2. Identify the Demand Drivers – Just because an area appears to be affluent or booming, it doesn’t mean things are going to stay that way. Do your research to ensure that the area you’re in doesn’t turn into a ghost town as soon as you open. Start by studying traffic patterns and incoming/outgoing demand drivers in the market (places of employment, anchor tenants, etc.).
  3. Visibility. Wherever you go, visibility of your business and signage are key, especially for a car wash. While you’ll certainly have repeat customers, drawing in new ones passing by is crucial.
  4. Ingress/Egress – Just because someone sees your car wash doesn’t mean they’re certain to pull in if it’s going to take some effort. Make sure it’s easy to get onto and out of your lot. Most retailers put a greater emphasis on the ingress rather than then the egress.Architectural drawings
  5. Demographics – The demographics of an area can significantly impact your bottom line. There may be a big population on paper but how many actually drive? Define your customer and look for appropriate levels of income and age groups. Note that this will vary depending on your model. For example, you might want higher income levels for Full Service operations than you might in an Express Exterior. Density usually solves most problems for retailers so be sure to confirm adequate levels of nearby homes and businesses for adequate levels of daytime traffic.
  6. Define your trade area – Your market is most likely going to be everything within a three mile radius of your shop but this isn’t always the case. If your site is in a more rural area, people might travel farther distances for services. If your site is in a more urban enviroment the oppositie is true and you should decrease radius. Be sure to define the market with a real estate professional to confirm there are there enough people to justify the venture.
  7. Competition – How many other car washes are in the area? What kinds? Its not necessarily a zero-sum game, and additional carwashes will generate more total carwashes for a given market but given the choice, its always best to avoid competition.
  8. Look Beyond Rush Hour – Know your traffic patterns. Is there any traffic in the area outside of rush hour? You can’t rely on weekday warriors stopping in on their way home. Find a location that sees a steady stream of traffic at a speed that allows customers to stop and turn in. Its important to visit the site to observe patterns at all times of day, not just on Saturday at noon.
  9. Cost in Relation to Volume Estimates – This is not the time to be an optimist. Don’t plan on your preparations and building costs fitting into some dream budget. Make fiscally smart choices as you prepare to estimate your building costs so that you know what your budget for real estate truly is.

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If you take anything from this blog, note that you should seek advice. Most commercial brokers work off of fees paid by the landlord or property owner. The DIY success story is a great story to be able to tell when you’ve made it big. For now, take the advice of professionals who are willing to help you build your business on sound foundations, and search for the advice from those that are not afraid to tell you the truth.


Iron Fox has created proprietary software using various data points including demographics and historical sales to estimate future volume of sites. We offer a free preliminary Market and Site Analysis from experts in the field, and can use the proprietary software to provide a Site-Yield Analysis to help entrepreneurs estimate car counts. It is important to get this analysis done before you put a parcel under contract as your top line revenue should dictate your purchase price and construction estimates. By leveraging Iron Fox, you are able to better establish the true value of a piece of real estate and thus are better equipped to successfully get your site off the ground. To learn more about Iron Fox, or to see the other services we offer, visit us today at!

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Blog Equipment and Chemicals Operations

Is owning a carwash a good business? Is it easy?

Part II

HFW Portrait low res

by Henry Weinschenk


Months, sometime years, have passed since you first started the project of building a carwash. You have spent a good amount of money on lawyers, architects, engineers, government fees, etc. besides paying for an expensive piece of land.


You are now ready to buy the wash equipment. There are many manufacturers. How do you make sense out of such a great variety? It’s not easy. When all is said and done, the equipment does not look that different, except for some bells and whistles. What’s your next step?


You will be surprised about the price ranges for similar packages of equipment. You may be inclined to go with the most expensive one, assuming that it will be the best, or the one that looks slickest, or the one that is the lowest cost.

The reality is that, these days most equipment performs the job of cleaning cars adequately. What you don’t know is, how will it perform from a maintenance point of view. There is one simple fact, carwash equipment is constantly subject to stress, wear and tear. It just comes with the territory. So, the important questions now are: is it build to last? Is it simple enough that it can be maintained by my own crew? Or, is it so complex that I will depend on outside service people? These are really the most important questions when selecting one manufacturer over another.


Once you have narrowed down your selection, you have another set of questions: who will install the equipment, and who will install all the plumbing and wiring that is required? These last two are not a minor matter. It will take substantial amounts of time and money, especially if you are only provided with minimum information and diagrams.


Finally, the construction starts, the equipment has been ordered and — like all construction jobs — there are delays, unforeseen situations, work change orders, bad weather, etc. But you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Pardon the pun.


As you near completion, you will have to concentrate on hiring the right people. It does not matter if you are building a simple little car wash, that requires few people or a larger one with a lot of services provided by a crew of people. You will need people.


Regardless of, if you plan to run the daily operations or not, you will have to hire a responsible and capable manager. Somebody that can deal with the maintenance of the equipment, the people in the crew, and the most important people of all: your customers. Who are you going to get and where will you find that person? And, once hired, how are you going to compensate and motivate, him or her. You want to make sure you will retain that person for a long time. That is, if that person turns out to be the right person.


You will also have to interview and hire, assistant managers and the rest of the crew. Remember that these people are not just your production workers, they are your ambassadors in front of your customers.


You are still weeks, if not months, away from your opening day, but you need to start planning for it. How will people know that you are open for business?


Stay tuned for Part III.