While carwashes employ many tools and mechanisms in their cleaning processes, perhaps none are more important than the actual soap. To get the best possible results and keep customers coming back, it’s important to choose the right cleaning products for each application. But aside from their basic cleansing power, many factors must be considered when selecting soaps.
The actual purpose of a carwash is twofold. First and most obvious, it must clean, shine, and protect the vehicles its servicing. It also needs to create a memorable customer experience, or “show.” Ironically, some operators get so caught up in the show that they forget to ensure that the vehicles are protected with wax and sealants. On the flip side, other operators spend too much time ensuring that vehicles are adequately clean, often discounting the customer experience, leaving some patrons wondering whether the price was worth the effort. A big part of this show comes from the soap delivery systems. Using lighting or air effects, such as foam curtain arches and bubblizers, to apply soap and waxes in spectacular fashion creates unique visual experiences for customers to enjoy.
In terms of actual soap properties, it’s important to consider the difference between high pH (Alkaline) and low pH (Acidic) soaps. High quality soap is necessary to clean, shine, and protect the vehicles that come through a carwash. Yet, particular contaminants, such as dirt and road grime, require different processes for effective removal. Low pH presoaks are best used against mineral based soils, while high pH presoaks are most effective against the majority of road film, such as organic grime or the oily residue from passing cars. High pH products work well on dry cars with a bit of dwell time to work away at the dirt, while low pH products are applied to help brighten glass and metal surfaces. In addition to enhanced shine, low pH products also serve the dual purpose of creating a hydrophobic environment on the surface of the vehicle. By doing so, cars dry faster and easier, while potentially saving money on more expensive finishing products later in the wash process. High-quality waxes should be used for final coats, not only to protect that newly cleaned car, but to give customers the pop and shine they’re expecting.
While the soap is, at the end of the day, the reason why customers come to get their cars washed, a show reinforces the value, assuring customers they’re getting their money’s worth. Ultimately, carwashes should serve a dual purpose: clean cars via an entertaining experience. After all, who doesn’t love to drive through a tunnel of soapy, colorful suds and riotously, spinning sponges?
IRON FOX is a company that focuses exclusively on helping investors, entrepreneurs and existing operators in the conveyor carwash segment. Beyond broad carwash operational knowledge, our Senior Consultants have extensive experience with retail real estate site selection, design, development, and acquisition or sales of existing locations. As owners in existing and former carwash ventures, we have customized our service offerings and employed mechanical and technical staffs to serve a niche we feel is missing in the distribution and service markets. To learn more about our company and see how you can benefit from our unmatched experience, connect with us!