Self-service drying Handheld dryer units for self-service wash bays is a profit centre worth examination By Kelly Gray Drying is important. Here in the great white north, a car that comes out of the wash in January can become a four-wheeled ice cube if proper drying technology and technique are not brought to bear. Tunnels and express washes have the benefit of large blowers that shoot warmed air at vehicles as they exit the wash. Selfwash bays, on the other hand, often have no drying systems and customers turn to chamois and paper towels to sponge off excess water before leaving the site. Personal experience suggests this can be ineffective when temperatures hit minus 20ºC. Self-service wash customers typically pay by the minute via coin boxes. Having customers hand-drying vehicles in bay means time wasted and longer lineups. Having a self-service dryer unit that operates alongside the other options such as vacuum, pressure wash, and tire and engine clean is a profit centre that makes sense for Canada. A good example is Red Deer’s Jumbo Car Wash. This site offers 12 self-service bays for standard-sized cars and trucks as well as four, 60-foot pull-thru bays for RV’s and larger vehicles. Jumbo also offers two touchless automatic units. According to owner Terrill Cromie, they see 80% of customers use their dryer units in the 12 self-service bays during colder months. “The rest of the year, the dryers get used primarily from those with higher-end cars and motorcycles,” he says, remarking that at Jumbo they don’t
use coin boxes. “We have a ticket system as well as an app that can handle the payment. Our customers without the app pull up and take a ticket with a time stamp. In the barn, all our bays are fully functioning with all the features. Customers use what they want for as long as they want and pay at the end.” Jumbo charges 0.95 cents a minute in the 12 self-service bays and $1.15 for RVs. While there are several manufacturers and distributors of handheld dryer systems, such as Mosmatic, Coleman Hanna, J E Adams and KleenRite, Jumbo decided to make their equipment in-house. Terrill mentions that the system is comprised of a stainless steel box with a single large motor to move air. “We use clean, dry air from outside that is heated in a furnace unit and moved to bays via hoses. Our customers look to this system to make sure door locks are dry and windows are free of excess moisture before pulling out into the cold,” he says noting that having in-bay dryers is all part of Jumbo’s superior service equation that has made them a local leader. The industry suggests that a site can see an 8% to 13% increase in revenue per year by installing handheld dryer units to self-service bays. This usage translates into an ROI of one year for each dryer unit that could well see sales around $2,000 at an average location. Another Alberta site that is having success with handheld dryers is Calgary’s Top Gear Car Wash on 120th Ave. NE. The
site offers 13 self-service bays, as well as conveyor wash and detailing. At Top Gear, they use a Mosmatic Dryer system for a streak-free finish. According to Top Gear spokesperson Chris Nordrum, they offer dryers in each of the 13 bays. He reports that usage is between 50% and 60% of customers with the most usage in the winter. “Also, our customers use the device to blow out vents as well as blow debris from under seats. It’s pretty versatile. The fact that we use a ticket system for payment means you don’t have to look for more change while you clean your car. You use the equipment as needed and then pay,” he says, remarking that the only challenge customers seem to have is keeping the hose away from the car’s paint finish as they dry the surface with the blower. “But, it’s a small learning curve, and our customers tell us they like the service.” OCTANE
The industry suggests that a site can see an 8% to 13% increase in revenue per year by installing handheld dryer units to self-service bays.