Big Boxes Hope to Clean Up in Carwash Biz
Wal-Mart, Costco and Home Depot are among the retail powerhouses looking at the potential of automated carwashes to bring in consumers and grow their already impressive top and bottom line performance.
According to an article in The News-Press, Costco has begun testing a carwash at a club in Seattle. Home Depot has installed carwashes at two of its convenience store test sites and Wal-Mart has carwashes operating at a number of its locations.
The big box operators are expected to use the same strategy that has helped them dominate in other product and service categories they’ve entered in the past – cutting prices. A basic exterior wash at a big box facility can cost as little as $4.
John McCarthy, owner of Technology at Work, a distributor of carwash equipment and supplies, said automated carwashes are becoming more attractive for business owners because of the costs associated with running full-service operations.
“When you get to a point where land gets to a certain price, a traditional car wash can’t get the cash flow to pay for it,” he said.
Mr. McCarthy, a former car wash owner, said full-service carwashes offer superior quality to automated systems but the gap is shrinking as new technologies and cleaning methods emerge.
Moderator’s Comment: What factor do you believe is most important in a consumer’s decision in choosing a carwash? What will the entry of retail chains
into the carwash business mean for traditional independent operators?