This year has been a tough year for car washing. Unsettled weather and tough competition have meant the pressure is really on to capture wash business when the sun does shine. Our industry has been on the back foot for so many years that we have lost sight of the value of car washing. Machines have improved tremendously and the products we use for cleaning and polishing are vastly better than those of a decade ago. However, we have been so intent on trying to drive business by price alone that our average wash price has hardly moved. I truly believe that the only way we can survive and prosper is to retail our programmes for what they are excellent cleaning and polishing products.

There are some operators who have tried hard to increase prices but find themselves competing with similar washes that have never increased prices for years. Some have chosen to compete directly with a local hand wash, so how much should we be charging to properly clean a car £8, £10? These days £10 is not a huge amount of money it’s the price of a cinema ticket and only just over a gallon of fuel. If you have the equipment to clean and polish a car, that should be £15 of anyone’s money. If it’s retailed at only £5 the customer probably thinks it’s not very good. Double-digit pricing is commonplace in many parts of Europe, where a deeper understanding of brush and touchless washing exists.

When you are considering buying a new car wash, if you look at the business plan with a more realistic average price, the package appears one of the best investments you can make. Imagine a clean, bright bay and machine, modern chemicals and a detailed explanation of what is happening in those precious six to eight minutes. You might be surprised how many quality cars come to experience the UK’s new automatic washes.

My position as chairman of the CWA has to come to a close in the spring of 2013. It has been a very involved seven years that have seen the association become a real voice in the industry. We are well respected within numerous government departments and have ensured that any policies which might have affected our members are discussed before they are introduced. We are searching for a successor that will drive the CWA into 2013 and beyond. If you would like to be involved contact