The summer has been kind to forecourt operators this year. Blasting sun and hot temperatures have meant that our sites have been a magnet for drinks, ice creams and BBQ necessities; but have the standards at our sites been enough to interest and keep customers interested in all aspects of our business?

There are now many examples of sites with large convenience stores, where hundreds of thousands of pounds have been invested in creating a perfect modern store and extra staff employed to keep it clean and well stocked.

Even our forecourts have seen standards improve, with oil companies and symbol groups keen to maintain their sure high standards. The tanks and lines have not escaped scrutiny either, as new varieties of biofuels now supplied have caused great difficulties in maintaining a high-speed fill of on-specification product.

But what about the lowly car wash that has been left for years without investment, no bright ideas to interest new customers and, in many sites, is the poor relation of the forecourt income sector.

So what needs to be done to improve this state of affairs? It certainly doesn’t need a lot of money spent on it.

It must be clean, tidy and welcoming. Ensure there are clear directions with white or coloured lines to mark the route to a clean car. Combine this with re-marking some extra parking spaces, which are vital to a site’s success, ensuring hopeless drivers won’t take up three spaces!

In addition add new, clear menu boards and pricing, bringing all of the outside signage up to date.

However, the key to bringing the car wash back into the minds of all of our new customers is to integrate it into the transaction. The high margins achievable are ideal for including it in promotions and rewarding high spending and high value customers.

We need to get more people using our washes and experiencing the superb standard that today’s washes can achieve.

So let’s not allow all those valuable new customers to leave without ensuring they really know what our whole business is all about.