As the summer months continue with the better weather, the excellent car wash sales of 2015 have continued. I was reminded recently by a personal event that there has been a dramatic increase in some of the costs incurred by our business, such as water and refuse.

Water is, of course, required to clean all aspects of the business, and these costs have risen massively over the past decade. My mind was focused when our six-month water bill arrived showing a huge and, at first, an inexplicable increase in usage. Immediate investigation discovered a leak in our underground tank, which is rarely used as we have a borehole to provide water for the washes. In the past 10 years water costs have risen by 78%. This makes the case for water recycling systems and boreholes all the stronger. Even with deregulation around the corner, costs will continue. Fortunately for me my supplier was prepared to recharge at the average daily amount!

Other costs that continue to escalate are dry waste bin collections. For as long as I have been in the industry forecourts have provided bins for customer use. When I was a lad most customers needed to have their oil and water checked, this would potentially result in valuable oil sales, a disposal of the can and sachets of screen cleaner and cigarette butts to be emptied. No one minded because the customer had made a purchase. Nowadays, oil top-ups are infrequent, screen wash is sold in bulk and cigarette butts are tossed out the window. Surprising then that every forecourt bin is full to overflowing every day. When you run a wash centre with vacuums, you are obliged to take away a car full of rubbish as part of the deal. Not long ago we had one bin collected once a week (negligible cost) but now we need four 1,100ltr bin lifts every week. That is £2,500 annually and I suspect that only 10% is my business waste. We recycle (through Spar Blakemore) all our cardboard, soft plastic and can return sealed food to reduce our send to the dump, which is all very helpful.

So there you have it, water cost can be reduced with investment. The big issue though is dry waste. Very soon all commercial and home waste will be costed on weight. More and more rubbish will be dumped at our sites. The forecourt bin needs to be confined to history.