The snow has gone and the sun is out at last. The car wash suddenly springs into action. I think 2012 was one of the toughest years the car wash industry has known; we had some good times, but my goodness we saw some tough weeks as well. Last year was officially the wettest year on record.

This year may be the one when the government takes action against trolley washers. We have finally educated them to agree that even small amounts of pollution add up when concentrated on a single car park. The Environment Agency is engaging directly with the landowners rather than believing the operators any more.

While on the subject of government, it is regrettable some departments continue to let down our industry. First there was the OFT’s inexplicable decision that the fuel industry is running well and needs no intervention. Then there is the VOA (Valuation Office Agency), which has finally imposed business rates on some of the more permanent hand car washes (HCW). But instead of doing an accurate assessment of a business, it simply chooses a rateable value (RV) and applies it to all hand car washes in the area, regardless of size or throughput. All seven HCWs in Northampton have an RV of 5000, making rates a mere £2,250 pa which is unlikely to be contested and therefore creating minimum effort for the VO. It’s simply not good enough.

Retailers need to be a bit more savvy about wash marketing too. There are opportunities to tie together fuel sales, shop turnover and slower wash days. Why not utilise the wash margin to encourage fuel sales on your slowest day and offer half price washing with a £20 shop spend? Our car washes do a great job. We must continue to get new customers. Wash Clubs, Ladies’ Days, will all make your site unique. If the precipitation persists then how about a rainy day special!