Car Wash Loyalty
Gonçalo Mendes, Product Manager at Petrotec Group, talks about the pillars of the future of Car Wash and points out Petrotec solutions for this segment.
Much has been said about the future of the automotive industry. What can we expect from the future of Car Wash?
Gonçalo Mendes: What was mentioned a few years ago as a distant future has become the present. Electric cars are now a clearly established reality, and the only things we're not sure about is when the car population will make its full transition to non-fossil fuels, such as electricity and hydrogen. The transportation experience itself becomes a priority, to the detriment of the ownership of the vehicle, and mobility is regarded as a service.
However, regardless of the direction and/or speed of these possible revolutions in the sector, the car wash business will continue to be a reality, and the variables that contribute to customer loyalty will remain the same: quality, convenience and experience.
But how is the concept of quality in car wash actually measured?
Gonçalo Mendes: Quality has to do with efficiency, both in the washing per se, and in the finishing. We have to aim for consistent and regular results in every vehicle. It's not enough to provide quality once, you must deliver quality always! The result of a quality wash will be a completely clean car, an absolutely shiny car, without any stains. Currently, the thorough cleaning of the wheels has been pointed out as a prerequisite and one of the aspects most highly valued by the users of motor vehicles.
Why is so much attention given to wheels?
Gonçalo Mendes: Dirty wheels destroy the image of a washed car. A set of dirty wheels and rims in a newly washed car generates dissatisfaction. Nowadays, delivering vehicles with clean, shiny wheels is often the distinguishing factor between competing car washes. Usually, wheels are hit by a layer of brake dust and road dirt, which is difficult to remove. Specific rim cleaning is expected to be performed at the end of the car wash process - with mild detergent and a specific brush or cloth - to prevent the accumulated dirt from spreading throughout the vehicle. After washing the wheels, we recommend the application of a thick layer of wax. We must also ensure that the tires of a car that has just been washed are absolutely black.
In addition to the good quality of the wash, convenience is also an important factor for customer satisfaction...
Gonçalo Mendes: Exactly.. And, in order to offer greater comfort and convenience for car wash customers, a lot has been done, for example, in the automation of payment systems. Nowadays, this type of tools is even allowing users to pay without getting out of the car. In addition to this trend, it's important to mention the unrelenting search for shorter waiting times in our daily lives. This means that washing speed is a very important factor and has been regarded as crucial to increase convenience, being a driving factor for customer loyalty.
What is Petrotec's response to payment automation at car wash centres?
Gonçalo Mendes: We've recently made MB contactless payment available in our range of equipment. This is an option that meets the growing need for alternative means of payment in washing areas, especially when users have no cash in hand and want to wash their cars then and there. In Portugal, the Galp wash centre in São João de Ponte - Guimarães, the Benavente - Santarém Intermarché station and the Metamorfosazul wash centre in Pinhal Novo - Setúbal, are already equipped with this payment method. We should note that this payment method has been widely accepted and is being used by a growing number of end users. In addition to offering greater convenience for users, it also minimizes the risk of theft and eliminates all the logistics associated with coins, which operators were forced to consistently ensure.
After all this, is there still room for improving the customer's experience?
Gonçalo Mendes: Of course there is!In addition to continuously improving all the factors we talked about - quality and convenience -, we are increasingly faced with the need to provide a highly differentiated washing experience. Currently, the car wash industry is presenting tools that allow us to boost the perception of technology by visually touching the users, namely through LED light devices incorporated in the fairings of the equipment itself, which project light onto foam curtains and via multimedia screens. The car wash industry is currently focused on this: the intention to impress the user.
What solutions is Petrotec currently offering in the car wash segment?
Gonçalo Mendes: Our goal is to present solutions aimed at increasing our customers' loyalty. In the jetwash area, we provide equipment developed and manufactured in house. . It's a range of car wash equipment for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles that was designed for easy use, low consumption, and with a special concern for the environment. As a result of more than two decades of production and technological development, we are able to guarantee high levels of reliability, quality, and very low maintenance.
As for automatic washing machine solutions for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, we rely on the expertise of our partner Istobal, which has been operating in the sector for more than half a century and allows us to offer our customers automatic washing solutions that meet all their car wash needs. In this area, we will soon launch a solution for washing the inside of receptacles and containers. This solution breaks down a traditional barrier of automatic equipment, which used to be focused on washing only the outside of vehicles.