The professional career of motor vehicle master Michael Lux took a sudden change due to his wife about 20 years ago. "She had been working in an Edeka delicatessen and became unemployed when the owner closed his business for age reasons. We were forced to go to the unemployment office. There I saw on the computer that a master car mechanic was wanted in Walldorf," Michael Lux remembers very clearly. It turned out that the future employment contract was a lease contract for the petrol station in Walldorfer Bahnhofstraße. Michael Lux nevertheless saw the initial situation as a new, rewarding career perspective and said to his wife that he had made up his mind: "Boss, then you and I have another job." When they both took over the station, there was only a wash bay next to the garage, but no car wash. It was also so badly positioned on the site that it would have been impossible to wash cars under customer-friendly conditions. "After one and a half years it was possible to convince the owner to demolish the old bay and build a new one – turned through 90 degrees – in order to be able to wash cars in a more or less service-oriented way. Our argument that a petrol station without a car wash is like having a bakery without an oven finally convinced her." The only possible solution was not optimal, but it was the only feasible option. The reason: "The on-site situation only allowed washing operations with a gantry car wash, which washes vehicles as the head-end station."
Michael Lux looked after and maintained the portal system for 16 years. "The WashTec sales representative has visited me regularly in recent years and asked me whether I would like to buy a new gantry system. At some point, I decided to visit WashTec in Augsburg to see the latest gantry model in operation." This is made possible thanks to the new showroom on the company premises. What he saw inspired the master car mechanic from Walldorf to such an extent that he not only opted for the premium gantry SoftCare² Pro with almost every equipment option, but at the same time adopted the anthracite look of the showroom for floor and ceiling in his wash bay. He opted for the high performance equipment above all because "I wanted really good high pressure on the sides and roof plus the rotatable FlexStream nozzle for high pressure washing and drying." The multi-dimensional MultiFlex side washer adapts perfectly to the vehicle surfaces. Sill areas and rear spoilers benefit from this above all because they can be cleaned particularly thoroughly and effectively. WheelJet completes the cleaning luxury for all wheel sizes and rim designs up to 21 inches. The FlexStream nozzle, which rotates 270 degrees, cleans, maintains and dries contour-controlled very precisely, powerfully and effectively. "Vehicles up to 2.25 metres wide can stop immediately in front of the gantry. For an Audi Q7, that's plenty of room. In the past, such wide vehicles literally had to be squeezed between the rails of the gantry." To make it easier for customers to enter the wash bay, Michael Lux had StarTrack guide rails installed. LED lamps with variable light pattern accompany the customers during the drive-in and drive-through to the stop position. When the "Exclusive" and "Premium+" programmes are selected, the LED-lit FoamSensation foam blanket first envelops the vehicle surfaces.
"After my trip to Augsburg, the highly competent advice of the WashTec salesman led me to decide with a clear conscience for the best possible technical equipment for the SoftCare² Pro in the Silverlight design." This is also supported by the fact that many SAP employees are regular customers of the petrol station. "I can advise them as I please when they come to us. They always select the best wash for their company vehicles," says Michael Lux, describing typical customer conversations.
Since the commissioning of the new WashTec gantry in December 2017, "it has run smoothly and is completely uncomplicated to handle." As you might expect, the chemicals come from WashTec's subsidiary AUWA. "Now the change from RainTecs to ShieldTecs is also on the agenda. We will promote it with banners, explain the sensational advantages of ShieldTecs to our customers and also plan a coupon promotion for it. Drying and gloss levels should be even better with this product. At the moment, the Walldorf water is giving him a hard time. It's extremely limy. "We are thinking about a water filter to remove the lime from the fresh water, because I had to do without a water conditioning system for space reasons. With soft water we need less chemical product. That would also be an advantage."
Michael Lux asserted himself in the face of fierce competition within the SAP city of Walldorf. In the past 20 years, he has done so particularly successfully because he always had to think very economically in all the things he did. "That's why we notched up the performance in terms of the technical equipment. My SoftCare² Pro cost about twice as much due to the full equipment suite. That's why I decided precisely this and not otherwise, because I not only focused on the number of washes, but also on the average wash price. I also know the key figures for the car wash business at petrol stations and, with an average wash price of around twelve and a half euros, I'm the absolute number one." This is really remarkable because the access to the wash bay on the petrol station premises is not particularly easy and cars can only reverse out of the bay after washing. Michael Lux makes the case based on years of experience: "Once people have been there to wash, they know how it works. It's just a learning process for them."
Michael Lux answers the question about why he opted for the "Silverlight" design extremely well. "It has to be visually appealing. I just need to drive around the area. Every second house that is newly built has a grey-white facade. This grey is somehow serious, looks good and the dirt is also less visible." He knows exactly what he is talking about, because he personally, together with a technician, takes care of the gantry and wash bay. "Two or three times a week, we thoroughly clean the sensors and give the surfaces of the gantry a quick wipe down. Once a month we clean the walls and floors. Customers want to wash their cars in a clean bay where no moss is growing on the floor."
Michael Lux is convinced that the washing results and washing experience must be right. "Customers then always stick with their regular car wash, because they get into a habit and don't want to change. My top-up wash cards not only give them a discount, but they can't be used anywhere else either." Michael Lux had a good flyer designed for the customers, which begins with the words about the new generation of car care: "WashTec SoftCare² Pro Foam Sensation – now new at your Total Station Walldorf". The flyer mentions the advantages of the new WashTec gantry car wash and states: "Enjoy washing all year round...with innovative cleaning technology from WashTec, the world market leader for vehicle washing, the brand new car wash guarantees outstanding washing and drying results. Use our state-of-the-art SoftCare² Pro car wash from WashTec and be impressed by the spotlessly clean results, an experience that is simply fun and fast... car washing fast, simple and thorough."
Text/ Pictures: Bernd Fiehöfer