Business success with WashTec technology
"We want to grow slowly, but steadily", says Steffen Röthig, operator of the modern Autowaschcenter Dresden car wash centre very modestly and visibly relaxed today. However, anyone who knows what the around 6,500 square metre site in the Fritz-Reuter-Straße 47 looked like before cars were washed and cared for here must at least applaud him and all those involved in the project respectfully. Back then, dilapidated construction site fences surrounded the site on which high ruined factories stood empty. Too long, as Steffen Röthig found out, when he began to think in earnest about a better use. The fact that it ultimately took four and a half years from his idea through to the opening of Autowaschcenter Dresden can be compared to all intents and purposes with a daring exploit. Official necessities and decisions alone took two years. "In Dresden it is difficult to come by an affordable, well-situated site for a car wash business", says Steffen Röthig explaining what is the fundamental problem of the world famous metropolis on the river Elbe. Stringent requirements and his own aspirations ultimately called for and shaped an attractive services park for a state-of-the-art vehicle care centre. The demolition work began in January 2012, Autowaschcenter Dresden opened in August 2012. "The start was unexpectedly difficult", says Steffen Röthig. As reasons for this he mentioned the winter of 2012/2013, one of the harshest ever on the Elbe and the extreme rainfall in the May that followed. "From June 2013, we had a long battle with the Elbe floods and even longer with its consequences."
New paths rewarded
A good five years before the grand opening "my fundamental idea was to offer something there had never been before in this area", recalls Röthig, always on the go. He emphasizes: "This included above all and first of all thinking about which cars and how and with what they were to be cleaned and maintained." This should definitely include a conveyor tunnel system, self-service washing and vacuum cleaner bays, accompanied by a professional vehicle preparation offering with a comprehensive range of services. And this is where the trailer rental business came in. Steffen Röthig rounded off his diverse offering with the sale of heating oil, even for small delivery quantities, such as for mobile heaters. Sitting down together with his brother and an architect, he began to sketch out a promising project.
To successfully implement the central business concept of 'car washing', Steffen Röthig decided to equip the 45 m long textile conveyor tunnel system end-to-end with WashTec technology. Not without reason. Through his activities as a petrol station operator, he knew the market of manufacturers for innovative car wash technology. From his own and today's point of view, it was a wise decision to contact the long-established company in Augsburg. A decision he didn't have to think about for too long. Today, he highlights the following by way of example: "The SoftTecs® brush material is very high quality and exceptionally durable." The washing results are perfect, and his customers would also agree, who, besides numerous corporate clients, also include Dresden's government ministry, various authorities and the city's police department. "It isn't perhaps something you see everyday and it attracts attention when a dozen police patrol cars turn up to be washed", says Steffen Röthig precisely at the moment a brand-new blue Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabrio draws up at the entrance to the conveyor tunnel system. Porsche Zentrum Dresden also belongs to the some 100 corporate clients, who entrust these sophisticated and expensive sportsters to WashTec technology.
You can rely on WashTec
"Welcome" on seven days of the week - car wash customers are greeted by friendly pre-wash staff, who perform their work extremely thoroughly. Steffen Röthig works with four full-time staff and two temps at the conveyor tunnel system. "I must and can rely on them. This is essential for a good car wash." He also says: "When things get busy, we also have someone guiding the vehicles in. This is necessary so that we don't have customers standing on the road." The conveyor belt can accommodate tyre widths of up to 335 mm, and pulls the respective vehicle through the foaming pre-rinse arch. In the high-pressure arch that follows, four oscillating spot spray nozzles work to ensure perfect pre-cleaning. Before the rotating washing brushes get to grips with the vehicles, the linear travelling wheel washers make sure the wheels get a thorough cleaning. Flexibly configured roof and side brushes ensure excellent cleaning results and thanks to SofTecs® a gentle car wash. On re-emerging from the care station and blower dryer after passing through the rotating cloth dryer, the vehicles look as good as new. Steffen Röthig achieves gleaming results because, besides the technical ensemble, he also puts his trust in the chemicals from WashTec's subsidiary AUWA. This also goes with the excellent working relationship with the responsible WashTec sales rep Sven Schäfer, who, in addition to his actual job, also monitors the separator system as a special service.
Good address for vans
The WashTec SoftCare gantry can wash vehicles up a maximum height of 2.90 m and 2.48 m width. The fact that the investment in a van wash was a sound idea is proved by the highly satisfied customers, who now help to ensure stable and reliable washing sales. For Steffen Röthig reason enough to start thinking about tomorrow today. "The system is due to be replaced in two to three years. Even today, it has already been decided that it will be even more efficient and most likely equipped once again with WashTec technology."
Most customers do not leave the conveyor tunnel system and gantry car wash directly via the automatic exit barrier without first visiting one of the 26 vacuum cleaner bays. Bays that Steffen Röthig deliberately had built with a four metre width so as to enable customers to vacuum their vehicles conveniently with the doors open. Bays at which dual vacuum cleaners work with powerful suction. Self-service car wash users go from the two entrances of the wash centre also directly to the convenient, bright and friendly self-service washing bays, a modern and highly functional four-bay rack system, at the centre of which the container stands with all the necessary units for precision dosing the required cleaning and care chemical formulations. In the container itself, everything is kept perfectly neat and tidy. The bay in which the connected AUWA washing chemicals are positioned looks as if it has only commenced operation a few hours ago. The booths convey a clear and service-friendly impression, and in which it is a real pleasure to wash your car yourself. These are bays that will without doubt constantly draw more and more customers towards Dresden's Leipziger Vorstadt district.
Good advertising is rewarded
For today's - thanks to WashTec - successful Autowaschcenter Dresden, Steffen Röthig initiated an extensive and expensive marketing campaign in order to promote the business from the outset. It was and remains important to him that he develops his customer base skilfully and in a targeted fashion. The colourful livery in bright orange is without doubt one of the most striking appearances for car wash customers first driving onto the site. "The lawn green helped to produce an eye-catching ensemble", he says expressing how he sees the facility as a whole, which also offers something else special. Self-service washing stations and vacuum cleaner areas are located on a plateau. Not without reason. Röthig did not have the rubble produced during the demolition removed, but heaped up. The wash prices are also slightly higher than elsewhere in the neighbourhood. "Customers know the car wash, the quality of the washing results and my team", says Steffen Röthig explaining his approach. His customers reward him for this with their loyalty.
Text/ Pictures: Bernd Fiehöfer