The federal motorway exit Erlangen-West leads directly to the industrial park Heßdorf – good shopping facilities, chemist's shop, restaurants, hotel and the car wash centre "Schöner waschen". Although somewhat hidden, it has been well known in the Erlangen region for years. The obvious reason is a yellow duck on the roof of "Schöner waschen" and on the roof of the white company car. Andrea Ackermann is the name of the woman behind the wheel who takes care of everything in the car wash centre. She hears the people when they shout "oh, here comes 'Mother Duck'". Whoever wants to wash goes to the "Duck", full stop. This is how people have lovingly and accurately called the car wash centre for a long time. The fact that the committed young woman is always there during opening hours, "people enjoy it very much because they know that they can turn to me if they need help. This happens more often than you think."
Twelve and a half years ago, the insurance broker Johann Edenharter and his business partner Johannes Lautenschlager, both Managing Directors of LAVATE GmbH in Schmidsmühlen, Upper Palatinate, had their first car wash equipped with a gantry system. "We came to car washing purely by chance," says Johann Edenharter and explains: "We were building a block-type thermal power station in our hometown of Schmidsmühlen. The building in which it was housed still offered plenty of space. At first we did not know what to do with this space. Since there was only one car wash at the car dealership in the village, we decided to install a modern car wash. We even operate it with hot water. That's unusual for gantry washing." The waste heat from the power station heats the washing water. "The customers immediately liked the hot water wash. This special feature is still a great magnet. When the cars come out of the steam bath, this is of course a huge effect."
The career changers not only quickly got to know and appreciate the subject of professional car washing, but – impressed by the success in Schmidsmühlen – also went in search of a larger site to be able to offer self-service car washing. After a WashTec sales representative from the Herzogenaurach region, only a few kilometres away, told them, they finally found it on the southern edge of the Heßdorf industrial park. "WashTec carried out the site analysis required for this plot for us. That was a good choice." This resulted in a wash bay being built in 2010 that offered space for WashTec's then Juno gantry with double roof brush and the necessary equipment in the technical room. The space on the left side of the building is filled by three self-service washing booths, next to which there is an outdoor washing area with a staircase and catwalk for convenient washing of high vans and caravans. The maintenance areas were situated directly opposite the washing booths.
"Before we could finally commission WashTec to produce the washing and care technology, we had to come up with a brand for the car wash centre. We searched the Internet for colour concepts that we liked and found a photo of a 'Schöner Waschen' installation in Mettmann, a district town in the Niederbergisches Land." Both managing directors liked the blue-yellow colour concept so much that they decided to travel to Mettmann to personally inspect the installation there. "Looks great," they said to each other. The system operator there told them what they had to do to join "Schöner Waschen". They stayed, made an appointment with the advertising company and bought the trademark rights for Heßdorf.
When "Schöner waschen – Vehicle washing a la carte" finally opened on 23 July 2010 in Heßdorf, "it then rained for the next seven weeks. So we wrote off the first few months until the end of the year." In the following years, the number of customers grew steadily. The car wash centre also became established. "This in turn led us to opening another car wash centre in our region – precisely in Burglengenfeld – in 2015, even larger and with two WashTec Takt gantry systems and four self-service car wash booths from another manufacturer. The second car wash centre has a different name. The two Takt systems can wash and dry four vehicles simultaneously.
Back to Heßdorf, where WashTec's fastest gantry car wash SoftCare² Juno ensures excellent car washing business. The intelligent double gantry concept delivers significantly shorter washing, care and drying times. Johann Edenharter and Johannes Lautenschlager have them equipped with almost all options to perfect the result and experience for customers. The illuminated guide rails StarTrack, which show customers the way to the dual gantry, the illuminated foam curtain FoamTastic, WheelFlash and WheelJet for brilliantly clean rims and wheels, SofTecs® Pur for particularly gentle washing and care, underbody washing and FlexStream are part of the entire package. The SoftCare² Juno washes and polishes in record time. "After five and a half minutes, every car is shining clean again." The double blower dryer delivers excellent drying results. Customers of the automatic car wash system can choose from a total of six programmes. The two most powerful are called "Foam Sensation Premium" and "Foam Sensation". The only difference between them being the underbody wash.
Both managing directors offer their self-service washers the best washing and care conditions with plenty of freedom. The three wash stations covered with a shed roof offer space and everything a perfectly equipped JetWash system can offer. WashTec's SelfTecs concept simplifies the washing process, since washing and care are carried out in a single programme step. The self-service colour concept in red-green-yellow keeps the hoses of lances and brush clearly apart for customers and clearly visible on the control panel. "One and a half years ago we retrofitted the three self-service washing booths with a third gyro because we really wanted the power foam," says Johann Edenharter. Andrea Ackermann watches the self-service customers wash their vehicles if she has time. "The power foam is applied with passion, over and over again." She thinks she knows that customers want it ever thicker on vehicle surfaces. "That's what it's there for, after all," confirms Johann Edenharter with a wink.
When the boss has completed her duties on site in the mornings before opening time and prepared the car wash centre for customers, she takes her place at her desk in the glass pavilion. From here she can see every corner of the car wash centre. Clearly visible on the banner above the entrance door it says: "Care products and advice". The pavilion is well visited by customers seeking expert advice. In the care centre, all the products needed for both automatic and self-service washing are ready for sale on the shelves. "Rim spray always goes, as do cockpit care cloths and insect spray during summer time," she confirms. This "little house" is probably unique in Germany. The fact that service, sales and advice actually pay off has now become more than just apparent.
So the overall concept at "Schöner waschen" fits really well. Self-service washers and gantry washers, and the few who combine self-service and gantry washes, get their money's worth and can fully satisfy their requirements in car washing Monday to Saturday from six in the morning to ten in the evening and on Sunday from 12 noon to 10 p.m. using state-of-the-art WashTec technology. In the event that Andrea Ackermann is not at the system when the WashTec technology, which otherwise functions almost trouble-free, does go wrong, the customers press the bell that alerts the on-call service. "We then take care of matters as soon as possible. Since WashTec's technology is largely trouble-free, the bell is rarely used," says Johann Edenharter, clearly praising the world market leader for car washes.
Text/ Pictures: Bernd Fiehöfer