Best friends for four decades
Waschpark Ense car wash centre opened one hot summer's day in almost subtropical temperatures of around 42 degrees Celsius in early July 2015. Operator Werner Grobe had put a great deal of thought and care into the preparations for the big launch. The reason for his very specific vision of a car wash centre on the outskirts of the community of Ense in the north of the Sauerland region was a vehicle washing facility, which he himself operated at his Aral petrol station. "If 40 percent of my customers drive away at my washing facility without washing their vehicles, that's simply too much", says the enterprising businessman, who also operates a successful motor vehicle garage at the site of the petrol station and car wash as a partner of a well-known garage brand. His thoughts about how to better cater to the demands and needs of his customers led to the idea of a car wash centre. The important answer to the question about a suitable site for a car wash centre was in sight on the opposite side of the road of the petrol station, car wash and garage. "I soon came to an agreement with my neighbour. He indicated that he would be willing to let me have a large site of around 4,000 square metres vis-a-vis my petrol station. This meant that I had now secured the site", thus satisfying perhaps the most important requirement for the future operation of a car wash centre. "I then drove to colleagues who operate successful car wash businesses in Germany to check out what the technical equipment I had in mind could offer." Werner Grobe saw his trip as a necessary and worthwhile investment in order to ascertain and adapt the space required for his future services, to select technical components and equipment options on a sound basis, to present the financial needs as accurately as possible, to calculate a viable business forecast and submit this to the bank. A trip on which he picked up valuable practical tips and which altogether was to more than pay for itself with regard to the project Waschpark Ense car wash centre. We are after all talking about a considerable investment. Back at his desk after the trip, "I began to cherry-pick the best bits out of the extensive and highly interesting information", says Werner Grobe summarising today.
The cherry on the cake
WashTec's SoftCare2 Pro gantry wash proved to be what I was looking for in an automatic professional vehicle washing facility for the future Waschpark Ense car wash centre. The efficient gantry car wash was to be at the centre of all the services offered. Once the gantry has sprayed the vehicle positioned beneath it with water and pre-wash chemicals, the SofTecs® material of the roof and side brushes commences the thorough cleansing process, removing any stubborn dirt. WheelJet and WheelFlash clean the rims and wheels at the same time. The application of the ShineTecs® polish, followed by the spot-free rinsing immediately after, gives the vehicles a shiny finish. Before the FlexStream technology finally dries the vehicle extremely carefully, the drying agent is applied as the gantry makes another pass, covering all the vehicle's surfaces. The powerful, flow-optimised side nozzles and the contour-tracking, rotary roof nozzle then deliver efficient drying results. Customers thank Werner Grobe with their loyalty. "Thus far, the car wash sales have been going very well", confirms the boss and happy businessman, beaming with delight.
Stable plot for WashTec
With this very same business optimism, Werner Grobe approached WashTec in the summer of 2014, since Grobes have always used WashTec technology for cleaning vehicles, and described which technology and equipment features he intended to offer his customers. Bulldozers and excavators commenced the earthworks in mid-September. "The challenge prior to the build involved compacting the unstable greenfield site well and filling up the slightly sloping site to make a horizontally level base." The first foundations went in at the end of October. The wash bay had been erected a month later. After the winter break, the utilities laid the supply lines for electricity and water. By early July 2015 the entire wash centre technology is all set – SoftCare² Pro gantry, self-service wash booths, roof-covered vacuum stations, electric mat cleaner, compressed air cleaner, electronic air gauges. On the fourth July 2015 "we opened the car wash centre. Since then our customers have been washing and caring for their vehicles every day from six in the morning until ten in the evening. Setting the times this way proved to be a smart move. Since many business customers can only bring their company vehicles to us for washing in the evening." Normally, the public roads are dead in and around Ense after 7 pm. Only at the car wash centre are things still humming away. "In the evenings, I use my mobile phone to view the car wash centre via video camera and follow the busy activity and queue in front of the car wash", says Werner Grobe pleased. He also says: "I didn't think this was possible, but still took the risk and have been greatly rewarded."
Actual figures better than forecast
Banks were reluctant to lend money for projects relating to anything to do with vehicle washing even around three years ago. "I sat down together with my accountant and prepared a viable, rather conservative profitability calculation and submitted this to the bank. I finally received the required sum and today I am very happy that our washing figures are better than our written forecasts. The bank also inspects the results actually achieved and checks how the car wash centre is progressing."
Differences produced the success
Werner Grobe's car wash centre helps him to stand out greatly from the competition in the local area. There is no other car wash centre like this. A facility which, unlike many other car washes, offers a wider programme selection – eight washing programmes in each case from "Quick wash" to "Premium wash" for cars and vans. Unlike others, Werner Grobe collects rainwater at the car wash centre and uses it for washing vehicles. "This helps us to save lots of freshwater." Significant amount of washing water is also saved thanks to the water conditioning system. The osmosis system sets the course for achieving spotless drying results on the vehicles in the bay and in the wash stations at the end of each wash. The spacious two-storey technology room is used for storing canisters labelled and filled with AUWA chemicals, which make the impressive washing and care results possible in the first place. Perfectly tuned washing and care products, whose innovative formulas deliver washing quality to meet the most exacting needs. The AUWA TecsLine® series delivers the quality, ensuring efficient cleaning, perfect shine and long-lasting paintwork protection. This also makes a difference.
The enterprising businessman Grobe is also committed to renewable energies. "We equipped all the roof surfaces with solar panels. That really pays off. When the sun shines, people come to wash their cars, the electrical power comes from the sun. After two and a half years, Werner Grobe knows for sure that "having a car wash centre on one side of the road and a petrol station, garage and car wash on the opposite side do not cancel each other out in the least. It is rather a case of give and take." And this will definitely not change either when, in the near future, another new WashTec gantry is installed in the wash bay at the petrol station. "With two gantry car washes, you can wash a lot more cars than with one." And thus some things never change – once WashTec, always WashTec.
Text/ Images: Bernd Fiehöfer