British CWA expects further decline of hand washes

Hand Car Wash

The British Car Wash Association (CWA) expects a steady rise of investments in the car wash market in the United Kingdom. At the same time, automated car washes are being reinstated in the wash bays that were originally built for them many years ago.

In a very interesting long interview on with the director of strategy of the British Car Wash Association, we learn how they managed to cut out the weeds in the hand car wash business.

For years, badly run hand car washes were a serious problem in the United Kingdom. In 2017 there were more than 20,000 hand car washes active in the country. Many of them made use of underpaid immigrants and often dodged other rules too.

But both Brexit and firmer law enforcement seem to have had a serious impact. There may be as few as seven or eight thousand hand car washes in the country now, according to Alexander Russell.

Responsible Car Wash Scheme

In the interview we learn how initiatives like the Responsible Car Wash Scheme made a big difference. COVID also helped. Suddenly people were afraid to handle cash and much preferred an automated roll over.

“Automated car washes are being reinstated in the wash bays that were originally built for them many years ago, which had been occupied by hand car washes for 5, 10 or even 15 years. The shortage of staff has also impacted them. So it’s come full circle”, Russell tells.

Foreign investors

It will still be a long time before the UK will see a change from rollovers to tunnel washing, the CWA-spokesman expects. At the same time he sees a rise of interest from foreign investors. “..Some of them from as far as the USA, are now looking to establish themselves in the UK car wash market. They see this as a good, developed and competitively-priced market with an aging population that washes their car at home less and less.”

Another interesting element in the interview is the discovery that customers are more willing to accept promotions of higher-priced wash options from a screen than from a car wash staff member. Consumers have become very used to buying things from screens. We noticed that the sales of top programs went up as people don’t mind an automated inanimate object upselling a customer’s programme choice.”

Read the full interview here.

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Author: Rene Passet

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