Many people would laugh at me when I told them that I wanted to put a co-branded restaurant inside of our car washes. People would tell me that car washes and restaurants don’t mix. But I knew they did, because we had a few car washes in our franchise organization before I retired, and as I would visit our locations, I would notice that customers would walk across the street, or next door and order pizza, bring back a bucket of chicken, or hit the fast food restaurant on the corner. They were already buying the food – I just wanted them to buy it from us.
It doesn’t take much to make hamburgers, or a pizza. It doesn’t take much to put in a coffee bar either. And if your car wash is really busy, or if you lower your price and go for volume you will make it busier, you will then have sufficient flow of customers to go ahead and offer them food items. And I wouldn’t recommend this for low-volume car washes, that doesn’t make sense at all, but if you have the traffic flow, you should remember that people have to eat, and they don’t necessarily need a clean car.
But, if they can do both at the same location, you’ve created a destination point, not just the car wash. Perhaps this is why so many car washes offer detailing services, gift card racks, oil change facilities, and a myriad of other services from dog grooming and dog washing to gasoline sales and window tinting. My biggest advice to anyone who is setting up food services at their car wash is to stick to fast food, things that are already prepared, or things that you can make in under five minutes.
Remember, the goal of a car wash is to get the cars in wash cleaned, and then get them out so they don’t block traffic. If you do it right on your timing, you will see that it increases your business and doesn’t affect the flow of cars being washed through the tunnel. We tried rotisserie chicken, with special seasoning, and people loved it, people would come in and not get their car washed at all, they just wanted to eat the chicken. But we had a steady clientele, and I believe it also helped our car wash’s volume as well.
So today when I am asked; “do restaurants and car washes mix,” My answers is yes, they definitely do, and it makes a lot of sense. It is my hope that you will please consider all this.