Why it’s time to automate washing at your car dealership

February 15 2021
Car wash

The ability to provide high-quality washes is now a non-negotiable for car dealerships of all types. The modern dealership - occupying a more competitive landscape than ever - needs to ensure top wash standards not just for their sales vehicles, but to maintain a steady stream of servicing trade.

It’s surprising, then, that while washing is clearly such a vital pillar for car dealerships, that many treat it as an afterthought. Outsourcing the wash process - as many dealerships do - represents an inefficient use of time and money, and fails to grasp washing as the huge opportunity it is.

Installing an automatic car wash system - on-site and attuned to a dealership’s exact needs - can quickly transform a company’s washing capabilities and increase their value to prospective customers. Read on to find out how.

Time & labour

This is where the value of an on-site car wash system is immediately obvious, allowing dealerships more control and visibility over the wash process. Going through a third party valet service can be fraught with logistical difficulties for a number of reasons. They mean dealerships lack control over:

  • Time taken for each car to be washed
  • Pace at which cars can be processed
  • Quality of service (which can vary significantly for manual cleaning)

Becoming reliant on external companies to keep up with demand and fit around your dealership’s finely-tuned operations makes problems and delays inevitable. As the number of cars needing to be serviced grows, these problems can compound, becoming a serious drain on time and labour.

Investing in a car wash system of your own prevents these time and labour concerns from getting out of control. With the right supplier, dealerships can choose a bespoke solution that works perfectly for their site and their requirements. An automatic wash system allows you to regulate the time taken for each wash, balancing quality with a speed that most third party services can’t match.

What’s more, systems are installed to fit and enhance the flow of cars on-site, meaning significantly fewer hold-ups. Automatic systems require only one or two staff members to move cars around the site and apply any finishing touches. Fewer staff needed means fewer potential disruptions - and a more efficient use of the workforce elsewhere.


After the initial outlay, automatic wash systems can rapidly have a major positive impact on what it costs for a dealership to wash their fleet of cars. This is down to economies of scale. The relative cost to a business for every car wash gets lower and lower the more washes are required - just as long as they are in charge of the washing.

The price of equipment, as well as running and servicing costs, are flat fees that pale into insignificance over time. For mid to large-sized dealerships processing thousands of vehicles a year, car wash systems quickly pay for themselves. And with many suppliers - including Wilcomatic - offering ‘cost-per-wash’ equipment leasing options, the price of installation doesn’t have to cost the earth either.

Compare this to the cost of a valeting service to a dealership. As you’ll know, these companies charge at a huge markup - many times greater than the cost of their equipment, chemicals, water and staff. And as a dealership grows, these costs can spiral with every round of washing requiring more labour and consequently greater expense.

When considered alongside the time and labour drawbacks, using a third-party service quickly begins to look like a huge commitment that simply doesn’t make financial sense for a growing dealership. Installing an automatic car wash on-site will soon bring your cost-per-wash plummeting down.

Adding value

High-quality washing is seen by most car dealerships as a necessary loss-leader. But this misses its potential to drive additional streams of revenue, increase the overall value of the enterprise and gain a significant edge over competitors.

The key to unlocking this potential is control over the washing process. Having a car wash system on-site is an instantly more attractive proposition for customers compared with entrusting their new car to a third party valet service. Free or heavily discounted use of the wash system is also a great tool for the sales team, and may just make all the difference in sealing a deal and maintaining a strong relationship with a buyer for years to come.

With the cost, time and labour savings provided by an automatic system, some dealerships will also have the capacity to deliver added extras themselves (e.g. polish and wax). These can be incorporated into the main service package or even offered as paid add-ons.

And once a dealership either owns or leases its own car wash system, it has more opportunities to extract maximum value from it. Dealerships can look beyond just their core services, and open up a public-facing retail wash operation. Who knows, maybe some of these new customers might come back when they’re in the market for a new car.

Christ car wash systems from Wilcomatic

If your car dealership is ready to take the next step and invest in an on-site car wash system, or if you’d just like to know more about the options available, Wilcomatic are here to help. We have over 50 years experience in the car wash sector, helping dealerships implement the perfect solutions for their site and business needs.

We are also the UK’s exclusive supplier of Otto Christ wash systems - which are unrivalled for their cutting-edge features in the car wash sector. Our systems’ innovative wheel wash technology, high-pressure touchless combinations and enhanced chemical cleaning are just some of the reasons why Wilcomatic are the perfect choice to upgrade your dealership’s washing capabilities!

Learn more about how we helped BMW retailer Sandown Motors achieve quicker, cheaper washes of the highest quality or get in touch with our team for more information!

Car Wash Systems: Tesco Case Study  Learn how we help Tesco deliver next-level wash technology and service support. Download

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