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How has everyone faired vs tunnel?

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CarWashGuy316

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There is a corporate tunnel wash coming into my city and I am curious if anyone has any insight into how they still fair vs the subscription tunnel car wash down the street. Small loss? Big loss?
 

jfmoran

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I recently met with a client who has (2) Dual In-Bay Auto sites, that he bought about 2 years ago. By all accounts they are well maintained sites, clean in decent shape. One of his sites has taken a real beating this year with a new tunnel that opened down the street. He's down about 60%. Now some of that decline can be attributed to construction that has been occurring on his road as well as the impact of COVID, however, his other site is also down about 20% (has similar tunnel competition). Unfortunately he knew this site was being built, prior to buying these washes and did nothing proactively to compete. His in-bays are touchless, which gives him an angle from a marketing standpoint, but he's at a real disadvantage as far as any "show" for the customer. He's now playing defense trying to hang onto his business, converting his pay vacs to free and dropping his bottom wash price to attract customers (I'm not a fan of this option, but he's desperate).

The moral of this story is, don't wait to "see what happens", be proactive, upgrade your units, upgrade your offerings, institute customer loyalty programs, institute monthly subscription plans. You need to do whatever you can to maintain your customer base because you WILL feel an impact from a tunnel coming into your market.
 

CarWashGuy316

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Thank you. I very much agree. Any threads on self serve/ in bay autos staying proactive?

I have yet to find or see anything about a way to offer customer loyalty to self serve. I am still very new (2 years to the business) but I’m hungry to stay competitive and learn.
 

Rfreeman

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What kind of wash do you have? First location I have is 5 ss 1 iba I have a tunnel about 2 miles down the road and I have faired fine. I am on a main road that goes north south he is on a main road that goes east to west I do think that plays a role.

Second site 7 ss with a tunnel around the corner about 2 miles and business has never given me any indication its being impacted by the tunnel even with the tunnel going to free vacs.

Even with covid business is up 10 to 15%
 

CarWashGuy316

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I don’t have any current tunnels very close to me. I think they are afraid of the side of town I live on. Both my sites are in “lower class” areas but we have great business. They are currently both 6 SS and I am in process now of adding a new touchless to one location.
 

CarWashGuy316

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I’m just trying to stay proactive and as the owner I bought them from proclaimed “I am new blood” so I’m motivated to make changes to adjust
 

soapy

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Starting in 2011 we saw our first express tunnel. My IBA business went down about 10%. Now in 2021 we have 8 express washes and one being built right now and another is planning stages for this town of 60,000. Now my IBAs are down about 50% but my SS bays are doing more money than ever and is enough to offset the IBAs decreases.
 

Axxlrod

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Tunnels will kill IBAs, but SS will do fine. Different customer.
 

jfmoran

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Thank you. I very much agree. Any threads on self serve/ in bay autos staying proactive?

I have yet to find or see anything about a way to offer customer loyalty to self serve. I am still very new (2 years to the business) but I’m hungry to stay competitive and learn.

Here's a couple of sites on Facebook dedicated to In-Bays and SS.

(2) In Bay Automatic, Self-Serve, & Dog Wash Group | Facebook

(2) car wash anything | Facebook



Here's some options for loyalty and membership programs:

  1. OPTSPOT - Home
I have personally used these guys for text marketing for washes I ran, they are great guys and very easy to work with.

  1. EverWash - The Better Way to Wash Your Car
These guys work with car washes to develop a monthly membership program. I have tunnel client in PA who use them for his membership program because the wash he bought did not have a POS system in place to do it.

  1. Car Wash Mobile Apps and Voice Activation | Ultimate Car Wash Marketing and Sales Platform | Beacon Mobile
I have never used these guys, but I see them recommended all the time by In-Bay automatic operators.



4) Touch4Wash - Mobile App for Car Wash, Marketing Tools for Car Wash



5) Welcome to Coinless Mobile - Coinless
 

mac

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Well I have an express within a mile of me. Have not owned my wash long enough to know how it impacted me, but I know it has. I fought this on several fronts. First thing I did was to get everything working as best as it could be. I get a lot of customers who wash motorcycles, lawn furniture, restaurant equipment, and all of the odd stuff. I put in an automatic, an Istobal extended height, that washes tall vans, dually pickups, and anything with extra wide tires. Things that the express can not do. I am also fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time there and the people really do appreciate that. Every location is different.
 

cebo

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I'm in a small town in the southeast. 9000 in the city (county seat) and 45k in the county. I have a 4/2 just south of the CBD and a 3/1 2 miles south next to Walmart. The only competition is an older smaller tunnel 2 miles north of both. I had a newer tunnel coming in by the 3/1 and in a defensive move built a 70' front pull next to my 3/1. The tunnel is still a little under projection, but overall it was a good decision. I lost about 32% on the 4/2 and 40% on the 3/1 next to the tunnel. I've clawed a few percent back over the past 2 years but not much. I have heard that 35-40% loss is pretty typical but I know some that were down 60-80%.
 
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MC3033

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Purchased a tunnel with self serves and remodeled into an express tunnel. Also did a light SS remodel. Tunnel volume more then doubled and SS revenue has stayed the same. As long as you offer a strong SS product it is a different customer base and no need to worry (especially if you have taller bays).

My biggest advice to those who have a TLC is to advertise like crazy on the site. You want to get it your customers head that TLC is the only option (ie. no touch, scratch free, paint safe, etc..). You will lose far less if an express opens nearby.
 

Waxman

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If I were trying to compete with the tunnel, I would have all the options I could on my self serve bays, including credit card acceptance with count up display. I would have a Phone app for my automatic wash and possibly for all the equipment. You can create customer loyalty rewards programs and marketing plans through the app. I wouldn't give away vacuums for free. I wouldn't discount any wash packages, except through the app.

I think there Are many ways a self-serve car wash can differentiate itself.
 

copperglobe

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If I were trying to compete with the tunnel, I would have all the options I could on my self serve bays, including credit card acceptance with count up display. I would have a Phone app for my automatic wash and possibly for all the equipment. You can create customer loyalty rewards programs and marketing plans through the app. I wouldn't give away vacuums for free. I wouldn't discount any wash packages, except through the app.

I think there Are many ways a self-serve car wash can differentiate itself.
Thank you for your thoughts. I'm in that challenge right now.
 

Car_Wash_Guy

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I acually saw the first self serve being built since I've been in this business ( 2015 ) here recently in Colorado Springs. Guy is building pretty close to a Mister and other beautiful tunnels. Says he's into it for $2.5mil. Has 2 Istobal Flex 5's and a Petit with 3 SS bays and a dog wash
 
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