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Question: How have self serve customers changed over the years?

Randy

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We’ve been in the Self-Serve car wash business for over 40 years and we’ve noticed a decline in the class of the Self-Serve car wash customers. They have little or no respect for the car wash equipment, they seem to think that it’s OK to bring all of their garbage to the car wash, they seem to think it’s a transfer site for the dump, they seem to think it’s OK to steal a Foam brush handle and gun assembly, the car wash owner is rich he can afford to buy more, it’s OK to come to the car wash, park in a bay and spend hours trying up a bay doing drugs or selling drugs, I could go on and on. Those who come to a Self-Serve are a completely different type of person who goes to a tunnel. The theft and vandalism has gotten out of hand in the last 5 years. Now we are fighting the homeless problem, that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. If we had it to do all over again there’s NO WAY! We’d get into the Self-Serve car wash business. I could go on and on about the things we've had happen at the car wash over the years. I'm hoping that 2023 is the end.
 

HeyVern

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We’ve been in the Self-Serve car wash business for over 40 years and we’ve noticed a decline in the class of the Self-Serve car wash customers. They have little or no respect for the car wash equipment, they seem to think that it’s OK to bring all of their garbage to the car wash, they seem to think it’s a transfer site for the dump, they seem to think it’s OK to steal a Foam brush handle and gun assembly, the car wash owner is rich he can afford to buy more, it’s OK to come to the car wash, park in a bay and spend hours trying up a bay doing drugs or selling drugs, I could go on and on. Those who come to a Self-Serve are a completely different type of person who goes to a tunnel. The theft and vandalism has gotten out of hand in the last 5 years. Now we are fighting the homeless problem, that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. If we had it to do all over again there’s NO WAY! We’d get into the Self-Serve car wash business. I could go on and on about the things we've had happen at the car wash over the years. I'm hoping that 2023 is the end.
I don't think that's exclusive to car washes, more society in general.
 

Randy

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I don't think that's exclusive to car washes, more society in general.
Wait until you’ve been in the car wash business for a few years and you find out that the words “Self-Serve Car wash” seems to make the trash of society gravitate to the car wash.
 

Randy

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And It never seems to end. When we pull into one of the car washes it's always a surprise to what we are going to find. 10 years ago I would have never thought that I would get get into fist fight at the car wash or that I would have to carry a weapon while at the car wash. One our employees got sprayed with bear mace because he told a person smoking fentanyl in his car it was time to leave.
 
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HeyVern

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Wait until you’ve been in the car wash business for a few years and you find out that the words “Self-Serve Car wash” seems to make the trash of society gravitate to the car wash.
I was in the bar business for many years, I've seen a lot of things you'd probably never imagine.
 

MEP001

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I spent 50 years in and around the CW biz. It seems the farther away we got from the "Ass whoopin" generation, and into the "Time out" generation, the worse it got.
This is where I get the most problems now. Just the other day I saw a guy 18-20 years old pull up next to my dumpster and take a tire out of his trunk. I told him he can't leave it, he argued that he can, I told him it's illegal, he argued that there's already a stack of tires so it's legal. I told him it's a felony and to put it back in his trunk and leave, he said "I don't have to listen to you" and swung it to get around me so I pepper sprayed him. Cops came, mutual assault, yada yada yada, everyone left.

He came back later and left it anyway.
 

Burky

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I recently (going on three years) started a self serve car wash with one IBA. It was on a property that was a car wash but was very run down. Rebuilt in the same location and many neighbors told me about the issues I would have with local low lifes. They were correct. I installed a high quality surveillance system and watched the place closely with my free time. I was very proactive with calling the police the first year. After a few robberies and dozens of times having the police chase off loiterers, druggies etc. we seem to have developed a reputation as a terrible place to loiter or sleep or do drugs or really anything except wash your car. This has paid off and now I rarely have folks there except to wash their cars… Initially the local police department got tired of me calling which is unfortunate but was necessary to develop this reputation.
Currently I am working with the local police department to give them access to my surveillance system.
The folks giving trouble at the car wash are the same folks giving trouble in the rest of the community.
Broken Windows Theory definitely applies at the Self Serve Car Wash!!
 

Waxman

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i've been in the car wash business about 18 years now. It does seem like the trash dumping is getting worse and people making messes in the bays is getting worse, but that could also be due to an increase in business and the popularity of my wash; I don't really know.

Because we operate a detail shop on the same property and we are regularly at the car wash, maybe my customers are a little bit better behaved than the normal carwash customers. In some ways I am strict with the customers and in some ways I am probably too lenient. I try to strike a balance so I'm not over bearing but also not being taken advantage of.

I do know that whenever I enforce rules about bucket washing, trash dumping etc. I am met with the same line of "I always come here and spend money". there is an attitude of entitlement or some thing.

people don't really look at other people anymore. They're too busy wrapped up in their own little world on Facebook and texting etc. The customers seem to have a hard time doing even the simplest things for themselves. They slide their credit card once and it doesn't work so they run and get someone to help them. I had a woman yesterday saying that her tokens didn't work in the vacuum but she was inserting them into the coin return slot. I wonder how these people pay their mortgage, keep the dog fed, make sure the kids brush their teeth etc. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that marijuana is legal in my state now. There are a lot of older people using it and maybe they are remembering back in the 60s and 70s when you could smoke a whole joint, catch a good buzz, and still function. Today a lot of the cannabis is a lot stronger and I think some older folks can't handle it and they turn into zombies after they toke. if they wanna smoke reefer it's fine with me but maybe they should just stay at home, microwave up a big bag of popcorn and zone out in front of the TV instead of trying to be out in the world doing normal things Like going to a car wash.
 

Trishale

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This is where I get the most problems now. Just the other day I saw a guy 18-20 years old pull up next to my dumpster and take a tire out of his trunk. I told him he can't leave it, he argued that he can, I told him it's illegal, he argued that there's already a stack of tires so it's legal. I told him it's a felony and to put it back in his trunk and leave, he said "I don't have to listen to you" and swung it to get around me so I pepper sprayed him. Cops came, mutual assault, yada yada yada, everyone left.

He came back later and left it anyway.
OMG !
 

sjb

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One thing that has changed about the SS car wash biz in Atlanta, there are alot less SS washes… and now lots of tunnels and express washes.

I counted up 13 SS car washes that use to operate within 5 miles of our wash, and now they are all gone…!
 

Wash4Life

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Outside of the increase in credit card usage, I can't say I see any other tangible differences. I'm of the opinion that the public sucks and has sucked constantly during my lifetime. Car clubs brought with them different jerky things. Online reviews allowed jerks in general to go the keyboard warrior route. Same with social media.
 

Rodj

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There are also more people now who are spreading comments about you needing to hand wash or you are ruining your paint. They are now also saying that the touchless chemicals are too harsh on your paint(not just the scratch claims).
 
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