Most of us love the convenience of going to our local car wash.
It has been said that for many of us, getting our vehicle washed gives us an emotional lift. When you pull into a car wash to give your car a much needed bath, you probably don’t pay much attention to what’s happening as you ride through the semi-dark tunnel.
Perhaps you’re vaguely aware that soap suds, water spray and brushes are being applied to your car’s body while you check your social media accounts. But who really thinks about what it takes to return your vehicle to something near its original state? As it is with most businesses, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
I spent some time with Brian Snyder, co-owner of Wash 37135 in Nolensville to learn a little bit about his business. Let’s begin with a few statistics.
- On average, Wash 37135 cleans 425 vehicles a day.
- Saturday is the busiest day when as many as 800 cars enter dirty and leave looking spotless.
- It takes about 35 gallons of water to clean a car.
- Anywhere from 50-70 percent of the water is reusable.
- A wash takes about three minutes to complete.
When Snyder and his partners decided to go into the car wash business, they did their homework first. They found Florida based, Sonny’s Car Wash Factory, a company that sold them a turnkey setup including, conveyor, brushes, wraps, signage, lighting, and a robust computerized system to help them manage the enterprise. There are of course challenges to running any business and dealing with customer concerns is certainly one of them.
How can customers be sure their cars won’t collide in the tunnel?
“The conveyor runs at a consistent speed,” he said. “The system actually measures the length of your car, which triggers how many rollers are needed to move your car forward. The system knows which zone your car is in as it moves along. A built-in anti collision stop automatically halts the system should a problem arise.”
I asked what would happen if someone tried to speed the process by trying to drive the car during the wash cycle. Snyder acknowledged that it has happened.
“People get distracted, unfortunately,” he said. “But, usually that causes a roller that’s pulling the car along to break, which shuts down the system.”
It can take anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes to fix the problem. “In the meantime, we have to remove the cars from the tunnel to get the line fixed.”
He seems to take such events in stride. “I just wish people would relax and enjoy the ride.”
Wash 37135 offers a wide variety of car wash options and programs from an $8 basic wash to a premium wash that costs $20. Customers can also opt for monthly programs and even an annual option that nets them a free month of washes. There is also a family car wash program to that includes multiple cars.
Many customers also like to vacuum their car’s interior after the wash.
“Some customers are under the impression that if all the vacuum stalls are occupied, the air pressure won’t be sufficient to accommodate them all properly,” Snyder said. “But the system is designed to pump sufficient air at all stations regardless of how many are in use.”
How does the system know how much soap and water is needed for each vehicle? After all, vehicles vary in size and shape. It turns out that your vehicle’s length also determines exactly how much soap and water is necessary to clean it.
One thing Snyder would like customers to know is that stepping on the car’s brakes to give you more time for a rinse or a better tire shine (if you chose that option) doesn’t work.
“The anti collision mechanism recognizes that a vehicle is there too long, which stops the conveyor and the shuts down the entire wash process,” he said. “No extra rinse occurs.” He added, “Conversely, driving out too early, before you get the green light, will deprive you of a full tire shine.”
The five men who started this business could easily have located in in another town or city. Why Nolensville?
“Several of us live in town and we wanted to do something in the town where we live. We also want to give back to our community. That’s very important to us.”
One recent example, was helping Hudson Dominique, an 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.
“He needed an OBI device to help him eat,” Snyder said. “Through car washes alone we raised $6,500 and there were cash donations of $7,500 as well.”
Wash 37135 is a business that will clean your car and tug at your heartstrings too.
Len Serafino is a published author, seasoned writer and an experienced writing teacher.