A state-of-the-art express exterior facility with three pay lanes and a central vacuuming system is certainly noteworthy, but it hardly qualifies for “unique” status. But placing all of those features in one design-forward building can elevate a wash from run-of-the-mill to extraordinary.
Shine Auto Wash’s second location in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada is a site to behold. The 400-foot all-glass and stainless-steel building houses not only a 190-foot conveyor, but pay stations, equipment room, blowers, and the self-serve vacuum system as well. For their second location owner Peter Dobell and VP of development Paul Facciol faced a harrowing design challenge, which could only be solved by constructing a one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive building that will be the standard bearer for innovation in the industry for years to come.
The wash sits across from a townhome development with strict sound restrictions, meaning the developers needed to find a way to limit the business’s sound output to little more than a whisper. Further complicating the design was an unconventionally narrow site, which didn’t allow for a straight-shot tunnel.
“We were actually about to bail on the concept of a car wash for this property because we couldn’t make it fit properly,” Facciol says. “The answer just struck me one night. I came up with this design where the entry doors are aimed away from the townhouses and toward the exit doors at the opposite and furthest end. This building orientation required a very unique drive aisle layout and an indoor turning radius to make the site work. There is a hairpin turn and the entrance and exit lanes cross over each other. I had never seen that before.”
A single 200-plus foot stacking lane enters the facility and makes a hairpin turn into three 10-car automated pay station lanes. After paying customers make another sharp turn around the glass enclosed Vacutech central vacuum system before heading down the 190-foot conveyor and exiting the facility.
While the all-inclusive building alone would be enough to call this facility distinctive, the second-floor equipment room takes the site’s design literally to the next level. When crafting the layout of the wash, Facciol and Dobell wanted to make the equipment the star of the show, highlighting the elevated equipment room and Sonny’s equipped wash tunnel as aesthetic cornerstones of the Shine Auto Wash experience.
“We try very hard to make things spectacular,” Facciol says. “When waiting in the entry lane and the three pay lanes we wanted to showcase the tunnel and the mechanical room. We think the equipment is very beautiful, and at night it is absolutely stunning.”
While dazzling views and an interesting tunnel layout certainly help draw in customers, it is the ability to quickly and efficiently process cars that keeps them coming back. To both test the wash process and introduce itself to the community Shine Auto Wash offered free top-of-the-line washes to each and every customer when it opened its doors in November 2015. The wash processed over 54,000 cars — well over $1 million in potential revenue — during its month of free washes.
“The Burnaby location is a little off the beaten path,” Facciol says. “We were concerned there wasn’t going to be a lot of drive-by traffic for impulse purchases. To promote the wash we did radio and print ads, as well as the month of free washing. It worked, we had customers lined up around the clock.”
While the Burnaby location required a little promotional push to get the ball rolling, Shine’s original site in Vancouver is situated just minutes from the thriving city center making marketing efforts unnecessary. The site’s stunning aesthetics coupled with the nearly non-existent competition has helped make the Vancouver location one of the busiest washes in North America. In fact, Shine processes so many cars that it is in the top 98 percentile of all washes on the continent in annual wash volume.
Real-estate developer Dobell purchased the land that the Vancouver site sits on 12 years ago and built a thriving self-storage business. A few years later he and Facciol began planning the expansion of the site to include the express exterior car wash that sits there today. In 2009, the first Shine Auto Wash opened its doors, enjoying near instant success thanks to its almost sole possession of the market — a handful of in-bay gas-station based washes are the site’s only competition.
Real estate prices have gone through the roof since Dobell purchased his 3.3-acre site over a decade ago. Currently comparable land in the Vancouver area is selling for $10 to $15 million per acre, pricing other car washers out of the market and granting Dobell a near monopoly in one of the most affluent and densely populated communities in North America. The 24/7 site features a 150-foot conveyorized tunnel with 14 pay vacuum stations on a main thoroughfare that sees 40,000 to 50,000 cars pass by every day.
Despite the fact that the latest Shine location opened its doors less than a year ago, Dobell and Facciol are currently in the midst of developing their third site with an autumn 2017 grand opening targeted. The Burnaby and Vancouver locations are located in urban centers, but the planned Coquitlam location will be the wash’s first foray into suburban washing.
With land far more affordable, the Coquitlam site will have to fight it out for market share, but the developers are confident that their unique wash concept and eye-catching design will once again reign supreme. The site just received its final approvals from the city and will be breaking ground any day on a dual-tunnel express exterior with pay vacuum stations. In addition, like all Shine locations the new site will feature a two-story self-storage facility.
“Vancouver is so built up now,” Facciol says. “People are starting to move outward toward Burnaby and Coquitlam which is great for us. We are positioned to capitalize on that growth.”
Shine continues to grow to meet the rising car washing needs of the expanding Vancouver population. The wash’s innovative designs are as beautiful as they are functional and are connecting with car washers looking for superior around-the-clock service coupled with a distinctive customer experience.