The needs of the motoring public are constantly evolving. To keep pace car washers need to stay nimble and be willing to course correct when necessary.
The modern wash customer craves a fast, seamless experience that gets them back on the road quickly while still providing a clean, shiny car. Veteran car washers Scott and Ginger Bryant pinpointed the trend years ago and have been aggressively investing in new equipment and concepts to stay competitive in a changing marketplace.
The Bryants’ Brite and Shiny Car Wash sites in central Texas operated as in-bay automatics. While the traditional wash concept produced a quality product, it was not meeting customers’ need-it-now demands.
“Around eight years ago our in-bay automatic units were starting to age out,” Scott Bryant says. “It was time to replace them. I was looking for a way I could do more volume quickly. The entry-level wash took around three to four minutes and the top menu option was clocking in at seven to eight minutes. Even with double bays, stacking during peak wash times was 10 cars deep, meaning customers had to wait an hour to get their car washed.”
As express exterior washes continued to seep into the market, expecting busy consumers to wait an hour for a car wash was unrealistic. The Bryants were at a crossroad — continue to operate as a traditional in-bay automatic operation and watch volume and revenue slowly disappear, or take action. They took action.
“We started to explore our options,” Bryant says. “We could turn our sites into express conveyors, but that would have been costly. Once you start breaking up the concrete you know it is going to be a very expensive reload.
“I started doing some research and I ended up calling Tom Hobby over at Autec. I explained my situation and he invited me to North Carolina to sit down with him and see what their In-Bay Express concept was all about. Once I saw it in action I knew it was the solution we were searching for.”
Autec’s model takes the concept of an express wash and condenses it down to the size of a standard wash bay. Thanks to the addition of rinse arches and a combination of soft touch and high pressure, the in-bay units are able to process cars at a breakneck pace, while turning out results that rival conveyor locations.
At the Bryants’ two, double-bay locations they converted one bay to the in-bay express model while upgrading the other with new state-of-the-art touchless in-bay automatic rollover units. The veteran operators were so impressed with the performance of their new Autec conversions they decided to go all-in on the concept and build a ground-up site utilizing Autec’s pre-made glass structures.
The bays at the two conversion sites are 35 feet each, allowing the machines enough room to produce a clean car quickly, but not at the throughput levels of an average conveyorized express tunnel. However, the Bryants’ ground-up build in Buda, TX features a 65-foot glass structure that not only has the ability to wash hundreds of cars a day without an attendant, but acts as a beacon pulling customers onto the site.
“I really like the Autec structure,” says Bryant. “They are very appealing. I get a lot of compliments on the one I built. Because it’s an open environment it kind of leaps out on its own. There are a lot of LED lights in there and at night the place really pops from the street.”
Rounding out the Bryants’ wash holdings is a full-service tunnel location that features Peco wash equipment. The partners own and operate four Brite and Shiny Car Wash sites, with plans to open up two more sites in the not-so-distant future.
They are close to breaking ground on their fifth location, and are in negotiations to purchase a lot for what would become the sixth Brite and Shiny. The fifth site will be another ground-up build featuring Autec equipment, however it will not be housed in one of Autec’s all-glass pre-engineered buildings.
The Bryants plan to build an attached lube center at their latest development site, necessitating a different construction approach. But the new in-bay express concept will borrow heavily from the all-glass enclosure’s design cues to ensure the aesthetic benefits of the open, inviting concept are fully realized.
Brite and Shiny’s current and future holdings are capitalizing on consumers’ demand for quick and easy services, a trend that is being felt across the industry. Another vital development that is reshaping the car wash industry is rising labor costs. As minimum wage continues to creep upwards across the nation, with some cities already mandating a $14-an-hour rate, car washes need to find ways to trim expensive labor costs or risk seeing profits evaporate.
Brite and Shiny Car Wash’s unattended 24/7 operating model allows the Bryants to avoid relying on inconsistent and increasingly expensive labor. But as any wash owner can tell you, “unattended” does not mean “unwatched.”
Thanks to a state-of-the-art wash monitoring system from Hamilton, the operators can keep an eye on equipment and business performance remotely and respond to any disruptions quickly.
“It’s a really neat tool,” says Bryant. “I don’t have to be on site every day. I can do my monitoring from here. Technology is helping our industry tremendously, it gives owners and operators another way of managing their business without having to physically be there. Plus with the use of cameras, you can literally keep an eye on the wash around the clock.”
While the smart use of digital technology is helping owners across the industry free themselves from their washes, Bryant has a unique aspect of his operation that most others can’t match. He owns his own car wash service company.
T&S Techs is a full-service chemical and equipment distribution, installation, and consultant company. The service company not only adds another revenue stream to the Bryants’ holdings, it allows the operators to stay out of the day-to-day operations as much as possible, knowing that they can rely on T&S to quickly respond to any repair or maintenance needs.
“I have multiple techs and their daily routine allows them to stop by the sites at least once a day to ensure everything is working as it should,” Bryant says. “They just make sure everything is good to go and pick up any debris or clutter that may have been left in the bays. We do have someone on site every day, but we don’t have someone there all day long just watching cars enter and exit the bays.”
The wants and needs of the motoring public are in constant flux, and only those owners that are willing and able to meet those demands will stand the test of time. Veteran operators Scott and Ginger Bryant were willing to adjust their operating model and invest in critical systems to ensure their customers keep coming back for the Brite and Shiny treatment.
CAR WASH OVERVIEW:
Name: Brite and Shine Car Wash
Owners: Scott and Ginger Bryant
Location: Bastrop, Buda, Lockhart, and Lampasas,Texas
Concept: In-Bay Express, Full Serve, and Lube
Equipment: Autec, Peco, Hamilton
Unlimited Wash Club: Starts at $18 per Month