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Flex Serve Car Wash – Expand or Convert?

Flex Serve Car Wash – Expand or Convert?

Flex Serve Car Wash – Expand or Convert?

The flex serve car wash model is one of the hottest car wash business models in the last few years. It has even been labeled by many as the “ideal model of a modern car wash”.

It combines the speed, efficiency, and minimal labor costs of an express exterior-only wash tunnel with options for various after-care services. It has a few “nice extras” to full-detail services. Done right, a flex serve car wash has huge earning potentials.

However, potential doesn’t always coincide with reality. When compared to an express exterior-only car wash or a dedicated full-service car wash, a flex serve has more variables. These can contribute to a less-than-ideal operation.

Flex serve Car Wash: General Set-Up and Principles

The flex serve car wash model attempts to combine the best of both the express exterior-only model and the full-service model. It has a number of express exterior-only conveyor tunnels, as well as additional after-care services open to the client, like waxing, interior detailing and even full engine detailing.

But the efficiency of the flex serve car wash operations – and, as a result, the profit margins – can be hampered by several variables. Because not all clients will avail of after-care services, there will be times that the car wash will seem “over-staffed”.  This can affect potential net profits. And at times when seemingly a lot of clients want to avail of after-care services, the staff might be taking on more than it can handle efficiently. This also cuts into potential revenue.

In general, a viable target is to have about twenty to thirty percent of all customers avail of after-care services, which can be done through promotions, special discounts or the like. The key is to make clients see the value in your offerings beyond the bare minimum exterior wash. From this target, the car wash manager can determine the number of after-care “cells” and the number of attendant staff (anywhere from 2 to 4 per cell) the car wash facility will need, both during off-peak and peak operating hours. A sample computation can be seen here.

Facility Layout and Planning

Another way to streamline operations and potentially increase efficiency and profit is to optimize the design of the entire car wash facility. The conveyor tunnel must provide two options. The first is an easy exit for customers who don’t want to avail of after-care services. The second is an area where they can transition into the after-care facilities.

You should also consider your workers’ access to the auto detailing equipment and products. As much as possible, each cell must have a set of tools, materials and equipment. This will facilitate the detailing process.

Consult top-rated car wash facility planners and equipment manufacturers  to make your car wash facility as efficient as possible.

The Team

Your staff’s overall competence and ability to work as a team is perhaps the most important component of the flex serve model. This can increase the efficiency and profit of the operation (and make or break your name as a premiere car wash facility). Your staff should be prepared, trained and managed well.  Emphasize teamwork, flexibility and the ability to perform several tasks as the situation demands.

Some would argue the effectiveness of “specialists” (staff focused on doing only one or two after-care tasks) versus “generalists” (staff who can do most if not all after-care tasks) to no end. The bottom line is that each car wash facility is unique because of location, demographics, geography, etc. The demands differ from one facility to another , so in the end, it is up to the facility manager to determine how best to utilize his or her people for maximum efficiency.

Maximize the Client’s Time

To your clients, availing after-care services means additional time spent in your facility. This can prove to be challenging, considering people’s busy schedules.

To make this work, you’ll need to maximize their time while having their vehicles serviced. A nice lounge with good internet access is a good idea. Add some coffee or pastry offerings to ease the boredom of your ever-busy clients.

Eco-Friendly vs. Practical

The flex serve model is not seen as completely eco-friendly. In recent years, there has been a  considerable push for more “eco-friendly” car wash techniques like steam cleaning. But considering the time involved in extra services, most people deem the auto car wash more practical.

The flex serve car wash model is an exciting and dynamic, business opportunity. Yes, there are many variables to consider and several components required to run an optimized facility. But when executed properly, it can offer very competitive profits and satisfaction to both  customer and car wash provider.

Some providers have already converted to dedicated express-only facilities. However, many experts in the industry still advocate the flex serve model as the one with the best profit potential, as well as professional satisfaction.

At DetailXPerts, we can provide you with industry-tested experience in starting, expanding or modifying your car wash facility for maximum profit and maximum professional satisfaction. Book a call with us to find out about our exciting flex serve franchise options.


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