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In the March issue of this publication, I wrote an article called “Site insights”. The article offered practical best practices for operators looking to build a new car wash. Among other site selection and design questions, I asked Henry Shine of WhiteWater Express Car Wash and Michael Murry of Champion Xpress Carwash, “What does a modern car wash look like in 2022?”

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However, as one of our readers recently reminded me, proper site selection and design is more than meets the eye. Robert Johnson, Principal Engineer of Civilogistix in Roswell, Georgia, was kind enough to take the time to share his thoughts in the following letter to the editor.

Rich: I just wanted to congratulate you on the editorial and article for the March issue of Professional Carwashing and Detailing magazine. I would just like to put more emphasis on property selection and site design.

I started designing fast food drive-throughs, convenience stores and gas stations nearly 40 years ago; Since that time, the company has evolved a lot. The automated car wash industry is no exception — in a very short time.

A big mistake I see small business owners make is to dive headlong into site selection – following all the basic car wash business advice – determined to acquire what they think is the perfect site…only for discovering this site, downtown, in the perfect location, reasonably priced, vacant for 20 years is for a reason. The reason may be imperceptible to the untrained eye.

As engineers who specialize in this type of development and have multiple car wash clients, we see the end result of what happens when investors choose the “wrong site” and have to spend many days and money trying to make it work.

Leading car wash investors have learned that they need experts at all levels to achieve the desired outcome. But, the smaller ones, some just trying to save money by “expanding”, often run up against development codes, utility restrictions and environmental regulations, and they tend to get discouraged very quickly when the site is not finished and to return them the money as soon as they expected.

As a service to prospective car wash owners/operators, someone should tell them that it’s money well spent to hire a professional engineer, who has experience in this particular type of fit-out to guide them through the procurement and entitlement phases, produce the latest effective innovations and aesthetically appealing site design, and guide the process to satisfactory completion. There is much more I could say, but time and space forbid it.

Back to my first thought, nice article, happy reading and keep providing this much needed information.

Sincerely, Robert Johnson.

Robert, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for reading PC&D.