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Expert Advice — Free Vacuums

My name is Phil Degeratto. I’m with Buddy Bear Car Wash in Chicago. We have six locations, and I’ve been washing cars for over 30 years.

Well, currently, we have six locations. Two of them have the gas and convenience stores, and the rest are they express exterior models. We have a strong monthly membership with our monthly plans, and we do offer towel drying at the exit for those customers that like to see it, but you get a dry car without. We have two new locations opening this year, both express exterior only. Projected for 12 locations in the next couple of years

Well, there is a lot of added use now. Because of the attractiveness of the free vacuum, people are vacuuming so much more, and it’s created a lot more maintenance. So all through the day, we have to maintain. We have to keep the vacuum stalls clean and neat, we have to keep the nozzles and hoses clear, and we have to go on maintenance schedules to clean out the separators and the pipes.One thing that’s helped in the maintenance is the dirt bag, and the dirt bag saves time and protects our filter and our vacuum system.

Another great improvement. Absolutely. The dirtbag is a pre-filter, and it keeps the filters from clogging. It also extends the motor life, and that’s very important, since we have so much more useful now with the free vacuums. It’s helped a lot. The dirtbag is a pre-filter, so it keeps the buildup from building up on the filter so you don’t have to brush that buildup off. And so, it cuts down a lot of time. It also keeps the performance upon the vacuum and extends the motor life.

It’s cut the maintenance down a lot. I mean, the dirtbag is a pre-filter, so it keeps the dirt from building up on the filter so you don’t have to brush the buildup off that filter. It also cuts the maintenance time down a lot. It keeps the vacuum performance up, and it extends the motor life.With the dirt bag, you can either shake the bag and the dirt will clear, or you can remove the bag. It keeps the dirt from building up on the vacuum filter and get into the system. It also saves us time.The dirt bag is easily installed. It just slips right over that filter.

Well, the free vacuum is a big draw. It generates a lot of traffic and a lot of loyalty. People come here, know they can vacuum free, and they make it their car wash.I would say about 80, 90% of our customers that come through use the vacuums. Well, they can see from the street all the vacuum arches, all across the front of the building with the hanging hoses. Also, we have big signs advertising the free vacuum. The arch has also helped delineate the spaces where the cars park. But it’s kind of a standard in the industry now with the express carwash.

It eliminates the clogging. If by chance, if you do get a clog, you just pull the hose out and replace it without any delay to the customer. Well, since we’ve converted to the free vacuum, it’s been a great draw. We’ve increased our volumes and our revenue. Oh, absolutely. I have two new locations opening this year. And with the success of the free vacuum, we’re going to be expanding the amount of vacuum spaces in those new locations.

We have new locations being planned, and I wouldn’t build a location without it. The new locations in fact, are going to have more vacuums. Where we have maybe 16 stalls now, the new locations are planned to have 24 stalls each.