Keeping your own car or truck clean all year long is a challenge, but keeping an entire lot of cars and trucks clean is a much bigger challenge.
A car dealership typically has between a couple dozen and a couple hundred vehicles on their lot at any given time. They're not garage-kept, and dirty cars just don't sell like clean cars do, so wind and rain will make vehicle cleaning an ongoing task that can't be ignored.
In northern states, snow poses a huge challenge, and even some southern states suffer bouts of heavy ice storms. Keeping your lot of vehicles snow and ice free is important if you want to keep selling. And in warmer months, wind-blown dirt, leaves, bugs, and the occasional fingerprints can't be cleaned away fast enough.
A Clean Efficient Shine in Little Time
Choosing a pressure washer for cleaning dealership inventory depends upon the lot you're cleaning at. If it's a large open lot with no trees or power lines, you're not likely to find bird droppings or tree sap on the cars, making a standard cold-water pressure washer sufficient. But if it's a tighter lot with some large trees here and there, you may want to consider a steam-pressure washer capable of washing away the tough messes you're likely to face.
Steam pressure washers are great for tougher cleaning projects. They use less water, and will remove tough dirt and stains, including tree sap and bird droppings, from the vehicles on your lot. Steam capable hot water pressure washers can get the job done in a fraction of the time a standard pressure washer takes.
De-Ionizers (Note: For use with cold water washers only)
Though hot water and steam remove dirt faster, cold water pressure washers have their own benefits. Cold water pressure washers can be equipped with a portable water de-ionizer to filter out the minerals that leave water marks. Only cold water pressure washers can be equipped with these though, as hot water would ruin the de-ionizer. They leave a spot-free shine after you're finished, and you can find them for a couple hundred dollars.
Getting the Contract
Even when you have the necessary tools for the job, you still have to find a job to do before you can use those tools for a mobile car wash business. Getting a contract with a large automotive dealership can be a challenge, especially if there are a lot of other mobile detailers in your area competing for the same business.
To win more contracts, be persistent, be trustworthy and reliable, and be competitive with your pricing. While quality and service are very important to dealerships, your price can make or break your chances of getting work as well. Dealerships have a lot of overhead expenses to worry about, and this being another one just makes them think twice.
A lot of dealerships now have their own car wash port, where they can clean and detail cars being sold. They will see the car wash they have as a far more affordable option. Your job will be to explain that while they have a single car wash port, cleaning hundreds of cars will take a lot longer that way. They have to tie up an employee to drive the cars into the wash port, and then dry and polish the cars as they come out clean. A lot of dealerships will have a hard time justifying having a full-time associate dedicated to just washing and detailing cars - especially when they struggle to get them all finished in a day or two.
Your mobile detailing service is able to show up equipped with everything that's needed, clean all of the cars in a fraction of a day, and leave without disrupting the regular flow of business. You can even ask that they set aside a time outside of regular operating hours to do the cleaning. If they wish to clean their lots once a week, you may want to ask if you can come by to do the cleaning on Sundays, when car dealerships are typically closed. This will allow you to do the work when no one is there trying to show cars.
Be Prepared For Water Reclamation
The EPA requires pressure washing businesses in most areas to reclaim resulting wastewater. As you power wash a lot full of cars, dirt, oil, and other contaminants that you're cleaning away will run down storm drains that lead to bodies of water like rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes.
To protect the fish and wildlife that inhabit those bodies of water, the EPA requires that you capture and properly dispose of the wastewater, preventing it from washing down storm drains. There are many ways to do this, from wet-dry vacuum cleaners to fully-dedicated water recovery systems.
Refer to your state and municipality regulations to determine what's required. Some regions issue hefty fines for not abiding by these regulations, so it pays to be prepared.
Using Tow-Behind Pressure Washer Trailers
Mobile car wash services, like those who are contracted by a car dealership, may need to use their own water source. Tow-behind pressure washer trailers are a good choice for these types of businesses. They allow you to transport a massive tank filled with water that supplies your pressure washer. However, if your tank runs out, you'll have to find a way to refill it. So be sure you either have enough for the job, or know a place where you can refill your tank.
Some dealerships will allow you to use their water source to fill your tank, and the increase on their water bill is typically negligible. Consider speaking with the dealership(s) to find out if you can use their water to fill your tanks, as it'll be more convenient and can save you money on fuel costs by being able to drive there with less weight on your trailer.
If you're using a steam-capable pressure washer, you may use less water, which will make one tank go a lot further. Tow-behind pressure washer trailers are the best way to go if you're providing a dealership inventory washing service. They allow you to drive your pressure washer setup around the lot, extend your hose to reach where you need to clean, and then roll your hose up and move on.
When you're finished for the day, there's no equipment to pack up either. Just roll up your hose and go. This way, if you've got two or three smaller dealerships to clean in a day, you can easily move from one job to the next, stopping only to refill your water tank and grab something to eat.