The McWash – The Future of the Car Wash Industry

It is the year 2025 and the predictions of many futurists have come true. The cost of fossil fuels has made it prohibitive to drive the gas-burning vehicles of today. Cash has become obsolete because of the growing use of monetary tracking technology. The most valuable commodity is no longer oil, gold, or diamonds -but time. The market share on time has split several times and hit a peak for many people within the world economy.

The value of the North American Dollar is now in strict competition with the Asian Yen and the rising value of the Euro Dollar. However as socio political trends sweep across the world, some things will always remain the same. People still need to visit the doctor, go to the dentist, buy groceries, take their kids to sports games, and wash their business and family vehicles.

The car wash of the future will be very similar to those of today. They will still be located near busy intersections and fuel stations, and will offer a variety of vehicle cleaning services for a reasonable price. The major difference between the car wash of today and that of the future will be the presence of fewer individual car wash owners in the business. The competitive nature of the future market will push out business owners who fail to properly market their wash. Those that succeed will find what works within the future market and replicate it. In the next ten to twenty years the primary competitor will be the car wash franchise. Across North America there will be internationally recognized car washes that all offer the same menu of services at nearly the same price. When a consumer drives up to a car wash of the future they will expect the same quality of service as the car wash on the other side of the state.

By looking at the business trends of the past fifty years, current futurists are seeing trends in how business has been evolved over the last century. In 1954 Ray Kroc took his milk shake business on the road. He heard about a successful hamburger restaurant owned by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. The brothers had boiled down the short order business with its thousands of potential menu options. By offering two choices- hamburgers, with or without cheese. They also offered two different milk shakes, chocolate or vanilla. Backed up cars waiting in line up became a problem early in the McDonald’s business because making a milk shake takes time. So they cleared room in their restaurant for six of the five-spindled milk shake makers called the Multi mixer. This allowed the McDonald brothers to move six times as many cars through the drive through. According to the McDonalds Corporation website, “Ray Kroc had never seen so many people served so quickly when he pulled up to take a look. Seizing the day, he pitched the idea of opening up several restaurants to the brothers… convinced that he could sell eight of his Multi mixers to each and every one.” “Who could we get to open them for us?” Dick McDonald said. “Well,” Kroc answered, “what about me?”

So began an empire that has swept the world. It isn’t the food, or the personal service from each employee that makes this franchise so successful. McDonalds succeeds because the burger in New York tastes the same as the burger in Chicago or Dallas or Los Angeles. And, each McDonalds franchise trains its employees in the exact same way at every location, which provides consistent service.

Ray Kroc didn’t know anything about cooking great burgers and didn’t serve the best milk shakes in the business. However, he identified and developed a business model that maximized the number of customers served efficiently. He also found that by limiting the menu, a McDonalds received the same food offerings at each and every location. This business model was then pre-packaged and sold to individuals who wished to start their own McDonalds franchise store. The training, the menu, and the building and equipment guidelines were already set in place and time tested. And millions of loyal customers from around the globe were now familiar with the menu and services of McDonalds.

Entrepreneurs will still own the car washes of the future, but the business model will stress consistency and uniformity. A consumer can visit a car wash for the very first time and already have a preset expectation in their mind of what washes are available, the quality of the wash, and approximately how much money will be deducted from their personal wash account for that particular car wash chain. In the future, cash will no longer be the mainstream form of payment. Harnessing the power of the Internet and advanced communications technology, all of these franchise businesses will be tied together within one large payment network. Customers will hold unprecedented control over their account settings. Saving receipts and passing out tokens will recede into the past because Fleet Managers will now run their own activity reports and manage their account balance Online from anywhere in the world. Purchasing and managing car washes will be just as secure as Online banking.

Successful car washes of the future will rise to the top, not only because the owners knew how to better clean a car, or provided the very best service. The car washes of the future will offer a standard menu of options and consistent level of service that a customer can count on at each and every wash around the world.