De-Ionization Decisions in Mobile Car Washing

Many mobile car wash operators would like to add de-ionized water to their cleaning process. However before you do this you need to understand the reality of the return on investment. You must also realize how the de-ionization process works.

De-ionizing tanks take the water and clean it from 16 parts per million to 1-2 parts per million. They usually last for 2,000 gallons if a water softener is put in line before the de-ionization system. De-ionizing tanks are usually rented. They typically require a \$100 deposit. They consist of two tanks side by side. One contains an acid wash solution and the other contains a filter, which catches solution and whatever attaches itself to the acid solution though ion polarization. This works great and the water is totally free of contaminants; in other words; no water spots. Spray off a black car in the sun and simply walk away. It costs \$30-60 to recharge the tanks and \$40 (approximately) to rent them. Since they only last about ten days with regular washing or ten car lots, it gets kind of expensive. It would cost the average crew \$190 per month for such service if you were washing personal cars. If you were doing two to three car lots per day, it would cost: 250 Gallons Per Lot X 3 Car Lots Per Day = 750 Gallons Per Day. 750 Gallons divided by 2000 Gallons To A Recharge = 3.5 Days Until A Recharge.

If you wash car lots on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings, that's four days per week times four weeks per month. That equals sixteen days per month. Let's look at the numbers; 16 Days Per Month divided by 3.5 Recharge Interval = 4.6 Recharges Per Month times \$50.00 Cost Per Recharge or \$210.00 Per Month +190.00 Cost To Use Tanks On Route = \$420.00 Total De-Ionizing Costs Per Month.

Many competitors will swear by de-ionizing tanks. That's because they are lazy. They don't feel like drying the cars. Let's say they have a truck payment. See break down below of Competitor A: Truck Payment \$ 250.00; Insurance \$125.00; De-Ionized Water \$190.00; Printing And Advertising \$100.00; Supplies \$150.00; Labor \$1,000.00; 20 Working Days X \$50.00 Per Day = Total Expenses \$1,815.00. You can see very quickly how adding additional costs of De-Ionized water filtration can significantly impact the cost. Now lets look at his income; Income Of Competitor A: \$150.00 Average Income X 20 Working Days = \$3,000.00 Total Income. \$3,000.00 Total Income - \$1,815.00 Total Expenses = \$1,185.00 Total Profit Of Competitor A.

I guess competitor A is not only too lazy to dry cars, but also not making enough money to be a viable business model. Not much of a competitor with those kinds of margins, is he? There are problems with de-ionized water. There is usually dirt on the car, which re-ionizes the water, which means it can then spot. Especially whatever doesn't blast off with the pressure washer; For instance: dirt in cracks, door jams, trunk jams and inside rear view mirrors. When you walk away, water, which drips from these places leaves drip marks, very noticeable white lines. It looks horrible on black and it makes customers irritated. On car lots, the cars are new and are rinsed off twice per week. There is no road grime because the cars don't move. On personal cars there is road grime and the cars must be hand washed and soaped. To rinse a car with soap with de-ionized water takes twice as long and that means twice as much water, which means you can only do one-half as many cars before refilling your water tank. This will cost you travel time to fill up with water. It also means that unless you are washing pretty clean cars with only dust and bird droppings, you will expense twice as much on recharging your tanks. In other words, your \$190 becomes \$380 per month.

You must think of these things when choosing to go de-ionized water on your mobile car wash rig. Pencil out the costs, keep the pencil sharp and be serious about your costs. If you are rocking your local market and can afford the additional costs to help streamline your efficiency and you have additional work you are not getting to then it might make sense, but do not fool yourself with the numbers, stay reality based.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs

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