Unlimited car wash plans are growing in popularity, and it's no wonder why. They help drivers keep cars cleaner and provide operators with guaranteed revenue every month. But the trend brings some unintended consequences.
Customers with unlimited plans want to "get their money's worth," so more people are washing their cars more often. That's a wonderful thing, at least until in-tunnel collisions are considered. Driver error causes more collisions than anything else. Simple mistakes like shifting out of neutral or tapping the brakes cause vehicles to hop the roller and create a collision threat.
Over the past ten years, Jim Mulholland, the owner and operator at the Florida-based Busy Bee Car Wash, has found the number of these collisions to be increasing at an alarming rate. To further complicate matters, the resulting litigation he’s seen is every car wash owner’s worst nightmare. And even if lawsuits weren’t enough, there’s the potential for insurance fraud. A tunnel that’s prone to pileups presents the perfect opportunity for criminals to intentionally cause a pileup in the tunnel so they can collect insurance money.
Up until recently, Busy Bee had at least four pileups per month between their three locations, which meant a loss in production and serious risk to his business’s reputation.
Mulholland and his team tried just about everything to prevent collisions, from placing no-braking signs in the tunnel to installing a remote conveyor stop, but nothing seemed to help. On especially busy days, Busy Bee couldn’t run the conveyor as fast as they needed and had to use more safety rollers in order to keep large gaps between vehicles — all in anticipation of a pileup. After ten years of unsuccessfully battling this growing problem, Mulholland knew something had to change if he wanted to remain profitable.
Busy Bee needed a solution that would reduce (and ideally eliminate) pileups while improving the customer experience and increasing production. It sounds like a tall order, but they found it in NoPileups™.
In late 2016, Busy Bee Car Wash began using NoPileups at one of three locations. Within a year, they were using the service at all three Busy Bee sites.
In Busy Bee’s case, the decision to implement NoPileups’ services was what Mulholland calls “a no-brainer.” What originally began as the simple intent to avoid collisions has resulted in a major improvement to his company’s bottom line. He says the system has given his team the confidence to load vehicles at more optimum levels.
Not only have all Busy Bee locations been pileup-free (and litigation-free), managers are no longer bogged down by administrative duties related to customers’ car repairs and payments. On busy days, they also don’t have the added pressure of mitigating the damage resulting from a tunnel pileup.
The rise of unlimited plans is great for car washes and customers, but it's important for operators to understand how the risk of in-tunnel collisions increases as more customers wash cars more often. To compensate for the increased risk, operators should consider additional safety measures like full-tunnel collision prevention service.
NoPileups effectively reduces the risk of collisions and also helps increase production by boosting operator confidence and improving operational intelligence. If trends continue as they are, it's easy to see safety requirements evolving and services like NoPileups becoming industry standard.