Vehicle cleaning services – the unsung hero of the automotive industry


It is a great feeling to step into a fresh smelling, sparkling clean vehicle after a car service. The wheels are polished, the dashboard shines and there is no dust or dirt anywhere to be seen. Strictly speaking, the real value lies under the bonnet where the mechanical services were rendered, but we all agree that the experience of servicing, or even buying a vehicle is dramatically improved because of the valet service that it received.

Carwash facilities that offer full vehicle valet services operate at most vehicle service centres and are typically operated by a contracted cleaning company. These facilities are rigged to clean new and used cars, commercial vehicles, buses and trucks.

1. Humble wash bay services in perspective

No one walks around a car showroom noticing how clean the cars or the facilities are. It goes without saying that if companies want your business and if they want to sell cars, then the cars and the facilities need to be kept spotless. Few companies tackle this repetitive job in-house and opt for an outsourced cleaning model.

The automotive services that professional cleaning companies deliver ensure an excellent customer experience, whether buying a new car, or servicing an existing one.

  • Three-in-one paint protection: This value-added service falls under valet services and provides extra paint protection for up to a year. Polish is machine-applied, resulting in a lustrous finish that feels like a new paint job.
  • Fabric guard: Car interiors are subject to stains and spills. A fabric guard that is applied after steam cleaning helps to make cloth upholstery more resistant to dirt. Scotch Guard is the most recognised fabric guard in the industry.
  • Leather interior care: Leather interiors need regular care to ensure that the leather stays clean and supple. A two-part cleaning process involves vacuuming and cleaning the chairs of visible dirt, and applying a cream-based leather treatment to condition the leather.
  • Facility cleaning: Automotive retail facilities include the offices, showroom, bathrooms, passages, walkways, reception area, new and used car sides, as well as the workshop and wash bay. The general cleaning services are often combined with specialist wash bay services and outsourced to a professional cleaning company.

2. Ensuring the right equipment and chemicals for the job

As with most manual labour, using the right equipment and materials is critical to a successful outcome. Professional cleaning companies ensure that they use the best quality materials and that their equipment is used for the intended purpose and well maintained to ensure the highest levels of satisfaction.

  • High pressure washers: High pressure cleaners with hot and cold water options are used in passenger and commercial vehicle cleaning. However, hot water units are predominantly used for industrial applications where trucks operate in dirty areas such as mines where dust and residue stick to oil and grease spills on the vehicle.
  • Industrial vacuum cleaners: Forget about your domestic vacuum cleaner, professional cleaning companies use industrial dedusting cleaners that offer superb cleaning performance with various applications to maximise reach and effectiveness, save time and resources, and are convenient to operate.
  • Polish equipment: The right polisher with buffing and polishing pads ensures a smooth finish in the shortest time. This is essential to ensure that vehicles are moved through the bay quickly and efficiently.
  • Valet tools: All wash bays have the right quantity of standard buckets, nozzles and vacuum extension cords to ensure seamless teamwork and productivity in the bay. This includes microfibre cloths, which deliver the best cleaning finish.
  • Specialised cleaning products and processes: Cleaning companies use detergents and chemicals that are designed for use in the industry and are intended for vehicle interiors and exteriors. They are biodegradable and environmentally friendly, except for the tyre shine, which has a silicone base. Clients can choose a more environmentally friendly, water-based option, but it delivers a lower shine value.
  • Grease trap filtration: All wash bays are required to have a grease trap filtration process that forms part of the waste-water management programme, ensuring that no unwanted chemicals enter the drainage system.

3. Keeping a tight handle on water consumption

Living in Africa necessitates prudent water management to ensure the sustainability of this precious resource for future generations. Wash bay service providers have a corporate responsibility to curb water usage, without influencing the quality of their services.

Waterless cleaning not only means cost saving; it also means that there is no longer a need for high pressure equipment. Cleaning staff can also clean the vehicle on a showroom floor, or wherever it stands, eliminating the need to move the vehicle to the wash bay area. This not only saves time, but it eliminates the risks involved in moving vehicles around tight showroom floors for instance.

  • Water recycling systems: Depending on the water recycling system used, wash bay services can reduce their water consumption by 80%. (This figure can go up to as much as 90-95% depending on the system installed.) Some systems only filter out the solids and grit in the water, but do not filter the detergents, which results in the water eventually going bad. While other systems use a natural biological process that is 100% chemical free. These biofiltration systems do not require chlorine or other chemicals to be added to the water, instead, they use naturally occurring, bio filters that take care of the solids, the detergents and the grease in the water, so there is no need to treat the water with chemicals.
  • Product selection: Where palm wax is used as a waterless car cleaning chemical, for instance, less than a litre of water can be used to wash an entire car. The product lifts and removes dirt without scratching the surface and can save up to 130-200 litres of water per wash, while giving a high shine finish.

4. Managing human resources – the make-or-break factor in cleaning

Cutting edge cleaning technologies, proven cleaning methodologies and processes, and customisable service agreements are some key aspects of professional cleaning services. But quality, well-trained and well-managed cleaning staff is what differentiates one service provider from the next. Management processes, cleaning schedules, operating procedures and tracking systems are vital to quality service delivery and to manage client satisfaction.

  • Customer complaints management system: A formal complaints system needs to be in place to solve and escalate any issues that may have been experienced on site.
  • Customer service index rating: Most vehicle service centres utilise a post-service customer survey to rate the client’s experience. This rating is driven by head office and affects the evaluation of the dealership and is used as a factor in the rewards and incentive programme. Vehicle cleanliness forms part of the survey and influences the care dealership’s overall rating.
  • Internal audits: Inspection software is used to conduct internal and to verify the quality of work on a weekly basis.
  • Full-time supervisors: The operations at wash bay sites require fulltime supervision. Supervisors should be equipped with company cell phones to contact head office to address any problems quickly.
  • Insurance: Working with expensive vehicles carries the risk of damages. Scratches and collisions in the wash bay are prevented using strict operating procedures, but accidents can happen. Cleaning companies need good insurance to cover any repairs that may be needed to ensure the dealership maintains the trust and loyalty of their clients. This includes covering vehicle theft and issuing a courtesy car during the time that the vehicle undergoes repair. Courtesy vehicle collections and returns add to the quality of the problem management and is something that only distinct cleaning company perform.

5. Optimising the benefits of outsourced wash bay services

Businesses that focus on their core operations are more likely to grow their strategic offering. This business model necessitates the outsourcing of non-essential services such as the wash bay, which offers several business advantages:

  • Flexibility: Outsourcing gives businesses the flexibility to employ more hands during busy periods and fewer resources during quieter times. The monthly service contract is simply adjusted on demand.
  • Convenience: Contracts can be formulated on a month-to-month basis with no long-term agreement, allowing for easy exit if required.
  • End user satisfaction: Cleaning companies use experienced teams to deliver quality cleaning services with close attention to detail.
  • Peace of mind: Outsource arrangements ensures that the hands-on management of the wash bay is taken care of and that when necessary, problems are addresses and solved.
  • Enhanced capacity: An outsource arrangement gives business access to many trained resources at any given time.
  • Empowerment: Conducting business with a level 2 broad-based black economic empowerment rated company provides 125% procurement recognition for the clients.

6. Helping to secure return clients, again and again

After making a sale, automotive dealerships potentially secure a workshop client and retainer income for the entire lifetime of the vehicle. The longevity of that relationship is enhanced by the overall workshop service experience as well as the after-service experience that the client enjoys, including climbing into a clean, fresh car once the car service is complete. Where clients are satisfied, they will keep coming back for more, knowing their money was spent wisely.

Performance guarantee – zero contract

At African Corporate Cleaning, we always put our clients first and we are confident that we will deliver and maintain the highest levels of satisfaction. If somehow we disappoint you and we are not able to regain your trust, then we will remove ourselves from your facility to save you any further inconvenience.

See how quickly we can help you

We have the right teams that ensure the highest standard of cleaning activities, approved cleaning methodologies and practices, and a management team with extensive experience in monitoring performance and conducting successful audit responses to ensure food safety and sustainable business in the food supply industry. Contact us for fast assistance:

African Corporate Cleaning helps automotive businesses build client loyalty by supporting the vehicle buying and servicing experience, ensuring a polished vehicle inside and out every time.

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