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The importance of maintaining vehicle cleanliness

with David Nuth, Commercial Director, Wilcomatic

Introduction

For more than half a century, Wilcomatic has been providing the very best in vehicle wash systems and now operates across Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australasia. Growth in the UK alone has led to a point where convenient and efficient vehicle washing is available at over 550 supermarket locations and as well as being utilised by private motorists, vehicle fleets are now taking advantage of this huge network. This is not simply to ensure that vehicles are cosmetically clean. Paying close attention to vehicle cleanliness should now be a routine part of a Fleet Manager’s day-to-day role, contributing to a fleet’s safe, compliant, efficient and cost-effective operation. Essential Fleet Manager spoke with David Nuth, Commercial Director at Wilcomatic, who, as well as highlighting the importance of maintaining vehicle cleanliness also explains how the Clean Car Club App has been developed to give fleets simple, manageable access to Wilcomatic’s network of locations.

Interview 

Q: Over the years, your services have been utilised by hundreds of thousands of motorists. However despite this there is a lack of awareness that it is Wilcomatic systems providing those services. Could you tell us about Wilcomatic as a company as a brand and the innovations that have led to its current market  leading position?

Wilcomatic is a services company with national contracts with the main household-name supermarkets, our expertise is car wash technology, the supermarkets specialise in providing retail spaces in convenient locations for grocery shopping. We are well known in the industry but maybe not so well-known to fleet managers. This is where the Clean Car Club comes into play. With our unique footprint of sites in the UK, we have undertaken a comprehensive technological upgrade to our car washes enabling fleet drivers to activate the car wash using an app with centralised B2B invoicing and attractive trade commercial terms.

Q: For fleets, what are the negative effects on brand image and messaging that result from neglecting cleanliness?

Whether you are a national broadband provider or a smaller local business, the first impression given to your end customers plays a significant role in your ongoing customer retention and hence your future revenues. Neglecting cleanliness indicates your company does not consider attention to detail important – people buy from brands that are proud of their brand identity.

Q: How does regular and thorough vehicle cleaning help fleets, particularly in Winter, contribute to risk reduction and safer vehicle operations?

Apart from the obvious implications of headlights and taillights not being effective and number plates being covered in grime and therefore illegal, if a vehicle can be seen, particularly at night, it is less likely to be involved in an accident. For police forces and any highway response vehicles it is mandatory that their high-visibility decals are washed correctly and maintained. Regular washing also allows for the early identification of vehicle degradation, such as rust. This enables you to fix small issues with the vehicles, before they can potentially become larger safety concerns. On top of these points, over-zealous use of a jet wash can get underneath decals causing an expensive repair or replacement. Our automatic car wash solution provides a consistent wash at each site, we can even customise a wash programme for emergency services/Blue Light fleets!

Q: Increasingly, fleets now require all drivers to carry out pre-use checks on vehicles and then submit proof, often via an App, that these have been carried out. It is vital that any damage is identified during these checks and therefore, do you feel there should be an equivalent, formal requirement to regularly clean their vehicles and consequently ensure that damage or unusual wear and tear is not obscured?

Absolutely. Our industry-first fleet proposal provides fleet managers with a monthly report to check all their drivers comply with their fleet wash policy. Every time a driver activates a car wash to wash their van or car, the time, date, location, driver’s registration number and driver’s details are collected by the app, allowing us to generate a monthly report. A fleet manager can use this invaluable data to set and enforce a fleet wash and maintenance policy. 

Q: Do you think that fleets are sufficiently aware of the potential risks of end of lease penalties that can result from neglecting vehicle cleanliness?

Some of the more progressive leasing companies and fleet management companies provide driver tips and recommendations to fleet managers, however generally it is difficult to get the word out to the vast majority of fleets. A brand-new vehicle is treated with greater respect than a dirty old vehicle on the fleet. If all vehicles were kept clean more regularly there would be fewer bumps, dints and scratches and therefore the fleet manager could limit financial penalties to the fleet. In this age of departmental accountability, fleet managers are responsible for reducing fleet costs and keeping within predefined annual budgets. Clean Car Club offers significant cost savings to fleet managers not only on wash pricing but also by reducing end of lease penalties. Fleet managers can plan their fleet wash budget a year in advance. Keeping a fleet clean seems a simple thing to do, but so few do it.

Q: Could you provide an overview of how the Clean Car Club App works and how it gives fleets access to your wash locations?

Fleets sign up to a fleet wash agreement with Clean Car Club/Wilcomatic. They are provided with a fleet access code for the Clean Car Club app, this access code can predetermine how many washes each driver can activate per month, the types of wash programme (we offer four main programmes from an Express wash to the top Ultimate Plus wash) etc. The fleet manager sends user instructions to drivers, the fleet access code, as well as links to download the app from the App store/Google Play. Once the app is downloaded and they have registered, the drivers can consult the map and find a wash location near their current location. On arrival at the supermarket forecourt, they simply scan a QR code on the car wash control panel, select the wash programme on their phone and then drive into the car wash when instructed by the app. Its that simple! The fleet manager then receives a fleet wash report to check at the end of the month and then invoicing follows.

Q: It is a challenge for fleets with diverse assets and often roof mounted equipment, to utilise automated wash locations and be confident that there is no potential for damage. How does the flexibility of both Wilcomatic systems and the Clean Car Club App, solve this issue?

Wilcomatic is a services provider and Clean Car Club is customisable for every wash need. For instance, we added Clean Car Club functionality to two jet wash sites in SW London. The fleet using the service there needed to wash high-sided long-wheel base Sprinter vans as well as wash their regular fleet of Ford Transit vans. For a police force we created a bespoke “soft-roof” brushed wash programme allowing them to wash their rapid response vehicles and therefore protect their blue light bars and their antennas.

Q: Fleets are also often very widely dispersed. How does the Clean Car Club App work with your extensive network to provide access for drivers, whatever their location?

When users sign up to Clean Car Club, they agree wash frequency and wash programmes with Wilcomatic. There is no restriction on where in the UK they can wash. Therefore Veezu, the biggest PHO in the UK, who have a branch in Norfolk from where airport bookings / journeys to London are completed, allow their Driver Partners to wash their vehicles in Clean Car Club sites near Heathrow, through the app.

Q: Environmental responsibility that must include minimising and mitigating operational impacts, is high on the agenda of fleets in the public sector and essential services. How does a fleet benefit in this respect, from off-site cleaning at a Wilcomatic location? How also does your widespread network of locations contribute further?

Compared to unregulated hand car wash sites and onsite jet washing, supermarket automatic car washes offer a significantly safer and more responsible environment to clean fleet vehicles. First of all your company doesn’t have to worry about the ever increasing cost of utilities and chemicals with jet wash cleaning on site, but also all the supermarket sites trap service water and reuse up to 90% of the water during the wash programme. The machines remove effluent and filter the service water in gravel filters on site ensuring there is no run-off into surface water ensuring our rivers, lakes and oceans are not polluted.

Some fleet drivers find themselves having to travel across country to other company sites to use company jet wash facilities, causing a greater fuel spend and higher emissions. With our solution, fleet drivers can always find a supermarket location local to them, up and down the country, causing less fuel burn, reducing emissions, and saving company time. 

One fleet manager suggested to me that he would be mentioning his use of Clean Car Club in his company’s ESG report.

Q: Overall, how does the Clean Car Club App help fleets and drivers establish vehicle cleanliness as an important part of industry best practice?

Our fleet wash solution provides the infrastructure for fleet managers to introduce a fleet wash policy in line with industry best practice. Wilcomatic is an accredited member of the Responsible Car Wash Scheme and is a partner-of-choice for vehicle valeting for small, medium and large fleets.

 

To sign up and to receive your Fleet Access Code, or for more information, please reach out to us on…
sales@wilcomatic.co.uk I + 447748 931 706

This article was published in Issue 6 of Essential Fleet Manager – read it here

Essential Fleet Manager Issue 6 (2023)
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