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Security at car wash facilities: Too important to ignore

Security at car wash facilities: Too important to ignore
We do not report on car wash security extensively. But in reality car wash is an important vertical where security is needed not only to keep staff safe but also to minimize certain issues, like damage claims.
We do not report on car wash security extensively. But in reality car wash is an important vertical where security is needed not only to keep staff safe but also to minimize certain issues, like damage claims. This note explores how car wash operators can benefit from their security systems.
Car wash is an important industry. According to Apple Growth Partners, in the U.S. alone there are 16,000 car wash establishments, bringing in yearly revenues of US$900 million.
For car wash operators, they have certain security needs. The first and foremost is to keep their facilities safe and secure. Another important need is to minimize damage claims, some of which may be false or bogus. In this regard, security equipment and solutions can play an important role. Video surveillance, for example, can gather evidence of criminal or vandalism activities. When integrated with the right technology, the combined security system can also streamline operations and reduce damage claims. Below we look at how security can benefit car wash operators.


Alarm sensors can help secure car wash areas that are especially critical, for example inside the waiting areas and employee workspaces. When integrated with video, the combined system can help with verification purposes. “Intrusion systems are common as there are high-value items located in certain areas of the sites. Integrating the site’s video with the intrusion events creates an additional ROI in the form of false alarm reduction, increased speed to respond with clearer, more precise information, and fewer annoyance calls to associates and loss prevention teams,” said Matt Smitherman, National Account Executive at Interface Security Systems.

Car tunnel safety

Ensuring the safety and well-being of staff, customers and their properties is also of great importance. Especially, keeping vehicles safe inside the car wash tunnel is critical. In a partnership between Interface and U.S.-based Mister Car Wash, for example, Interface integrated Mister Car Wash’s video surveillance with a vehicle anti-collision system. The solution tracks the flow of vehicles inside the car wash tunnel and automatically stops the conveyor belt if an imminent collision is detected.
Video surveillance with artificial intelligence, meanwhile, can also help in this regard. “There are industry-specific AI technologies that manage the tunnel traffic and have proven effective in reducing claims by proactively shutting down tunnel operations when unusual activity is detected,” Smitherman said. “Cars that are moving erratically, breaking, or moving too close to other vehicles can be detected effectively which can help prevent a potential issue before it occurs. This type of integration delivers superior safety and monitoring of vehicles inside the car wash tunnel while reducing overall cost by allowing the vehicle analytics system cameras to function as dual-use devices.”

Minimize damage claims

According to Smitherman, damage claims are the primary loss leader in the car wash industry as these claims directly affect business by slowing or stopping the cleaning line as well as distract employees from the core job of servicing customers. In this sense, video systems can also come in handy. “With proper placement and configuration, surveillance cameras can capture specifics of customers’ vehicles entering and leaving the wash and property which can be helpful when evaluating damage claims,” he said. “Car wash operators require high-resolution images and high frame rates for image retention. Picking up scratches and dents in cars as they enter and then leave the property is important to mitigating claims. For this reason, we typically advise an on-site recording device configured for the proper image recording and retention.”

Centralized monitoring

Especially for multi-site operators, they can benefit from a centralized video management system with both remote connectivity and system health monitoring functions.
“Remote connection to video systems allows faster responses to issues, and management oversight of locations without incurring travel time and expense. Proactive health monitoring of systems confirm that this important business tool is functional at all times,” Smitherman said, adding centralized monitoring creates a win situation for both operators and customers.
“By having a video-centric central station available for investigations it is possible for the on-site managers to enlist our operators in pulling together incident reporting for any reported events live. This allows the managers to focus on the customer experience and leave the work of pulling together video and incident information to the monitoring personnel. The overall result is a quicker resolution to the event so that the business can get back to full production to ensure a positive customer experience,” he said.

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