The Scene of the Crime: Protecting Your Car Wash Business from Theft

The average car wash business loses $25,000 due to theft, 80 percent of which is because of damage to the building or the car wash equipment. If you take into account that a car wash which has been victimized can get the reputation for being unsafe and lose patronage, theft and vandalism can be doubly expensive. Overhead costs aren’t limited to equipment repair and maintenance, chemical car wash supplies, vending supplies costs, and labor. Theft prevention is another operating expense any car wash operator must consider. Security can be difficult to manage, as well. Especially in the self-serve car wash, it can be difficult to balance 24 hour access with security for both money and property, but there are a few options for owners who are looking to keep their businesses safe. Here are a few ideas for theft prevention at your car wash:

Increase visibility.

Some car wash owners install additional lighting, and heavily illuminated signs with automatic car wash photo eyes to light them up automatically when darkness falls. Brightly lit locations can serve as a deterrent to theft. Others go to the extreme of building transparent walls for their bays out of tempered safety glass. Having no place to hide discourages illegal activity, and customers feel safer when they can see out of the bay.

Cover your cash points.

The most common thefts occur at machines and cashier stations which accept cash. Many facilities install surveillance cameras over cashier stations, registers, and wash activation areas. In a 24 hour self-serve car wash with no employees, secure point of sale systems are the best option. Customers who often use ATMs or other kiosk vending systems are learning to trust secure car wash kiosks as well.

Employ off-site monitoring.

Many of today’s camera security systems offer viewing from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. These monitoring features not only enable car wash owners to keep an eye on their businesses, but many owners who have employed this feature have caught crimes in progress while viewing their cameras remotely.

With a small amount of strategic planning, car wash owners can install a few theft prevention devices that will eventually pay for themselves.

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