Road Trip: Badlands National Park

Road Trip: Badlands National Park


Photo by Wally Pacholka / AstroPics

“This park is larger than all of the other National Park Service units in the Midwest combined,” notes Badlands National Park’s chief of interpretation, Jennie Albrinck. “We have a great diversity of stories that converge here — the fossils, the prairie grasses and wildlife, Lakota history, pioneer history, and homesteading. It’s all here waiting to be explored.”

She’s right: with nearly 250,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie and ancient fossil beds, Badlands National Park should be on the must-see list for every adventurer, especially fossil lovers. The park offers an amazingly diverse topography that was once home a collection of animals that is hard to imagine today: saber tooth cats, rhinos, camels, three-toed horses, and a large variety of sea life all once called this area home.

In fact, the White River Badlands contain the largest known assemblage of mammal fossils from the late Eocene and Oligocene periods. The specimens found here have contributed significantly to the science of vertebrate paleontology since the first discovery by Dr. Hirma Prout in 1846.

Significant finds continue in the park today. In fact, just a few years ago, a seven-year-old park visitor named Kylie found a fossil near the visitor’s center. When she reported it to the park rangers, their investigation identified her find as an exceptionally rare and well-preserved saber tooth cat fossil. Additional surveying turned up even more samples, and the area is now known as Saber Site.

In addition to the bird, reptile, and mammalian fossils, there are marine fossils from an ancient sea that covered the region some 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. Samples found in the Pierre Shale and Fox Hills Formations include ammonites, nautiloids, fish, marine reptiles, and turtles.

The spectacular fossils preserved within the White River Badlands have been studied extensively for more than 175 years and are featured prominently in museum collections throughout the world. The park also boasts a working Fossil Preparation Lab. Located in the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, this active paleontological laboratory gives visitors the chance to watch paleontologists at work and learn more about the continuing scientific discoveries.

If fossils aren’t your thing, you might be interested in one of the many day hikes available through the park. Trails range from easy to strenuous, so there’s something for everyone. Two highlights include the view of the White River Valley from the top of the strenuous Notch Trail and the magnificent vista at the end of The Door Trail, an easy .75-mile hike the terminates through “the Door” – the appropriately named break in the 100-mile long wall that creates a natural barrier in the park.

A final must-see: The night sky over Badlands National Park is simply stunning. Summer night sky viewing is offered at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater on Friday – Monday nights. On any clear night, visitors you’ll see more than 7,500 stars, and views include not only galaxies but also star clusters, nebulae, planets, and moons. Look closely, and you’ll also see fly-overs by numerous satellites and the International Space Station.

After the evening ranger program, stay to enjoy the spectacular night sky through telescopes provided thanks to funding from Celestron and Badlands Natural History Association.

Getting there: The park is about 3 miles south of I-90 at S. Dak. 240, 75 miles east of Rapid City and 27 miles west of Kadoka. In many ways, getting there can be half the fun. Before heading out, be sure to spend a little time reviewing the fun and quirky roadside attractions found at Travel South Dakota.

A few cautionary notes regarding your time at Badlands National Park. The Badlands can, at times, live up to its name. The weather can turn dangerous very quickly, so be sure to know where you and be prepared at all times. Some key tips:

  1. Always carry water! Rangers recommend two quarts per person per two-hour hike.
  2. A hat and sunglasses are strongly encouraged, as well as rain gear since weather conditions can change rapidly.
  3. Wear sturdy boots or shoes to protect your feet from cactus spines.
  4. Keep a distance of at least 100 yards from all wildlife encountered during your hike. If wildlife reacts to your presence at all, you are too close.
Secrets to Generate More Revenue at Your Car Wash

Secrets to Generate More Revenue at Your Car Wash

Generate Revenue

Different kinds of people own and manage car wash centers, and though you might be in the same business, your mode of operations will be different from others. Here are some secrets to generate more revenue at your car wash. Each car wash operator has a unique sales strategy, but all can increase their revenues.


The base wash price is the price for washing a single vehicle. You need to calculate the cost of various factors such as chemicals and other means. As soon as this is done, you will have an idea of the actual expense for washing of a car. Make use of this format to acquire the base car wash price and ensure it covers a substantial profit margin for your business. The location of the car wash business also plays a significant role in this case.


Once again, location is an essential factor in each business line, and the car wash business is no exception. You need to consider your pricing and learn about the pricing mechanism in your location. For instance, clients in a highbrow area will have no problem paying higher fees for car wash services. Your business will record improved sales when you do a feasibility study of your environment and have an idea of the prices your rivals in the market are offering in other places. Offering ridiculous lower prices will have an adverse effect on your profit margin, while charging a competitive price with incredible offers will ensure a revenue boost for your business.


As a car wash business owner, you can make more profits by introducing more features to your esteemed customers for a personalized car wash experience which they cannot get from your competitor. You can increase your sales by offering features to your customers such as:

Front Bug Prep: This can improve your income without wasting time spent on the washing process. Every client will love this plan as it ensures proper cleaning of the windshield, backsides of mirrors and the front part of the automobile.

3X Color Foam System: This type offers a three-color foam addition to the vehicle and creates a sparkling interest in the minds of your clients. If your client is a Snapchat or Instagram user who posts pictures often, he or she can snap the colorful image of the vehicle and insert it on their timeline on these social media channels.

Super Sealant System: The function of the Super Sealant System is to offer protection for the surface of the vehicle. It is a fantastic method to improve the income of a business entity; it also guards the clear coat and ensures the car maintains a glittering look.

TriPlex Wheel Cleaning System: With this means, the scrubbing of car tires is easy. This method entails the provision of a chemical application for each tire, bi-directional rotational washing of the wheels, and a powerful blast to make sure the wheel system is properly cleaned.

OverGlow High Gloss Application System: This system offers your clients’ vehicle a glittering look which will make them happy. You will earn more money as more clients will be pleased to see the magical touch of the solution on their vehicles.


A brilliant display of colors at your wash bay will clearly set you apart from your business rivals. The ProGlow Illumination System is a valuable marketing tool to make your car wash bays look bright every time of the day. The light radiation offered by this system will create an intense interest among potential clients who want to know more about your brand and try out your services for the first time. Once you are able to satisfy them as they wash their vehicles at your car wash bay, you have won them over to your side and they will be regular patrons of your business.


A customer loyalty program will generate more money for your business, retain existing clients of your brand, and attract new customers. The data collected through a loyalty program and functional software will give you a thorough understanding of your customers’ needs. Start by maintaining a close relationship with your clients, then entice them with an irresistible loyalty program, and your knowledge will help your business generate more revenue.

Car Wash Loyalty Program

Car Wash Loyalty Program

As an entrepreneur who owns a car wash, it is imperative to put a customer-loyalty program in place to make more revenues. Knowing the reason why customers are attracted to your brand is very crucial in the creation of a loyalty program that will align with your business goals. The importance of having a loyalty program for your business is to improve the way the client view your brand. A loyalty program is designed to influence your customers’ behavior and attitude to buy your products or services instead of purchasing your competitor.

The success of a loyalty program depends on how you can utilize available strategies to persuade more customers to have confidence in your business.


If you observe the changes in consumer loyalty over the last few years, you will discover that introduction of the subscription-service model is aimed at providing convenience for the consumers. Having this model is a unique opportunity that is beneficial to the business owners and the customers. Clients receive valuable services while the car wash owners realize more money on a monthly basis.

Once you can achieve the loyalty of your customers, you will make more revenues consistently. According to verified sources, customers who are signed on to a loyalty program are prone to come for more services at your car wash service center. PDQ has a feasible plan that is aimed at building customer loyalty called (Wash Access Loyalty System). The primary purpose of this program is to attract more people to the business and also ensure the old clients are satisfied with the services rendered. As a system designed for the players in the car-wash industry, it enables them to manage and execute their loyalty programs online.

How to get the best out of your loyalty program:

  • Monthly Payment: Operators of the car wash service make more money when customers pay for services on a monthly basis.
  • A loyalty program gives the customer the opportunity to wash their vehicles at a reduced price. As they patronize and wash their cars often, it will be recorded on their account that they have used the service on numerous occasions which will allow them to redeem their points on a later date.
  • Promotional Giveaways: This is another way to promote the brand of the car wash service as promotional wash codes can be printed and distributed to new customers at events.
  • Fleet: Another method is the setting up of fleet accounts with local businesses and provides a bulk washing service that is easily redeemable.
  • Raising funds: Having a connection with the immediate community by organizing fundraising events. WALS can be utilized to create single-use codes that can be downloaded and placed into personalized coupons.
  • Gift accounts can be sold to clients who want to use it for the purchase of a gift item for a loved one.

The importance of a loyalty program cannot be ignored as it is one of the best ways to make more people know more about your brand, get new leads and keep the existing clients. To achieve success, maintain a good connection with your clients, create a loyalty program to engage them and utilize working methods shared here.

Choosing a Car Wash Location

Building a Car Wash Choosing a location Site Selection

There are numerous things to consider when choosing a car wash location. This decision is one of the most critical elements of the development process. Car wash site selection is a complex process and unfortunately is often made without proper planning. We at Harrell’s specialize in site selection and prefer to be involved before any offer is made on a property.

One of the most important questions to ask when choosing a site is, does the car wash I want to build match the needs of this market? The best location may be near major retail or big box shopping destinations. Many people stop to wash their cars while they’re running errands or grocery shopping, so proximity to retail is often very important. However, studies have also shown that people are willing to drive past a conveniently located wash for a better value.

Generally speaking, busier roads are certainly more desirable. However, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration such as traffic speed, road type, ingress and egress, income, competition and proximity to a traffic light. Weather also plays a major role in car wash success. Typically, harsh winter areas that require salt for paved surfaces create large surges in volume.

After a site has been selected, Harrell’s can also assist with feasibility studies and business plans. Moreover, there is no rule of thumb for property size. Depending upon the style of wash (tunnel, in-bay automatic, self serve) the property size will fluctuate greatly. Again, this is why it’s best to get us involved from the beginning!

If you have an interest in investing in a car wash, Harrell’s will provide you with the information you need to make the decision that is right for you. Again, we can assist you with every step of the process including site selection, site layout, as well as recommending contractors and/or financial institutions. Harrell’s can also help with a car wash remodel. We know how to help you make money by raising your per car average thus maximizing your revenue while managing your utilities. So whether you’re choosing a car wash location, building a new wash or remodeling your existing wash, give us a shout and we’ll help get you moving in the right direction.

Site Maintenance Program For Your Car Wash

Site Inspection Site Maintenance

The busy season can mean greater revenue, and most importantly, more opportunity to expand your client base and obtain more loyal customers. By meeting customers’ needs effectively during the winter, you can create repeat business year-round through a site maintenance program for your car wash. Now is the time to get (or should we say keep) your wash in top-notch order.

There are lots of things that are essential during these cold months but we want to hit on the two most important ones so you can optimize your revenue this season, and perhaps even increase customer loyalty while you’re at it…

Of course, your Harrell’s Chemical Representative can help you stay in control of all this during our regular chemical visits but it wouldn’t hurt to know the in’s and out’s, right?

• Monitor your Chemical Usage! Keep track of the average use per car and look for unexplained changes in uses.

• Proper Chemical Ordering and Storage — Order your chemicals in the correct size to best
accommodate your usage. Chemicals should be used up in 3-4 months or less. The container may
become contaminated if open for long periods of time.

• Use the Right Chemical for the Job — Use the appropriate chemical for the proper application.
Mixing or using the wrong chemical may result in equipment or vehicle damage.

The second element to building your clientele is site maintenance. The importance of maintaining your site cannot be stressed enough! In order to provide quality service to the most customers, you must uphold routine maintenance checks on all equipment. Double check your vacuums, stock your accessories, manage your chemicals effectively, and routinely evaluate the performance of your wash equipment.

And, keep it clean please! Another part of site maintenance is cleanliness. Your site needs to look inviting to customers. Who would trust a filthy, run-down car wash to clean their car? The winter months add some challenges too, so keep your site accessible by plowing or shoveling snow from essential areas, salt ice-prone areas where customers will be navigating, clean up your equipment and check self-serve bays for trash.

By maintaining your site’s equipment, you can fix little problems before they become large, costly problems that will cause you to lose business. So consider a maintenance program to stay on top of your site’s repairs. Up-time is critical. Preventative maintenance and scheduled inspection programs will keep your equipment running smoothly when the snow flies and the cars are dirty.

At Harrell’s Car Wash Systems, we have been providing proactive maintenance programs to the most successful car wash sites in our market for years. Contact our service department for details on how a site inspection program can, and will, improve equipment reliability, lower operating cost, and increase customer satisfaction.

New Years Resolution: Wash More Cars Per Hour

Building a Car Wash Wash More Cars Per Hour

Looking ahead to 2017, the car wash industry forecasts revenue in excess of $7.1 billion! Our interest is to help you increase your portion of that revenue by washing more cars per hour. So if you’re interested in a better return on your investment, lowering the cost of ownership and increased revenue, talk to us about installing a 360 system.

Sure, upgrades require an investment. But owners who have made that investment tell us time and again that it was absolutely worthwhile. And we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: investing in equipment upgrades really does pay off! We’re always excited when a customer upgrades the equipment on their site. Site upgrades accomplish so much. They add curb appeal. Curb appeal attracts more customers. More customers mean more revenue. And because of the upgrades, site owners can raise their prices….which means more revenue. Customers love having a better experience. Owners love having increased business. Here’s a telling example:

One of our customers with a double bay site upgraded to a LaserWash 360 Plus over the summer and here’s how their numbers changed from one month to the next:

Old wash pricing: $10, $9, $8 or $7 per wash
Average price per car: $8.50 x 1,688 cars per month = $14,348 revenue

New wash pricing: $15, $12, $10 or $8 per wash
Average price per car: $11.25 x 2,019 cars per month = $22,714 revenue

That’s an $8,798 increase in one month! And that’s not all: The upgrade to new equipment provided lower maintenance costs, less chemical usage, and increased throughput of 2-3 cars per hour. In some cases, there are even tax advantages for new capital equipment purchases.

With the LaserWash 360 Plus, while it’s a perfectly capable system “out of the box,” it’s based on a modular system to enable you to add new features over time. If you are running a 360 Plus system and are looking to extend its functions and increase revenue, talk to us about upgrading to 3x Foam, Super Sealant, Rain Rinse Arch, Bug Prep, OverGlow, LaserGlow Illumination Effects, as well as a variety of drying options.

We were surprised to learn recently that one of our longstanding clients had no idea that we do tunnel washes. We figured he couldn’t be the only one — so let’s talk tunnels!

Understanding that tunnel washes can be a bit intimidating to customers with their MRI-type feeling, we’ve opened up our tunnel car washes with full-length bay windows and large entrances. We nicknamed this the “microbrewery effect” because it reminds us of how you can sit in a microbrewery sipping your craft beer while knowing it came from those big beautiful steel tanks in the very next room. And it’s cool to look at.

Whether the tunnel is an Express, Inbay or Mini, here’s the important part: you can wash more cars per hour, and set higher wash prices for the incredible clean that tunnel washes produce. On a busy day, more cars and higher prices means more revenue for you. Take a look at the Totally Tommy Mini Tunnel wash. The benefits are immediately obvious. The Mini requires as little as 1/2 acre, can be 70-90 feet long and can process between 70-120 cars/hour. And talk about cool! The curb appeal is immense, and the benefits to you are huge.

Interested in talking with us about a tunnel wash? Our team will work with you from start to finish to create and customize your tunnel site.

Harrell’s Car Wash Systems can help better prepare your business for the new year. We are focused on your success and driven to maintain the highest quality service and products to meet your car wash needs. Contact us today to learn more about ways to improve your car wash and increase revenue in 2017.

How Building Car Washes Is a Lot Like Poker

Building a Car Wash

Are you considering building a car wash in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky or Illinois?

If so, let’s talk about poker for a minute.

Building car washes can be a long, somewhat complex process with an almost unlimited number of variables. I’ve often compared a start-up car wash to playing poker, and here’s why: in poker, the answer to most questions of how to play literally any hand is, “Well, it depends.”

With any strategy game you must consider your competition. How strong are the other players at the table? Do they know every card dealer by name and live in the casino? Or are they just visiting from out of town looking to play a few hands to pass the time? This is a very important question to ask yourself when contemplating constructing a car wash. Where are you sitting at the “table?” Your location, or position, at the table is essential to calculating what starting hands you’ll play, how much you’ll wager and when to simply fold and wait for the next hand.

Another key to success is simply a question of time. How much time (and other resources) are you willing to dedicate to the game? Is poker a hobby, a career or a game that simply requires too much time, money and effort to be the best at the table?

And like poker, starting any business means that your investment is at stake. When the competition raises the stakes, are you ready or willing to ante up? Is there a bit of gambler in you?

Those are a lot of questions, we know. Before you throw in your cards and fold, however, we’d like to ask one more question: How great would it be to have an expert sitting beside you through every hand, guiding you in making the best decisions with the cards you have?

That is exactly what we do at Harrell’s Car Wash Systems. We aren’t here to simply provide equipment and wish you luck. That’s not how we do business. At the start of every new car wash project, we start with an in-person market pro forma or feasibility study to identify all the variables applicable to your scenario (or, in poker lingo, we take a look at your hand and see what we think you can do with it). We can help you identify key players in your market and strategies to best position you for success.

The best location to open a car wash also varies significantly depending on the type of wash you want to start. A tunnel style car wash, for instance, typically requires a higher level of investment and time. This necessitates a very strong traffic count, population density and/or retail environment in order to be profitable. By comparison, in-bay automatic washes can generally be built with lower levels of traffic, population and retail. There are countless other market variables that need to be accounted for before a project can move forward. Land zoning requirements, ingress/egress, car stacking, turn radius, incomes, etc. all need to be considered. Finally, how much time can you dedicate to this business? How involved will you be on a daily basis and will it be your primary source of income?

How will you play the next hand? What type of car wash is best for you? Well, it depends… Don’t let the unknown keep you from having a winning hand in this thriving industry. When you have Harrell’s on your side, it’s like having an ace up your sleeve! Give us a call today to get started. We’re the Midwest’s leading car wash distributor, and we’ll bring our expertise to the table to guide you from start to finish.

Are You Winter Car Wash Ready?

Winter Car Wash

When your customers’ vehicles are caked in salt and grime, they need to have a quality winter car wash experience — one that is prepped and ready to handle those special winter issues. Weather, road construction, and competition are elements of the car wash industry that are beyond our control. These factors can make or break your business in the harsh winter months, so it is important to be prepared. Simply stated, it’s crucial to manage the factors you can control to the best of your abilities!

You always need to make sure you are getting the most from your equipment and chemicals. Keep an eye on your equipment in your car wash system area and equipment room for proper working order. Check the following areas to stay ahead of the cold-weather game:

1. Check for water and/or chemical leaks
2. Make sure chemical feed lines and foot valves are working to prevent improper dilutions and
poor cleaning
3. Replace worn nozzles and clean plugged ones for effective cleaning and rinse pressures
4. Closely monitor your pumps and hydro minders for continued working order
5. Ensure water pressures are consistent to maintain the correct chemical ratios.

When the weather gets bad, cars will get dirty, and a decent wash can be an oasis for a grimy car. The winter season’s snowy weather, salt-sprinkled roadways, and debris-filled winds will keep customers coming back for business, so it’s important to be ready to help these customers when they come a’ knockin’!

This holiday season, you may have family coming in from out of town. To prepare, you’ve got to clean house and make plans to make their stay comfortable and worthwhile. Think of your customers as your business family. Be prepared to make your customers’ visits to your car wash in winter especially valuable and worthwhile. Plan ahead to take care of your guests!

Your wash is an opportunity for success if you put in the effort. Harrell’s Car Wash Systems is happy to help you. We continue to hold the highest rank as the top leading car wash distributors in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky and we’re dedicated to your continued success! Give us a call to discuss your options for cold weather customer care. When it’s time for that winter car wash, we want them to think of you first!

Getting Into Hot Water! Tips for the Best Car Wash Water Temps

water temperatures


Hot water. Just like humans don’t like taking cold showers, cars prefer hot water when it comes to getting clean too! Unlike people, it’s not because cars enjoy the warmer temps. Science is the responsible party in this scenario.

If you’re trying to cut back on costs by not heating your car wash water temps to where they need to be, or if you have older equipment that can’t get the job done any longer, here are some reasons why you need to make sure your car wash business is in hot water!

All physical and chemical reactions are temperature dependent. In other words — the higher the temperature, the faster and better the cleaning! Keep in mind there are limits: don’t let your temps get any higher than 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent chemical fallout or vehicle/equipment damage.

Some quick cleaning factors that are temperature dependent:

  1. Soils and soil deposits are more soluble at elevated temperatures.
  2. The surface active agents in detergents are more efficient.
  3. Emulsification of dirt, oil and combinations of these types of soils is much faster at a temperature of 120℉ than they would be at 160℉.
  4. The higher pH builders in detergent break up the oils in soils much faster at 120℉
  5. Solvents present in liquid detergents remove and hold soils in suspension faster at elevated temperatures.

In other words: the higher the car wash water temperature, the faster water, soil and chemical molecules move in the solution. The result? Better, faster, stronger cleaning power!

You wouldn’t wash yourself, your dishes or even your dog in cold water. Your customers’ cars deserve a superior cleaning experience. Talk to a Harrell’s Car Wash chemical representative about your current settings and what you can do to optimize them. We can help you know which settings are best — for instance, our chemical products are best used at a boiler temperature setting between 120-140℉. It’s our job to know these things, and to share that knowledge with our customers.

Are you in hot water? If not, let’s work on turning up the heat! Smiley faces for everyone!

Written by Mike Wyciskalla, Harrell’s Car Wash Systems Chemical Sales Manager