Clean and simple
The Ultimate Car Wash is just a couple of clicks south of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport on Federal Highway in Dania Beach, Florida. It’s neither flashy nor the new kid on the block. About the only thing colorful is the foam.
But it’s my favorite car wash, plain and simple.
Drivers can pull around to Ultimate’s full-service operation, but it seems most follow my tire tracks into one of the six self-service bays.
Down on the Sunshine State’s east coast where I reside, we deal with salty air, not salty winter roads. Frequent trips to the car wash are part of my routine and this one sure fills the bill.
The beauty of this particular wash rests with its user-friendly format: drop some money and clean up.
Brush to the left, high pressure gun to the right and twin spin booms overhead — all the tools needed for a 360-degree dance around my Ford Escape to spray away a week’s worth of salt, bugs and grime.
Ultimate’s minimal signage speaks volumes. The do-it-yourself soak, scrub, wax and rinse routine is universally understood by everyone in every bay regardless of their command of English or knowledge of proper car washing techniques. Goof up and all it only costs you is a little extra time on the countdown clock.
Simplicity extends to payment, with a single inlet slot at the multi-function car wash controller accepting dollar coins, dollar-valued tokens and quarters.
Credit card swipes and paper currency at the centralized exchange puts tokens in your hand and bonus freebies for transactions starting at five bucks. And those loose quarters or dollar coins from home will buy cycle time just the same.
Self-serve vacs couldn’t be easier: pay and get suction. There’s not even a button to push. Again, dual coin and dollar-valued tokens gladly accepted.
This Ultimate example of the time-tested car wash format at work is a reminder of how intuitive self-service businesses have flourished for decades in America’s cultural and socio-economic melting pot. Man and machine. Payment made, service delivered.
In contrast to the experience at my favorite car wash was a visit the next day to the airport up the road for a flight to the international laundry show Clean ’19. Inside the terminal were the ubiquitous banks of self-service kiosks we all know to obtain boarding passes and luggage tags. Unfortunately, the touchscreens weren’t cooperating that morning and it took three attempts before my check-in was complete.
I had some time on my hands and seized the opportunity to stand to the side observing just how many travelers needed assistance. There were two agents floating from one self-service kiosk to another, helping guide the confused newbies by tapping away at screens and fielding questions.
Inside the laundry convention in New Orleans, all manner of concept vended equipment was on display. Some models at one booth had no coin acceptors, relying entirely on the customer interfacing with the machine via smartphone technology. While the exhibit did show select washers with a coin-operated backup option, it was clear this manufacturer envisioned a self-service experience without physical money dropped in at the machine.
Touchscreens, smartphones and attendants ready on standby — all employed to conduct a self-pay transaction. Someone’s vision of the ultimate laundromat.
A selector knob, multi-coin acceptor and no help needed. What works at the Ultimate Car Wash.