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How to Keep Your Company’s Fleet Clean (and Why)

Looking to grow your fleet and continually impress customers (or future customers)? You might want to start thinking about implementing a routine fleet washing regimen no matter the types of vehicles you have.

Regardless of whether or not compliance is something you have to worry about in your business, dirty vehicles simply make your brand look bad.

In this post, I’ll cover a few ideas and best practices to consider based on the experience I’ve had in the fleet management and detailing space.

3 reasons keeping your fleet clean is important

dirty SUV

While it may seem trivial, failing to remove salt, dirt, and other substances can have a negative impact on a fleet’s bottom line and reputation.

This also includes interior detailing, especially if you’re transporting passengers.

Brand image and vehicle cleanliness

Whether you know it or not, your brand is everywhere. Not just a fancy logo on your website, but in every interaction, you have with customers.

For any brand with a fleet, cleanliness is a factor that impacts how people perceive your company.

If phrases like ‘top-notch’ or ‘attention to detail’ are anywhere on your vehicle’s wrap, it’s something to pay attention to.

In the end, it comes down to the little things.

Periodic fleet washing can help prevent future problems

Outside of your brand’s image and reputation, not keeping vehicles clean can negatively impact your maintenance costs over time.

Christopher Miller, Vice President of E-ZOIL, had this to say in a sit down with

“The dust and dirt that vehicles accumulate on exterior surfaces while driving around can pave the way for many problems, including paint peel-off and rust buildup.”

This is especially important if you’ve invested thousands of dollars in vehicle wraps.

DOT roadside inspections

Some in the DOT-regulated trucking community argue that washing a semi-truck and trailer puts you at more of a risk of getting stopped.

Rumor has it that the DOT doesn’t like to get dirty, but the jury is still out on that one I think so form your own opinion there.

That being said, if you’re deploying the dirtiest fleet around, there’s a good chance the DOT knows that other things might not be up to par.

After all, if attention to detail isn’t present when it comes to removing dirt, odds are an officer is probably more likely to discover other issues (like poor tread depth).

To help keep your fleet in top shape, here are 3 tips to help.

Tip 1: Add washing and detailing to your periodic inspections checklist

washing salt from under car

One strategy that is often looked over is adding interior and exterior detailing service to your fleet’s routine maintenance schedule.

Mobile fleet inspection apps like Whip Around not only is used to digitally conduct vehicle inspections, but also to create and automate service schedules. 

For example, periodic washing and detailing services can be set up for each vehicle based on mileage, so you know how many vehicles in any given month are due for washing and detailing.

This is just simple automation that ensures that your dirtiest vehicles are not neglected.

Tip 2: Hire a fleet washing company

More and more detailers are getting into the fleet washing business, so this is not something you have to worry about building out in-house if you don’t want to.

For commercial truck fleets, typically what’s called a two-step wash process is used, where an acidic cleaner reacts with an alkaline cleaner to remove dirt chemically. 

Below is a simple illustration of this process.

Tip 3: Install a commercial truck wash system on-premises

If you’ve got quite a few trucks and trailers, it might make sense to install a professional commercial truck washing system on-premises.

Companies like Interclean specialize in these types of installations and will be able to provide consultation or quote.

While it may be cost-prohibitive for smaller fleets, it can be a much more affordable route for large fleets that will save you money in the long run.

The importance of keeping your fleet clean

No matter the strategy you embrace, data suggests that dirty vehicles are a turn-off to most people..that includes your current customers and potential customers.

So take a minute this week to inspect your fleet and put a plan in place. You’ll be glad you did!

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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