If you have car, you are probably taking it to a garage to get it washed, or your building security guard would splash buckets of water on it every morning to clean it. But what if you could clean your car, just as well, but with much less water? Almost waterless, you can say. Well, it’s no make-believe story but a reality in our very own Bengaluru. Thanks to a group of young entrepreneurs, the ‘waterless’ car-wash service has been introduced in the city, and that too at your doorstep.
Prowash India is the first ever service-provider of its kind, claim the founders of the company. “The idea was conceptualised in December 2008. I stay in Yeshwanthpur. I had trouble finding people to wash my car. I stay in an independent house”, says Vivek Sridhar, one of the founders of Prowash. In an attempt to “organise this unorganised sector”, Sridhar and three of his friends decided to explore this sector.
Sridhar is the Director-Sales of Prowash and has previously worked in the financial services sector. Ganapathy Subramanya is the CEO. He runs various businesses in Bangalore including printer services and cab services for IT companies. Sridhar Subbaraman is the investor based in UAE and runs an insurance broking firm there. Gokulnath Sundaram, another founder, was into insurance broking in Dubai.
The team conducted a survey in January 2009, and spoke to over 2000 people in malls, churches and parking lots. Most people said they had a problem with finding a regular person to wash their cars, at their homes itself. Prowash started their services in February, but this was a water car wash. They launched in JP Nagar (in South Bangalore) but soon figured that the area faced acute water shortage.
This is when we started thinking about exploring opportunities, says Sridhar. His car was used for their ‘experiments’ and that’s how they came up with the ‘waterless’ concept. Sridhar says that the concept is very popular in Dubai, where people stand in queues to get their cars washed like this.
After doing some research through the Internet on waterless car washing, the foursome decided to import the required material from the USA. This includes a piece of micro-fibre cloth and a chemical that is used with it for wiping.
Sridhar explains the procedure they follow to wash a car through this technique. It isn’t entirely waterless but uses minimal water. The car is first sprayed with soap oil (or shampoo) mixed with water. For this barely a litre of water is used per car. It is then allowed to dry. Sridhar says that next the micro-fibre cloth with the chemical is used to wipe the car clean. He refuses to reveal details about the chemical and only says that it is “eco-friendly”. The chemical, however, smells like amruthanjan (the infamous ayurvedic balm) and is safe, he adds.
Even though the cloth can be directly used on the car without first wiping it with water, it is avoided since it can leave scratches. The micro-fibre cloth need not be washed either, because the dust falls off, Sridhar says.
Unlike the regular carwash, this ‘waterless’ technique is labour-intensive. But the end result leaves you with a bright and shiny car. And what’s more, all with very little water.
Presently, Prowash offers their services at the recently-opened Forum Value Mall in Whitefield. At Rs 60 per wash, the mall has introduced several Bangaloreans to this concept. Prowash also has customers at apartments on Sarjapur Road and JP Nagar. The company has 25 employees who wash 150 cars across three apartments.
Sridhar says they have stuck to apartment complexes at the moment since it is a major market for them. At the apartments, they charge Rs 350 per month for a car under the Budget Plan. This includes two washes a week, one interiors washing and one waxing and polishing a month. The Economy Plan comes at a price of Rs 500 and includes three exterior washes a week, two interior washes a month, and one waxing and polishing a month. The Standard Plan costs Rs 750. This includes washing the exteriors everyday, four interior washes and one waxing and polishing a month.
On an average people spend around Rs 300 or so on car-washing. So people are willing to spend on this, especially when we are providing it at their door-step, and any time of the week, as per their convenience”, says Sridhar, adding that most people have opted for the Budget plan.
Elaborating on this preference further, Sridhar adds that people who are on the budget plan (two washes a week) are still doing water washes on other days. "People still prefer the water wash. We haven’t done aggressive conversion yet. We will begin this in January", says Sridhar.
At the mall, they have washed around 1700 cars in the last one and half months. On an average, they washed around 30 to 35 cars a day. Ask him how people react when told about the ‘waterless’ wash, he says, “People are quite surprised that you can wash without water”. IT professional Vinod T, a resident of Kundalahalli, who got his car washed at the mall says he likes the concept. “The job was well-done. By the time I finished my shopping, it was ready. But I’m not sure how they did it”. He, however, is happy that he didn’t have to take his car to a garage for a wash.
Shankar Reddy, a Marathahalli resident, also got his car washed at the mall. “It’s really good. We can reduce the waste of water and save the environment. I think it is better than the usual water wash. It’s more shiny”, he says.
Sridhar reveals that the cost is quite low for them but the expenses lie in the marketing. They are looking to officially launch their services next month and reach a target of 2000 permanent customers by March 2010. He adds that their aim is to provide timely service and be eco-friendly. “People generally think more water the better. People are just not aware. I haven’t washed my car since February”, he says.
Prowash India is also looking to tie up with car companies, providing deals to customers at the time of purchasing a car itself. They are also in talks with malls in other parts of the city. They are also looking at adding new products like car accessories and insurance.
Prowash India offers the following plans to customers
Budget Plan – Rs 350 – Two exterior washes a week, one interior wash a month, one waxing and polishing a month
Economy Plan – Rs 500 – Three exterior washes a week, two interior washes a month, one waxing and polishing a month
Standard Plan – Rs 750 – Everyday exterior washes, four interior washes a month, one waxing and polishing a month
Vivek Sridhar is at 9880531969, prowash.india[at]gmail[dot]com.