This past week we were in Paris for the Equip Auto show, one of Europe’s largest automotive shows, which also includes a car wash component. Our experiences there, including meeting with new members and leading suppliers and operators, was another reminder of the growing inter-connectedness of the world – and that it’s no different for our industry.
While International Carwash Association’s origins are in North America, our membership is increasingly diverse. Since the end of 2009, our membership has increased 28% – and a big part of that growth has come from the member companies we now have in more than 25 countries. (Attendees to The Car Wash Show in 2011 came from more than 30 countries.) Anecdotally, but also supported by our Equipment Sales Report, we know that our North American members are doing an increasing amount of business outside of the U.S. and Canada.
So what does this mean for ICA? Well, we’re beginning to see potential opportunities to provide value. One category could be shared issues that cut across borders: things like environmental issues/advocacy and education. For some of these, existing programs may become increasingly important. (For example, we now have WaterSavers participants in the Middle East.). Another example may be CAR WASH Magazine. We could offer our publication to readers in multiple languages, or increasingly source content with an international focus.
Most important to this evaluation will be learning what the customer (member) wants, and then evaluating if those wants align with our capabilities and priorities. But, two things stand out: 1) International Carwash Association is the world’s largest organization for car wash professionals, and 2) more than 90% of the world – including consumers and car wash operators and suppliers – doesn’t live in North America. If we don’t think globally, we are certainly missing opportunities for our members to learn, grow and succeed.
Thanks to our members outside North America for the support and input they’ve already provided; it is welcomed and valued!