The smart way to buy car wash supplies from the United States
by: Amy Mastrangelo
Looking for the best deals on your car wash equipment and supplies? Once you find a distributor that carries everything you need, buying from the States is easier and cheaper than you might think! In fact, it can be quite convenient for many owners of high-volume car washes.
Consolidation is the best way to really maximize your savings. When you stock up on the parts and supplies you need in one large order, you will save costs, and your carwash will be in good supply for months to come. In a few simple steps, you can get everything you need from the States delivered right to your carwash. Once you (1) select a broker, (2) place your order, and (3) compare prices, you will find that it is ultimately an advantage to import from the States.
Scott Murray of Ezee Clean Car Wash in Stony Creek, Ontario finds the process to be convenient. He says, “I buy in larger quantities, for example 30 cases of towels. And I take advantage of the various promotions from my supplier such as buy 10 cases get one free. This ensures I have inventory for myself on hand at all times. Depending on the exchange rate at the time I stock up a little bit more.”
Scott buys all types of items in bulk, including vending items, hoses, swivels, and guns, to name a few. He likes having it all in one order and it all arrives in a matter of several business days. Scott uses UPS brokers and they take care of everything and do not bother him.
Getting your supplies from across the border should be an easy and money saving experience. So how does the process work? This article has outlined the important steps so you can get started!
Step 1: Select a Broker
The first step is to select a broker to help you from start to finish. The broker will do most of the work for you. Some popular customs brokers include: UPS, Livingston International, and Kuenhne & Nagel.
Step 2: Consolidate Your Order
The taxes will be the same percentage whether you order a little or a lot, so it is smart to get all the supplies you need and can afford at once. Rather than ordering every several weeks, try ordering every several months. If you can afford to consolidate, you can afford to import!
Step 3: Compare Prices
Shop around to find the best car wash supplier that has everything you need at good prices. Make sure the products you want qualify for shipment outside of the United States. Keep the fluctuating exchange rate in mind. Once you have decided where and when to buy, it will be time to place your order with your carwash supplier.
Canadian customers can order several skids from the States, and those skids will move on a freight truck. The freight company will call the customer and ask who will clear the order, or in other words who the broker will be. Please note that the broker needs to be set up ahead of time so things do not get stuck at the border. The freight company will contact the broker and drive across the border.
If the freight company cannot clear the order before crossing the border, the goods will be held in a bonded warehouse. A bonded warehouse is a customs-controlled warehouse used for the retention of imported goods.
You will get an invoice from the carwash supplier that shows the transportation cost and the cost of goods. The supplier does not collect duties and taxes.
To get the goods into Canada, the customer must pay the broker a brokerage fee. This is an escalating charge: the greater the order amount, the greater the brokerage fee. But, as a percentage, this number ends up being less as the order value goes up (see infographic). For example, if the value is 250 CAD, you could pay a 51 dollar brokerage fee, or 20 per cent. But, if the value is 2,500 CAD, you could only pay 103 dollars, which is only four per cent! These amounts are sometimes negotiable with your broker.
The customer must also pay any applicable duties, HST taxes, and tariffs. If the product you are importing is manufactured in the United States and qualifies for NAFTA it may not have any duties. Please note that the amount of duty and taxes owed depends on your province of residence. And, the amount of duty owed depends on the country where the product was manufactured, not the country where it was purchased.
You will take care of all these applicable payments before you receive the supplies. Once the supplies are delivered to your wash, you will be ready to use them and get back to business as usual! Plus, you will be in good supply for the following months to come. Simply purchase from the distributor as you would normally, and the broker will be there to help handle the rest. After you try it once, the process is likely to be much easier than you thought.
Amy Mastrangelo is a copywriter for Kleen-Rite Corporation, a leading car wash supplier for over 50 years. Kleen-Rite sells pumps, vending products, soaps, and much more to independent carwash owners.