The car wash industry has an uphill marketing battle to climb in every community. Unlike other industries, the level of superstition that customers have when it comes to washing their cars is extraordinary. Some won’t wash their vehicles if it has just rained. Others won’t wash their vehicles until it does rain! It makes for a difficult, but not impossible, set of marketing strategies that can be deployed to increase business.
Any marketing strategy needs to benefit both you and the customer. A good place to begin is to form a loyalty club where you’re always getting something in return: personal information so you can directly market to someone. You can fuel this club through discounts, specials, or just plain asking people when they stop on by.
Effective Car Wash Marketing Ideas
1. It’s Not About the Price
People will pay a fair price for a quality car wash, so don’t get into price wars with your competitors. Focus on providing a world class experience every time a customer comes to do business with you. It can be as simple as recognizing who someone is and remembering their name because people want to go somewhere that makes them feel special. Provide that feeling and you might not ever need to print up a coupon again.
2. It’s Not About Volume Either
You don’t need tons of new customers coming in every day to stay in business. You need faithful, reliable customers that come to get their car washed on a regular schedule. Don’t go offering tons of discounts that will just rob you of cash. Focus instead on building relationships with the people who do stop on by so that they’ll want to stop on by again and again.
3. Focus On One Specialty Area
If you try to be everything to everyone, you’re going to fail because you just can’t do it. Find your strengths, use them to create an advantage that sets you apart from your competitors, and then market those strengths to the community. You might lose a few customers who love the fact that you try to please them in every way, but you’ll gain more in the long run because you can do something better than anyone else.
4. Get Yourself Reviewed
Over 70% of people decide on going to a local business based on local reviews, which means you need to be reviewed. Yelp is a good site that can solicit honest reviews about experiences that have been received, but Google reviews are more critical. With just 10 reviews, Google will implement a starring system that will show searchers at a glance if you’re good… or not so good at what you do. If you have five reviews that are 5 stars, but five reviews that are 1 star, Google will give you three stars and rank you lower than others who are better. Encourage good reviews, offer coupons for them if you wish, and that will help drive more traffic your way.
5. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Vision
It’s easy to follow what everyone else is trying to do and end up losing sight of what it is that you’re trying to do. Customers are smart and savvy. They’ll know who the authentic service provider is and who the copycat happens to be. You might lose one or two total visits, but you’ll end up gaining a repeat customer that might stick with you until the end of time.
6. Consider Issuing a Paid Coupon Book
Having customers pay a little upfront for valuable coupons can help generate immediate revenues. Your loyal customer base will enjoy the chance to receive regular discounts, while you might never have coupons turned in from some of the books that you’ve sold. Don’t just stick with paper coupons. E-coupons through email marketing or text marketing efforts can help drive sales as well.
7. Always Follow-up With Customers
The reason why mass marketing efforts fail is because no follow-up is ever done and so a customer gets a massive discount and that’s it. Before any marketing campaign, it is important to figure out how you’ll follow-up with each customer that comes your way so you can have them come your way again.
8. Offer Free Services Occasionally
Free services provide better returns than traditional advertising methods because it allows people to see your services first-hand. Instead of just offering free washes to long-time customers who will likely come back anyway, offer some to first-time customers too. By giving incentives to both groups, you’ll increase loyalty and establish relationships – two essential keys to finding good success.
9. Consider Starting an Unlimited Wash Club
People don’t abuse unlimited clubs because they tend to get the value they need from this investment and nothing more. If you have your price point too low, you can definitely lose your shirt because you didn’t give yourself a proper valuation. If you have a price point that’s too high, people won’t see value in the product and won’t bother with it. When you can find the happy medium in-between the two extremes, you’ll find good value and so will your customers.
10. Do You Still Just Take Cash?
Converting to a credit and cash system is necessary in this modern purchasing world. There are certainly fees associated with each credit/debit transaction, but those fees are less than not having any business at all. Most people don’t carry much cash these days and so they have a limited amount to spend at a cash-only wash. In comparison, operators have seen 80% purchasing increases just by installing self-service credit card machines. That offsets the 3%-5% in losses from transaction fees.
11. Establish a Professional Online Presence
97% of people use search engines to find information about local businesses, which means your first impression is your website. If you’ve got a terrible site, then you’re telling people that you’ll give them a terrible experience. That’s obviously not true, but that’s the perception you’ll leave and that perception will become fact. A website that is easy to navigate is a friendly website that will encourage people to visit you, especially if you put contact info and maps on the site so you can be easily found.
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