Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate your car wash from others in your area. Everyone is doing their best to provide the optimal wash at the lowest pricing around! You need to set your wash apart from the others, show that yours is different – but like many operators, your budget is tight. So what are some inexpensive steps you can take that can make a big difference for your customers?
Prep, Prep, and More Prep!
One of the keys to successful washing is prepping. Prepping vehicles correctly is how you get a complete wash done safely. A good prep job can make the difference between a happy customer and an unhappy one!
Rear wiper protection – Spinning brushes can pull the rear wipers away from the glass and can even cause damage in rare cases. Providing protection against this is key. If you have a full-service wash, consider investing in windshield wiper bags! These provide protection against the spinning brushes. In some cases, even painter’s tape has been found to work well. Even if you are running an IBA or unmanned tunnel, you can supply these bags free of charge for your customers!
Bug Prep – Bugs are money. But if you’re not prepping for them, more likely than not, you’re not providing a fully clean wash. These stuck on, gooey messes – from love bugs in the south to our own mayfly clouds in the Northeast – adhere to the paint. Even the best-tuned tunnels often don’t completely take care of these pests. Good prep means using a good bug remover, along with a good brush like our Hog Daddy line.
Good prep means less rewashes, which means greater customer satisfaction – the difference between your wash and your competition’s!
Customers hate unexpected obstacles and hang-ups in their experience at your wash. Anything from broken parts to malfunctioning machinery can quickly drop their experience from five stars, to four… to three or lower. Making sure to remove obstacles is the key to inexpensive customer satisfaction. You know the usual suspects – but what about the less common ones?
Breaker/Changer/Swiper Cleaning – In the self-serve and vending worlds, these are a key to your operation. Customers hate when a bill gets rejected no matter which way they turn it. Same thing goes with credit cards swiping – if it takes more than two or three swipes, they will get irritable. So make sure your card readers and bill acceptors are good to go, with regular cleaning using products from KIC team! They specialize in individually-packed cleaning tools, including Bill Validator Cleaning Cards, Credit Card Reading Cleaning Cards, and much more!
Clear Signage – Sure, you’ve been working with your machinery and systems for years. You probably set them up yourself! But your customers may not have the same familiarity. You need to connect the dots for them, make their visit smooth and intuitive. Car wash bay signs are available for any process you might have around your wash, and address everything from vacuums, to in-bay washing, to change machines, and even safety notices! A handful of durable and affordable Lexan or polystyrene signs can make it easy for customers to pull in, get the job done, and be on their way. Great visits and great bay turnover will lead to great profits!
Mat Clamps – “Who doesn’t have mat clamps at their vacuums?” you may ask. Well, not everyone does. This means your customers are going to be fumbling around with their mats, laying them on the ground, even draping them over trash bin covers. This takes up time and is a hassle for your customers. They’re pretty inexpensive, so there’s really no excuse not to offer them. Consider adding some inside your bays as well, for rubber mats that need to be washed instead of vacuumed.
Reusable Courtesy Towels – Our friend Doctor Joe loves his courtesy towels, and for good reason! Providing these to your customers in self-serve bays, or even after a tunnel wash or IBA, is a smart move. It allows them to dry the nooks and crannies that your blowers don’t get – door jambs, around and inside the gas tank door, the drainage area around the trunk. Courtesy towels can be used for interior wiping as well. Provide a basket for dirty towels, and just wash and reuse them day after day!
Single-Use Courtesy Towels – You could also opt for pop-up microfiber courtesy towels, designed for single use. You don’t have to launder these or reuse them, and they are cheaper than good courtesy towels, but they are also not as good for the environment and having to purchase new boxes regularly instead of just reusing the same washed towels can add up. It’s a choice you’ll have to make – what works best for your business, and what works best with your customer base! But whichever way you choose, towel availability could be a deciding difference for customers.
Great Guns and Wonderful Wands – Your self-serve customer is coming to get their car wet, not themselves. Mostly, anyways – let’s face it, we see all sorts of stuff happen in car wash bays! But for the most part, they want guns and wands that won’t get them soaked to the bone while washing. Check your guns and wands regularly for damage and leaks, and keep extras on hand for quick, easy, low-cost replacement!
Everyone. Loves. Free. Stuff.
The best thing is, “free” doesn’t have to mean it is a loss for you. A courtesy bag included with your top wash will certainly seem free to your customers, but the cost can be included in your pricing! Consider a branded plastic bag, with some of our top retail products and giveaway products, like Blue Magic Protectant Wipes, bulk Truck Towels, Promo GlassWipes, and a Bomb air freshener, like the Nilla Bomb. Your price per bag? Around $1 all said and done! You can roll that into the pricing, or just see it as the difference that puts you above and beyond your closest competition at an identical price point.
Yes, we do keep harping on it. But it’s true – customers love flexibility when it comes to payment options! Even before the pandemic, the shift to tap-to-pay, chip cards, virtual wallets like ApplePay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and cash apps were all gaining momentum. The concern over person-to-person contact merely accelerated their use.
We’re not saying that you should be upgrading every pay station to this technology. In fact, for some locations where customers are used to dealing in coins or tokens, it would be unnecessary and the cost is likely to outweigh the returns. Still, even upgrading on or two bays using CryptoTap technology, and providing the appropriate signage indicating that those bays offer the new payment methods, is likely to be a good move towards the future. Partial adaption can also help to gauge customer interest and profitability before changing over to full adaptation. In short, payment flexibility may be enough of a difference to get customers to visit you instead of the competition.
These ten ideas are affordable and easy to implement, and can give your customers a better experience with only minor effort on your behalf! If your nearest competitors aren’t offering these, you can use the difference to set your wash apart. A better experience on top a great wash is what will keep them coming back to your location again and again, and will help solidify your profits over time! Kleen-Rite is here to make sure that you can secure your profits and your business success, now and well into the future!