6 Cool Marketing Ideas from Car Wash Owners

by | Oct 11, 2023 | Memberships, Retention

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6 Cool Marketing Ideas from Car Wash Owners

At Slam, we get to work with some of the country’s best car wash operators; as you can imagine, we’re constantly learning from our clients. In this episode, I want to share some cool ideas I’ve been seeing working with clients on-site, just some neat solutions to common challenges many of us in the industry.

Hey guys, I’m Mike Berlin from Slam Car Wash Marketing, bringing you some new ideas to consider when marketing your car wash. It’s the SLAM Six, and in this episode, just six ideas that I have discovered on the road working with car wash operators.

1. Car Wash Crew Development

The best operators in the country put a ton of effort into developing their teams. Sometimes, I joke with customers and say, ‘Chick-fil-A did not hire a bunch of kids and brainwash them into the Chick-fil-A way.’ They attract those people to work there based on their brand. Recently, I was on a shoot with a client down in Alabama. They had a whole wall devoted to personal development—an entire library of books to encourage their team towards self-improvement and development.

It was inspiring to see their crew thinking big and working on themselves to be better. It impacted me because I had not seen that level of intention put towards developing young professionals. The operators that have been successful for a long time put a lot of focus on developing their people.

2. Sales Psychology at the Car Wash

I was speaking with a client about staffing the Pay Station lanes to help sell memberships. We got on the topic of extroverts versus introverts. My wife would rather go to the bank ATM than talk to someone at the teller window; She’s an introvert. She’d rather not speak with somebody but instead, use the Pay Station at a car wash and do it herself, while my brother is the total opposite; he’s a classic extrovert. If there’s a lane staffed with a person and another lane that’s unstaffed, he’s going to drive to the person every time to engage with someone face to face.

This client I was talking to said they always like to staff one Pay Station lane and leave one pretty much unstaffed. That way, everyone can select their own comfort level. Introverts go to the Pay Station; extroverts drive to the staffed Pay Station. What I took away from this conversation was to always be thinking about customer experience and ways to make your customers more comfortable.

3. Customer Service at the Car Wash Vacuum Area

As you can imagine, we talk a lot with clients about selling unlimited plans. I’ve got a client in North Carolina, and he’s a big believer in customer service in the vacuum area. He’s even got a program where, as you pull out of the tunnel into the vacuum area, he’s got a crew standing at the back of your car with a towel just to say hello and maybe touch up some water droplets on the back glass. It’s a thing that they do, and they make sure that every car gets a little attention.

As I was talking to him, I asked him, ‘Aren’t you worried about establishing this expectation with customers that now we’re going to staff and wipe down the back of every car?’ And he said, ‘You know, what I’m trying to do is make sure that the employee is within about six to ten feet from every customer to put them in a situation where they can engage and encourage interaction.’ He wants the crew to be close enough to greet customers and check on them. He says it helps them with reviews, membership retention, and it enforces their culture of customer service.

4. Car Wash Member Conversion Rate

You’d be surprised how many operators I talked with that don’t track their sales conversion rate. I’m talking about retail non-member cars. So, out of every 100 non-members that come through that gate, how many of those people can sign up for the unlimited plan. That rate is a fantastic metric to track because it’s a percentage of traffic, and it’s a great KPI for measuring your ability to sell and close at the Pay Station or close on your property.

With Sonny’s CarWash Controls, there’s an easy report a couple of clicks away. You can see what that conversion rate is. Our clients that are really growing their memberships fast are tracking that conversion rate. They’re setting goals with the team. They’re putting it on a scoreboard in the break room, and they’re talking about it daily and celebrating those metrics—that one metric each week with prizes. We’ve created a dry erase score board board, that you can put up in the back room to help you track this. Request yours here.

5. Commissions, Bonuses, and Prizes

I teach a class on selling memberships as part of < ahref=https://sonnysdirect.com/lrn_car_wash_college target=”_blank”>Sonny’s CarWash College, and this discussion is always a lively debate in the class. Bob Fox once told me, ‘Be careful about commissions because they’re hard to take away once you start them.’

I picked up on an idea from a client in South Carolina that I thought was cool. I was standing in his break room, and on the floor, a big old 65-inch TV right in the middle of the room, and I said, ‘What’s up with the big TV sitting in the middle of the floor?’ He said, ‘Oh, that’s our prize. If my team maintains a 12% conversion rate this month, then we put everybody’s name in the hat that works here, and one lucky winner gets to take home the TV.’ He said he liked it because he had some people on his crew that loved to stand at the Pay Station and sell, and some people that were shy and didn’t want to stand at the Pay Station and talk to people but were very good at keeping the vacuums clean and greasing every bearing and loved loading cars. So, instead of just the salespeople winning, he made it a team goal and rewarded the team if they hit the goal. He said it made the team rally together and created a sense of unity.

With six people on staff, they hit their goal, everybody had a one in six chance of winning the prize. I thought it was kind of a fresh approach to motivating the crew to think about unlimited sales every day, and the prize being sort of a consumer electronic prize, it was right in the middle of the floor; it was a good idea because everybody walked past it the whole month long, and they talked about who was going to win the big TV.

6. Doggie Treats, Lollipops, Rack Cards and Review Cards

I saw a client that had a dedicated person walking around the vacuum area with a four-pocket nail apron. It had doggie treats, lollipops, rack cards, and review cards. If there were kids in the car, lollipops; if there were dogs in the car, doggie treats. If the attendant said, ‘Hey, thanks for coming in today. Are you a member?’ and they said yes, ‘Oh, great, we really appreciate your business. Here’s a review card. Would you mind taking two seconds to scan it and give us a review?’ If they said they weren’t a member, he had a rack card. ‘Hey, did you realize if you come more than once a month, you’d save by joining the unlimited plan?’

He also said that person was armed with a mobile POS tablet and had a better conversion rate than someone standing at the Pay Station because they were walking around helping and not selling. And anytime you can create a positive touchpoint with the customer, it means they’re going to come back to you versus the car wash down the street.

That’s your Slam Six—Six ideas I’ve picked up this year working with the best operators on the road.

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