Car Wash Signage Best Practices

by | Sep 24, 2019 | Signage

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Hey guys! My name is Mike Berlin from Slam Carwash Marketing. Every few weeks I’m going to bring you some new ideas to consider when marketing your car wash. I call it the Slam Six. Today, I’m preaching about signage.

1. Negative Nancy

Many times when I pull up to a car wash, I’m greeted by signage talking about the trucks that we don’t wash, the things that we’re not responsible for, the Uber drivers that we don’t allow, the area where you need to go to get the bugs off yourself, and the volume of music that we don’t allow. Remember, this is your first impression to the customer. If you have to have some of those signs think about moving them to after the pay station, in the stack space after the customers bought something. When they first drive up on the lot, welcome your customer with open arms and sell them an unlimited plan.

2. Visual Noise

Graphic design in the car wash industry has been pretty notorious for the idea of some is good and more must be better. However, I would argue that too much bling on your signage becomes visual noise. You can confuse your customer and slow down the line, causing them to make a quick decision. Look around at established national brands. Take note of how much they use empty space in their design and how little they use bevels drop shadows outline.

For example, look at Chick-Fil-A’s menu or even Dunkin Donuts. They have a fun, playful brand like many car washes but still restrained and very clean with their graphic design.

3. Make a Brand Guide

We have a brand-new car wash. You start out with a great logo and hire a sign company to make our menu. It looks great but then a few years later, we hire fast signs locally to make something else. It’s a slightly different take on our look but it looks good the next summer. You hire a new graphic designer right out of school. They show off and make something totally cool but pretty soon every sign on your property has its own look and we’ve lost our consistency in the brand.

A brand guide is a document that goes into great detail on how you can and can’t use your logo. It also lists approved fonts, colors and icons. The next time you hire somebody to make a sign, you give them this document and they follow it to a tee. This is how you begin to have brand consistency.

4. Sign Overload

Just because a wonderful chemical vendor gave you a new wind jammer sign that doesn’t mean it has to sit right next to your unlimited wash club signage and compete for your customers attention. Look around your lot, take note of your signage, and ask yourself: Do I really need it? Especially in the entrance lane and the pay station area. You want to be very careful about where you direct your customers attention. Be very intentional with your signage and think about where you’re asking your customer to look when they arrive.

5. Tunnel Bling

This is where I see the best operators going all out. I love the Sonny’s Fusion system because the lights are coordinated with the applicators and the chemistry. When you ride under the seal arch, it’s green and the rinse arch is always blue. In the wax is yellow and the dryers are red. I see people using projections on the windshields of cars. I hear customers talking about it. All the time excitement in the tunnel is all the rage; customers eat it up. The signage is what drives customers to the best tunnel experience. 

6. What Do You See From The Road?

Every year I have the chance to visit car washes all over the country with Anthony Analetto, shooting case study videos for Sonny’s. He always says you got to see the word car wash and free vacuums from the road. Here’s what I suggest:

Every so often, walk across the street from your car wash and take a few pictures of what you see. Study those pictures and see what you notice. Make sure all the back hoses are hanging the same way, all the trash cans are the same color, paint your traffic cones to match your brand, etc. Perception from the road means so much to the customer.

That’s your Slam Six this week for Car Wash signage. I hope this gets you fired up about marketing your car wash. If you have any questions, give us a ring at SLAM. I’d like to give a big thanks to the folks at Sonny’s the Car Wash Factory who sponsors this video series! They are the best in the business and can help you in the car wash business.

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