6 Tips to Raise Your Ticket Average

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Brand Discovery, Signage

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Does your car wash menu educate the customer? Does it help you drive a higher ticket average? Is it too cluttered and confusing? Do you have too many packages? Does your customer even read it, or do they take a glance and make a decision based on price? Here are six tips to design a great Car Wash menu:

Hey guys, I’m Mike Berlin from SLAM Car Wash Marketing, bringing you some fresh ideas to consider when marketing your car wash. It’s the SLAM Six, and this week we’re talking about Car Wash menus.

When I look at some car wash menus from 5 to 10 years ago, they look cluttered. They talk more about the chemicals used in the wash than the benefit to the customer. Generally, they have way too much information on them. Getting your car wash menu right is so important; it could be the difference in your ticket average being $12 or $18. So, if you washed 400 cars yesterday, you could have made $4,800 or $7,200. A strategic menu design can make a huge difference in your monthly revenue.

1. Research

Nothing takes the place of researching your market and competitors, looking at some demographics in your area, and using actual data to see who’s coming to your wash and who’s going to your competitor’s washes. What type of person lives in your neighborhood? Knowing the makeup of your customers at those locations is key to helping you establish pricing that makes sense for your market. At Slam, we have powerful tracking data that helps us see who’s coming to your wash and who’s going to your competitors. We’re happy to pull some reports; give us a buzz. The number one best resource you have when doing some research on your market is your local Sunny’s equipment rep. I promise they know about every wash in your area and more about your market than anybody.

2. Visual Stimulation

I see some car wash menus that are stunning works of art. Sometimes, they’re so detailed it takes 3 or 4 minutes just to take it all in. But there’s a time and a place for elaborate works of art with car wash menus. Maybe it’s less is more. If you look at the national car wash chains, they’re very clean and simple menus. These operators understand that customers are looking at those menus for 3-4 seconds tops. Simplifying your menu can help you process more cars, and it also can make it more inviting for your customer. So, try to avoid visual noise overload.

3. 9-Ending Pricing

I know it’s a controversy. We know that $19.99 is 20 bucks, but the consumer sees it as less. I promise, some people say it’s cheesy, but it’s a real thing. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that prices ending in nine resulted in higher demand compared to prices ending in zero. It’s a phenomenon known as the left digit effect or non-ending pricing. I see a lot of successful operators show their single wash prices as whole numbers like 20 bucks, and their monthly membership is $39.99. Most operators take advantage of the 99 or 95 pricing so they can give the illusion of it being a little less. Look, 9-9 pricing, retail giants wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t effective.

4. Three or Four Package

In our industry, this debate is as old as Ford vs. Chevy, Bud vs. Miller. Three packages feel simple. It’s a good balance of variety with ease of decision-making – small, medium, large; bronze, silver, gold. Frankly, it’s what consumers are used to seeing everywhere else. Now, if you look at the average ticket with three packages, most of the time it falls right in the middle. However, we’ve seen that adding a fourth package, the ticket average goes up, giving you a little bump in your ticket price.

5. Just the Highlights

At some point in the industry, we decided our menus needed to include everything that happens in the tunnel, listing every step in our wash process and every chemical used. It’s like we wanted to get credit for all the things we’re doing in the tunnel. To reduce the visual noise, we have to simplify the content and provide an overview in a concise way. Tell the consumer what they’re getting and what’s different in each package. So, our Classic Wash will get you clean, our Wheel Deal will make sure you get clean plus your wheels and tires are shiny. Our Shine Time features Spot Free and adds some extra polishing, while our Ultimate Protection is a layer of waxing and protects your car’s finish. In that example, real simple: clean and dry, wheels and tires shine, protection. This allows the consumer to buy based on a need, an actual emotion, and a benefit to them. So, leave the intricate details of the package for your website or your rack card and give them the highlights.

6. Theme Names or No Themes

This is debatable for sure. I think if you’ve got a heavily themed brand, you want your wash packages and they can have clever puns and be relatable. I think it’s cool. I’ve seen sports themed washes where the top package is “The Whole 9 Yards”. That makes sense to most consumers that that package has everything. So, I have some clients tell me, “Look, let’s not go overboard with the cutesy themes.” Many times we find that consumers don’t spend enough time at the menu to even get it. And when they come up to you and say, “Hey, I just want the $12 wash,” that shows that we didn’t educate them on the benefits, and our cute name went right out the door. So, we might as well just call it the $12 wash. I have seen some packages as simple as good, better, best, or bronze, silver, gold. This style is comparing the wash levels to themselves. So, you’re telling the customer to decide if they’d like low, medium, or high. Make sure you brand the car wash package names in a clever way so that you’re conveying the benefit to the customer and escalation in that service.

Look, I’m not saying we have all the answers in making a perfect menu, but I just wanted to arm you with some of the tips and ideas to consider that we found in the field. Your menu is a big deal, and it can be the difference between a $12 and $18 ticket average. So, research and prepare before you start working with a graphic designer. One more tool I got for you is a worksheet that we created to help you kind of organize your thoughts if you’re creating a new menu. That link is in the description below.

Alright, that’s your SLAM 6. I hope I’ve armed you with some tools to make a better menu and raise your ticket average. If you need some advice or want some help, call us at Slam. We’re here to make car wash marketing easy. Lastly, if you like this video, click subscribe, follow us on Facebook, and we’ll keep sending you fresh ideas on car wash marketing.

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