As operators of a professional car wash we are always looking for ways to increase the sales of our top package. What more can we add to it, what more can we do? How can we give our top package increased value for the customer? How about adding an insurance policy? A clean car guarantee.
We are all familiar with the rain-day guarantee, but this is different. With the clean car guarantee, when customers buy the top wash package, they are offered a free re-wash for any reason within a set amount of time: 24 hours, 48 hours, or even a week — that’s up to you. The benefit adds value to your top package by letting customers know you care about them and their car. This program lets customers know that when they are willing to spend $20 or more on a car wash, you want to make sure their car stays clean for a while.
At our wash we offer a 48-hour clean car guarantee. If for any reason the car gets dirty within 48 hours, the customer can return with the receipt and receive a free wash. It’s our way of helping the customer keep the car clean longer. So the customer is looking over your menu and sees your middle package is maybe $4 less than your top package, but your top wash now offers a 48-hour clean car guarantee. That’s an insurance policy for the customer.
It probably happens an untold number of times: a person visits the car wash, pays top dollar for the best wash, and just a few miles down the road, a bird poops on the hood. Or they drive past a construction site and the car gets covered with dust and dirt, or, yes, it even starts raining. The clean car guarantee allows the customer to return and get a free car wash. We offer our basic wash as the free re-wash, but that would be your call. How many times does your customer say, “It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I am just getting a basic wash.” Well, now you can tell them they can get a free wash whether it rains or not.
ALL TYPES OF CAR WASHES
This program works well in all types of car washes. Most pay stations at in-bay automatics are able to offer a code allowing the customers to return within a set number of days before the code expires. In tunnel washes, the greeter can quickly explain when offering the top wash that it comes with a clean car guarantee. Training your greeters to offer the top wash to every customer because it now comes with a new clean car guarantee will ensure the success of this program.
Maintain control of the program by requiring customers to return with the paid receipt. Alternatively, you can print out a coupon with an expiration date offering the free re-wash within that specific time period. If you already offer discount coupons on your top package that customers might bring in from your direct-mail-marketing efforts, such as $4 off the top wash, you can exclude the clean car guarantee by stipulating that it only applies to full-price purchases. At our wash, we honor the guarantee on all our top wash sales even if customers use a printed discount coupon.
This added benefit to your top wash is easy to promote. It can be added to your menu sign, displayed in a windmaster frame, works great on social media, and can even be publicized in flyers and other handouts.
Many car washes where this program has been implemented have seen increases in the sales of their top wash package — some by between 5 percent and 15 percent. So if your top wash is not your bestseller, this could do it for you. Some operators worry that the program will add expense to their bottom line by giving away free washes. What this does, however, is convince more customers to buy the top wash, thus increasing revenue. And the good news is, we have found that in most cases only between 1 percent and 5 percent of customers actually ever return for their free wash.
How might the clean car guarantee affect your car counts? To make it easy, let’s look at an example using a wash doing 100 cars a day. Assume that before the guarantee 40 percent of customers buy the top wash, 35 percent buy the basic wash, and the middle package pulls in the last 25 percent.
This program may not convince many customers who normally just buy the basic wash to spend the extra money, but what it will do is entice those who normally buy the middle package to step up to the best wash because they understand that they can now return anytime within 48 hours — or some other time period you might determine — for a free re-wash.
So watch the numbers of your middle package fall as the sales of your top package grow by 5 percent or more once the guarantee program is implemented. As I mentioned, the best news is less than 5 percent will return for the free wash.
So now let’s look at the same numbers with a new clean car guarantee in place at the 100-cars-a-day wash. The top wash now accounts for 50 percent of total cars washed — a 10 percentage point increase. The basic wash still attracts 35 percent of customers, but now only 15 percent of customers choose the middle wash package. Where are the clean car guarantee free washes you ask? Actually, the 100-cars-a-day wash serviced 105 cars today — five of them having returned for their free wash. That’s an increase in the car count, because they normally would not have come back so soon for another car wash.
ADD THIS VALUE
I encourage you to add a clean car guarantee to your top wash package. It adds tremendous value to your wash. It clearly shows you are loyal and caring towards your customers and you want them to enjoy their clean car for a long time. It’s easy to promote and manage. Finally, a clean car guarantee gives you an edge over your competition.
Chuck Lundberg, a 25-year car wash industry professional, is presently general manager of Clean & Green Car Wash of Marlborough, MA and owner of Independent Car Wash Consultants of NH. Chuck has served on the board of directors of the New England Carwash Association. You can contact Chuck via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.