I recently moved house. It was not much of a move — just one zip code over, no more than a two-mile drive. It may as well have been 100. The short distance of the move held no benefit with regard to packing up, the accumulating boxes, and carting everything but the kitchen sink onto a truck. Of course, the entire process had to be repeated, though in reverse, at the other end. Regardless of distance, it’s a stressful experience, much of it brought on by not being able to find stuff you distinctly remember packing.
There was some solace to be found in my mailbox. Local businesses were happy to see me move into their neighborhood, and showed it by offering discounts on their products and services. Most consisted of coupons allowing between 10 percent and 20 percent off, or buy-one-get-one-free deals. Perhaps the best deals came in a welcome-to-the-neighborhood package, requiring no purchase at all. For example, one vendor offered a free, large, one-topping pizza just for “stopping by.” There was a gift certificate for a free oil change and an offer for a free full-service car wash. That last one obviously caught my eye.
Now, truth be told, because of the short distance between my old and new homes, I will continue to frequent many of the businesses I’ve dealt with in the past. In addition, some of the offers I received in the mail are from vendors that I already support. However, there were some tempting offers from places new to me. The pizza joint for one is an establishment I’ll give a try. I’m not so sure about the oil change. And then there is the car wash.
I knew that car wash. I’d been there before, but several years ago. It’s a large, multi-profit-center business: gas sales; c-store; fast lube; auto repair; auto accessories; auto, boat, and RV detailing center, and car wash. My clearest recollection was the extensive lobby area that, despite its size, affords limited views of the wash tunnel. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by. I was open to being persuaded to switch my allegiance to a new wash.
My wash gift certificate was good for a basic full service wash and tagged as a $9.99 value. The menu board on site listed the basic wash at $14.99. My certificate was graciously accepted as full payment for the service, and the ticket writer happily upgraded me to “The Works” for a mere $3. This is a labor-intensive operation with a basically equipped tunnel. The entrance level wash includes a soft-cloth wash, towel dry, dash wipe, glass cleaning, and vacuum. For my extra three bucks, I got foam polish, Wheel Brite, tire shine, and was offered fragrance, which I always decline. Tire shine is applied manually in the finishing area.
This wash had made some effort and spent some money to get me in its door — the intent, of course, to have me return and possibly become a regular. I was treated well, and my car looked great as I drove off. I might return on occasion, but for now I’ll stick to my regular wash, where the tunnel is better equipped and looks a little newer. To get me to switch, I guess, is going to take more than just a good-looking end product.