In her article, Menu Design, in the August 2016 issue of Auto Laundry News, Chelsea Beyer refers to the estimated 5,000 ads consumers are exposed to on a daily basis and how it is becoming more difficult to sift through the clutter. As contributors to the clutter, car washes are very much aware of the challenges they face in ensuring their message reaches its intended audience.

Our latest surveys of conveyor car wash businesses show that in 2015, 77 percent of full-service washes and 82 percent of flex-serve washes advertised their businesses.

Exterior operators were somewhat less inclined to advertise, with 75 percent of express-exterior washes and 48 percent of exterior-only locations reporting having done so. In some measure, operators still use the tried-and-true traditional media like newspapers and direct mail to get their message across — even radio and TV, albeit to a lesser extent. Their preferences are changing.

Ten years ago, 73 percent of conveyor washes reported having access to the Internet; 35 percent had a website. Our current surveys find 92 percent of full/flex-serve locations have Internet access, 72 percent with a website, while 90 percent of exterior sites have Internet access, 65 percent with a website. With this growing Internet presence, it is not surprising that social media marketing has become the number one promotional method employed by conveyor car wash businesses regardless of service format.

In its Social Media Survival Guide, Main Street Hub, a provider of marketing services to local businesses, shares some data that explain, in part, marketers’ attraction to social media:

•71 percent of American adults use Facebook
•More than half (51 percent) of Facebook users are more likely to buy products and services from businesses they “like”
•23 percent of adults online use Twitter
•64 percent of Twitter users are more likely to buy products and services from businesses they follow
• 80 percent of consumers are more likely to try new things based on suggestions made by friends through social media
• 64 percent have changed their minds before buying goods or services based on the opinion of others online
•61 percent of business owners using social media agree that it has gained them new customers

Marketing consultant Steve Yastrow sounds a word of caution in his latest post on, even as he marvels at how digital communication — and advertising in general — has enabled businesses to talk to more customers more frequently, essentially delegating customer communication.

No matter how good your ads are or how adept your social media programs are, he warns, customers will still be moved more through human contact than by contact with inanimate objects like ads, brochures, e-mails, or social media posts. “Are your employees’ encounters with customers causing those customers to love your company more, or less?” he asks. “Have you over-delegated the process of customer communications to inanimate marketing communications?”

To help reconstruct a balance, here are some questions owners can ask about their businesses, compliments of Yastrow: Do our employees understand our brand promise, and are they equipped to enthusiastically and effectively deliver on that promise as they interact with customers? Is our marketing focused on human communication with customers? Is management concerned about the company’s human interface, or is it viewed as an afterthought?