Did you know it can cost five to 25 times the amount to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer? For example, every 10,000 members in the car wash unlimited wash plan is a $300,000 churn problem. This becomes a $3 million problem if you have 100,000 members. Keeping your existing customers happy and loyal is more important than ever to maintain and grow your brand value.

            As the economy continues to experience lingering headwinds from factors like inflation, rising interest rates, and bank failures, now is the time to focus on improving operational efficiencies and delivering an exceptional customer experience. Gaining a deeper understanding of your customer can help you reach them and better yet, keep them. 


            Generally speaking, the Voice of the Customer (VoC) involves the process of gathering and understanding customer feedback, with the goal of crafting and deploying customer responses that directly improve the product and customer experience. Customers like to be in control and like to communicate on their terms. The method by which they communicate will vary across demographics and regions.

            To better reach your customer, you need to start by assessing your current communication methods. Four questions to ask yourself: 
1.         How are you communicating with your customers?
2.         Is it on their terms?
3.         Are you easy to contact?
4.         Are you easy to do business with?

            Successful car wash operators are communicating with customers through many touchpoints. They listen, they are responsive, consistent, and problem solvers. Here are some communication channels for you to consider:
1.         On-site conversations
2.         Off-site channels such as voice, texting, and e-mail
3.         Social media engagement
4.         Monitoring and responding to online customer reviews
5.         Targeted surveys at different times during the customer journey
6.         Using feedback forms, often through the Contact Us page on your website

            In today’s data-driven environment, capturing and analyzing feedback helps you understand the VoC and their sentiment toward your brand. When you can consistently collect robust data, you can set trigger points and detect patterns outside the norm. You can also incorporate surveys to help quantify the customer satisfaction rate — a marker that they will remain loyal to your brand and net promoter score — how likely a customer is to recommend you to others. There are various ways this can be done, and often marketing companies you work with will offer these services.


            After finding out where you are today, focus on developing an intentional customer retention strategy that enables you to build deeper, stronger relationships with your customers. Reducing churn certainly grows your bottom line. Understanding your customer’s journey and capturing the VoC also makes your marketing investment pay off longer.

            Keep these tactics in mind as you are developing or refining your customer retention strategy:

Be Proactive, not Reactive

            Anticipate and proactively solve customer problems to build trust and deeper, longer relationships. The easier you are to communicate with and the quicker you can solve issues, the better a customer feels and the more likely they will do business with you.

Manage the Back Door

            Gather data on the exit to capture the reason for the churn. Have a plan B to keep them for valid reasons. Your plan B could involve down-selling, discounts, or just hearing them out and inviting them to come back for a “do-over.” Whatever you do, don’t let your customer slip away to your competitor without you even realizing they are unhappy.

Segment the Controllable and Uncontrollable Reasons of Churn

            By understanding why customers are leaving, you can segment them into different groups and have a better idea of how to communicate with them. You may also see churn patterns emerging. That data can help inform you on how to adjust your operations or marketing initiatives to alleviate or reduce the cause of churn.

Tackle Short-Term Goals

            Spot the lowest-hanging fruit to attack first and develop a strategy around it. Addressing issues that are easier to solve first can help you gain momentum and continue building a more comprehensive and effective customer retention strategy. 

Establish a Long-Term Plan

            Identify tools and resources to help execute your customer retention strategy for the long term. Investing in the long-term relationship with your customer pays off!

            You don’t have to go it alone, though. No matter what size your company is — if you’re a small business, multi-unit brand operator, or in high-growth mode, partnering with a company that specializes in white-labeled customer support can make a huge impact on your business. These companies employ trained customer support specialists who act as an extension of your brand, ensuring that consumer needs never go unheard across any channel – voice, e-mail, chat, SMS/text, and social media messaging. This hand-in-hand partnership is seamless for customers while reducing payroll and easing your company’s workload with custom support solutions to solve the need for dedicated in-house support coverage. It also allows you to optimize your resources, gain better actionable insight on customers, and ultimately drive higher net revenue retention and increase your overall brand value.


            Experience is everything. The relationship between your brand and your customer is important. So, you want to get it right, as much as possible, both onsite and offsite. Proper retention methods involve strategies for the short term, with the long-term prize always in view. Good customer experience leaves people feeling heard and appreciated. It minimizes friction, maximizes efficiency, and maintains a human element to help cultivate promoters of your brand.

Lanese Barnett is senior vice president of business development at Amplify Car Wash Advisors (AmplifyWash.com), the number one advisor of car wash chains nationwide. With a mission of creating wealth for clients, Amplify helps car wash owners sell, partner, or grow using practical industry experience as operators coupled with expertise in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and capital advisory. Amplify Ventures is a vertical within Amplify Car Wash Advisors that forms strategic partnerships with cutting-edge companies like Retention Express, providing solutions that enhance operational efficiencies and increase same-store sales. For a candid conversation about customer retention with Lanese and Retention Express Founder Bobby Thomson, listen to Car Wash M&A, The Podcast Episode 5: Improving the Customer Experience.

Retention Express provides car wash owners and operators with an in-brand customer experience support solution with POS access that closes the loop with their customers across all inbound customer touchpoints. By providing members and customers with first-call resolutions, Retention Express can provide customer support, reduce churn, and raise customer satisfaction while alleviating pain points and inefficiencies for car wash staff. Because all interactions are captured and documented, owners gain valuable analytics and actionable insight from the voice of their customers. Learn more at RetentionExpress.com.