Last year, at The Car Wash Show in Las Vegas, I met with a good friend of mine, Jeff Coplin, co-owner of Matt and Jeff’s Car Wash in Novato, CA. We were discussing how his highest wash package price had plateaued at $34.99. I suggested to him that, instead of increasing the price, he add an express detail option to his wash menu. Jeff immediately loved the idea and realized the extra income potential. Within a week he added a choice of two express details at $59.99 each or both for $69.99.
In doing research for a new book I’m writing on how to increase car wash revenue, I called Jeff to get his feedbackon adding the express detail to the menu. He had some valuable insights. The following are excerpts from our conversation:
RASSAMNI: What is the one piece of advice you can give to other car wash owners about adding an express detail item to the wash menu?
COPLIN: In one sentence I would say, if you do not have an express package part of your menu, you cannot sell one.
Why did you add two express detail options instead of one?
I believe in giving customers choices where the best outcome is always yes and yes.
Why did you price each at $59.99 and both at $69.99? Isn’t it a lot of work for only $10 extra?
It takes the same time to express detail a vehicle as it takes to clean a vehicle in and out. The only difference is we are paid more for the same time invested in cleaning the vehicle. The idea is to make the combination of both options a “no brainer.” Customers see the value in the extra $10 upgrade.
Some car wash owners might say, “Only $10 extra to add the second express detail? Are you crazy? Why not offer to add the second express detail for $49.99? That will increase your dollar per car sales.” What is your response?
My intention from the beginning was to sell both options combined for $69.99 and by offering them as separate packages for $59.99 each, made the combination look so valuable. At the end of the day,our labor cost remained the same when we added the express detail to the menu. What matters is not the sales dollar per car, what matters is the total gross revenue at the end of the day.
Was your top wash package affected by adding the express detail option?
No, absolutely not. Before adding the express detail packages to the menu, we had 10 percent of our customers purchasing our top package, and the number today is still at 10 percent. It has not dropped.”
Can you tell me what percentage of your customers now purchase one or both express detail packages?
A little over 5 percent of our customers purchase the express detail packages. Also, we are offering these packages to our unlimited club plan members at 50 percent off listed price and that generated extra income as well.
If your top package sales did not decrease then what wash did these customers migrate from?
What shrunk is the basic wash. We recently had an increase in the basic wash price, but we kept all the package prices the same. Customers now see the valuein upgrading to a better wash for fewmore dollars.
What other lessons have you learned from this experience?
I learned that many of the customers who only bought the basic wash did so not because they are cheap but because they did not see the value in the on-line waxes and upgrades. However, they saw the value in the express detail and they were willing to pay the higher price for these services.
The number of packages you offer should not exceed three or four, including an express detail package.
Consumer behavior psychologists have conducted experiments about customer behavior at a movie theatre that confirm Jeff’s pricing strategy is the best for increasing sales dollar per transaction. The experiments went something like this:
At the concession stand, the psychologists rearranged the price of popcorn and offered a small popcorn for $3 and a large one for $7. The result was that 85 percent of the customers chose the small popcorn. When interviewed, customers said they did not see value in buying the large
popcorn for $7. Subsequently, the psychologists added a medium-sized popcorn for the price of $6.50. This resulted in 85 percent of the customers choosing the large popcorn. When interviewed, customers said they saw value in buying the large popcorn for $7, only fifty cents more than the medium-sized popcorn.
Your menu should be simple with few options. Do not complicate the menu and confuse the customers with too many choices. Customers prefer simplicity. Many sales are lost when offers are too complicated for the customer to make a decision. The number of packages you offer should not exceed three or four, including an express detail package. If your company has a wide range of offers, then, to keep it simple, recommend the best and most popular wash package and give customers the reasons why. What made the fast food restaurant In-N-Out Burger® famous? Besides having fresh and quality food, it is the simplicity of their menu. Keep it simple.
AJ Rassamni, author of Increase Business 30% in 30 Days, and soon to be published Dirty Cars, Filthy Rich, is a 27-year car wash veteran and owner of Great American Car Wash in Fresno, CA. You can contact AJ via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (559) 284-1919. You can also visit his website at www.30percentin30days.com.
Jeff Coplin is co-owner of Matt & Jeff’s Car Wash in Novato, CA, winner of the Western Carwash Association’s 2011 Most Innovative Operator Award. You can contact Jeff via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.