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Clean car guarantee

October 11, 2010
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Most people believe that there are no guarantees in life; however, some innovative carwash owners are breaking that idea down by offering a clean car guarantee to their customers.

Many washes already offer a rain guarantee, but this program is different because it allows motorists to return for a free wash, within a certain time frame, for any reason at all.

Rainy day blues

Rainy days are the carwash owner's worst enemy. No one in their right mind would wash their car when the rain is pouring down; unless they knew they could wash it again for free when it stopped.

That is just one of the selling points of the clean car guarantee that owners are offering. Rather than closing on rainy days, carwashes like the Travel Clean Express Car Wash in Lee's Summit, MS, are staying open and enticing customers with the guarantee.

Manager Chad Palmer said staying open is one of the keys to the wash's success. According to Palmer people love knowing they can wash and pay now and then wash again later for free when the rain stops.

Central Car Wash Lube & Detail in Thunder Bay, Ontario, began offering a rain check program about two years ago. General Manager Ron Zweep said the wash saw about a two percent usage of the guarantee.

After discussing the total clean car guarantee with other operators on The Professional Car Care Online Bulletin Board, Zweep upgraded the guarantee on April 1, 2005 to include a free wash within a 48-hour period after the original wash, for any reason at all.

Owners and operators must remember to be somewhat flexible concerning the 24 to 48-hour rule if inclement weather occurs, forcing customers to postpone the rewash.

The time frame should be extended if it rains continuously for an elongated period of time.

Premium packages

One thing seems to be consistent with almost all the washes that offer the clean car guarantee — they tend to offer it only on their more expensive or premium packages.

At Heritage Car Wash sites in Denton and Hickory Creek, TX, only customers who purchase the full-serve wash or a wash package can benefit from the clean car guarantee. Owner Kent Yarbrough explained that the exterior-only isn't included in the offer.

Yarbrough said that he tries to get his greeters to tell all his customers about the guarantee offered on the full-service and package washes, because many of them choose to upgrade.

The wash also has signage throughout the facility notifying customers about the offer.

Jeff Gold, owner of seven Buckman's Car Wash & Detail Shop locations, based out of Rochester, NY, said his washes offer a next day guarantee on his lower two wash packages and a five-day guarantee on his top wash, which costs $11.49.

According to Gold, Buckman's was the first wash to ever offer the clean car guarantee that included more than just a rain check stipulation.

He explained that Buckman's began the clean car program in 1986 and Gold continued to offer the service when he purchased the sites.

At Palmer's wash customers receive a clean car guarantee only with the purchase of one of the top two washes which are $12 and $15.

With these packages, the customer receives treatments such as wheel cleaner, triple coat, tire shine and more. When they come back to redeem their guaranteed wash they receive the same services they had two business days before.

When customers are informed by salespeople, greeters or facility signage of the clean car guarantee offered on the more expensive packages they will usually at least consider the benefits.

Many will even choose to upgrade when they understand they can come back for any reason and essentially receive a free wash.

The old and the new appreciate

Everyone wants to get more bang for their buck.

Offering the clean car guarantee ensures that every customer will feel they are receiving two washes for the price of one.

Longtime customers will feel that the wash appreciates their business and will continue to frequent the establishment. New customers will welcome the wash's innovation and commitment to customer service.

Sometimes people just appreciate having the option of a free wash. Gold said that customers may come back the next day with a car almost as spotless as the day before, but they decide to redeem their wash simply because they can.

Palmer agreed with Gold's assertion, he explained that some people think they are paying for the guarantee with the wash package, although the wash service would normally cost the same without the guarantee. Therefore, clean or dirty, they will return the next day to collect on their second wash.

New customers, who are impressed with the clean car guarantee, will also be more likely to spread the word concerning the offer. Old customers won't hesitate to tell their family and friends what their longtime wash has done for them.

Tracking it

When an owner or operator offers a clean car guarantee he or she will need a method for tracking the redemption of services. There are a variety of ways to do this including:

  • Having customers hold onto and return receipts;
  • Providing customers with a redemption card for one wash; and
  • Using a computer system that logs the vehicle information.

Whatever method is used, the most important piece of information required is the vehicle's license plate number.

Offering a clean car guarantee will entice less than honest visitors to attempt to pass the free wash on to another person.

The license plate number should be recorded on or through whatever device is used to keep track of the original wash.

Zweep uses the redemption card method and has employees stamp the card with the date two days ahead. The card then displays the license plate number and how long the free wash is valid for; two very important pieces of information.

Yarbrough uses a DRB system to keep track of his customers and information. This system is also beneficial because it provides a simple way to keep track of how many customers are utilizing the clean car guarantee.

Monitoring and tracking the cars that redeem the guarantee will not only help prevent greedy customers from passing on the free wash to friends, but it will also allow the owner to see how often the guarantee is redeemed and how many times people upgrade because of the offer.

One step ahead

Owners can stay one step ahead of the competition by offering a clean car guarantee that will consistently persuade potential customers to choose a wash that commits itself to going above and beyond the regular customer service.

Ask yourself why any customer would choose to visit a wash that offers a single wash for $10 when they can visit another carwash that offers two washes for the same price. The logical customer will choose option number two.