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What's black and white and green all over?

October 11, 2010
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Nowadays there is no excuse for not emphasizing the eco-friendly benefits of professional carwashing in your marketing program. Whether it’s your water conservation efforts or the biodegradable line of chemicals you use, the message of being green and clean is an obvious choice for any carwash operator.

The tricky part comes in deciding how to communicate this message to employees and customers, and in deciding which parts of your carwash will adhere to this green message, and which components are simply too expensive or cumbersome to adopt. Professional Carwashing & Detailing spoke with Dave Hart, director of vehicle wash at Zep, Inc., a provider of chemicals to the carwash market, to identify the short term and long term benefits of choosing green chemicals and equipment, as well as ideas for tackling the costs related to using eco-friendly equipment and supplies.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing: What are the short-term and long-term benefits of choosing green chemicals?

Dave Hart: The short term benefit is being “the first on the block.” There are a significant number of end-users that would prefer to have their car washed with earth-friendly chemicals. So, if a wash operator is one of the first to understand this, he will have an advantage over the competition.

The long term benefit will be this wash will be known as the first to go green. It will be recognized as the leader in the green movement. Once customers realize this, they will embrace this wash as being environmentally friendly conscious and the benchmark in that market.

PC&D: How can these benefits help operators to tackle the cost issues that may be associated with green chemicals?

DH: It’s all about marketing. Washes need to take a page out of the retail play book and see how they are handling the green movement. We need to educate end-users on earth-friendly products and the features and benefits.

Given the choice, customers would prefer to have their vehicles washed with eco-friendly products. If there is an additional cost to the operator for these green products, the costs can be counteracted by playing offense and going out and letting the community know you are a leader in green carwashing. The added car count will more than offset any additional cost.

PC&D: What advice do you have for reducing other expenses (water, chemical, energy, etc.) in order to make room in the budget for purchasing green equipment and/or supplies?

DH: Again, be proactive. Market your wash. Zep offers a Tool Box which provides turn-key marketing programs to make your business better. (Several other chemical providers offer similar promotional tools to operators who carry those chemical lines.)

PC&D: What are some of the marketing tactics which can help an operation grow volume in order to afford green chemicals?

DH: Our company’s product, the Zep Tool Box, has a wide variety of items that any carwash could use of their own design, but we’ve done the work for them. For instance, signage, direct mailing, website templates, e-mail marketing ideas, cash register tape marketing, apparel, videos. There’s a lot you can do.

PC&D: How do you recommend operators adjust their pricing after incorporating green chemicals?

DH: I would not recommend a price increase once an operator decided to go green. That is the biggest issue end-users have with green products, “They cost more.” Once you have implemented your marketing campaign and seen the increased car count, then a menu adjustment may be in order.

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