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Business Operations

Unlimited possibilities

October 11, 2010
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The stories came out of places as varied as Shamokin Dam, PA, Las Vegas, and a well-to-do suburb near Nashville. They were operators experimenting with the same marketing idea, but in very different markets and at very different price points. And yet, the end results were the same: Success.

Unlimited wash plans are slowly making their way into the carwash industry. Having seen these subscription-based price models do wonders for fitness clubs and Netflix video rentals, car care business owners are ready to pounce. In February alone, Professional Carwashing & Detailing picked up three stories from across the nation for its twice-weekly e-Newsletter, PC&D e-News, of carwashes getting recognition in local newspapers for the novel idea.

“I just think it’s a great thing,” explained Christine Garman in one story. Garman, a customer of Kleen Mist Car Wash in Shamokin Dam, PA, is also the owner of a local funeral home. “We have our motor equipment in tip-top, pristine shape. That is our image. My late father always told me, ‘Never take a dirty car to a service.’”

The Kleen Pass Club, as the monthly unlimited program is known at the Pennsylvania carwash, uses an RFID tag by Innovative Control Systems to track registered vehicles. Similar devices are offered by other point-of-sale technology suppliers in the industry.

While the Kleen Pass is a program that works off an annual rate, with price points at $14.95, $29.95 and $39.95 per month, Terrible Herbst, a chain of 18 carwashes in the Las Vegas area, takes a different approach. Terrible’s offers a gift card with unlimited washing for a single month. The Monthly Value Plan (or MVP gift card) starts at $15.99 and is sold online.

So how exactly do these programs appeal to operators and to customers? Well, for starters, a subscription-based pricing model can take out the weather factor. That gray cloud icon on the weatherman’s weekend report won’t seem nearly as discouraging when your wash has already collected a few hundred (or thousand!) dollars in subscriptions for the month. Furthermore, it’s reassuring to your customer, who no longer has to worry about the rain clouds in the distance as he exits the carwash tunnel.

These programs also offer an additional level of convenience to the customer. For instance, Miles Johnson, owner of Miles The Auto Spa in Cool Springs, TN, offers four levels of subscriptions at his wash, ranging in price from $19 to $79. The base level customer can come in for an exterior wash without worrying about if he has his wallet or loyalty card on him and the upper level customer can do the same. Not only that, but the program also relieves the pressure of worrying about a random incident of dirt happening after a wash. No longer will the clean car be parked in the garage and saved for that special event. Now Johnson’s customers can drive around town without fear.

Convenience and reassurance are two important reasons for your customers to consider this plan, but let’s be honest, you were convinced after I said you could ignore the weatherman, weren’t you?

Kate Carr, Editor in Chief

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