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Midsummer DOs and DON’Ts

How to properly target your customer’s needs during the hot summer months.

July 02, 2012
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Here we are in midsummer. Depending on what part of the country you are in, you are either enjoying good wash weather or not so good wash weather. Out here in California, for example, we are in the middle of our busiest season. This is when temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more in some places, and the cars have different kinds of dirt on them; everything from off-road mud and dirt, such is the case with SUVs, to a whole plethora of bugs on the grill of almost every car. Out on the East Coast for example, the pollen season has just finished and we’re now heading into the humid times, where the interior of vehicles in particular are more vulnerable to stains and soiling. So how do I target my customer, and their needs, according to this summer season? Well, on the East Coast, I would run specials for interior details and other types of upholstery cleaning services, along with headlight restoration and rust protection treatments for the upcoming winter. These are but a few examples of how one can stay afloat yet profitable during this East Coast summer season, which is traditionally slower than the winter months.

The West Coast advantage
On the West Coast, we want to take advantage of what the dry heat does to cars and their paint. If you are a California operator, such as me, you know full well the advantages of selling waxes, clay and all exterior details.

Another item that should be addressed in the extra sales department is the use of dressings on tires and all exterior trims to prevent drying and cracking of the rubber and plastic. Also, bugs making their annual resurgence at this time should be treated with a non-binding chemical solution that is effective, yet completely safe to paints and chromes. Usually, bug treatment is not an extra charge. You might want to gear your marketing and advertising to reflect these different services that are now part of the summer wash season. For instance, taking advantage of multimedia advertising in this day and age is not only popular, but very effective. Some of the ways you can do this are by creating a database of the email addresses and cell phone numbers of your customers.

Sending out regular text messages and emails promoting these seasonal specials is a great way to let your customers know that they can take advantage of the services you are trying to promote. I highly recommend using a new computer system in your carwash to track your customers' spending habits, frequency and wash preferences. After you have stored your database, you will then want to contact a media marketing company, and they will contact the customer directly through the use of their multi-media tools.

Getting help from the city and the media  
Another way to promote is by getting in touch with your city’s event planners and coordinating with some of the different charities and outreach services. By doing this, you are letting them know that you can facilitate in helping their cause. You're also bringing awareness of your services to the public in a good way, while giving back to the community.

Your local television and radio station can play a big part in you and your charity's cause and can even play a part themselves by offering their services for free in exchange for prizes and gift packets for your carwash and detail specials.

The tried and true methods
Last but not least, there are the good old-fashioned coupons, direct mailers and backs of register receipts. You would want to advertise your seasonal specials on these giving more room to the items you are currently promoting than you would to the same items in their off season.

For example, direct mailers have traditionally been a good way to promote seasonal detail specials, so for East Coast carwashes, you would want to advertise your interior details, shampoos, carpet extractions and mat cleaning services. By the same token, on the West Coast, you would want to advertise your hand waxes, exterior details and different types of paint protection that are conducive to the car’s finish during the hot summer months. I would also recommend that you have your management and sales team promote these type of items and stay away from the packages that are off season.

By staying at the forefront of the promotions and images associated with your carwash, and by effectively giving a streamlined media presence, you can significantly make a difference in your overall sales performance, while at the same time, being helpful to the community. These are just some of the tips and recommendations I provide my clients on a regular basis, and for years this has been a very successful method.

Have a great summer wash season! Until next time, keep the bugs off the grill,


Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Enterprises LLC, based in Santa Barbara, CA, can be reached at 805-636-1052, or via email at You can also visit his website at

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