- Buyer's Guide
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Well I hope everyone has been enjoying the last few weeks of summer and that some of you might have put into practice some of my multimedia marketing and advertising suggestions. Feel free to contact me with any feedback or firsthand experiences and I will be sure to use your comments in one of my future columns.
A fleet deal
Now let’s visit or rather re-visit the old tried and true method of bottom line revenue which has to do with fleet accounts. At all of the carwashes I have ever owned and operated, I have always maintained a sizeable fleet account both with public vehicles and private dealer lots including rental car agencies, limousine and taxi companies. Not only do these accounts provide reliable weekday traffic, but they also account (no pun intended) for an upswing on the weekends due to private individuals having been use to taking their company or public sector cars to the car wash during the week, now out of habit washing their own private cars.
It has also been my experience that these individuals, especially the non-civilian folks, like to spend big money on premier detail services. By extending a little patience and courtesy to these outfits and by simply maintaining these accounts with direct contact once a month at the minimum, you can dramatically see a difference in your mailbox by way of a check.
Now you are asking yourself, “how do I go about soliciting these accounts and who in the heck do I speak with in regards to getting these accounts set up and in place?” Well, let’s discuss this.
The person you would want to speak with, in regards to any public sector accounts, including city and county fleet vehicles, is the fleet manager at the local city hall or the county works facility. It may take you a few phone calls, but by narrowing down to the fleet manager in charge, you can often make progress in getting a meeting set up with him or her to discuss bids for washing all the cars and trucks in the fleet. The fleet managers are usually directed by their superiors to work with their lowest bidder, and the best locale in proximity to the fleet parking lots, and the places where the vehicles are usually stationed. The fleet manager will then need to go to their superiors to get approval, and after an agreement is reached a fleet contract can then be drawn up, and you can then start washing the cars and trucks.
Setting up a billing system
The billing process is then usually organized in the following manner: A summary of the cars according to VIN number and license plate will be recorded daily, and entered into the monthly billing cycle. At the end of the month, you simply turn in your invoice, and then wait for the check. These checks are usually two weeks away from the time you submit your invoice. Some county and city agencies can be set up with a fleet pass card, and charges and billing can be stream lined through electronic transfer.
Check with the county or city billing department to see if they can help you with getting this set up. Often, by speaking with the right clerk, and having the right attitude, you can get things done that would otherwise be time consuming adventure.
In most cases the fleet vehicles assigned to county and city public works, and or non-civilian service, will be designated with a “basic wash” tag only. However, vehicles, such as the ones driven by the chief of police, fire captain, and some of the more specialized vehicles, will be afforded the higher wash package. In all cases, these cars whether they are getting a basic wash or premium wash will be afforded the fleet discount, but at an applicable rate for premium wash packages.
The other advantages
Now onto the fringe benefits. Obviously, by washing police, fire and other county vehicles at your carwash you will get an increased police presence and much more of a familiarization by the fire department with your building entrances and exits and everything else they would need to know in the when responding to an emergency at your location.
Also, these off duty non-civilians tend to spend quite a bit of money on their own personal vehicles during their off time and it has been my experience that a good majority of their friends tend to follow suit in being a customer at your carwash.
If you so choose, you can set up a “non-civilian” discount that would be applicable to all first responders and military personnel. I have found this to be very popular, not only for the patrons, but for the community at large. By following some of these simple steps and with a little tenacity and effort on your part, you can get a fleet account set up at your carwash and start to enjoy the benefits of the fleet accounts.
Until next time, keep your suspenders handy, and your hats high.
Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, CA, can be reached at 310-947-9711, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit his website at www.carwash-consultant.com.