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Business Operations / Starting a carwash

Top 4 tips on how to start a carwash business

May 17, 2013
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When starting a carwash, there are many steps involved. Once the final touches have been made and you’re ready to open it’s important to let the public know you’re open and ready for business.

Tip #1 on how to start a cawrash business: Your grand opening

When introducing yourself to the public, you might have to give up some potential profits to bring in customers. Free washes are very prevalent now with grand openings. Customers are usually blown away by the nice gesture and vow to go back for more washes. Grand openings can also have live music, free food and gifts and even entertainment. Some new carwashes will offer rides to kids or tie in a fundraising event. It’s supposed to be a party-like atmosphere, so make it fun and noticeable for people driving by. Have balloons on site and make it so that it will be a buzzed-about event.

Tip #2 on how to start a carwash business: Proper signage

According to sign consultant Perry Powell, an effective sign creates easy recall. A pictorial graphic along with the word “carwash” prominently displayed, more than any other sign element, will create individual identities by which the consumer can mentally recall. Many times signage fails to reflect the correct impression of the business, Powell said.

Good strong borders will make the details of the graphic stand out. A correctly-designed sign needs to breathe. The correct amount of color and negative space creates the greatest readability, Powell noted. Also, colors should contrast. In other words, no green if the sign is surrounded by trees.

Tip #3 on how to start a cawrash business: Proper placement of signage

When possible, Powell said signs should be placed before the entrance, on lanes where the traffic makes a right hand turn into the wash.

Building signs should create an overall larger prescence. One way to overcome restrictive sign codes is to use the whole facility as a sign, suggested Powell. “Walgreen’s does an excellent job of using the whole site to brand the site. The bulk of this is done through the use of sign centric advertising. Applying the principal of continuity will give a larger than life feeling to the facility.”

Tip #4 on how to start a carwash business: Social media

When starting a new carwash, you should set up a Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ account for your business as soon as possible. Almost everyone is utilizing social media on a daily basis; it makes your business, your address, phone number, and hours, more accessible; and it allows you to track what customers are saying about you, good and bad.

If you already have a Facebook or Twitter account, make sure you’re using them advantageously. One inactive Twitter account could make a follower look elsewhere. Or a business without Facebook updates could make one question if the business is still open.         

According to Lisa Barone, chief branding officer of Outspoken Media, social media, “One out of every five searches on the Web has local intent. Your customers are researching online to buy offline. They’re using the Web and social media channels to see if anyone has experience with your brand. They’re checking out your online reviews to see if that experience is positive or negative. They’re using your website and your social presence (Facebook, Twitter, whatever you have) to learn more about you and see if they trust you and if you’re someone they want to do business with. The importance of word of mouth hasn’t changed, but it’s moved online.”         

Janet Fouts, a social media coach and founder of Tatu Digital Media, said, “Twitter is great to reach out to local customers in real-time and Facebook is great to keep a space online where customers can ask questions, get feedback and offers and share those with their friends. As users share the information with their friends, word spreads quickly.”  

A big mistake for new carwash owners is to not get involved and stay active with your social media. “It’s easy to think that because you’re serving local customers that you don’t need the Web or social media forums,” Barone said. “But like I mentioned before it’s the ROBO effect — your customers are researching online, buying offline. So if you’re not there when they’re looking for you, you don’t even factor into their buying decision.”

Barone added, “It really needs to be scheduled into your day just like anything else.”