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Capturing extra dollars

How to identify and target those customers who are willing to pay more per visit.

August 21, 2013
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I hope you have had a prosperous and outstanding summer. Out West here, we have had a very hot early summer season and we are also seeing some of the old numbers (pre-recession) start to trickle back in some cases, with plenty more season left. By comparison, those operators on the East coast are also seeing some unusually good numbers and are now heading in to the cooler very profitable Fall season.

Now the task at hand is how to capture those extra dollars as they spill in to the queuing area, and how to identify and target those specific customers that will readily spend those extra dollars. Also, we need to determine what those customers will want and how to go about reaching them.

In my last article (Professional Carwashing & Detailing July 2013 issue) I eluded to the fact that a great marketing and advertising program is one of the best ways to do this. But exactly how do was one know what the steps are, who/what the companies are, and where/what to actually print. To find this out, you would have to call or email me and I could further explain some of the nuances of marketing 101. Or, you could read up on one of many of my articles in Professional Car Wash and Detailing and /or go to: www.carwash.com and see many of the topics listed in our expansive resource guide.

A tried and true marketing method

But for right here, right now, I will give a quick tutorial…

One of the best and most reliable tried and true methods of marketing (in the carwash business at least), is the use of super market register tapes or receipts. This method has an extremely high capture rate and is always affordable comparatively. Of course this appeals to a certain type of customer, so when placing your order with the representative, keep this in mind and try to gear the wording on the coupon to more accurately reflect what YOUR (not his/her) customer wants and is looking for. Remember, you are the carwash pro, they are the marketing ‘salesperson’; get what I mean?

Another way of looking at this is to try and figure out what is most popular at your particular wash. You can do this with a few easy steps on your computer or for some of you more traditional operators, by looking at your chemical usage. By tracking your chemicals and the days which they are most heavily used, you can figure out what is most popular on any given day of the week and adjust the wording on your coupons accordingly. Also, a neat trick is to add a daily ‘popsicle stick’ in your chemical container or chemical dispenser which will allow you to track and compare the different days. It’s an ‘old school’ trick, but it works well.

After this, sit and take some time to look at which certain chemicals and/or products are selling, and which are not. Perhaps you will want to focus on having your coupons advertise for the type of ‘sealer wax’ for instance, that has not been selling well and see if you can move that product along. Also, talk to chemical reps and see if they in fact have any suggestions, or even free product placement that they are willing to afford you. There are some more easy tracking methods which I will explain further in one of my next articles, but for now let us stay focused on the task at hand which is direct marketing and appealing to the customer of that product to which you are trying to sell directly.

Keep track of the buying trends

An important part of your marketing campaign should also focus on your ‘exact’ customer and their buying trends.

Questions for you to ask yourself, your managers, and your sales team are as follows:

  • Do you have a way to gauge your customer?
  • Can you gauge their buying power?
  • Can you gauge their buying ‘habits’ and the way or ways in which they make their purchases?
  • Do you actually track your coupons and see which one is giving you the highest return?
  • Have you synced up your marketing materials and your coupon efforts?
  • Are there places where your coupons are more effective vs. places where they are more or less a waste of time and money, and actually add to your image of being “cheezy”( run of the mill/crudely simple) and cheap?
  • Are they doing their job?

Being cheap is one thing, but being “cheezy” is another. Both can work for you and both can work against you. Take for example Allstate insurance company, they always want to know if you are in ‘Good Hands’? It’s cheezy, yet effective in its simplicity.

Consider hiring a professional

Another great technique in looking at your overall customer is to actually hire a professional marketing firm. There are many that do this for a living and there are even one or two carwash industry consultants (myself being one) that know how to do this quite well also. I would highly recommend the marketing experts.

Finally, a quick sweep of your demographic is always a wise move. This way, you can know your overall pool of customers before you even set out on this journey to capture more dollars.

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