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Starting a carwash

How to start a carwash: What's your sign?

September 17, 2013
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The use of signs to communicate is an age old business practice predating Roman times. From the commercial street sign to the bathroom door, each sign has an important function to perform in the operation of a business facility. Each sign also plays an important role in gaining consumer confidence and pleasing the consumer when he enters the establishment. The purpose of a professionally-designed sign system is to stop traffic. American culture today is mobile and fast paced, demanding greater convenience than in times past. Recognizing these cultural attitudes and appealing to them can help owners capture a greater amount of passing consumers.

There are several types of signs that a conveyor carwash can use, including:

  • Street
  • Building
  • Menu
  • Directional and traffic control
  • Instructional.

Each sign on the property should pull its weight in an effort to communicate in a productive and fun way. In addition, each sign should stay on point with the mission it has been assigned.

How to start a carwash Tip #1: Site branding

It is necessary for conveyor carwash owners to pin all advertising to a specific site. Unlike creating a recognizable brand for a product available through a wide retail distribution network, wash owners must tie all advertising to the site where the products are available.

An effective signage program will target the consumer’s mind to create easy recall of the business and its location. 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 your specific business and its location.

How to start a carwash Tip #2: Content delivery

Each sign in your system should be designed to maximize the delivery of its content. Owners invest in theme architecture, paintings, sculptures, stylish furniture, landscaping and many other items to create a specific impression in the mind of each consumer that enters the business property.

Many times signage fails to reflect the correct impression of the business with the most noticeable of all customer attractants: The on-premise business sign package.

Pictorial graphics used in your signs should relate to the business you are conducting. A car, water droplet, bubbles or the like, will communicate the carwash business well. Good strong borders will make the details of the graphic stand out effectively. The graphic should be designed with the minimum detail necessary to convey the idea of the design. A correctly-designed sign will need to breathe. The correct amount of color contrast coupled with the correct amount of negative space, creates the greatest readability. The pictorial graphic should be broken apart and separated from the copy of the sign. The sign colors should also contrast with the environment of the business. In other words, no green if the sign is surrounded by trees.

How to start a carwash Tip #3: Sign clarity

In planning the appropriate sign design, placement, and size, one should consider the eyesight of the most visually-challenged motorist on the street.

Clarity of the sign message with clean, clear contrast will assist the visually impaired driver.

Does your sign system convey in content and in style the desired message? For example, if you are trying to appeal to professionals with expensive cars, does the sign announce that this is a professional carwash that will take care in cleaning your expensive vehicle? If you are a volume-based wash and wish to appeal to the masses in a hurry, you must do so on the sign while continuing to convey the concept of quality.

Each sign should be examined to see if the sign program hit the mark with the best performance in mind. The sign must communicate to the reader in a form that he can see and understand. We must be sure that our signs communicate in the windshields, eyes, and minds, of the potential customers traversing our streets and entering the facilities.

How to start a carwash Tip #4: Make sure it's effective

The street sign No other device or advertising method can match an effective street sign in attracting customers to your carwash.

Each street sign should be fitted to the site to maximize the rate of attraction and sales production. Using known research data to design a street sign will give the business a competitive edge over those who fail to make these considerations.

The proper placement of a sign will indicate the entrance of the business and effectively communicate with the public. This must be done far enough in advance to allow deceleration and entry. This is vital to capturing all the clients available to a business.

When possible, a sign should be placed before the entrance curb cut, on lanes where the traffic makes a right hand turn into the wash. The exception to this rule would eliminate the approach line of sight to the motorists, allowing the time to decelerate and enter the wash. The appropriate approach line of sight must be maintained.


Perry Powell is an independent sign consultant specializing in coaching business owners in the application and acquisition of site specific signage. Powell can be reached by phone at 817-307-6484 or by email at: perry@perrypowell.com.

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