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A fact of life in the carwash business is the need for security. There is cash on hand at your business and the bad guys know it. Your site is typically not occupied at night, and is located by other businesses that also close up after hours. That makes your carwash a juicy target for vandals, tramps and thieves.
After being broken into a few times (sometimes for amazingly small amounts of money), after repairing the damage and cleverly devising additional means of security to thwart the bad guys for 'next time', it is easy to build up a bunker mentality. You have been robbed. Perhaps repeatedly. You feel that you are under attack. You would love to get back at the low-lives that did this to you!
But take a deep breath before you break out the barbed wire and the signs warning of 24-hour surveillance. You are operating a retail business serving law-abiding, decent folks day in and day out. You are in business only at their pleasure and you must keep that at the forefront of your thought process every day.
Make Coming to Your Wash a Positive Experience
In our Tip of the Month features, we often talk about ways to keep a strong marketing focus on everything you do at your wash. Why? Because the carwash business is an 'experiential consumer business'. You are providing a service (cleaning the car), but also an experience (pampering the customer). Why is Starbucks so successful? Good coffee, yes, but they can charge a premium only because of the experience that they wrap around that cup of coffee. Baristas, cool tunes, and a free newspaper to look at while enjoying the coffee are things people will line up and pay extra for.
Now translate that thought to dealing with security at your wash. The advice here is simple: Do everything to repel the thieves, but DON'T repel your customers! When you go to a casino in Las Vegas there is security everywhere, but it's not in your face. When customers drive onto your lot, they should not be impressed by the number of padlocks, security bars, and surveillance signs they see.
As much as possible, let them live in a fictional world where bad things like petty crime don't happen. You have to live in the real world with real security, but that's what you get paid for … by your many happy customers!
Laurie Sherman is Co-owner of Blendco Systems, LLC. Blendco manufactures a full line of detergents and waxes for the professional carwash industry. You can contact Blendco at: www.blendco.com.