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Business Operations

Carwash case study: Increase your customer flow

October 11, 2010
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Fred Davidson, manager of facility operations at The Mall Chevron/Carwash in Victorville, CA, is much like the rest of you. He is constantly looking for ways to increase sales. His $5/5 minute or less express carwash has done well for itself over the years, but this past year, the carwash did something extraordinary: it doubled its volume in one amazing year.

The carwash owes its success to community involvement. For example, a company representative makes an appearance at grand openings of all local businesses. Recently, carwash attendants gave away 40 free carwash passes at the grand opening of a 16-theatre complex.

Community involvement
GZC Engineering Group Inc., formally known as Godzilla Cable, happened to be a recipient of a free pass. After an extraordinary first impression, the company now has its fleet of vehicles cleaned at the carwash.

“The first thing we noticed was that everyone at the carwash was very kind, courteous and helpful,” said Rigoberto Murillo, COO and VP of GZC Engineering Group Inc. “We got a lot more out of the wash than we expected, from receiving car scents to towelettes to wipe down the inside; it gave me a better feeling than just driving through a typical carwash.”

“For a drive through carwash, their equipment is really good,” added Murillo.

Over the holidays, the carwash gave away a free wash with the donation of a toy for Toys for Tots program. Over 1,200 free washes were given away with this program, and plenty of community good will.

On Valentine’s Day, the carwash purchased nearly 230 long stemmed roses and gave them away to every female customer at the wash. Forgetful cupids could also purchase roses for $2.50.

Chamber of Commerce
Davidson said the local chamber of commerce plays a big part in getting involved with the community. He recommends becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce because it presents the opportunity to speak about your business to a crowd of people in just a few minutes.

Davidson regularly attends meetings and participates with the chamber in their activities.

In a recent Chamber of Commerce newsletter, Val Matteson, chairman of the board said, “Employees benefit from community work not only personally, but also professionally through corporate recognition and potentially new skill development that will aid them on the job and future career.”

“The Chamber holds meetings where 200-300 people attend, providing loads of networking possibilities,” said Marilyn Buttelwerth, membership sales coordinator.

The chamber newsletter features new members, including summaries and photos featured from grand openings. The chamber also provides workshops, forums and several committees providing oportunities for networking and community involvement.

“It’s like anything else,” said Buttelwerth, “if you’re going to buy a tube of toothpaste, you’re going to walk two blocks to go to someone you know rather than someone you don’t.”

Customer satisfaction
“Hospitality is the key,” said Davidson, adding, “most carwashes operate like robots,” whereas he ensures that his employees act friendly, smile and make eye contact with all customers whenever possible.

Davidson makes sure he hires the right employees for the job. The interviews begin with his assistant manager who is careful to notice if they are fidgety and nervous, or honest and clean-cut.

All employees are cross-trained in case staff need to rotate locations.

Davidson stresses the importance of customer satisfaction. If for any reason damage claims arise, he ensures the customer is given the opportunity to explain their point of view.

Fred stresses if for any reason a customer is not satisfied with their wash, it is rewashed with no questions asked.

Employees are trained to listen, take notes and make sure that the customer knows the problem will be taken care of. In situations like this, he is sure to obtain at least three estimates and take immediate action to resolve the situation.

In one example, a side mirror was overlooked and was not folded in before entering the wash, resulting in a broken mirror. Davidson and Ramos took immediate steps to ensure the problem was rectified.

The management team sent one of the carwash employees over to the nearest auto parts store, purchased and installed a new side mirror, and treated the customer to lunch all within a time span of one hour.

Apologies for the inconvenience were made and a free carwash was delivered for the then satisfied customer. The customer is now a regular on a weekly basis. Davidson says, “This is what customer service is all about.”

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