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Business Operations / Sonny's-Carwash College™ Tip of the Month

Enhance Your Customer Service - Give 'Em the Pickle

CarWash College™ Tip of the Month

February 24, 2011
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This tip was originally published in 2009, but after a recent conversation with a client I thought it was important to share it again. In my opinion this is the single most important thing to maintain, happy customers. I recently viewed a short, but great film entitled Give 'Em the Pickle. I think it is a great concept and have shared some of it with you below.

"Dear Mr. Farrell,

I've been coming to your restaurant for over three years. I always order a #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I always ask for an extra pickle and I always get one. Mind you, this has been going on once or twice a week for three years.

I came into your restaurant the other day and I ordered my usual #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I asked the young waitress for an extra pickle. I believe she was new because I hadn't seen her before. She said, "Sir, I will sell you a side of pickles for $1.25." I told her, "No, I just want one extra slice of pickle. I always ask for it and they always give it to me. Go ask your manager."

She went away and came back after speaking to the manager. The waitress looked me in the eye and said, "I'll sell you a pickle for a nickel." Mr. Farrell, I told her what to do with her pickle, hamburger and milkshake. I'm not coming back to your restaurant if that's the way you're going to run it."

The Customer

So what's your pickle? I don't think any business has just one pickle to give the customer, and for each customer it could be different. Maybe at an express exterior the pickle is to make your triple foam brighter than ever, and have the employees always smiling. At a full service wash it might be wiping a mark off of a seat for a customer when they ask, or laying a towel down for a customer to wipe their feet before they get into their vehicle. It's no secret that the economy is bad, we hear about that everywhere we go. The good news, people are still washing their cars. But now more than ever, they are looking for the best experience they can get from each dollar they spend. Customer's wash their cars because it's a "feel good" experience. Not giving the customer the pickle could result in lost customers and revenue. Look at your wash. See what the little things are that you can do to make your customers happy. Start rewarding your employees who go above and beyond and, who are giving the pickle to your customers.

I recommend reading the book Give 'Em the Pickle. For more information about the concept or to order the book, visit By looking at your business in this light, it could help make your wash a customer favorite and keep your customers coming back for more.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.