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At precisely the right moment, Professional Carwashing & Detailing has once again fortified the image and resolve of carwash operators with its recent findings in an important “Economic Impact Study.” (August 2009)
Carwash operators are known to be a hardy and forward-looking bunch, and the worst recession since the 1930s has wreaked some inevitable havoc to be sure, but it has not destroyed the spirit and determination which all successful operators have exhibited before.
We know with certainty that carwash operators will not succumb to either a poor local economy, or to unruly and uncooperative weather patterns. Though not a pleasant task, 56 percent of operators who responded to the survey indicated that they have reduced their labor force this year. Not surprisingly, 36 percent have put a hold on new equipment orders. But the truly amazing news is that only 1 percent have been forced to close their doors entirely.
As the economy rebounds, however, and consumers return to more normal spending habits, the best operators must be sure that they have indeed learned the most important lesson which this cruel recession has taught us all. Controlling costs is a vital task, to be sure and becoming more efficient is necessary as well. But nothing is more important today, as a retail business, than building a strong and loyal customer base.
And it is here, exposed clearly in the PC&D survey, that carwash operators feel most vulnerable. According to the “Economic Impact Study,” 32 percent of the respondents found it “most difficult for me to attract new customers.” WOW!! Another 16 percent found it most difficult to “identify effective marketing and promotional strategies.”
To fill this gaping hole which has ravaged the carwash market, take action today. Just as your key suppliers have helped you reduce your operating expenses, recruit them now to become your marketing partners as well. Since there will be both “winners” and “losers” in the recovery during the next few months, it is clear to all that the really big winners will be those operators who are best able to capture the most new customers.
This lesson is an invaluable one: Don’t let the recession end, and find your carwash no better prepared than before to build a bigger customer base. Focus intensely on this one critical activity, and emphasize marketing as you never have before. The silver lining in the dark cloud will be the steady stream of new customers you will have found as a result of your relentless and persistent marketing activities.
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