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I recently visited several express washes and noticed there was a consistent message from some great operators: "Our customers come back because (insert their reality here)." For each operator, it was a different element of the wash. For example: if the operator had greeters and attendants, it was the greeting and the professional personal message. If it was a complete express wash with pay tellers, it was all about the quick, seamless, no-hassle auto tellers. If it was an in-bay automatic, it was the location and how well it cleans. The consistent thing I noticed at every successful site was less about these items individually and more about the customers’ perceptions. The quality of the wash, the location, the cleanliness of the site, the professionalism of the staff and how well the wash performs are all key ingredients. Just as important as what is there is what is not there. Poor site layout, traffic confusion, difficult blind spots, unnecessary obstacles and confusing signs and menus all negatively affect the perception of the customer.
A customer has many options these days, and they tend to return to what they know and like. I recommend a book called "The Purple Cow" by Seth Godin. This book describes how to help separate your business from the herd. I also have several suggestions to stay in tune with your customer base:
- Ride through a wash with a child. Children are honest and see things through an unbiased perspective.
- Ask a close friend to have his friends visit the wash and fill out a site-specific questionnaire. This both grows your customer base and provides constructive criticism.
- Walk through your wash (including equipment room) backward or sitting on a wheeled office chair. This seems nutty and unorthodox; however, your perception will change, and you may find new issues or experience your wash in a whole new way.
- Reward programs have been very successful in aiding in the perceived value and the growth of our wash volumes. This is not news to anyone, but it is a good reminder to stay in tune with the end user.
Jerry Vickers, Sales Manager, Tunnel Carwashing, Blendco Systems
Blendco manufactures a full line of detergents and waxes for the professional carwash industry. You can contact Blendco at: www.blendco.com.