Professional Carwashing & Detailing

How to start a carwash: The art of showing off your specials

October 14, 2013

The people of Generation Y (also known as “The Millennial Generation”) are now owning, driving, and showing off their cars. The Generation consists of those born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s. And, unlike, the generations before, Y outnumbers its predecessors by millions. Right now, Generation Y consists of 80 million people. And, those 80 million people are tech-savvy, iPhone-friendly, and they have become greatly influenced and familiar with the Internet.

Now, that’s not to say that the baby boomers are not a generation to still target. Those members are not to be ignored, but there are some major marketing opportunities that need to be taken to bring in this younger generation and this article will show you what you have to do.

Dave Nelsen is the president of Dialog Consulting Group. He is a marketing expert who helps major companies strategize their marketing initiatives using social networking, social media, and the Internet. Nelsen, who spoke at the 2013 Car Wash Show™ in Las Vegas last April, said today, it’s all about communication tools and knowing what tools are being used. “Today, it’s all about mobile computers (Smartphone, tablets, iPads), and it’s all about the apps,” he said. “You have to shift your focus to the Internet. Use targeted advertising via Facebook, look to Twitter. It’s a big mistake not to use these tools.”

There are six things you should try when it comes to marketing your carwash and promoting specials and new services. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Groupon, LivingSocial, and text messaging, are all terms that should be a part of your everyday lexicon. According to Nelsen, you don’t have to try every one, but you should try some of them. “Focus your energy on a medium and then use it advantageously. Don’t spread yourself too thin.” If they aren’t successful, it won’t cost you a lot of money, but if they are successful, the payoff will be unlimited.

How to start a carwash Tip #1: Using Twitter

Do you have a Twitter account? Here are the pros to having a Twitter account:

  • It has over 500 million users
  • It also gets over 1 billion searches per day
  • It’s free
  • You can check in on your competition
  • You can “retweet” nice comments made about your carwash
  • You can send out last-minute specials in real time
  • You can offer specials to your followers

Like Myspace and Facebook, Twitter is now the popular social media network. It allows you 140 characters to promote your business or a special and everyone, from President Obama, to the Dalai Lama are using it. If you haven’t set one up, set one up today. Go to www.twitter.com and choose a user name. Chances are your entire business name will not fit. If that’s the case, choose a name that makes sense and is as close to your business’s name as possible. Then, start tweeting. Send out tweets about your carwash. You don’t have to be too creative, just keep it simple. Start following others in your area.

Then, start searching for your business’s name. If someone visited your business, and had a good experience, retweet their post. Then reply to it with a “thank you for your patronage” tweet.

If someone visited your business, and had a negative experience. directly reply to them with an apology and ask them to call your number so that you can appease the situation.

As you start to get followers, treat it as a membership club. Tell them you’re giving away a special discount or service to your followers as a one-day only deal. This works out well when counts are low. If it’s raining, you might see a lot of tweets from people saying, “no need for a carwash thanks to the rain.” Combat those tweets with a “A rain does not equal a professional wash” message.

One confusing thing about Twitter are the hashtags. A hashtags is a word with a “#” symbol before it. It is used to help search for a certain term or phrase on twitter. Follow what’s trending on twitter and use the hashtags to your advantage. For instance, if the word “#Christmas” is trending, send out a tweet containing #Christmas (for example: Looking for a #Christmas gift? How about a gift certificate to -------).

Twitter ads are offered through Twitter and they can be used for local and small businesses. Tweets are promoted by Twitter to potential followers. And, while it will cost money to do so, you’ll only pay for what works. According to the Twitter website, (https://business.twitter.com/products/pricing), “You’ll only be charged when people follow your Promoted Account or retweet, reply, favorite or click on your Promoted Tweets. You’ll never be charged for your organic activity on Twitter. There’s no monthly fee and you set your maximum daily budget.”

How to start a carwash Tip #2: How to use Facebook

While Facebook has lost a lot of steam as of late, it’s certainly still a viable social media tool to use to market your business.  Here are the pros to having a Facebook account:

  • It has about 900 million users
  • It’s free to use
  • Multi generations use it
  • You can send out last-minute specials in real time
  • You can offer specials to those who have liked your page
  • You can use it to show off pictures and videos
  • Can be used as your business’s website

Facebook has been around since 2004, and while, it’s numbers have dwindled over the years, it’s still getting a lot of traffic. If you do not have a website set up, a Facebook page is a sound counterpart.  The pros of having a Facebook page are similar to that of Twitter, although with Facebook, you can show off your business with photos and videos.

You will have to keep a close eye on your page though. People can post negative comments on your wall and you’ll either have to remove those comments or respond to them in a friendly manner.

If you haven’t set up a Facebook page, visit Facebook.com to sign up. Add all of your business’s information, from the hours open, to the menu of offerings. Use your company logo as your profile picture. Take high-quality pictures of your wash and use one for the cover photo.

And, be careful, don’t overly promote your business, as your posts will show up in newsfeeds. Be friendly and also check your grammar. Unlike Twitter, you can post as many words as you want, so make sure your postings make sense and each word is spelled correctly.

Also, don’t engage in any kind of rant or negative banter. Your posts are public, and even if you take down a post, it can still be seen, and then broadcast to others thanks to screenshot photos. A business in Scottsdale, AZ, called Amy's Baking Company, lost customers when its Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, starting ranting about negative reviews and reviewers on Facebook. The owners later said their Facebook page was hacked, but the aftermath cost them customers and profits.

How to start a carwash Tip #3: How to use Pinterest

Pinterest, found at pinterest.com, is relatively new to the world, but it’s gaining momentum. Here are the pros to having a Pinterest page:

  • It currently has about 70 million users.
  • It’s free to use
  • According to a study by Simply Measured, which confirms social media analytics, one out of every five users purchases something see on Pinterest
  • Pinterest has launched a new “tools for businesses” service

Popular with women, it launched in 2010 and has been gaining ground ever since. It works like a bulletin board in which photos are videos are “pinned” to a wall and then shared by other Pinterest users.  According to Pinterest.com, “A pin starts with an image or video you add to Pinterest. You can add a pin from a website using the Pin It bookmarklet or upload an image right from your computer. Any pin on Pinterest can be repinned, and all pins link back to their source.”

Pinterest has also started a new tools for businesses services which helps businesses in promoting their brand, or services through pins. Found at http://business.pinterest.com/setup/, a business is led through the steps of how to set up an account and then use the medium to promote their business and various specials, promotions, etc.  A pin could also be used as a gift certificate that can be pinned to other boards.

How to start a carwash Tip #4: How to use Groupon & LivingSocial

These two deal-a-day websites are popular because they offer up big savings to users with no strings attached. They do cost the business money, but they can be great tools in bringing in new customers, or they are a great way to introduce a new business to the public. Here are the pros to using Groupon and LivingSocial:

  • Users appreciate the huge savings (usually a 50% discount or more)
  • More than 500,000 businesses have used Groupon
  • No upfront fee
  • Both Groupon and LivingSocial send out the discounted deal to its members, based on zip codes. Therefore, they do the marketing for you.
  • Groupon offers a business analytics which reveal the demographics of who bought a deal.
  • Groupon offers a Merchant Center service which tracks customer data as well as the success of a certain promotion

The best way to utilize these sites, as they do cost money to use, is to have your employees upsell to each customer who purchased a deal. Joshua Cornist, owner of Royal Shine Mobile Detailing, said, “We have used Groupon and Living Social. They have been profitable for our company. We have a strategy to upsell customer. So we only offer less extensive packages in order to execute our strategy. If properly strategized this is a sure way to grow your business.”

According to Nicholas Halliwell, PR manager for Groupon, “Carwash deals have been incredibly successful on Groupon. We actually have about 300 carwash deals live on our site right now. Of the more than 1600 car wash merchants that we’ve featured on our site, more than 60 percent have worked with us more than once. A very strong re-feature percentage.”

Halliwell said they recommend offering a three-wash package. “What that does is it forms a habitual relationship between the consumer and the merchant,” Halliwell said. “We also like to have the detail option because it allows the operator to highlight some of their more expensive services. It can provide the merchant with a high-end clientele. Also, it’s important to note that Groupon users are more than twice as likely, than non-Groupon users, to live in households with annual incomes in excess of $100,000.”

For more on what others have thought about Groupon and LivingSocial, visit carwash.com and search: What do you think of Groupon and LivingSocial?

How to start a carwash Tip #5: How to use text message/mobile/SMS marketing

Busy people can be prompted to use a service based on a reminder via a text. Just about everyone has a mobile phone and text messaging services and it’s a great way to reach your customers who have agreed to receive messages. Here are the pros to using text message marketing:

  • 9.6 trillion text messages were sent in 2012, according to Portio Research
  • Encourages customer retention
  • You can target specific messages to specific groups

According to the March 2013 Forbes.com article, Pulling Back The Curtain On Text Message Mobile Marketing, James Citron, CEO of Mogreet, released a 2013 Guide to Text Messaging Regulations and Best Practices. That guide, which can be found online, states that text messages have a 95 percent open rate, and are accessible to 98 percent of all mobile consumers. “Text message marketing,” states the guide, “is a quick and effective way to

communicate with a mobile customer and drive a desired response (i.e. notify a consumer of an event, stimulate a sale and offers, promote a product, etc.) using engaging content, including incentives.”

There are a lot of regulations that come with text message marketing though, and refer the aforementioned guide before utilizing this method. Also note that you can only send out text messages to those that offer up their mobile numbers and agree to receive text messages. According to an August 2013 Huffington Post article, How SMS Text Messaging Retains Customers & Drives Loyalty, SMS text messaging has become an effective way to retain customers and drive long-term loyalty.“A list of permission-based subscribers is highly effective for many reasons, which helps make the information on your list more accurate, therefore making the messages you send to your audience more targeted and effective,” the article stated.

Text messages usually offer up a code that can be used at a POS station or given to an employee. When sending out a text, keep the message short and simple. Don’t overly text or they will lose their value. Also, be sure to include an expiration date. Search online to find a service to help you send out text messages.