Professional Carwashing & Detailing

5 Tips for Turning Customers into Fans

Blendco Systems™ Tip of the Month

September 17, 2009

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As a carwash operator, one of the primary goals for your business is always to build up your car counts. One of the best ways to do that is to earn repeat business by doing the extra things that turn customers into fans. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to build a 'fan base' at your wash.

1. Deliver the expected. As a carwash operator, your business won’t prosper if you're not putting out consistently clean cars. Obvious as it seems, if you can’t deliver on your basic service, then any other efforts you make will be wasted. For a carwash, basic service means putting out clean cars – consistently.

2. Make it clear. The experience of using your wash should be as straightforward and trouble-free as possible for your customers. A great way to make sure that the wash experience is all that it should be is to use a "secret shopper" to use your wash and provide feedback. You'll be surprised at what you find. Maybe the instructions in your self serve bays are confusing – you can make them more user-friendly. Maybe the turn into your tunnel is a bit tight – putting up some cones might help customers navigate it in the best way possible. If your customers feel that they got what they wanted at your wash and the experience was easy for them, they will come back more often.

3. Deliver the unexpected. People love to get unexpected 'gifts'. Have you ever been unexpectedly upgraded to the "Presidential Suite" at an overbooked hotel? Nothing better. So take an otherwise boring (and slow) Tuesday, and make it Red Car Day – red cars wash for free. Right now in early September, most schools are just getting back in full swing – so you might celebrate teachers by giving them a free upgrade in honor of the work they do. Hand out free vacuum tokens to customers who have a question or a comment. You get the idea.

4. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative. Take a look around your wash and see what's working well and what's detracting from a positive experience for your customers. Make sure that the physical appearance of the wash is a clear positive – fresh paint, trash picked up, good lighting and paving are all musts. At the same time, think about upgrading the professional appearance employees. Maybe it's time to consider uniforms or shirts with your logo. And if you have employees who go out of their way to give great service to your customers, find ways to reward them and show them that they are truly appreciated.

5. Welcome Their Complaints. The problem with complaints is that they are hard to make, and hard to take. Many customers will avoid the discomfort of making a complaint altogether. So when you one of your customers does complain, it probably represents the experience of several customers, and you really need to pay attention. You also need to take it well – the first words a customer should hear when making a complaint is "Thank you for bringing that to our attention"! Then fix it if you can. A customer whose complaint is responded to in a constructive way will generate 3 times the revenue of someone who has never had a problem.

Satisfied customers? That's a great goal, but turning your customers into fans will really take your business to a new level.

Laurie Sherman is Co-owner of Blendco Systems, LLC. Blendco manufactures a full line of detergents and waxes for the professional carwash industry. You can contact Blendco at: www.blendco.com.