You no doubt employ many savvy techniques to attract and keep your customers coming back to your carwash. Your site is clean and attractive, your staff is trained to say "thanks for washing with us!" with a smile, and you offer a Frequent Washers Club. After all, you know that it is cheaper to keep a customer than it is to attract a new one. So working hard to keep the ones you got is just the smart thing to do, and of course you should keep right on doing it.
But your grand Customer Retention plan has a little leak in it. It's not your fault: the problem is that the American population is fairly mobile and on average, Americans move every seven years. That doesn't sound too bad, but for you it means that 1 out of every 7 of your best customers is moving far away from your carwash each year. Every year!
You have to do more than keep your existing customers. You have to reach out and grab some new ones along the way too.
The great thing about new residents is that they are actively seeking out businesses and services to try. They're not stuck in a rut yet, simply driving by your wash because they have always just driven by your wash. If you get them to drive onto your site soon after they move in, you will greatly increase the odds that stopping at your wash will become part of their routine. When someone is new to town, they drive around looking for new businesses to try: the local dry cleaner, the quick lube, the hardware store, the carwash. If your wash looks clean and is busy, they will probably give you a try. So you gain new customers that way. In addition, if you cross-market with some of those other service type businesses in the area, you will get a few more of those new customers. Post a flyer or a business card for the wash at the local quick lube and the pizza place. You can return the favor at no cost to your business or theirs.
The New Mover — Your New Loyal Customer
Another form of advertising to your new neighbors will cost you some, but can well be worth it. If you have thought about New Mover direct advertising and have wondered about whether to give it a try, the math is pretty encouraging. Available programs vary, but for around a dollar per contact (postcard or coupon in a mailer pack) you can reach new residents with an offer to try your wash. New residents are more likely than average to respond to these invitations to try your business — we hear reports from operators that a better than 10% response rate is typical, and that is pretty good, translating to about a $10 advertising expenditure for each new customer gained. Now just wow them with your great service and their newly shiny car, and you can look forward to enjoying your new loyal customer!
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.