Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Create a carwash marketing plan

March 8, 2011

Nothing is more important than bringing more customers into your carwash. It should be your number one priority every day.

Astute operators recognize that the playing field during the past few years has been greatly leveled by the flagging economy in every market. Consumer shopping patterns and habits have changed dramatically.

One thing we do know; consumers are making “intentional” purchase choices now, and successful carwash operators must clearly and repeatedly identify and position their business as the “carwash of choice” in their local market.

To reiterate, consumers are no longer making random, impulse purchase decisions.

This means, the more creative, well-thought out and detailed your 2011 Marketing Plan of Action is, the greater your opportunity this year to build a bigger customer base. These three steps will enable you to make 2011 your best year ever.

1. Put it in writing
Carwash owners know what they need to do: Capture more customers and build a larger customer base. Many just don’t know how to do it.

Carwash owners, incidentally, are not alone in this matter. A 2008 white paper, published by the Georgia Small Business Development Center, noted that “98 percent of all small business owners state that marketing is the toughest part of their job.”

So let’s begin very simply, with a blank sheet of paper and a sharp pencil.

First, write five reasons why any motorist would use your carwash.
Ex. The vehicle is dirty.
1. ______________________________________
2. ______________________________________
3. ______________________________________
4. ______________________________________
5. ______________________________________

Next, write five times (special events) in any given 12-month period, when a motorist would visit your carwash.
Ex. It’s Mother’s Day and the customer wants to surprise mom with a clean car.
1. ______________________________________
2. ______________________________________
3. ______________________________________
4. ______________________________________
5. ______________________________________

Lastly, identify five types of customers who are most likely to want to keep their cars especially clean.
Ex. A real estate agent who drives her vehicle to meet customers every day.
1. ______________________________________
2. ______________________________________
3. ______________________________________
4. ______________________________________
5. ______________________________________

Once you have completed your answers, ask two other qualified people whose views you respect to participate in this creative brainstorming session. An ideal candidate might be your carwash manager or one of your current suppliers.

When you compile the answers to these questions, you will probably be surprised how many special events and reasons exist for consumers to use your carwash.

2. Make a date
The next step requires you to purchase a new calendar. With this calendar spread on your desk, refer to the information/data that you acquired above and transfer it to your 2011 calendar.

Start by writing in the “Customer Appreciation Days” for each month that you identified in the first section of the exercise and build promotions around those reasons.

Next, record the “Special Event Days,” like Father’s Day or Labor Day, when you will want to bring customers into your wash with time-specific promotions.

Finally, when will you have your “Teacher Appreciation Days,” and what local school team sport will you sponsor? As you will quickly see, this process allows you to uncover many common but overlooked events when you can attract more customers into your wash.

3. Put someone in charge
Owners who have developed this Marketing Plan of Action for 2011 are not out of the woods yet, however. Next, they must identify, train and empower one VIP employee who completely “takes ownership” of the successful marketing of your wash, including your carwash revenues. Ideally, this person already is on staff and has a working knowledge not only of your carwash, but also has a strong retail marketing background.

Thus, the final step of your 2011 Plan of Action is this: Commit to implement your marketing program with vigor throughout the year. By placing a staff member in charge of the program, you limit the opportunity for distractions or everyday business concerns to interrupt your success.

Unfortunately, many marketing campaigns have disappointing results not simply because they have been rejected by consumers, but in many more cases, because they have not been implemented. Do not allow this to be the case for your carwash.

To close, three adjectives best describe the traits of the most successful carwash marketers this year: To achieve outstanding results, you must be specific, be realistic, and be persistent. These three attributes will allow your carwash to achieve results which far exceed what you have accomplished in the past few years.


Mike Perry is the owner of Total Marketing Concepts, a consulting and marketing company for carwash distributors and operators. He is based out of Atlanta, GA. Perry can be reached at mpccws@aol.com, or at 770-330-2490.