Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Cross marketing the right way

October 11, 2010
Operating a multi-profit business line-up can be a bit of a balancing act. On one hand, an operator wants to attract as many customers as they can to a fast lube, yet obtain at least that many, if not more, to another business, like a carwash. This balancing act can achieve equilibrium if the correct tactics are implemented. Cross marketing is important and there are proper ways to do it.

Shane Terry, president of North American Lubricants, Co., said, “I personally appreciate the convenience of a carwash/fast lube service. As a direct result of the “fast food” life style that most Americans live, a service that provides multiple benefits in one stop holds greater value.”

Going hand in hand
In terms of a carwash and fast lube combo, Terry said they go hand in hand. “The two services complement each other tremendously. The fast lube has the distinct advantage of marketing to the extra 200-300 cars that pull on the lot on a daily basis to utilize the carwash.

A fast lube also helps add to revenue on a rainy day, when carwash traffic is light. It makes economic sense as well. After one commits a capital investment in land and improvements to develop a carwash, the additional capital required to add a two or three bay fast lube is incremental.”

There are several things an operator of a multi-profit business can do in order to achieve success.

Education plays a role
Signage and marketing are the two most important aspects of achieving this balance, but none can be reached if your employees are not top-notch performers. Proper education, training and customer service are the key factors that will make or break a business. An operator could offer only the best products available, competitive pricing, a clean facility but if staff members are uneducated, poorly, or not trained at all in the ways of customer service, a dark and difficult road lies ahead.

From his experiences with carwash and fast lube combos throughout the nation, Terry has one important suggestion for cross-marketing.

“Place a well-trained fast lube greeter at the carwash entrance,” Terry said, “This will maximize cross-marketing opportunities and greatly improve the successful sale of added services (trans flush, high mileage, etc). It is much more difficult to make a sale over the cell phone when a customer is sipping a soda in the carwash lobby.”

Employees need to know how to properly suggest another service to a customer without seeming pushy or insulted if a customer doesn’t want to hear about it.

Training days
Educating and training employees is the single most important factor in the success of any business. If a training program is not already in place, implement a plan. Consult with local colleges and universities as they sometimes offer classes in the area you are seeking. Offer reimbursement for the class based on performance. This provides incentive to the employees and as a business owner, you know the employee will return from the class motivated by the return of their own dollar and a potential raise.

Brian Olsen, manager of The Bradley Auto Spa, Quick Lube & Detail Center in Bradley, IL, said training employees is very important.

“We believe that it is very important to have our employees crossed trained in all of our profit centers,” Olsen said. “Whether it is lube techs up selling an Ultimate carwash to a customer or a carwash service adviser letting a customer know the advantages of nitrogen. We believe that teaching our customers about our services is a very important aspect if our industry.”

Dan Fuller, owner of a Fuller’s Car Wash and FastLube in Geneva, IL, agreed. “I pay for my employees to take classes at a local university,” said. Fuller said that having a knowledgeable and well trained staff is worth the long-term investment.

Marketing your services
It makes sense, offering a discount at one service to try and draw in other customers. What will hopefully happen is a customer will like the supplemental service so much they’ll come back for more.

“We market the oil lube to our wash customers by discounting our oil lube only price of $27.99 discounted to $19.99 with the purchase of any of the 4 full service washes,” Olsen said.

Fuller said a similar strategy is used at his business. “Each customer that gets an oil change gets a free full-service carwash. Hopefully they will go through it, like it, and come back.”

Olsen said the “one-stop” shop method is a good way to entice customers because they love the convenience. “We market, the wash, detail service, oil lube, and tire pros all in one ad in everything we do,” he said. “We market as a one-stop shop.”

Fuller also used the term “one stop shop”. Perhaps as a sort of suggestive advertising Fuller also said that in the carwash area they show a picture of the quick lube area and vice versa.

“It helps to have it all right at our location. It’s enticing to have a ‘one-stop shop.’"


Kristen Wesolowski is the former managing editor of Professional Carwashing & Detailing® Debra Gorgos took over the position from Wesolowski in January 2008.