Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Marketing ideas for detailers

September 1, 2010
Unfortunately, the mentality of “If I build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to detailing shops. Sure, you may see a slow trickle of cars entering your lot but probably not the amount you need to keep your site profitable. And, even if you’re an industry veteran with a shop that has become a staple in the community, couldn’t you use more business as well?

Luckily, the detail industry affords you with a plethora of marketing opportunities to attract new customers. It’s an industry that lends itself perfectly to utilizing both traditional marketing channels such as print, television and radio as well as new channels such as websites and social media. Get maximum return on your marketing investment by utilizing multiple marketing channels.

So, how can you drive more traffic to your site? Try some of these ideas.

Advertising
We all know the traditional, and expensive, advertising channels: Radio, television and newspapers. Unless you have a Fortune 500 size marketing budget, these are not your best options. You’ll get lots of visibility, but, it will come at a very high cost. Instead, utilize more inexpensive channels such as outdoor advertising, indoor advertising and local publications.

Outdoor advertising
Are there any vacant billboards near your detail shop? Call and advertise on them today! Billboards not only generate a substantial amount of awareness for your site but they also serve as great directionals if you add arrows or general driving instructions. Plus, you have the added benefit of a convenient point of sale targeted to active consumers who are prepared to buy. Other outdoor advertising methods, although not quite as effective as billboards, include benches, bus stations, vehicles and wall murals. These are all good secondary options if billboards aren’t available in your area.

Indoor advertising
Indoor advertising consists of marketing on restaurant menus, bathroom stalls, movie theaters and airports. Like outdoor advertising it offers a high rate of visibility and repeated exposure opportunities, but indoor advertising lacks the convenient point of sale since consumers are not in a position to immediately take action. Indoor advertising is a great channel to add into a marketing mix but would not offer the best return on investment as a stand-alone marketing channel.

Local publications
While placing an ad in the Sunday newspaper can cost thousands, securing ad space in a local magazine costs far less. Placing ads, especially with a great coupon, in Clipper magazine, Valupak or a local neighborhood publication gets you exposure and interest in your immediate vicinity without the large price tag. Offer an unbelievable deal to entice consumers to wash their car at your wash and then turn them into loyal customers with exceptional customer service.

Internet
Does your detail shop have a website? What about a Facebook page, Yelp listing or local business results listing? If you said “no” to any of these questions then you need to take immediate action to get your carwash on the Internet.

Nowadays most people browse the Internet when looking for nearby locations or recommendations. If you’re not listed, you’re missing out on a considerable amount of business that would cost you nothing. Even more so, the Internet is a constant, 24/7 way to deliver information to consumers and create brand awareness. Best of all, most of the Internet marketing channels are either free or extremely low in cost.

Website
Hire a web designer to create a website (prices can range from a couple hundred to a couple thousand depending upon your needs) or, if you have some web design experience, you can purchase a website template and simply enter in your information. For a more professional look and better search engine optimization, hire a web designer. For a small cost, think of all the traffic you can drive to your carwash simply by having a website that gets ranked high on search engines.

Social media
Newsflash: Your consumers are on social media sites so join them there. Creating a business account page for your carwash on Facebook or Twitter not only increases the visibility of your wash but also connects you personally with your customers. If they know, like and trust you, they’ll market your site for you to their friends and family. Nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing. With Facebook, utilize their Facebook ads to send targeted advertisements such as a special promotion targeted only to car lovers who are male and between the ages of 18 and 35. It’s a great marketing medium to get high visibility and a targeted audience.

Social review sites & local business listings
Make sure you list your detail shop on every possible website you can. From local business result listings on Google to Angie’s List and Yelp, make sure your carwash is there. List your business on Angie’s List and Yelp so your customers can provide unbiased reviews. As long as your carwash and customer service is up to par, then those reviews will do the marketing for you. They’ll attract new customers for you without it costing you a penny. No matter which marketing channels you decide for your marketing plan mix, getting your carwash listed on social review sites and business listings is essential.

Sponsorships & fundraisers
We all like doing business with companies that give back to the community. Sponsorships and fundraisers do two things: They create brand awareness and they associate your carwash with involvement and generosity.

So buy an ad in the local high school musical program, sponsor a youth sports team or allow a non-profit organization to have a fundraiser at your site.

One great thing about sponsorships and fundraisers is the ability to involve the media for free. Say you are doing a fundraiser at your carwash for a local dog rescue organization, write a press release. Get the media involved.

When it comes to newsworthy stories or ways to better the community, you’ll get tv, radio and newspaper publicity without having to pay the hefty advertising fees. It’s the best way to get the high visibility of these channels without the high cost. Sponsorships and fundraisers generate a lot of goodwill towards your carwash and people will want to go to a carwash that cares about their community.

Try to use at least five different marketing tactics. Use multiple channels that work well together so you can attack the same target from multiple directions. The average customer needs eight to ten exposures to your message before they’ll buy so get the most from your money by combining multiple channels that feed off one another.

The key is to acquire more customers than you lose. Keep in mind that while driving additional traffic to your wash adds to your revenue, it costs far less to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one.

Make sure your detail shop delivers exceptional customer services and is always clean, well-lit and welcoming. The best way to get a return on the money you are investing in acquiring new customers is by building their loyalty to keep them coming back after their initial visit. It’s not just about attracting new customers it’s also about keeping them.


Leslie Whittaker challenges the status quo and pioneers new concepts as a marketing, branding and customer relations consultant in Orlando, Florida. For her, marketing strategies are a beautifully blended mixture of strategy, value, behavioral science, traditional outreach, digital mediums, guerilla tactics and relationship development. Whittaker can be reached via email at lesliewhittaker@yahoo.com.