Professional Carwashing & Detailing

No longer a badge of honor

October 11, 2010

Exactly one year ago I used the space here to vent my frustration with a few television commercials which portrayed professional carwashes as unnecessary and expensive purchases, among them a Subaru ad which likened driving a dirty car to wearing a “badge of honor.”

It seems Subaru has had a change of heart. The company’s latest ad depicts a gleaming SUV as it is about to emerge from a conveyor carwash tunnel. Hands reach out to towel dry the shining car, but at the last moment the commercial rewinds itself to show the carwash process in reverse — complete with bits of mud and dirt re-attaching to the car as the brushes wind backwards and the jets suck water back into their streams.

In the end, it is revealed the SUV arrived to the carwash completely covered in mud. The message is three-fold: Professional carwashes get the job done; Subarus look nice when they’re clean; and Subaru drivers are hard on their cars.

Our industry had many positive moments play out on the public stage over the last 12 months; from the Modern Marvels episode about professional carwashing (which aired Dec. 8, 2008), to the new Subaru ad, to the state of Washington’s strong efforts to discourage (if not outright ban) home carwashing and charity wash events that are conducted in environmentally unsafe manners.

Toyota also has an ad out depicting the necessity of commercial carwash services. A father and young son are about to select an automatic carwash; just as the father reaches out to touch the “basic wash” button, the young son in the backseat, barely old enough to speak, shakes his head and clears his throat. “Nuh huh,” he says and waits until his father does the right thing by choosing the top package. After all, the voiceover reminds us, he just might inherit this car.

These are the messages floating around on our television screens, newspapers and in our conversations. As an operator, your job is to take advantage of these moments and turn them into actual learning opportunities. The Toyota spot suggests that the top wash offers the most benefit to the vehicle’s maintenance — why not offer your customers literature which actually proves this is true? The Subaru ad makes the claim that a tunnel carwash can handle a whole lot of mud — perhaps you could play off of that idea in your own marketing program.

No matter the TV spot, just be aware that your customers and potential customers are watching these commercials and absorbing these messages. Don’t let them come away half-baked.

On page 10 of the November issue, the governor of North Carolina is wrongly cited as Sonny Perdue. Sonny Perdue is the governor of Georgia. Bev Perdue is the governor of North Carolina.