When Tom Nebelsick of Randolph Carwash, Lincoln, NE, decided to expand his carwash in 2003, he didn’t call up a real estate agent or business broker.
He hired a webmaster.
And now Nebelsick’s customer base reaches across the country.
“I got a call the other day from New York City,” Nebelsick said. “Some guy wanted to buy a carwash package for his parents here in Lincoln. Went to our Web site, looked our services up. I mean, how else would you ever do something like that?”
In one medium, a carwash owner can reach out to potential clients, loyal customers, and new employees, all without much of the associated costs of radio, TV, or newspaper.
And what’s more, your Web site will be available to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
According to Nebelsick, the most important feature of his wash’s Web site is the information available to his customers. His site offers a detailed list of services at Randolph Car Wash.
“People seem to like to go to a Web site where nobody’s bothering them; nobody’s pressuring them,” Nebelsick said.
“They can read and absorb at their own rate. Interpret it at their level. It’s such an easy way to do it, and it’s definitely helping us sell.”
Nebelsick said his customers are more likely to upgrade their service if they have visited the Web site and read through the descriptions of various packages.
Joe Reding, owner and operator of Car’l Be Klean Carwash in Salem, OR, agreed. His site www.carlbklean.com has been running for four years.
“We’re a fairly busy full-service carwash with a detail shop and all that. You get people that come in, asking, ‘What kind of carwashes do you have?’ or ‘What do you do in detail?’ We can just refer them to the Web site and that provides them with a lot more information and doesn’t tie up one of our staff trying to explain things.
And I think the visual works better than just the words,” Reding said.
Aside from offering better information, an Internet site can also offer a second area to sell actual washes.
Nebelsick’s Web site, www.randolphcarwash.com, has an Internet shopping cart where customers can purchase carwash packages and gift cards.
“It’s easy to use. Our Web site host actually provides it with the hosting fee,” Nebelsick said.
Your Internet Web site can also be a useful tool in recruiting new employees. Providing an application or description of the position you are looking for is an easy way to attract workers from your local area.
“I cannot stress this enough; the owner must be prepared to participate. It’s your business, it’s going to be your words and your message,” Platz said.
Before hiring a webmaster, Platz advises carwash owners to thoroughly evaluate their idea for the structure of the site.
“Decide what your menu will be, what options you want for your customers, what are your buttons. It might be services, contact us, location, and a history” Platz said. “Whatever you would tell a first-time customer should be there, so should what you would tell a returning client.”
After coming up with the content, a carwash owner should be prepared to provide the text for the Web site.
“Sometimes they’ve already done publications, flyers, or what not,” Platz said. “Possibly they’ve already had articles, they already have the wording. That’s a great start. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel.”
Your Web site’s home page should give your customers an idea of what your carwash offers. If you have a coffee shop on premises, this should be mentioned on your homepage. If you have a full-service detail center, include useful information about those services.
“Keep it simple-stupid,” carwash owner Nebelsick advised. “Make it easy to access, easy to navigate. People will go as far as they want with it.”
This includes registering your domain, obtaining a host for your Web site, developing the site and search engine submission.
To add a “shopping cart” feature to your Web site, be prepared to spend an additional $2,000.
“And make sure you market your site,” Platz added. “Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. Put it on your business cards, your flyers, your mailings; anything that has your phone number should have your Web site.”