I think this is a question that a lot of operators are currently struggling with. I know I have found myself wanting to raise the prices at a wash I operate. But then all the questions come up. What will the price change do to my volume? How much do I go up? How much should I go down? Should I offer less wash packages? Should I offer more wash packages? I think each wash is unique and faces its own challenges. So unfortunately, there is no magic answer that fits everyone's situation. What I am going to give you is a plan that can help you come up with a map for success.
The first step is to decide what you're trying to accomplish. Do you want to raise your average per car? Do you want to increase your volume? I am sure the answer would be yes to both. How much volume or revenue are you looking to increase with your price change? Identifying exactly what your goals are can often be one of the most difficult, yet important steps in the process. It is critical that you set realistic goals during this phase. And don't be afraid to poll your current customers about your proposed changes. After all, your changes will have a direct affect on them.
The second step in the process is to evaluate the competition in your area to make sure you are staying competitive. When evaluating the other washes don't look just the price, but look at the value and the quality that is being offered. If your competition is close to the same price as you, but you turn out a better product, you may look to raise your price. If the competition is lower in price, you may want to calculate how much market share you could take from them if you match or beat their price.
The final stage is figuring out how to roll out the changes to your customers. Should the price change be done immediately or should you give them notice? Should the price change be made only on certain days or hours? Should the old price be made available to customers who are willing to buy five washes at a time? And if so, for how long?
Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are offering more value and better service than any other wash in your area. I hope that whatever your changes are, that they give you the results you're looking for. Here's to a great year of washing in 2012! If you'd like to share your success stories, you can email me at Randre@carwashcollege.com.
Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at Randre@CarWashCollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.CarWashCollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.