Every customer asks WIIFM? This acronym simply means, What's In It For Me? With so many buying decisions, how can you expect them not to ask? If the answer isn't compelling enough, they will overlook your car wash every time and choose to spend their money where they get the best answer. If you can answer this to your customers' satisfaction, your car wash business will not only survive, but it can thrive.
Everyone knows that the car wash industry has taken a hit during this rough economic time. People quite simply don't have the same amount of discretionary income that they did 5 years ago. People are tightening their belts. I'll let you in on a little secret, PEOPLE ARE STILL SPENDING MONEY! They are just looking at other areas to do that. Before, you might have just been competing with the wash down the street, but today you are competing with coffee shops, movie theatres, restaurants, as well as other washes and several other businesses that are seeking to get your potential customer to part with that discretionary income.
With seemingly less money being spent, more competition from surrounding businesses and general malaise in the economy, you have to fight hard to maintain and gain market share. You can do it by going back to the basics, leveraging newer ideas in marketing/social media, and making sure that the car wash experience your customer has is the best that it can possibly be.
Don't Look at Your Wash Through Your Eyes, Look at it Through Your Customer's Eyes
First and foremost, you have to make sure that you are providing a clean, dry, and shiny car. I can't tell you the number of times that I have seen operators who skimp on chemical usage to save a few pennies. For some operators, chemical on a per wash basis is pretty far down the list when it comes to operating a wash. Oftentimes I've heard, "I don't want to spend the money to buy a drum right now, so I'm going to stretch what I have out for a little bit." This results in diminished quality of the wash process, a decrease in perceived customer value, and ultimately, a lost customer if it's squeezed too hard. Customers like to see and smell product going on their car. It tells them that they are certainly getting their money's worth if they have both sight and smell senses engaged. Try looking for a chemical supplier that allows you to customize the wash process with added colors and/or fragrances to applications that are not known for having them. Use chemicals as a business tool that helps drive longer times in the self-serve bay or higher wash packages being sold in your automatic or tunnel.
The sum of the following factors is just as critical as how clean, dry, and shiny the car is when it exits the wash process. These factors work in harmony to deliver that value to your customer that gets them to spend money with you. When the customer pulls on your lot: Is it clean? Is it well lit? Is the signage easy to read and well positioned? Do you need new signage? Is it easy for the customer to identify and know what is going to be happening to their vehicle with each wash package? If you have a staff, are they professional, friendly, and responsive to customer inquiries? If all of these aren't in order, do what is necessary to make sure they are. If any of these variables are left unattended, value is decreased and customers will go elsewhere.
So, now that you have all of the basics out of the way and your wash is a car-cleaning Mecca that people come from miles around to use, you have to find a way to get more of those cars that are passing by you every day. There are a number of ideas that can work including mailers, customer loyalty cards, co-marketing with other businesses in the area and any number of tried and true marketing ideas. These should continue to be in your marketing mix but there is a huge component that you may be missing.
Leveraging Technology to Emphasize WIIFM?
By: Matt Nall, Territory Manager for Lustra™ Car Care Products
For more information go to Lustrabear.com.