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“If you don’t know where you are going,” the ex-Yankee and beloved Hall of Fame catcher warned, “you will wind up somewhere else.”
My translation: Don’t get lost!!
Operators in today’s market must stay intensely focused on those specific activities that will help them bring more customers onto their lots and into their bays.
Consumers are just too fickle, and the fragile economy is still too uncertain, for successful car wash operators to be indifferent about building a larger customer base.
To be sure, consumer confidence has risen in recent months, but this slow, positive trend does not always show up in higher wash counts or more revenue per car.
The recently-released 2012 figures on the valuable ICA WashCounts program did report an improvement in both of those critical metrics, but only a modest increase.
For the industry to grow with a more favorable trajectory this year, operators must stretch for double-digit growth in both wash counts and revenue per car.
But in a recovering economy, many operators may be challenged to reach that goal.
Indeed, in some situations, operators might need to fine-tune their offering.
It is especially noteworthy, that other customer-centric retailers are already anticipating a possible slow-down in consumer traffic and spending this spring.
Wal-Mart, for instance, has notified some key suppliers, that they should modify their packaging, so that the Wal-Mart shopper will be attracted to a lower shelf price.
Similarly, Burger-King, on its price-sensitive lunch menu, has reduced the price on one of its sandwiches from $2.00 to $1.29, in an effort to avoid a dip in store traffic.
Carwash owners and operators may soon be forced to make an important decision, at least until the staggering economy gains more stability: Will you strive to attain higher wash volumes at possibly lower prices, or will you allow your wash counts to decline without adjusting your average revenue per car?
Whatever decision you make, monitor your wash counts and revenues very closely.
Don’t get lost. Remember, too, this wise pricing strategy: “Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.”