Well I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer. Just as a reminder, feel free to contact me with any feedback or firsthand experiences, and I will be sure to use your comments in one of my future articles.
Now let’s visit, or rather revisit, the old, tried-and-true method of building bottom line revenue: fleet service. At all the carwashes I have owned and operated, I have always maintained a sizeable fleet account with public vehicles and private dealer lots, including rental car, limousine and taxi services.
Not only do these accounts provide reliable weekday traffic, but they also account (no pun intended) for an upswing on the weekends due to fleet employees coming back to wash their own cars. Moreover, in my experience, fleet members tend to spend more money on premium detailing services.
By extending a little patience and courtesy to these outfits and by simply maintaining these accounts with direct contact once a month at minimum, you can dramatically see a difference in your bank account.
When determining how to target potential fleet customers, the first step is to reach out to the right people in charge. The person you want to speak with regarding any public sector accounts, including city and county vehicles, is the fleet manager at the local city hall or county works facility, for instance. By targeting the fleet manager in charge, you can often make progress in setting up a meeting with him or her to discuss bids for washing all the fleet’s cars and trucks.
The fleet managers are generally directed by their superiors to work with the lowest bidder, as well as the best location in proximity to the fleet parking lots or where the vehicles are usually stationed. Eventually, fleet managers will need to go to their superiors for approval.
Processing payments for fleet accounts
Once you have secured fleet customers, set up a billing process which works for both parties. Billing is usually organized by keeping a daily record of the vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate for each fleet car, which are then entered into the monthly billing cycle.
At the end of the month you simply turn in your invoice, and then wait for the check. In general these payments usually come two weeks after the invoice is submitted. Some county and city agencies can be set up with a fleet pass card, and any charges/billing can be streamlined through electronic transfer.
Check with your county or city billing department to see if someone there can help you get an electronic transfer system set up.
Setting up services
In most cases the fleet vehicles assigned to county and city public works, and/or service vehicles, can be designated with a basic wash tag only. However vehicles for the chief of police, fire captain and even any specialized vehicles, for instance, can be afforded the higher wash package.
In all cases, whether provided with basic or premium wash packages, make sure to offer a fleet discount for these cars — but at an applicable rate for premium wash packages.
Now let’s focus on fringe benefits. By washing police, fire and other county vehicles at your carwash, you gain an increased police presence and the fire department becomes more familiar with your site’s entrances and exits; and, both departments will have a better understanding of everything they would need to know in the event they have to respond to an emergency at your location.
Moreover, as mentioned earlier in this article, when off duty, many fleet members may spend money to get their own vehicles cleaned at your carwash. And in my experience, a good majority of their friends tend to follow suit by also frequenting your location.
Furthermore, you can set up a “noncivilian” discount that is applicable to all first responders and military personnel.
By keeping these simple steps in mind, and with a little persistence and effort on your part, you can successfully set up a fleet account service at your carwash.
Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, California, can be reached at 310-947-9711 or via email at [email protected]. You can also visit his website at www.carwash-consultant.com. For more information on this subject and other carwash equipment, products and services, please visit www.theschoolofwash.com.