What’s the best way to beat competition? Of course, ultimately, the answer is to gain more loyal and new customers and efficiently operate your business to be more profitable. Sounds easy, right?

Today, customers expecting clean, dry and shiny carwash results is the norm, and anything less can be a blemish on your business. Simply put, customers are now more well-informed, picky and have many more options on where to spend their hand-earned money than at any other point in our history. But, what affects their purchasing decisions?

According to a study by Walker, a customer experience (CX) consulting firm, the businesses that will “win” in the year 2020 are the “most forward-thinking companies — those that consciously and deliberately work at anticipating the future [customer] needs and create an experience that customers value.”

Customers are empowered to make smart, calculated decisions about all of their purchases, including their car care services. According to a Walker study, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. And, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.

Therefore, in order to beat the competition moving forward, creating a culture and environment that builds on the customer experience should be on every operator’s mind. An all-inclusive approach is needed — from site signage, décor and themes to hiring and properly handling customer complaints.

As for the actual core of your business — carwashing and detailing — these services must be performed exceeding customers’ expectations.

Employees play a big role in delivering a positive customer experience, so making sure these workers are effectively trained using our industry’s top resources is a smart business move.

Also, as noted in this month’s cover story, investments in modern system technologies as well as advanced equipment, tools and supplies can not only save your business money, which is important when looking to grow your bottom line, but they can also ensure you are delivering an optimal, consistent carwash for each individual vehicle.

In 2018 and beyond, don’t lose sight of customer needs.