Recently the industry buzz has been all about the products that bring the "wow" to the car wash experience – products like Hot Wax and Lava Shield. While there is no doubt that these products provide a clean, dry and incredibly shiny car it's the "show" and the "experience" that are motivating the customers to make the purchase.
I'm sure everyone has heard the phrase "people buy the sizzle, not the steak" at some point. From what I'm seeing at the washes using these products, that phrase holds true in the car was industry too. Yes, just like the steak must be good, you must turn out a great car wash. What can a little "sizzle" add to you bottom line? Increased ticket averages! I have seen Express Exterior wash locations charging $18 for their top package – the only package to include one of these new product lines. Right about now you might be thinking "What? $18 for the top package? Are they nuts?" It's not what you or I think that matters. It's what the customers think and they love it! Customers come in and gladly pay the $18 for the experience – it is unlike anything they have ever seen at a car wash.
I think now is as good a time as ever to look at how you can add a little "sizzle" at your wash. The above example is just one way of adding a little "sizzle". Could your wash be a little cleaner? Could your employees smile a bit more? Where can you add more value for the customer? The other point I think the $18 story illustrates well is that the customer is willing to spend the money if the value is there. The truth is shown in the number of car wash locations going above and beyond the "normal" to offer an unparalleled experience to their customers. Most of the wash locations adding new "sizzle" are seeing ticket averages in the high $11 to mid $12 range. Keep in mind, most have a base wash price in the $5 range and no high-pressure sales tactics are being used – only the "sizzle" to upsell their packages. The customer is driving the increase.
I know what you're thinking "Good for them, but it wouldn't work at my location." Maybe it won't, but just maybe it will. The point is, if you don't always try to give your customer the best experience possible, they may go elsewhere to find it. Step back and really look at your wash – from the customers' perspective. Dig deep to see where you can add a little "sizzle". Perhaps get your staff involved by asking them for ideas. After all, they are the first point of contact with the customer and some of their suggestions might surprise you. Abraham Lincoln once said "Whatever you are, be a good one." Either you are good at giving your customers the "sizzle" or your competitors will be.
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.