Hello again, everyone. The Fall season is upon us and with it comes another busy wash season. A few important things to educate yourself on are the best ways to maximize your customer growth potential and how to identify those high-dollar groomers. You also need to know how to market and appeal to those particular vehicle owners. This is a specific type of customer I am referring to: the more high-end customers.

I have come up with a few marketing techniques I have used in the past and still use today to attract these high-end customers. These methods vary, depending on the type of carwash you operate, but all have the common thread of putting high value on your high-end customers.

Leave it to the professionals

One of the best marketing tools is to market directly to your customer by hiring a professional company, such as Val-Pak, Money Mailer or other types of at-home mail delivery services. Try and work with a sales team and managers to design your coupons and prices. Make sure your coupons and specials match up with your daily chalkboard specials.

You can, however, strategically arrange them to slightly off-set one another, thereby giving the appearance of a time-sensitive, now-only type offer. You can even mark your chalkboard specials up a few dollars and then allow your sales team to offer on-the-spot additional discounts.

There are many more marketing techniques that are extremely effective and target specific customers. Some even narrow down the field and appeal to a specific type of customer with as much as a 20 percent return rate.

Proper wheel care and product selections

Another important issue is wheels, and the best way to clean and avoid potential damage to them. With most manufacturers offering spun and polished aluminum wheels with their cars and trucks, it is important to distinguish the two and know what types of chemicals are and are not safe.

Acid was commonly used to clean rims, and though acid is most effective on steel rims and spokes, it is detrimental to aluminum. Most chemical representatives can help you choose not only the best and most effective cleaning solutions for your customer’s wheels, but they can also assist in training your staff in how to identify the different types of wheels, properly mix and apply and be able to give you a whole set of marketing tools to go with your new spring sales and marketing push.

Some carwash companies are well-known for this type of assistance so do your homework. These companies are also great in helping with detail supplies and on-site marketing. Research and connect with manufacturers at your regional carwash association’s annual event and/or at the ICA show next spring in Las Vegas.

Gain the marketing edge for high-end customers

Some companies like to offer a trade-off in return for using your carwash as a testing ground for new products and different applications. In doing this, they not only get to use your carwash to try out new formulas like wheel cleaners, soaps and waxes, but they also test some of their marketing materials simultaneously, which gives you the benefit of free marketing and product placement.

This is particularly good for express and self-serve formats, where the results can be measured by the increase in revenue alone, thus giving credibility to the signage and marketing materials.

Let us look at how advertising and traditional marketing can tie into some of these product line/company promotions. First, you might want to spend a little time and money on making the public aware of your new product line by placing logos and other recognizable emblems on your direct mailers and coupons.

By putting a certain day or days of the week on the coupon or direct mailer, you can directly track your flow of new customers wanting to take advantage of these new products and specials. This will help you and the companies whose chemical/product line you are testing. If your carwash becomes a reliable testing ground for these companies, they will likely want to continue the relationship by giving you continued access to free products and signage.

It is important to monitor feedback from customers and be aware of how effective your marketing products actually are. For example, some of the chemicals and materials you thought were working might not be as good as you had originally thought. Other times, some products can actually damage a vehicle’s finish and create a dull and hazy-like sheen on the paint or rims. This can easily be avoided by first using it on a piece of aluminum and in different types of weather.

Let us set the bar higher on extras and realize that in order to reap the benefits of extra sales, we must be willing to go the extra mile ourselves through product innovation and ingenuity.

Until next time,


Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, California, can be reached at 310-947-9711 or via email at chris@carwash-consultant.com. Visit www.carwash-consultant.com for more information on specific customer marketing. For more information on this subject and other carwash equipment, products and services, please visit www.theschoolofwash.com.