Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight - Professional Carwashing & Detailing
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Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight

Are you ready to stand toe-to-toe with your competitor, look them in the eye and dare them to blink?


Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight?” In its literal sense, bringing a knife to a gun fight can get you killed. I hate when that happens, so let us look at it more figuratively.

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When competing with the washes in your area, are you bringing a knife to a gun fight? Think about it. Hopefully, the washes that you are in competition with are also producing clean, dry and shiny cars. We will presume you’re even there. Next, compare pricing. It’s probable that you are within range of each other. So, again, let’s presume it’s an even match. Finally, compare the customer experience. The tunnels, the lights, the dramatic soap drops, projectors, textile dryers, site appearance and overall experience. 

Think all of this doesn’t matter? Think again.

If given the choice of paying the same price for a movie ticket at a theater with standard seating or one with theater seating, which would you choose? The movie is the same in both theaters; it’s the experience that is vastly different.


Need another example? 

It’s time for an oil change. Pricing is the same at locations within a three-mile radius. There’s the fast lube shop where you remain in the car with the engine and air conditioning off. Or, there’s the dealership you bought the car from that serves you coffee and doughnuts while you wait in an air-conditioned waiting room with internet access and television. The result is the same. The oil gets changed. The experience is different. Given the choice, which one would you choose? 

If you haven’t done so already, I suggest the hiring of a secret shopper to look at your business and your competition through the eyes of the customer. You’ll get an unbiased opinion of wash quality and experience.  Isolate the aspects of your business where you can consistently reign supreme. Work on the areas that you can improve and eventually dominate. Your business may never be exceptional at everything, but you can dominate in many areas that customers care about.


As customers, we all know good enough is no longer good enough. While a clean, dry, shiny car is still the result we are all shooting for, the demand and expectation is shifting.  The “experience” is now a big reason why clients return … or don’t.  If your wash experience is not where it should be, you may lose to those who do it better. Fresh building paint, a clean site, lights, foam, colors and a thank you text message can provide a higher perceived value that will help you win your unfair share. 

So, again, ask yourself — are you bringing a knife to a gun fight, or are you ready to stand toe-to-toe with your competitor, look them in the eye and dare them to blink?


Bob Fox has 35 years’ experience in the carwash industry and is the vice president of Sonny’s Car Wash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

This content is sponsored by CarWash College. Sponsored content is authorized by the client and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Professional Carwashing & Detailing editorial team. 

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