During these lazy days of August when it seems like summer is winding down, there is no better time to begin to look towards the upcoming season of car washing and developing a marketing plan. In this time of less discretionary income, it is necessary to work harder to capture what dollars there are from consumers. Developing a thoughtful plan can give you an advantage over your competition.

The best place to start is to develop a promotional calendar. By looking at events each month, you can develop promotions that will entice customers to come to your wash. As we look into the busier fall and winter months, there are many opportunities to tie into holidays and seasonal events by offering value to your customers.

Any promotional calendar needs a variety of offerings and should appeal to different consumers. In an ICA sponsored survey of consumer attitudes about car wash choices, the highest rating for Factors Influencing Use of Car Wash were coupons and discount pricing. This is a good way to bring in customers and your promotional calendar should include some of these types of offers. However, promotions don’t have to always mean giving things away or lowering prices.

Encourage customers to trade up to the top wash package, increasing your traffic and revenue by promoting the value of your offerings. For example, promote your super sealant telling the customers the value of it, how it works, and what it does to protect and shine their vehicle. Signs and brochures are an effective way to communicate this kind of value.

Another great promotional idea is to give back to your community. Have a “Wild Wednesday” and donate a percent of each wash’s revenue to a local wildlife or nature center. Customers get a great wash and also a good feeling knowing they and you are supporting a great cause. Charity car wash events at your wash are another way to increase traffic and show support for your community. These contributions might be tax deductable so check with a tax expert.

So, now that you have a few different types of promotional offers, it’s time to develop your calendar. Start by looking at last year’s sales. Look at days that are historically slow. Check the days on the calendar and see if they coincide with a holiday or local events. Schedule a few events for the month; develop signs that are easy to read describing the event, (“Columbus Day, Discover Your Car’s True Color” or “Presidents Day- Top Wash One Lincoln and Two Washingtons” [$7]). Track how well each event worked and plan effective promotions month by month.

A great way to get your promotions out to the public is a community paper that offers local, affordable advertising space to communicate you current promotion. You can team up with a nearby gas station or convenience store without a wash and agree upon an arrangement to offer coupons for washes or wash upgrades.

Having an exciting plan that offers promotions that customers see as great value will bring them in. Planning ahead to make each promotion an event to get their attention will increase traffic and your revenue.

Mark Brock, Vice President of Marketing, Lustra Car Care Products
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