Wash owners are always looking for new ways to bring in revenue, and one way to do so is through the family pet. However, it’s not enough to just build a pet wash at your location, the service must be promoted well or people will not use it.

The pet wash business has improved over the years by offering an effective complementary service, said Adrian Sacco, marketing coordinator at Waves Car Wash in Canberra.

The washes are also effective in generating new business in a way that is familiar to carwash owners, and requires a similar infrastructure, said Evolution Dog Wash President Gary Sherman. “[A pet wash can] bring in a new client base that will look to the carwash to not only wash the car, but also to wash the dog. There are synergies between the two, and there’s not a great deal to adding a pet wash to a carwash.”

Spreading the word about pet washes

The Australian pet wash market, Sherman said, has been ahead of others, like the U.S., in adopting pet washes as a valuable additional profit center. Many new carwashes are built with a pet wash, and Sherman added that existing washes are adding them to keep up.

The main challenge that carwash owners face regarding pet washes, Sacco said, is customer awareness about their services. “Many consumers are unaware of the product offering and not entirely certain how it operates; hence they are more likely to overlook it,” he said. “The challenge therein is to improve awareness … explaining the process of the pet wash and emphasising that it is a self-service and cost involved.”

The Waves website breaks down their pet wash offerings in a step-by-step explanation of what the service entails. A potential customer needs to know things like the price of the wash, how long it will take and what services and add-ons are available, continued Sacco.

Providing a friendly environment that pet owners feel comfortable in, said Sherman, is another important step in engaging the pet wash customer. Owners often overlook the bond between a person and their pet, he continued. “Pet owners are a community, and if they feel welcomed, they will pay you back in spades [for taking] care of their animals.” Once you’ve shown a customer that your wash will treat their pet well, he continued, they will definitely trust your business to take proper care of their vehicle.

Advertising and working with pet organizations

Waves, said Sacco, has had its best success advertising pet wash services in conjunction with the entire wash experience, and not running ads strictly around the pet wash. Another effective strategy is to be more targeted with advertising, and to market to pet shops, training schools and veterinarians. “In addition,” he said, “local councils with dog parks are becoming a more popular avenue for promotions."

Partnering up with veterinary or other animal groups is one of the best ways of promoting pet wash services, according to the experts. Owners can work with these groups to “offer incentives [for] customers and rebates to vet owners for using services,” said Sacco. It also allows wash owners to target their exact demographic and bring in new customers to the carwash, many of whom would not have used their carwash service otherwise, he continued. 

In the Australian market, Sherman said that the mentality is, when “you build a carwash, you build a pet wash.” This additional profit center continues to spread across the country and help pet lovers become carwash enthusiasts along the way.