Memberships, memberships and more memberships. The desire to drive and gain more memberships has become one of the most talked about topics in the carwash industry. At industry events, you can find classes on all things membership, ranging from number of membership tiers, tier pricing, churn reduction, creating an exclusive experience for members, upsell/downsell and more.
While the membership phenomenon has changed the industry, it’s important to note that the leading brands who are driving the most memberships recognize that membership growth is won in the local community.
Before we get tactical, let’s remember that not all customers are the same. If we are trying to grow membership and loyalty, then finding the “right” customer who will stay in our membership for the long term is who we want to target and get in our tunnels. The concept of finding the “right” customer is the answer to reducing churn over the long-term.
Easy In — Easy Out
There is a consumer group out in the marketplace who will quickly buy a membership if you are offering a great deal. We can label this group as “deal seekers.”
If you run a membership promotion online and sell memberships online, these consumers will be the ones who buy without ever having visited your location. They are a quick win and can help us feel good about our membership sales numbers.
Deal seekers will wash frequently, as they want to ensure they are getting more than their money’s worth — but most importantly, they are also the first to leave for a competitor’s deal. There is no loyalty with this type of consumer, and they will churn out as fast as they bought in. It can be noted that the deal seeker consumer group is very difficult to please and will be the first to drop a negative comment online.
Loyalty Creates Long-Term Growth
There is a second consumer group in the marketplace that demands our attention. This group is thoughtful, willing to give you its loyalty, willing to refer others to you and will stay in the membership for 11 months or longer. We will call this group “champion consumers.”
Champion consumers help keep churn down and allow for steady growth. Champions want to experience your brand before committing to membership, want to be reminded of the value of their memberships once signed up and ultimately want to have a long-term relationship with you.
These champion consumers, if you can find them, will help you reduce churn and unlock the kind of membership growth that all carwash brands desire.
Finding the Champions
Champion consumers can fit a multitude of demographics and can be found in large concentrations in pockets throughout the local community. One target demographic is the parent demographic. Data shows that “soccer moms” or “soccer dads” often fit the profile of a champion consumer. While young professionals and pet owners also often fit the champion consumer group, honing in on a very specific target makes your marketing efforts more efficient and effective.
Champion consumers typically must try and experience your brand before they buy. Capturing their loyalty starts with first getting them in your tunnel.
Tactics to Drive “At Bats” — The Ground Game
Community involvement can be an extremely effective way to find champion consumers and get them to experience your brand. Top carwash brands are leveraging fundraising as a method to support the community while directly accessing the parent demographic. Fundraising not only gets parents and school supporters on-site, but it also helps create community affinity with your brand.
Historically, fundraising has been a difficult and non-scalable strategy. It is executed by printing and selling wash books or hosting a school team to sell carwashes on-site during a specific time on a specific day. The time, energy and liability created through these methods prevents many brands from growing their fundraising efforts.
Digital fundraising tools have modernized and improved the process. Digital fundraising tools allow boosters, sports teams and PTAs the ability to send carwash purchase links out through school newsletters, Facebook groups, email and social posts.
Another strong component of digital fundraising is your access to the contact information of those who supported the fundraiser by buying a carwash or prepaid membership. This allows for future communication and retargeting to these potential champion consumers, which then helps in building relationships and driving member conversion.
Digital technology has created the opportunity to turn fundraising into a significant new revenue stream as well as a new member acquisition tool.
Community Digital Targeting in Your Local Community
According to a 2023 report by DataReportal, the average person worldwide spends more than six hours on his or her phone each day. By using Google and Meta’s digital targeting options, you can reach people on their phones and target them based on their interests, demographics, location and even past behavior. Digital gives you the unique opportunity to target the champion consumers with the right message at the right time in your local community. The idea is to target these potential members on their phones or other digital channels and offer them the opportunity to visit your carwash and connect with your brand. Offering a free carwash is a gifting strategy that gets you more visitors on-site and makes the recipient feel good about your brand.
Local digital targeting allows you to drop a geofence in neighborhoods that have a high density of families or in areas where there are community schools located near your carwash. Overlay the right location with the parent demographic targeting, and you are likely to capture a good influx of new consumers who are likely to be members and grow your brand.
Membership tier strategies, upsells/downsells, pricing, etc. — none of that matters until you get people to experience your wash for the first time. Membership starts with cars on-site — and finding the right champions and getting them to your wash will give you more member “at-bats.” Remember, signing up champions will help you reduce churn and unlock membership growth.
Brian Mattingly is the founder and CEO of Welcomemat, a data-driven marketing platform designed for the carwash industry. Welcomemat specializes in new customer acquisition through digital strategies and fundraising tools. For more information, visit Welcomemat.com.