“It’s only by being bold that you get anywhere.”
Sir Richard Branson said that. What company did he start? That’s easy: Branson founded Virgin, now an empire of organizations working across a swath of industries, including music, hotels, airlines, wine and space flight.
Can you picture the iconic Virgin logo? The bright red handwriting soars up and to the right with a signature flair of confidence. That logo sticks to the brain, waiting to be recalled instantly.
How did it get there? Boldness and repetition. Brands leveraging these two factors have an inherent advantage. Carwash owners stand to benefit by employing boldness and consistency in their business models. These behaviors help you:
- Stand out in a noisy marketplace.
- Be more memorable.
- Convey competence and confidence.
- Ward off your competition.
This article covers how the habit of boldness can tap into those benefits to help your carwash succeed.
Stand out in a noisy marketplace
The argument here is that boldness and repetition help a brand stand out. But what’s a brand? It’s not just your logo, your name or your marketing.
A brand is the combination of what you promise and deliver mixed with the things other people say about you, whether or not you’re in the room.
Every decision you make is factored into your brand. It’s the customer service. It’s the equipment. It’s your marketing. It’s your building. It’s how clean you keep your building. These are all promises that communicate what the customer experience will be like. These things are always talking to new and returning customers for you. They combine to create your company’s voice.
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But you’re not the only one talking. People are talking about you too. Word of mouth is a powerful form of marketing, because our world comes down to people talking to each other about their experiences. Sometimes that’s online. People also talk about your competition. It all makes for a loud world.
Boldness gives your company’s voice a microphone. And with that, you can craft and control some messaging — even some of the stuff out there that’s negative or incorrect about your carwash.
But, if your voice is timid and communicates a bland brand, people will believe what they hear about you from others — if they hear anything at all.
Be more memorable
“You can’t go past my building without noticing it,” says Zack Fortner, owner of Wash Boss. “Everyone can build your standard block building. I wanted the carwash to be different. And if I can get you in here, I can keep you here.”
Fortner runs a 125-foot express wash in Evansville, Indiana. He goes big with everything, and he believes in the power of first impressions.
“First impressions are huge,” says Fortner. “And the biggest feedback I get from a new customer is that they may or may not know the name, but they definitely know the big orange carwash.”
Having his carwash positioned strategically near a stoplight in front of a high-end grocery store on a busy highway, Fortner saw the opportunity to capitalize on a good location with a building and brand that you couldn’t ignore.
So, Fortner worked with a carwash design company to create a custom structure that can’t be missed, complete with bright orange siding; a substantial tower; and a blue, polycarbonate roof.
“Your operation must literally stand out from the others in order to succeed,” says Tim Hogue, CEO of Modernwash. “Potential customers will be passing by many different retail businesses that will all be vying for the customers’ attention as well as their dollars.”
This especially makes sense in the carwash industry, where purchases are impulsive. People typically don’t schedule an appointment to go to your carwash, unless it’s for a full detail. More often, people get a car washed when it’s top-of-mind and convenient.
Fortner chose a building and signage that make it easy for the customer to learn about or recall his carwash. Fortner’s logo and branding are similarly bold, and they contribute to the overall experience. Wash Boss is an inherently strong name, as is the image of a man dressed in a black T-shirt with crossed muscular forearms and a confident stare. The bold logo and name reinforce the building and vice versa.
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Fortner said his signage, building, vacuums and equipment are so sharp that most people think it’s a franchise even though it’s independently owned. He decided on stainless steel equipment, because he wanted to communicate to the customer that this carwash was going to be around for a long time.
When Fortner first submitted his drawings to the shopping center for the design committee’s feedback, some of the members balked at the color scheme and asked for something more bland. Fortner had to get an attorney involved to go through the fine print of the design regulations and fight for the design and strategy he knew would stand out. It’s a fight he’s glad he took on, since the carwash is performing better than projections.
As people drive past Fortner’s carwash, he knows the repetition of boldness stands out in their minds. After all, the first step of converting a new customer is awareness.
Convey competence and confidence
Imagine your carwash is a person. Does it have its act together? Does it stand tall in the marketplace, conveying confidence with its head held high and shoulders back? Does it show up late for meetings in cut-off shorts and disheveled hair? That’s also technically a way to be memorable, albeit not a winning one.
“We don’t just want the carwash to be memorable; we want the customer’s choice of it to become a no-brainer,” says Mary Shallies, president of SplashSource, a marketing firm specializing in the carwash industry. “To accomplish that, we need consistent, targeted marketing and, of course, to deliver good service — because word-of-mouth advertising will always remain a big factor.”
A well-designed logo loses its strength if not consistently executed across all platforms, according to Shallies. Same goes for messaging, which needs to be well-developed and designed and consistently implemented.
“Consistency is the key to all good marketing,” says Shallies. “The carwash owner should have a professionally-designed logo and color scheme that will be used in all marketing and sales materials — from building signage and menu cards to ads, emails and videos.”
Ward off competition
“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.” So says Sun Tzu in “The Art of War.”
When designing a new carwash building and brand, your customer isn’t your only concern. Your competitor should be on your mind. That should include current competition and the potential for future competition.
There’s a reason lions roar. There’s a purpose for guard dogs. These animals communicate the potential for risk, if engaged. They’re typically a preventative measure.
Does your carwash roar or meow? Pride of ownership goes a long way, and sometimes the best way to win is to have a good defense.
If you have long-term plans for holding your carwash, a spectacular carwash can take market share away from those around you. It can also inspire potential new competition to look in other markets or neighborhoods outside your territory.
Or, if you have a short-term strategy, a clean building, impressive property and stylish signage can all combine as a halo effect that communicates value to a private equity firm or other buyer interested in purchasing your business. Investors are people too, and the same laws of attraction apply.
Branson is living proof of the unfair advantage available to entrepreneurs who make a regular habit of calculated bold moves.
Standing out from the crowd, being memorable and warding off competition are some of the benefits to be derived from developing a brand that walks tall and delivers an outstanding carwash experience.
Who knows how far this strategy can take you — Branson is currently working on space travel. “Star Trek” told us to boldly go where no man has gone before. They repeated it at the beginning of every episode.
Boldness and repetition works down here on Earth too. It even works for carwashes.
Steve Turney leads marketing and business development for Modernwash, a company designing and pre-engineering carwash structures that stand out in competitive markets. Visit www.modernwash.net.