How to retain loyal customers for your new carwash
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Customer loyalty, customer service, customer retention, customer satisfaction, retaining customers, customer base, customer support

Starting a Carwash

How to retain loyal customers for your new carwash

Creating a new loyal customer base should be a top priority in the first few critical years.


Rich DiPaolo is the Associate Publisher – Editorial of Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine.

From quick interactions at the cashier area or the point-of-sale (POS) system to hard pitch selling, there are many ways to inform customers of your business’ loyalty program for carwashing and other services. As a proactive, new carwash business owner, you most likely did your research and understand the benefits of offering loyalty programs. However, the owners and operators who succeed in this industry never lose sight of this effective business approach to creating a loyal customer base.

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“A loyalty program can run like a well-oiled machine if properly implemented and supported,” asserts Bonnie McMillan, vice president of sales and marketing for DRB Systems. “Too often though, loyalty programs are created and then neglected, resulting in only small increases in customer loyalty.”

Keys to customer retention

As a result of proper site planning and creative marketing, your new carwash will hopefully be in contact with many new customers during these initial startup years. Therefore, your staff will have the opportunity every day — and on some days, every vehicle ­— to retain customers and sell loyalty programs. How, when and where you approach these new customers will determine your level of success.


“Look at your daily business activities; you connect with customers every day,” says McMillan. “You greet them at the tunnel entrance; they visit your lobby for accessories and snacks. Are you taking these opportunities to engage them in conversations about your loyalty programs?”

According to McMillan, successful carwashes surround their loyalty programs with daily activities centered on reinforcing the programs’ value. And, she shares the following quick ways to support your new carwash business’ loyalty program:

  • Meet with employees so they understand your loyalty campaign and can communicate its value.
  • Provide scripts and tips to make it easy for staff to engage customers.
  • Keep customers informed of upcoming promotions.
  • Ask customers if they are receiving your emails and texts. Would they like to?
  • Provide reminders to your customers, such as “Check out our website for discounts.”
  • Distribute targeted samples or promotional items, such as calendars with wash specials.
  • Conduct follow-up campaigns.

These best practices can help any new investor build repeat business, which can in turn lead to new referral business. As mentioned, the success of your loyalty programs is contingent on three critical components: the owner, the carwash staff and the customer. Therefore, it is important to stay in constant communication with staff and customers to gauge the level of effectiveness and value of your programs.


“Don’t make your loyalty program go it alone,” notes McMillan. “Supplement it with active customer engagement, and you’ll be rewarded with increased customer retention, new customer acquisition, more repeat business, customer referrals and, ultimately, higher customer lifetime spending.”

Selling these programs is only the start of winning a customer’s loyal business. Keep dedicated customers happy with high-quality carwashing, services and offers of gratitude, such as special discounts or events.

For new owners who might not be too familiar with loyalty programs and systems used in the professional carwashing industry, there is some compelling information to consider. For example, findings from SpotOn, a leading digital loyalty and marketing platform, show “merchants who maintain frequent communication with loyalty program members see three times more customer visits” than those who send none.


And, continues SpotOn’s findings, “Small businesses that send loyalty members two to three communications per week see three times more customer visits than businesses that do not send any communications. Merchant sales reportedly increase anywhere from 15 to 50 percent as a result of [these] campaigns.”

With more customer visits comes more opportunities to sell higher packages and ancillary products. Simply put, loyalty programs can offer a great return on investment when implemented correctly.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing