Veteran's Day is right around the corner. Started unofficially in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, the national holiday was a way to honor those who fought and died while protecting the freedom and mission of the United States of America. Today, Veteran's Day (celebrated every 11th of November) is celebratedby giving away free gifts and services to those who served in a branch of the Armed Forces. And, now, carwashes across the globe are joining in the revelry.
This year, Veteran's Day falls on a Monday. As Veterans set about their Monday mornings, they are more than likely to see American flags waving, poppy flowers on display on lapels and collars, and, if Grace For Vets has anything to do with it, they will probably also see signs for free carwashes. Now, in its ninth year, Grace For Vets, a program that bands together carwashes to give away free washes to veterans, currently has 2,033 carwashes signed up (as of Sept. 30), representing 849 companies and four countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the good 'ol U S of A.
The program started back in 2004 when Mike Mountz, CEO of Cloister Carwash & Lube, and a U.S. service veteran, set out to thank and honor the men and women who served or were currently serving in a branch of the United States military. Each year, the program grows and more and more carwashes are given away. Last year,according to Sharon Ramp, the program’s director of marketing, over 1,800 washes participated and hundreds of thousands of cars were washed for free. It was a record-breaking year, and this year, the numbers will be even greater.
Around 100 carwashes are participating overseas. Why are they taking part in a holiday that honors United States citizens? The answer is: Mike Mountz.
According to Ramp, the Australian Car Wash Association is a great supporter of the program. Members rallied around the cause after founder Mountz spoke about it at their annual convention in 2011. Ramp said in an interview last year, “They really believe in honoring those that have given so much and as many feel, they feel it’s a small gesture on their part to say thanks.”
The following are tips to use if you want to give away free washes, courtesy of Grace For Vets.
How to start a carwash Tip #1: What to do about signage and marketing
- Put on your sign that a FREE carwash is available only on November 11th — rain or shine.
- Contact your local veteran’s or administration offices such as the VFW, AmVets, American Legion, and DVA to let them know about Grace For Vets. Send them a press release, flyers and the 8.5 x 11” sign. This will help them spread the word to your local veterans and give them materials to post.
- Contact your local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations and let them know about Grace For Vets. Send a press release to them and ask if they will support the program by running FREE advertising or press coverage. It is critical to contact the local newspaper, radio and TV companies in order to receive adequate coverage on November 11th. It is not uncommon for local TV stations to provide live coverage on November 11th and local radio stations to promote the FREE wash for veterans on their radio programs. Also, local newspapers will sometimes visit your locations to take photos and gather information for the following day’s publication. Please promote the program as Grace For Vets and inform them that it is a national program sponsored by participating car wash companies across the country. We believe this is a great way to provide you with local coverage as well as goodwill for the industry.
How to start a carwash Tip #2: How to identify veterans
Make sure it is known that veterans do NOT have to show ID or any kind of proof to get the free wash. According to the Grace For Vets team, “this may lead to some abuse, but we believe that the program must be based on one of the guiding principles for a veteran, which is ‘honor.’ We are asking you to honor our request to keep count of your veteran and total washes. Please come back to this site (www.graceforvets.org) to report activity.”