One of the biggest and most common mistakes startup business owners make, according to Entrepreneur.com, is not making cash flow a large enough priority. Branding and generating leads are important, but businesses should also ensure they keep 10 to 20 percent of monthly revenues on hand at all times.

The article offers five ways to keep cash flow steady:

  1. Know your expenses. Discounts and coupons may bring customers into your wash, but they don’t generate cash flow because you’re selling something at a loss. Make sure you know your profit margins to find out if you’ll break even or operate at a loss with these deals.
  2. Bundle products and services. Businesses can create value when they package products and services together, notes the article. Carwashes frequently practice this when they add services like tire shine and hot wax to their wash packages.
  3. Create a back-end product or service. The article encourages businesses to find ways to make more money if an initial service isn’t as profitable. One example is a catering company gives the first hour for free, then subsequent time shoots up in price.
  4. Encourage repeat business. Carwashes survive on loyal customers. According to Entrepreneur, retail shops “won’t start to profit on a customer until the third, fourth or even fifth transaction.” Carwashes often use radio frequency identification, or RFID, to manage loyalty programs. With these initiatives patrons can visit the wash as many times as they want during a given month for a flat fee. This ensures monthly revenue, and customers almost never abuse the system.
  5. Pre-sell products or services. The article recommends marketing pre-sales to customers to plan for future shopping or get shopping taken care of early. Carwashes can do this with packages around the holidays or with new services yet to be installed.

Click here to read the entire article.