If It's Free and No Good, It's Still No Good! - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

If It’s Free and No Good, It’s Still No Good!

Lately I have talked about the price and quality of the services offered at your car wash.

Lately I have talked about the price and quality of the services offered at your car wash. And, I am going to continue on that topic in this article. Why you may ask? Because it’s important. In fact, it can make a drastic difference between having a low volume wash or a high volume wash. This article is about the FREE Vacuum concept and why you should consider capitalizing on this concept. If you don’t have an Express wash, the general concept can be applied to anything FREE that your customers perceive as a “value added” product.

During the years I was lucky enough to spend time with Sonny Fazio I heard a lot of the same things over and over. Repetition leads to remembering. Hear it enough times and it is absolutely imprinted in your mind. And when you stop hearing them, they get moved into a sort of “storage file” in your brain. Sonny had so many of these quick little sayings that I refer to them as “Sonny-isms”. I heard someone in the office mention one just the other day – “If it’s free and no good, it’s still no good.”

Ah yes, the power of free. Everyone knows that if you add free vacuums your volume will go up; that’s no secret. So what is? I am going to get to that in just a minute. First, for those of you that are not sure if the free vacuum is the right thing to increase volume, I am going to share an email I recently received from someone looking to enter the car wash industry.


I have been thinking about opening a car wash for the last couple of months and just have started my research. I have been in the real estate business for the last 8 years and have been thinking about diversifying. I have really fallen in love with this one free vacuum car wash that is about a 20 minute drive from me. If I am willing to drive that far just for the free vacuums, I know I am not the only one. I keep thinking why are they not opening one closer to my home. I see how busy this one is, and I know if one opened closer to where I live that it would do really well. So, I would like more information. I have investors that are willing to help get this business started but I need to write up a business plan. I would love any information you could provide me on cost, profit and any other information I would need for a business plan.

Thank you for your help,

Okay. Let’s put aside the fact that this guy may or may not ever own a car wash or any other criticism about being a new investor. Why does he go to the wash that’s twenty minutes away? He never mentioned the price or the quality of the wash. Yes those are, in fact, important and need to be considered. But, the one thing he mentions is the free vacuums. Do you think he is the only one who sees the value of these? No way! Now, back to the secret of the free vacuums. Yes, they will bring people into the wash and will cause those same people to stop coming if the vacuums are not worth the price of free. In order for the vacuums to provide your customers with the value they demand you need to make sure you have all the things listed below.

  1. The vacuums need to always have high suction. This requires close monitoring by an employee.
  2. The hoses must always be clean so they don’t transfer dirt to the inside of the car or the customer’s clothes.
  3. You must have enough spaces to accommodate the customers and those spaces need to be wide enough for comfortable use.
  4. Invest in a central vacuum system; this is more of a marketing tool for the customer. When a customer sees the “coin vacuum” they connect it back to all the vacuums that never work well at gas stations.
  5. Keep the vacuum area as clean as possible and have plenty of trash receptacles available.
  6. Provide vacuum claws designed for wide and narrow areas that are easy for the customer to use.
  7. Create a setup that makes it easy for the customer to put the hose back. Yes, they will put them back if you make it easy.

I’m sure you can think of ways to apply your own special touch as well. When done right, and in combination with providing a clean, dry and shiny car, free vacuums can have a tremendous impact on your volume. I have seen this work time and time again. So, in closing, remember that even though something is free it can have a lasting impression on your customer. Whether that impression is good or bad is entirely up to you.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

This content is sponsored by CarWash College. Sponsored content is authorized by the client and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Professional Carwashing & Detailing editorial team. 

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