Loyalty systems are only successful when a commitment is made from the top down, a plan is created and that plan is carried out. Look at the type of hardware and software you have in your wash and find out what options you have with your current equipment.

Next you will need to decide what type of programs you would like to offer. Do you want to start with a monthly unlimited wash program, prepaid accounts, invoiced accounts for government or fleet business, fundraising programs, paper punch card or electronic unit based card programs?

A good place to start is with the equipment and carwashes you have. If you have one type of carwash, such as a tunnel, the unlimited program is a great place to start. 

How can I successfully sell unlimited passes?

The monthly unlimited wash program typically uses a license plate number, loyalty card or RFID tag to keep track of your members in a database. In this program, you use your loyalty system to deduct a monthly amount like $34.99 from a person’s credit card. If the customer has more than one car, give him the option to add a second for $15.00 or $10.00 a month knowing this car most likely will be washed less than the first. One of the main benefits of this program is the monthly income that is garnered regardless of the weather. In fact, the worse the carwash weather is in a month, the higher your average per car income is for your unlimited wash program.

Talking with customers and other carwash owners about their numbers, we have found that the first car will average around four washes a month, the second less than two and a third car less than once a month. Yes, there is a honeymoon period for the first 60 days when the new customers want to take full advantage of your great offer. Yes, you will have some customers that will continue to wash 10 times every month. Rest assured that the honeymoon will end and the person who washes 10 times a month will tell everyone they know what a great deal they get at your wash and, in the end, be your best advertising.

Unlimited programs are best sold by a consistent human interaction. For example, print on the back of your team members’ shirts, “Ask about our unlimited carwash.” Develop a script and process for your employees to follow so they give your customers consistent details on the program. Explain that their card account will have an automatic deduction every month on the set date. You need to have a clear process if they would like to discontinue the program, normally 30-day written notification. You will need someone to monitor the automatic payments and contact customers with expired credit cards. This employee should explain that your wash does not want the customer’s service to be interrupted and ask for the updated expiration date or a new card number.

How can I learn about loyalty programs?

One of the best ways to get ideas on how loyalty programs are set up is to ask other carwash owners and manufacturers. Carwash conventions allow you to meet with both, and road shows allow you to see the programs in action. You will get many opinions on what works and how great each manufacturer’s program works.

I will pass on some of the best advice that was given to me about raising kids. Listen to what all the people recommend. Filter out what you believe to be the best advice, and then use what works for you.

Decide on your plan and get the tools to implement your program. Test it with your best customers. Let them know this test is a limited time offer giving you an out if the program does not work to your benefit. Give them an incentive for being your guinea pigs. Ask for their patience and feedback as you fine tune your program. Then, after a month or so of testing and training your staff, have a grand opening with an advertising push as you go live with new customers.

These programs are designed to make you money, so you need to continue to assess and measure your results. Make corrections to your program so that not only your customers perceive they are receiving a good value, but you benefit from the program as well.