As we prepared to enter the new year, I began thinking back to my conversations with operators from all over the country. Last year saw mixed results for the car wash industry with some parts of the country having a good year and others, not so good. We all know that there are many reasons we can attribute to an area’s good volume or low volume. The top factor on my list is still weather. Let’s look at some things that you can do to help make 2011 a good year, weather permitting.
I definitely think that a lot of operators have given up on marketing. Now I am not talking about putting signs on your property offering discounts. I am talking about a real marketing campaign to boost your business. One thing I recommend trying in 2011 is a direct mail marketing campaign. In order for a direct mail campaign to be successful, your mailing materials must have a great offer that will “call people to action”. Now, doing a direct mail campaign is certainly not the least expensive type of marketing but it has proven to be very effective when done properly. Here are some tips on how to reduce your cost and get the best return for your money. One of the best sources I’ve found for any print item is the web site www.gotprint.com. They have good prices and the quality is top notch. They offer marketing packages that include design services, printing and mailings. Included in this package is the creation of a mailing list based on your specific criteria. For instance, your mailing list could be based on zip codes, age or income. By getting specific on your list it increases the chance of your return. Using specific criteria to build your list greatly increases your probability of a successful campaign.
Not sure what to look for when building your list?
- Keep the mailing limited to a 3 to 5 mile radius.
- Target consumers based on their income and your wash type.
- Target households based on size, age and gender.
- If you’re not sure of what to look for the ICA (International Car Wash Association) published a study on Consumer Car Washing Attitudes and Habits that you may find helpful.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your current client base questions that could help you build your list.
Once you have decided on your mailer make sure you put a tracking system in place to measure your results. By tracking your results you can tell if you need to make changes to your list for future mailings. When you have the mailer printed, get flyers printed that can be handed out at your wash and around town. In order for any marketing campaign to work effectively it has to be on-going so be prepared to mail several times per year. Once you’ve got the new customers coming in make sure you are providing a service that they will come back for. Put things in place like a loyalty program to get the people to continue to use your services. Offering things like an unlimited wash plan has proven successful for some operators as well. Take a few minutes to reflect on what has worked in the past for increasing your business and what could work for you in the future. I wish everyone a safe and profitable 2011.
Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at RAndre@carwashcollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.CarWashCollege.com or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.