Well, Happy Fall! I hope your plans for a lucrative winter season are well under way with lots of promotions, specials and marketing techniques all lined up and ready at the starting gates. If you have been reading my past three articles on sales and marketing techniques, you should be well versed in some of the best ways to be reaching your customers and you should also be equally versed in tracking these customers once they reach your drive way entrance.
For those of you who haven’t been reading Professional Carwashing & Detailing’s ‘Consultant’s Corner’ articles, get down and give me 20 and then read this quick overview.
1) We want to try and reach our customers by any means possible. Some of the best ways are the good old fashioned “tried and true” methods of basic coupons, direct mailers and supermarket register tapes. But in this day and age, there are a lot more things you can do besides the aforementioned advertising methods. There are plenty of ‘multi-media’ techniques that you should be implementing and once you have tried those, there is a whole new level beyond you should consider. I don’t have time (or the space) to go into that here, but if you’d like learn more feel free to call me and will give you (or your manager) some great tips.
2) Next, we want to track our customers once they reach our tunnels and wash bays and see exactly what it is that they are buying and how much of it they are buying as well. As I alluded to in my previous article (Professional Carwashing & Detailing, September 2013, Capturing Extra Dollars), noting the time and day along with the specific product and/or service that they are buying, will be very helpful.
3) And here’s a quick tip to remember: Try and track the time and then compare times with buying habits. You might be surprised at what you will discover.
Streamline, boost sales, boost profits
Now that we have that quick review out of the way, we can start with this month’s topic of: Streamlining labor and boosting sales along with boosting profits!
Let’s look at some of the challenges facing todays operator in the ‘full-service’ model along with challenges that are typically facing the express operator who is perhaps also running a ‘flex-serve’/detail operation at the carwash.
One of the main challenges is: How do I know when to keep labor on the clock and how do I know when to send people home?
Another challenge is making sure to have the “right people” on the clock at any given time so as to avoid costly errors in time management and customer communication. By “right people”, I am referring to those employees who have perhaps been with you for many years, have a sense of the car flows, actually know the customers, and also know the problems (or high maintenance if you prefer) associated with any given ‘particular’ customer on any given day to which that particular customer might frequent.
Be strategic with your employees
By having the perfect employee on hand on those crucial days when things are especially busy, and they are likely to be most effective. If you plan it out strategically, you are not only helping to keep your own labor costs down, but you ensuring that these particular high-maintenance patrons will be well taken care of and in doing this, you are also much more likely to see this customer spend more money and be more pleasant.
This customer service will have a domino effect as it will rub off on the other customers and they will see that your employees truly care about the work that goes on at the carwash along with making sure the customer is fully satisfied when they leave.
So what have you accomplished now by having one of your “star” employees on the clock at the most opportune time? Well, for one, we have definitely streamlined our customer satisfaction efforts while at the same time doing a bit of ‘front pad’ marketing by demonstrating to the other customers that you care about the quality of your services and that you are not afraid to make sure that even the most picky of customers are well taken care of. Second, you have now shown to the rest of the crew that this particular ‘picky’ customer is a high maintenance type of person, thus ensuring that next time they will be given more consideration (providing you take the opportunity as a valuable training moment for you and your other staff members). And third, you have gained insight into the buying habit(s) of the customer, so that next time you can adjust your marketing strategy to better reflect what you are trying to sell vs. what the customer is trying to buy…( the key here is “training” your customer).
Who is your star employee?
Lastly, I would like to spend a little time on why and who to market the “star” employee to and how much to invest in any one particular customer. The theory behind this is that by dealing with the toughest of customers in the manner above mentioned, you start to create a buzz about your carwash not only with the difficult crowd, but with your regular customers, too. This will spill out into the rest of the town and before you know it, you are the go-to destination for people looking for quality combined with service. It’s at that point that you can start to command top dollar for your services and have those services now ‘streamlined’ due to the clear cut training as mentioned earlier.
And because you and your employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of you by that customer and that customer has a clear understanding of how long and how much their ‘particular’ needs are going to cost, both of you will save time and one of you will save money.
Hope this helps some of you as you head into the busy ‘detail season’ both here on the West Coast and on the East coast as well.
Till next time
Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, CA, can be reached at 310-947-9711, or via email at [email protected]. You can also visit his website at www.carwash-consultant.com.