I am writing this after just getting back from a recent trade show. Anytime I get around a great bunch of car wash people at any event I always love the conversations we have and the things I learn. This article is not intended to focus on the $3 wash price; it's intended to be about providing a great wash at any price and the effects it can have on your business.
A conversation was being held about the express wash model and as always the discussion turned to price. The folks were going back and forth about what price was the correct one for maximizing volume and driving revenue. One person mentioned that they used very little soap and only half the blowers they had on the bottom wash package. He was asked "Why would you do that?" The answer, to no one's surprise was, "I have to in order to be able to wash a car at that price." A person I respect very much in our industry said to him," Then why offer it at all? If you're going to offer it you have to give clean, dry and shiny at any price."
I couldn't agree more with clean, dry and shiny at any price. I operate a $3 Express model that does a great volume and has a great ticket average. The volume is a direct result of the price, model and good operational practices. The base wash price may be higher in certain areas but the concept remains the same. Let's look at it this way; You pull into a restaurant because the sign says "Hamburger $3.00. Includes FREE Drink." Sounds good if burgers are your thing. You walk into the place and it's clean, inviting and all the staff is friendly. You get the hamburger, it's small as you'd expect and doesn't include any fancy toppings like cheese or bacon. You haven't taken a bite yet but you're okay with the lack of the extras. After all, you only paid $3.00. Now comes the first bite; It's dry, bland and just not that good.
The waiter comes over and asks 'How's your meal?' Do you say anything? Most people would say it's fine and never come back again. However, you're going to tell him the truth. You say "The hamburger has no taste and it's really dry." Ah, now for your waiter's response "I am sorry sir, that's our three dollar burger. We don't season the beef and the cook makes them all well-done. But, our $10.00 burger includes seasoning and can be cooked to order and is a full 10 ounces. It also comes with cheese, bacon and any extra toppings you'd like. I'd recommend you get that next time you come." Yeah, next time, you're not going back. That burger was just awful. Did you expect a big burger? Did you expect all the extras? No. You knew for $3.00 the burger was going to be small and lack the extras and you were okay with that. But a burger that was just plain bad, at any size, even with the free drink was not worth it and you're not going back at any price.
How many times do you think a similar scenario has played out at your wash? If the small no frills burger was good would you have gone back? I know I would. Maybe next time I'd try the higher price burger because the cheap one was good or maybe I'd come in a few times a week for a great deal on a small burger; much like the $3 base wash. If you provide a quality product at every price point, repeat business will increase your volume and raise your ticket average. Not providing a clean, dry and shiny car won't. Perhaps Colin Powell stated it best when he said;
"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."
Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at RAndre@sonnysdirect.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.CarWashCollege.com or call the registrar at 1-866-492-7422.