Signs of improvement at a carwash

Signs of improvement

Updating your signage can lead to a huge ROI.

Last month, you may recall I wrote about not biting off more than you can chew. The topic had to do with site improvements, specifically how it relates to customer experience. No surprise that the most popular question asked was “What’s the cost?” and a close second “If I do this — what will I get for it?” As in, what will my payback period be and how much more can I make? These are the most frequently asked questions I get at trade shows as well. Understandably so, we all want to know if the risk is worth the reward. 

The truth is, there is always a positive return. Return can be measured by return on investment (ROI), return on objectives, return on information, return on a better experience or any and all of these.

Objectives determine the task

Some washes are looking for a refresh to help reduce a portion of labor costs. In other words, using a sign to inform a customer without having to use a human resource. Having better promotional signs at the pay station ensures a customer understands what the promotion is rather than needing an employee to
communicate. Improved pay station screen flow may make it easier for people to buy memberships rather than having to wait for an attendant, which meets the objective of a convenient experience. Removing the wait time also makes your line move faster.

Clearer, more vibrant signs at your vacuums may engage customers to be more respectful of your property, which means you will be saving on maintenance costs. Noticeable waste bin signage can help a higher percentage of customers to use your trash bins for their garbage rather than throwing it on the ground. I sometimes refer to this as the “Disney look” — the clean, polished and approachable look designed to make the customer want to dispose their trash in the correct area rather than on your property. Better directional signs may increase your throughput because employees will do tasks they are supposed to be doing rather than having to direct customers around your wash site. 

Why ROI matters

Many washes I have worked with have increased prices immediately following an investment in tunnel signage and lights. Some will increase all wash packages; others will only increase the top packages. We have proven customers are willing to pay for the show, but the show has to be noticeable enough to make a difference — and the vehicle has to be clean, dry and shiny. 

With today’s market of investing, some owners are refreshing elements of their site to make a few more bucks on a sale. Have you ever sold a house? If you have, you probably spent some time and money cleaning up your home, changing out light bulbs, slapping on some new paint, and covering up patches in the wall. The same goes for when you are selling a business.

Assess by asking and by observing

When it comes to measuring return, there are four things I generally look at before and after a refresh:

Creativity: Is the creative unique to your site? If so, the customer will remember it as yours and yours only. 

Legibility/Visibility: Are customers finding things easier? Quicker? 

Quality: A higher quality sign will last longer. Less cost over time.

Sales: Based on objectives, are your memberships increasing? Are top package sales increasing? Were you able to raise your menu prices? 

When all is said and done, how your property looks, the experience and the signage you have on-site are still the most effective tools for advertising and converting customers into repeat customers. The delivery of the customer experience truly has a direct impact on sales. The better your location looks, the better your signs communicate, the better return you will see. 

Make it count.

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