According to the article “3 Tips for Small-Business Owners Competing with Chains” by contributor David B. Kline on www.fool.com, if you are a small business competing with regional or national chains, it will not be enough to simply be locally owned. You have to stand out by doing what larger competitors either don’t or can’t do. In other words, you have to have a relationship with the community and be a part of your customers’ lives. As such, Kline offers four tips that we’ve geared specifically towards the carwash industry:

  • Provide the best service. Treat every customer like a big spender, whether they always buy the cheapest wash package or the most expensive one. In addition, put great effort into educating your customers about the benefits of higher-priced packages, even if they still end up buying the cheapest one. That sort of behavior is one you must expect, but overall top-quality customer service can gain you loyalty and referrals.
  • Know your customers. If your carwash has regulars, be sure to know their names and preferences. This will make it possible for you to go the extra mile in greeting them and showing or telling them about any new products or services your business is offering. It’s also important to make customers feel like part of the company family. This could include offering a tour of the carwash, playing with a customer’s child in the waiting room (or showing the child to a play area, if you have one) or getting customers something to eat or drink as they wait.
  • Go beyond the call of duty. Major chains generally can’t change decisions, for example, about opening on a holiday. As a single store, you may be able to open by request with just a couple volunteers working. You could bring in doughnuts or give away coffee and provide customers who have nothing to do on that holiday with a place to go. You may also be able to open early or close late on regular work days to accommodate customers. Also, you can hold customer appreciation days and give out food. In other words, if there is something you can do for the customer, do it.
  • Listen to your customers. Single stores can’t always compete with chains on prices, but you can listen to your customers’ suggestions. If there is a service or product that your customers want, figure out a way to provide it.

Read the original article here.