The winter months at many carwashes are the busiest time of year. Especially in the Northeast U.S., customers’ cars are inundated with road salt, sand and other “ice melter” materials. A customer’s car is usually the second biggest investment behind the purchase of his or her house, so keeping it in top condition during the winter months is naturally high on the owner’s agenda. A carwash owner can be a consultant in this process by offering advice and winter services to protect cars during this harsh weather season.
Related article: Video of the week: Preparing customers for winter weather
By going the extra mile and offering your customers insightful and useful advice, a carwash can build a strong level of trust — something that is crucial in developing repeat business. So before winter really sets in, consider discussing some of the below winter services and tips with customers to prepare their vehicles for the winter weather.
Protect against the elements
A car’s body paint can take a real battering during winter, with rain, frost, ice and snow all causing problems. The biggest danger to the paintwork in winter though is road salt. The salt that is used to de-ice roads and make them safer to drive on can also strip layers of paint off cars, leaving them looking dull.
To protect the paint finish of your customers’ cars, you should be looking to offer paint sealant services and related maintenance services. Paint sealant is often an acrylic-based gloss product that locks in the finish and protects it from the ravages of winter.
Another important part of protecting the shine and finish of a car’s paintwork in the winter is to make sure all the road salt is washed off it thoroughly and regularly. This is an area where a new carwash can really innovate and provide a top-class service to customers, such as implementing a “three-for-two winter washes” promotion or something similar.
Maintaining the wheels and tires
When it comes to vehicle maintenance and safety over the winter months, the wheels and tires play a very important role. They are also often overlooked by motorists, so tire care is a great area in which to introduce new winter services and products to your customers.
First, tire inflation is a key maintenance area, as the air inside tires can shrink in cold temperatures. This can lead to dangerous situations in winter, since under-inflated tires can struggle to make the correct contact on icy roads.
In addition to inflating tires properly, you can also protect them with professional tire cleaners and protectants. These products work similarly to paint sealants in that they protect the grip of the tire tread by repelling ice and snow and also help prevent brake dust adhesion.
Windshield and wiper care
Another overlooked but critical area in winter is the windshield and the wipers. Motorists tend to take these for granted, but without proper care and attention, both can deteriorate rapidly in extreme winter weather.
It is imperative throughout winter that windshields are kept clean, as the added rain, ice and snow collecting on the windshield can combine with the more hazardous driving conditions to cause dangerous situations for the underprepared driver.
Good quality anti-freeze and cleaner solutions are a must here, and as your customers will no doubt require a good ice scraper in the months to come, this could be a good opportunity to provide branded ones of your new carwash for free. If not, upselling them along with your regular service during the winter months is definitely worth considering.
In terms of the wipers, they should be inspected and cleaned thoroughly. If you or your staff think a customer’s wipers are showing signs of wear and tear, then you should certainly suggest replacing them.
Other winter products to offer
In addition to the above winter services, there are a lot of winter-specific car maintenance products that a new carwash can utilize to extend its services and budding business.
Practical add-on winter products for new carwashes to offer include:
- Car covers. For anyone who parks his or her car outside overnight, a protective car cover is strongly recommended. These can offer heavy-duty protection from the elements, keeping the rain, snow and ice off the car and saving the customer the chore of de-icing and scraping the windshield every morning.
- In-car winter safety products. There’s never any shortage of advice about keeping blankets and other such items in cars over the winter, in case the worst should happen and the car gets stuck in a snow drift; but, how many drivers actually get around to heeding that advice? Offering blankets and even portable battery chargers could therefore be a very welcomed service. Other car emergency kit products could also include a shovel, flashlight, high visibility vest, windshield wiper fluid, de-icer and windshield scraper and even snow grips for shoes.
- Garage mats. This is the kind of product that car owners never think about until they need it. Garage mats are great for preventing the heavy snow and water that collects on a car from hitting the garage floor. Similarly, floor liners for the inside of the car are great for keeping the interior clear of sludge.
Carwash winter management tips
Besides thinking about what useful winter services and products your new carwash business can offer customers during the cold months, it is also important that you make sure your business is well prepared for winter weather.
The winter months can be a very busy period for carwashes, so it is important to be organized in order to take advantage of the increased demand.
- Keep the wash area clear. If you operate in a part of the country that experiences extreme winter weather, then you need to make sure the staff is ready and prepared to clear the ice and snow from the wash areas. Customers naturally expect clear in-and-out access to your carwash, so laying down salt and sand is a must if you’re expecting heavy snowfall. In extreme circumstances, you should also consider using chemical agents as well as ground or radiant heating and snow blowers to make sure your carwash appears clear and open for business throughout the winter months.
- Get your winter promotions ready. As well as it being possibly your busiest time of the year, winter also has a lot of great promotional occasions, such as Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day. For carwash owners, this is the perfect time of the year to build up the customer base and encourage more repeat visitors with gift vouchers, coupons, memberships, discounts and more.
Luke Glassford writes on behalf of Bobatoo.co.uk, which offers independent car insurance help and consumer finance advice.