May 12, 2016 | Customer Loyalty News

4 Car Wash Marketing Strategies That Work

by  Margaret Link — Marketing at Thanx

The Car Wash Show is the biggest event of the year for the car wash industry. Speaking to a packed house in Nashville, Thanx CEO Zach Goldstein shared the top ways car wash operators can develop marketing strategies that drive revenue.

The Best Car Wash Marketing Strategies You're Not Doing

The car wash industry is hyper-competitive and attracting new customers is difficult and expensive. Fortunately, there's a better way to increase revenue for your car wash — and it starts with creating fiercely loyal customers. Here's how top car washes in the nation are changing the way operators drive profit:

1. Ditch the old-fashioned tactics like direct mail 

Mass mailers are expensive and they don't work — it's ineffective to spend money on people who aren't interested in your brand and aren't expecting communication from you. 


(Don't be like this guy — communication with your customers should be intelligent and targeted)

We call this "faceless crowd" marketing, where businesses are essentially shouting from the rooftops and hope someone responds. Car wash marketers see low returns from this type of marketing strategy — you have to print A LOT of flyers before one of them actually brings a new customer in. 

2. Identify your VIPs

You're no longer wasting money shouting from the rooftops, but now it's time to implement a targeted marketing program. The question becomes this: Who exactly should you market to?

Here's the real answer: some customers are worth more than othersThe top 25% of customers make up about 65% of revenue at most car washes.  These customers already love your business and are receptive to communication from your brand. Identify those VIP customers and communicate with these people regularly and keep loyal to your car wash.


3. Communicate with your guests via mobile

In a world where consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisement messaging, your brand needs to stand out and communciate in a way that resonates with your audience. 

The solution? Find your customers where they always are: on their phones (especially those millennials!). Push notifications have 50%-80% open rates, which makes mobile marketing the most direct way to share information with your customers.  A mobile engagement strategy enables you to change customer behavior meaningfully (for example, imagine sending a notification directly to your customers' phones that offers a deal like “25% of all washes until 4pm!”), personalize messaging in real-time (sending your best customers a special message that nobody else receives!), and actually be heard by your customers (vs. other marketing channels). 


Jimmy Starnes, Chief Strategy Officer of Wash Me Fast realized this trend and took action immediately. He recognized the power of reaching out to customers via mobile and decided to implement a loyalty program that works entirely through customers' mobile phones.

We knew the solution would need to be really easy for customers. People are so distracted now with everything they have going on and brands are reaching out to them on every conceivable channel, all the time. We wanted something the customer didn’t really need to think about. -Jimmy Starnes, Wash Me Fast


4. Send highly personalized offers


Your customers aren't just license plate numbers — they're individual people! It doesn't work to treat everybody the same. Send your customers targeted, personalized offers directly to their smartphones in order to increase both frequency and spend.

Not only does this reward customers in a way that's meaningful to them, but it builds a personal relationship between those customers and your brand. People appreciate being made to feel special, and as a result, customers engage at much higher rates — no discounting required. That's a classic win-win situation


Jimmy at Wash Me Fast has seen huge results sending targeted offers via their mobile app — they make sure that all of their communcation with customers is personalized, genuine, and valuable. In turn, they've collected valuable customer data that helps drive their marketing efforts while retaining their valuable customer base long-term.

Bonus: Re-engage lost customers to supercharge revenue

Our car wash merchants have been incredibly successful in winning back lost customers through mobile engagement. Instead of sending random offers to the faceless crowd, smart car wash marketers get more customers through the door with offers that incentivize increased spending. 

For example, Wash Me Fast uses a tool called Winback to specifically target lapsed customers (folks who haven't come by in a while). They've successfully reengaged 41% of customers who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks, netting them 500% ROI on this one campaign in particular. 


 Want more informtion? Check out more car wash research from our car wash customer loyalty blog series: 

  1. Car wash signs work well — but only when done right 
  2. Six ways to get millennials into your car wash
  3. Top car wash tips to get customers' engines revving
  4. Solving the car wash industry's five toughest challenges
  5. Figuring out how to make car wash advertising customer first


We published “2016 Customer Loyalty Benchmarks," a guide designed to help multi-location merchants better understand customer behavior and improve marketing ROI. 

We dug through more than 20 million transactions to understand how customers make decisions... and we're making it available to Thanx Blog readers for free. Check out the eBook here:


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