There are a number of ways you can improve your car wash’s bottom line. You can decrease costs. You can raise prices. You can control labor. But by far the best way to increase car wash revenue is to simply wash more cars.
It’s no wonder, then, that one of the chief concerns of car wash operators is how to get more cars to and through their wash while still providing a quality product.
Here are some ways you can attract and wash more cars to increase your revenue.
Increase Tunnel Capacity
A common goal for car washers is to hit 90% efficiency in their tunnel. That means if 100 cars enter their lot per hour, they should wash 90 cars. If you’re not hitting that, there are three main things to look at:
1. Run Time – What percentage of the time that you are open is your tunnel up and running? Ideally, it would be 100%, but we all know that’s not realistic. There are some ways, though, to increase your uptime:
- Purchase reliable equipment
- Partner with vendors with excellent technical support that can help you get back up and running quickly when there is a problem
- Perform regular maintenance to keep equipment in top shape
- Prevent in-tunnel collisions that bring your tunnel to a stand-still
2. Spacing – How close are you able to load cars? This is more important than speed. It’s possible to slow down the conveyor speed and still increase throughput by decreasing the gap between cars. In short, there is money between cars. Look at your spacing and determine if you could safely decrease it without impacting the quality of the wash.
3. Increase conveyor speed – While this may seem like the easiest tactic, it’s actually difficult to speed up your conveyor without sacrificing quality. If the chemicals don’t have enough time to break down dirt or the car doesn’t spend enough time under the blower, you produce an inferior experience that can cost you repeat business.
Get Cars to the Tunnel Faster
The quicker customers can purchase their washes, the more cars you can wash per day. There are two main tools that will help you do this:
Self-serve pay stations
Allowing customers to complete their own transactions with a self-serve payment kiosk streamlines and expedites the payment process. For instance, you can run up to 80 more cars per hour with just one of our Xpress Pay Terminals®.
Customers also appreciate the convenience and efficiency of self-pay. Providing this option is a great way to secure repeat business.
A good pay station should be able to display offers that will help encourage customers to spend more or come back again. The machine should also be able to automatically turn those offers off during peak times so customers can complete their transactions faster.
Make transactions even speedier by using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). With RFID, customers with monthly plans or prepaid washes can automatically go through to the tunnel without stopping at the pay station. The RFID reader scans a small tag you place on the customer’s vehicle to identify the customer and the type of wash they should receive.
Incentivize Repeat Visits
We all know it’s easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one. With that in mind, there are several ways to keep customers coming back again and again.
- BOGO deals – At a typical carwash, 55% of your customers only come in once a year. Offering them a second car wash at a discounted price can help them make those visits more frequent.
- Loyalty clubs – Reward customers for frequent visits. For instance, you could offer a free wash after a customer pays for 10.
- Monthly memberships – Once the customer has the RFID tag on their windshield, they’re not going to go to any other car wash. Minimize drop-offs by having a process in place to renew plans by automatically charging customer credit cards monthly.
- Promotions on slow days – Text or email coupons to customers when you don’t have much business.
Well-trained employees are the key to a successful car wash. They need to understand line management to maintain that delicate balance between making the car wash look busy without allowing huge lines to form. This goes back to knowing the proper vehicle spacing and conveyor speed, and this takes careful training and practice.
Employees must also be trained to handle customer issues quickly and in a way that causes the least amount of disruption to the wash. Finally, they are the front line of the customer experience. They should be friendly and helpful so that customers want to come back.
A wash is often an impulse buy, one that can be encouraged (or discouraged) based solely on the appearance of your location. Make sure your wash is:
- Clean and tidy
- Well maintained
- Is eye-catching
- Uses wind signs to promote your best deals
- Well lit
Manage Your Online Reputation
People often turn to the internet to decide who to do business with. Make sure what they find online makes them want to come to your wash.
Use tools to listen to social media and the web at large to find out what people are saying about you. Develop a process to respond to negative comments and reviews promptly and appropriately.
Don’t just be reactive, though. Build a foundation for a great online presence with a user-friendly and informative website and engaging social media activity.
Prepare for Success
Some things, like the weather and the economy, are out of your hands when it comes to the success of your car wash. But by applying the tips above, you can help the scales tip in your favor.