3 Reasons Customers Will Leave the Competition for You

Once a customer establishes a relationship or identifies with a particular car wash, changing their mind and flipping their loyalty is more easily said than done. And the most common challenges to this loyalty, which usually involve a combination of price wars, promotions, and advertising blitzes, are costly with varying mileage.


But that doesn’t mean wooing your competition’s customers is impossible. In fact, provided you can nail the following three factors and keep up with the basics like good customer service and facility cleanliness, your chances are surprisingly positive!


Car Wash Customer Entrance



Busy customers want quick visits, and if your system can deliver a faster wash that fits in their schedule better, they will notice. Review your entire process, from the queue, to payments, to the conveyor speed, to parking lot and vacuum station traffic flow. And remember, increasing wash speed also has the advantage of increasing your wash’s total production capacity—a win-win!


“More Convenient”

Speed is a huge portion of customer convenience, but it isn’t the only factor to consider. Customers are interested in how easy it is to get to the car wash and pull in from traffic, how simple or intuitive the point of sale system is, how long they have to wait before they can get into the wash, how easy it is to load their vehicle, and how quickly they can pull back out onto the road afterwards. If you can provide a low-stress, low-pressure, in-and-out experience—especially for wash club members!—your customers are that much more likely to keep coming back and tell their friends why.


“Better Quality”

Does your car wash do a better job? Are customers happier after they wash with you than when they go to the cheaper place down the road? Is there anywhere where you can you improve?


Delivering on your promises and putting out the cleanest car possible is one of the single most important aspects to running a car wash, and failure will cost you new customers and old alike. Take the time to maintain your system, monitor output quality, and fine-tune your applications. Then compare your wash quality results with the competition. If you can consistently beat them in performance you can win the long game without sacrificing or undervaluing either your pricing or services.


Interesting in joining a fast-growing, innovative, results-focused car wash franchise? Then take a look at Tommy’s Express Car Wash. Tours now available in Western Michigan.


Tommy Car Wash Systems


8 Keys to Nurture Customer Loyalty and Frequency

Cultivating a faithful customer base is no easy task and must be considered one of the most important objectives of any new car wash. But once a critical mass of happy local customers are familiar with the brand and wash process, a wash’s work is still far from over. Maintaining these customer relationships and encouraging both increased loyalty and frequency among return customers is an ongoing objective crucial for meeting a facility’s maximum potential.


While closely related, loyalty and frequency are each distinct objectives:


> Loyalty refers to an individual customer’s preference towards one car wash (or car wash chain) above all others

>Frequency, on the other hand denotes how often that individual actually visits and uses that particular car wash


Both of these factors must be considered when organizing strategy and programming at the wash, as both will have a profound and enduing impact on a car wash’s future.


Car Wash Visual Design


Strategies to Encourage Customer Loyalty:


Emphasize Club and Membership Programs


Club and membership programs have been a boon to the car wash industry and are now widespread, and their adoption by a local car wash facility is a potent tool for building loyal decades-long customers. By offering a good deal on a monthly VIP club membership, customers feel as though they belong and become more loyal and locked in. At the same time, those customers who are the biggest fans and who most appreciate and associate with the business will generally become club members over time.


Remember, when a customer joins a club, typically with a month-to-month or longer commitment, they are putting down money for the right to have their car washed more often at the wash they prefer and at a better overall cost. This means that that customer is, with few exceptions, exclusively giving their business to one wash—and that means that that customer and their business should be prized and guarded jealously.


Establish VIP Lanes


Busy days at the car wash make for long lines and wait times that can turn away potential customers. VIP or Cub Member lanes provide a possible solution while also rewarding a wash’s most loyal customers/club members with special recognition and priority wash admittance.

Get the Word Out Through Community Involvement


Once an individual customer feels associated with a particular wash, they naturally become more aware of it and more willing to act as cheerleaders and boosters when the car wash comes up in conversation. Therefore, a wash’s leadership should make use of opportunities to build up their community exposure, expanding the wash’s presence in the community through events such as fundraisers, sponsorships, participation in community programs, parade floats, and more.


These events also make great topics to broadcast through social media marketing.


Deliver Stellar On-Site Customer Service


Positive on-site interactions between staff and customers can start yielding loyal customers from day one. Operators must make sure that all wash employees are prepared to do whatever it takes to delight customers, going above and beyond to put smiles on their faces and leave a great impression.


Strategies to Encourage Customer Frequency


Increase Processing Speed


Customers don’t come to the car wash to while away the hours. They want a wash that fits into their schedule and takes up as little time as possible. Review your process from start to finish, including the payment process, prep/presoak, wash equipment, and how long it takes to exit the wash, and optimize.


Deliver on Quality


Delivering a fast wash is a great incentive to keep people coming back—but only if the quality is equally great. Once customers become used to having a spotless vehicle with minimal effort on their own part, it is much more likely that they will continue coming back more and more often to maintain that appearance. But don’t underestimate the effort it takes to keep your chemicals and equipment in top working order.


Modernize with an LPR or Tag System for Your Club


Automatic admittance dramatically cuts down on wait times in the queue and can increase a facility’s total output dramatically. While RFID tags are a traditional solution, higher-tech and lower maintenance License Plate Reader solutions (With Wash Club App) is on the rise. This automation makes customers feel special and welcome, reduce the load on your cashier staff, and increases the utility of the VIP lane as well.




Customers will generally pull in for a wash when a) their vehicles really need it, or b) when it is convenient to do so due to proximity. So how to you improve your wash’s proximity to more of your customers and club members? By opening up new locations.


This is, of course, not an overnight solution. But expanding with uniform, well-branded facilities spread across a local or regional area can help create a critical density of customers leading to more frequent washes per customer, more market penetration, and even reduced local competition.


For car wash detergents, equipment, and more visit the Tommy Car Wash systems webstore. For Franchise information, please visit the Tommy’s Express Car Wash Franchise Information Page. And for information on the NEW Tommy Car Wash Systems Wash Club App, please visit WASH.CLUB


Tommy Car Wash Systems

Keeping Your Car Wash Employees Safe During Extreme Heat



This summer large portions of the country are experiencing high temperatures and humidity, with above average conditions expected through July and August. These heat spikes can be particularly dangerous for car wash employees and warrant measures to prevent heat stress and protect the individuals working your facility.


Why is Heat So Dangerous At the Car Wash?

Human bodies are surprisingly good at dissipating heat and maintaining a precisely balanced internal temperature. When an individual gets too hot, the body adjusts blood circulation to push more blood closer to the surface of the skin in order to divert heat from the internal organs and release it. At the same time, the body automatically releases water and dissolved chemicals from sweat glands, to pull away heat via evaporation.


However, extreme or prolonged heat exposure can easily overwhelm these mechanisms, causing internal temperatures to increase to dangerous levels even as the body dehydrates from sweating. This is doubly true for high-humidity heat waves or for work conducted in a high-moisture car wash tunnel, as the moisture in the air cancels out evaporation and stops the body from benefiting from sweat formation. The risk of heat exhaustion is also increased when employees are out in direct sunlight at the vacuum stations, in a car wash bay that is heating up due to natural sunlight, and when they are wearing dark-colored uniforms that absorb sunlight.


Heat exhaustion is marked by confusion, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, racing heartbeats, and even delirium—symptoms which are unacceptable in the high-risk car wash environment.  Therefore, any signs of heat exhaustion must be treated with extreme urgency.


5 Steps Car Wash Managers Should Take

1) Keep an eye on the temperature. What qualifies as a heat wave will change in different parts of the country, but you’ll know it when you feel it. When temps get too high it’s important that you take steps to reduce heat exposure among your team—especially if your bay heats up due to sunlight and humidity.


2) Limit the amount of time your employees spend outside or in a hot car wash bay during a heatwave. This may mean shifts as short as 10 or 15 minutes with an available air-conditioned space for use when they don’t need to be outside.


3) Keep your employees drinking cold water in order to stay hydrated and replace the fluids they’re losing as they sweat. Remember that soft drinks, while they may provide some benefit, won’t be nearly as hydrating.


4) Have a short-sleeved, loose-fitting uniform option to allow airflow and keep your team cool.


5) Train employees to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and encourage them to take a break, call for help, and get water if they have need.


The last thing you need is for your team to work themselves to a breaking point. Prepare ahead of time and be ready to face this year’s biggest heat waves safely and without incident.


Tommy Car Wash Systems 


Delivering a Positive Customer Experience, Even During Downtime

Car Wash Customer Service


Any length of car wash downtime is costly, and managers and operators should work diligently to prevent and minimize such occasions. Fortunately, with a thorough preventive maintenance schedule, robust backup systems, an up-to-date inventory of detergents, and a good stock of spare parts, the problems that cause downtime can be largely eliminated or minimized.


But despite all these measures the unexpected may still occur. And if a technical issue or customer accident does prevent the wash’s proper function, a plan should be in place that goes beyond just putting up traffic cones, turning off the lights, and pointing customers away. Operators and managers can take steps, like the following, to put a positive spin on an unfortunate downtime situation and deliver a great customer experience regardless.


Inconvenience Cards

Though they go by many names, Inconvenience Cards are business-sized cards passed out by managers or staff to customers who come for a wash but are turned away due to technical difficulties. The card explains that the car wash business regrets the inconvenience and, by way of apology, invites the bearer of the card to come back for a free wash or a dramatically discounted one when the facility is back up and running.


Of course, because inconvenience cards represent a certain value, there is a cost involved and they can present theft risk. Therefore they should only be accessed and their use approved by managers in specific situations. Nevertheless, using these cards effectively turns costly downtime into a free-car-wash marketing event and ensures that any new customers coming through don’t leave with negative impressions that may turn them away forever. Instead, each visitor will return in order to redeem the card, experience the wash, and possibly become members or regular customers in the future.


This above-and-beyond approach leaves a fantastic impression in customer’s minds, and even club members (who don’t need the cards for themselves) frequently pass the cards along to close friends or family, allowing a car wash to market effectively to new customers via referral.



Other operators have had great success with freebies like air conditioners, cleaning kits, or other giveaway items to visitors during downtime. These promos can be presented to customers at the entrance as they are turned away, or at other facility locations like the dog wash centers or vacuum stations.


Again, by offering customers something relatively inexpensive, but which still has useful value, washes effectively combat negative experiences to promote greater customer loyalty and satisfaction.


Good Communication

If possible, update social media channels like Facebook and Twitter both when the downtime begins and when the wash is back up and running. Explain the situation briefly and with a positive tone. For instance, “We are experiencing a glitch in our computer system and are working to resolve it so that each customer receives the wash that they paid for. Please pardon any inconvenience and we hope to see you at the wash soon!”


The same goes for in-person communication on-site. Have good signage plan in place and have team members explain the situation in an open and friendly way to any disappointed customers who may come by. This can also be a great opportunity to have conversations with customers and answer any questions they raise – especially any questions regarding the local membership program!


Refer Customers to Services that are Still Open

Even if a car wash goes down, customers may still be able to make their trip worthwhile if other on-site services are up and running. Free vacuum stations, dog wash centers, or detailing services can all operate independently of the wash tunnel and offering discounts on these services or inviting customers to use them, since they are already there, can help salvage what might otherwise have been a wasted trip in the customer’s mind.


Preventing downtime and properly mainlining a car wash’s normal function is a critical priority, but failure to plan is planning to fail, and operators should take steps to make sure that if and when they do have problems, they are able to continue serving and impressing their customers. Have a plan that lets you and your team go above and beyond to deliver the best possible experience for your customers no matter the circumstances. They will notice.

Tommy Car Wash Systems


Looking Back at the Car Wash Show 2017

ICA Booth Display


With tremendous thanks to our distributors, partners, visitors, and the International Car Wash Association, Tommy Car Wash Systems and Tommy’s Express Car Wash are happy to report an outstanding experience at The Car Wash Show 2017.

Highlights included a brand new, cutting edge virtual reality tour of a Tommy’s Express Car Wash facility as well as Ryan Essenburg’s presentation “Fundamentals of Express Car Wash Success” – both of which you can view below.



The event also featured the return of the Totally Tommy Lego Edition (a long-time fan favorite), and the debut of the Wash Club App, license plate reader technology, and other innovations exclusive to Tommy Car Wash Systems and the Tommy’s Express Car Wash Franchise.


Totally Tommy Lego Edition


Wash Club Display   . 

2017 will be a year of constant innovation and change, and we hope you will join with us as we pursue new levels of excellence in the car wash industry together!


Tommy Car Wash Systems


Come See Tommy Car Wash Systems at The Car Wash Show 2017!

Car Wash Show 2017Mark your calendars to attend “Fundamentals of Express Carwash Success: Why Belts, Brands, and Buildings Will Dominate in 2017”, an informational session presented by Tommy Car Wash Systems’ President Ryan Essenburg covering key factors expected to drive car wash growth and innovation in the immediate future.


The session will be held on April 4th from 8:00 am to 9:00 am at The Car Wash Show 2017 in the Las Vegas Convention Center. All attendees are also formally invited to visit the Tommy Car Wash Systems exhibit during regular show hours at booths 1914 and 2014. We’ll be highlighting our original equipment, building designs, and advanced wash control solutions, and we look forward to seeing you there!




Tommy Car Wash Systems



The Critical Importance of In-House Chemical Management

Car Wash Services


The effectiveness of a car wash’s chemistry determines the performance of the wash equipment and the quality of the end wash provided to customers. Understanding this chemistry, the function of the products in use, and the various factors that influence this function is key for proper car wash performance—as is partnership and service from a reputable chemical vendor.

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Tommy Car Wash Systems’ Detail Packets Support Work at Holland Rescue Mission

Since 1907 the Holland Rescue Mission has supported the men and women of Western Michigan with shelter, provision, and other resources offered freely in times of need, generating a tremendous impact for good in the local community. With the facilitation of an independent advisory firm, The Collaboration Center, Tommy Car Wash Systems has been proud to partner with clients of the Holland Rescue Mission in order to package a large order of vehicle detailing packets now available for sale at various Tommy Car Wash Systems’ customer locations around the nation.

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