Internet Marketing for Car Washes: The Importance of Getting Found Online

Most local service businesses, such as drive through car washes, are veterans of traditional media marketing. Print ads, coupons, radio ads and billboards; these have been the stock in trade for car wash owners’ marketing campaigns for many years. The internet is quickly changing how business is done, however, and while traditional media marketing holds some of its value, in today’s changing business environment, it’s often simply not enough.


At Tommy Car Wash Systems, we’ve seen how savvy businesses in unlikely industries are leveraging “inbound” internet marketing techniques to boost brand awareness and to drive sales. Since we always aspire to be on the cutting edge of the car wash industry – both in equipment technology and marketing – we knew it was time for us to launch our own internet marketing campaign. And we’ve seen the results.


Let’s look at a few simple, cost-effective internet marketing strategies that car washes can use to drive sales – often at a fraction of the cost of more traditional marketing.


1) Google AdWords

As a business owner, you’ve likely heard of Google AdWords, but how – and why – does it actually work? When you buy adspace in Google’s search results, you’re purchasing a spot within Google’s designated “sponsored ad” section in search results pages. For example, try Googling “tommy car wash”. You will most likely see two similar results at the top of the page; one is in pink, with the tiny letters “Ad” at the upper righthand side. The second listing is our organic, or unpaid listing.


You can purchase a sponsored listing for any term. This means you’re not limited to “getting found” in search engines only for specific terms. During the holidays, for example, car wash owners could advertise car wash gift cards for terms like “christmas present gift card ideas”. Google AdWords allows advertisers to target specific geographical locations as well, ensuring your audience is qualified.


Google ads can be purchased at cost-per-impression (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC). If the ads are targeted and written efficiently, these ads can provide a valuable source of traffic and brand awareness for any local car wash.


2) Local Directory Listings

Local business directories like Yelp, Superpages and Google Places have created a space for small local businesses to “get found” without having to spend the resources that are often necessary to get to the top of Google’s results. With a little bit of savvy, car washes can create and optimize their listings in local directories like Yelp and Google places to ensure their car wash’s info is visible to potential customers. Many local directories also offer paid premium listings.


Having prominent listings in directories like Yelp and Google Places is becoming particularly important for smart phone users. Many of these directories have smartphone apps, so a prominent listing in Yelp online will also be prominent to smart phone users who are on the move – i.e. drivers looking for a nearby car wash!


3) Facebook PPC

Whether you personally are “on Facebook” or not, the truth is that over 112,000,000 consumers are actively using Facebook in the US alone – that’s well over a third of the country’s total population. Facebook’s advertising platform is a great opportunity for small, local businesses to get the targeted exposure they need, at a fraction of the cost of traditional billboard or radio advertising. When run alongside a regularly updated Facebook business page (a free service), Facebook ads can help car wash owners create buzz around their services in targeted communities. Once the ads are up and running, making daily budget changes and tracking ad performance is simple.


These strategies are just a handful of ways your car wash business can use the internet to get the word out and drive sales to your doorstep. As we leverage these (and other) internet marketing strategies to increase our business here at Tommy Car Wash Systems, we’re looking at ways to help car wash owners do the same.  We encourage car wash owners and marketers to educate themselves on the latest internet marketing strategies by taking free online courses such as Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University certification program. And be sure to stay tuned to the blog, as we explore ways to help car wash owners market more efficiently.


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