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.

 

Expand!

 

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

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.

 

Freebies

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

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Addressing Car Wash Claustrophobia

Car wash owners, operators, and staff all have an obligation and a mission to offer the best possible service and accommodation to all customers, regardless of their age, gender, or attitude. But taking care of people and delivering that outstanding customer service can sometimes be a challenge, especially when customers are difficult, irritable, or even abusive.

 

But what about those customers who don’t mean to be problematic but who genuinely have struggles that may require special care and assistance? What about those who struggle with the very experience of the car wash itself?

 

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