Starting any new business is exciting. Once all financial and operational needs are taken care of, the next most important thing is branding and marketing. This is how you get your customers to come to you. Without a solid marketing and branding plan, attracting and retaining customers can be difficult. This is especially true in a highly competitive market like car washes. The variety of options your customers have available to them is increasing every day so you need to stand out. In this beginner’s guide we’ll cover some of the most common things to keep in mind when branding and marketing your car wash. Regardless of the type of wash you have, these tips will help you start on the right path.
First things first: Standardize your car wash brand
This one seems like a no-brainer, but the appearance of your site is more than keeping it clean and working. The way your car wash looks is the way you’re presenting your business to the world. Your signage, receipts, payment terminals, and staff uniforms all contribute to your image. Looks really do matter in this case. While you need to keep your car wash clean, running smoothly, and looking inviting for your customers, the branding in your site will be what customers remember when they think of your wash. That’s why it’s so important to have a standardized brand for your wash. Imagery is powerful, and you have to use it to your advantage. For your branding and advertising to be effective, you have to create an image in your customers’ mind that’s easy to recall, specific to you, and presents the image you want.
Why branding is incredibly important
Adding your car wash logo to equipment, receipts, and other material that the customer can clearly see is very important. Keeping this image consistent is the easiest way for your customers to remember you. The ultimate goal is for your customers to immediately think of your wash. When a customer thinks about washing their car or recommending it to others, your business’ name should be the first to come to mind. Some simple tips on standardizing your brand are: following a set colour scheme, having your logo be easily recognizable and clearly visible, and using marketing materials like business cards or receipts to your advantage, and having a branded staff uniform. Do this to begin with and branch out to advertising when you’re ready and confident in the way you’re presenting your car wash. Once your customers recognize your logo immediately, you’ll have a much easier time reaching new customers.
Here are some resources you can use to start creating a consistent colour palette and brand for your car wash:
- Canva – Online graphic design
- Fiverr – Freelancers to help you design your brand
- GIMP – Photo editing software
- Coolors.co – Colour palette generator
Online marketing: Put your car wash online
It’s no secret that the internet has become one of the most popular methods of advertising. Targeted advertising and social media have a huge impact on the success of a business so many companies have adapted to this marketing model by making social media accounts and websites to interact with their clients. Having this connection with your customers is incredibly important for building brand loyalty and encouraging word of mouth advertising. A strong social media presence, an informative website, and good reviews for your operation will keep customers coming back and will invite new customers to come in.
You need a website and a Google listing at the very least
You need to have your car wash listed online. These days people use a business’ online profiles to make sure they’re legitimate. They also almost always visit the web pages before visiting the actual business. If you’re not online, those customers will never find you. Marketing your car wash will be in vain if you can’t reach your future and current customers through their screens.
You should encourage your customers to leave reviews for your wash and respond to all reviews (yes, good and bad ones) quickly and politely to rectify any issues. A good rating on Google means that your site will rank above others when customers look up car washes in your area. This will lead to more new and returning customers. If you already have a presence online, take some time to update old photos. Give your online image a fresh look and come up with some more marketing material to use more often. Though maintaining a website and social media accounts adds some extra time to your work day, it is important to keep these updated regularly. Use promotions and news to keep your customers interested, and don’t be afraid to interact with them online instead of in-person.
Here are the guides to help you set up your online profiles:
- Google My Business
- Website (choose the website builder that works best for your needs)
- Facebook profile
- Instagram profile
Brand reputation: Get your car wash involved in your community
Getting involved in your community is one of the easiest ways to start marketing your car wash and building a lasting relationship with your customers. Hosting events, offering promotions, and working with community groups creates customer loyalty organically. This is a huge plus for your marketing efforts since locals will want to use your car wash instead of the chain down the street. While having a loyalty program for your wash will usually increase customer retention, doing things like sponsoring sports teams, working with emergency vehicle fleets, and hosting customer appreciation events goes a long way in creating an image of a reputable local brand. These days customers are more interested in brands and companies that give back to their communities and customers, so keeping up with this trend is necessary to stay competitive and profitable.
So what are your options?
No worries, this doesn’t have to be a super high maintenance strategy. Participating in or sponsoring a few events per year makes a difference without using up too much of your time. Plan events and customer appreciation days well in advance and set aside a few days a year you can spare. A customer appreciation day with some hot food and cold drinks on a summer day can go a long way in creating a great image without a huge investment. If you like even lower involvement activities but are willing to spend a few more dollars, simply sponsor one of the local teams’ games or tournaments. Even hosting a day where your services are free to a certain population in your community (police, firefighters, teachers, etc.) can build great rapport with these groups and get you mentioned in their circles more often.
Stay top of mind: Add memberships, an app, or a mailing list
Memberships and apps for businesses are becoming more and more popular these days. Not only do these programs tend to improve your repeat business, but they ensure you have a steady income on slower days. Apps and member cards are also great for branding your wash. Word of mouth marketing from your current customers is easier if they have something physical to show for it. Even if your customers aren’t interested in memberships for your wash, try to get them on a mailing list. An important thing to consider is the why, however. Give your customers a reason why they should be joining the mailing list or the member program. Give them incentives to sign up and stay signed up. Marketing your car wash this way requires far less effort from you since many platforms can automate messages.
Using an email mailing list, though convenient, doesn’t always get a great reaction from regular consumers. If you’re going this route, clearly outline what kind of notifications they can expect and how often. Push notifications on your customers phones are great, but you have to time them properly or you risk people unsubscribing. Try to time your push promotions with days and times when your customers are most likely to use your services. A promotion for an exterior wash on rainy day in May probably won’t get your customer in the door that day. A promotion the day after when they’re able to see the dirt on their car probably will, though.
Marketing your car wash is a huge factor for your success. You need to get it right to be able to differentiate yourself from that big chain down the road. Start working on your marketing strategy with the tips above and build up from there. While these points are just the tip of the iceberg, they are the fundamental building blocks for a successful marketing strategy in this day and age. If you already have some of these under your belt, great! Marketing and branding isn’t a one and done effort so stay on top of it as much as you can.
Check out our blog to get more tips for your car wash, gas station, and c-store. New articles are posted weekly. Share this article with a new car wash owner to help them out!