How can a car wash find and keep customers who go beyond the wash? The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the way car wash operators run their businesses, it has also provided insight into marketing trends on how to best attract, retain, and generate more customers. For many of us, the pandemic and the lessons learned have taught us to reassess our marketing plans and prioritize and integrate marketing tactics from a different angle.
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This article covers marketing trends to consider for 2021 and combines the power of positive team members with digital marketing tactics to drive traffic and retain customers.
Team member engagement
Your marketing department is actually pretty big and robust, and it doesn’t matter if you have one location or more than 50 locations. Successful marketing strategies really start with the people who bring your brand to life: your team members. Involving team members starts with clear communication of your company’s vision, mission and values. Invest in a comprehensive onboarding program to prepare team members for success and provide ongoing training and development opportunities that prevent stagnation.
Also, encourage and tag team members who have great relationships with customers, and never give up the opportunity to show company-wide appreciation to team members who receive customer awards.
Searching for your team member’s marketing ideas and selecting several to be implemented year-round will go a long way in promoting a positive workplace and your wash customers will take note. This can be as simple as encouraging team members to submit a fundraiser for nonprofits that they are passionate about. Invite a social media savvy employee to take over your laundry’s Instagram account for the day. and enable the teams to select a special, “regular” car wash customer who will present a gift with branded loot and a thank you letter.
Dedicated, motivated team members are your best marketing ambassadors and can promote your brand message more effectively than any high-dollar marketing campaign.
Online business listings and reviews
Due to the pandemic, the time people spend online has increased dramatically. This puts companies under a bigger microscope as consumers take the time to research products, brands, and organizations before making a purchase decision. One of the most important tactics for digital marketing is to make sure that your local online listings like Google My Business are checked and maintained with the latest hours of operation, service offerings, images and promotions.
Google My Business reviews are extremely important too. According to a recent Qualtrics XM study, 93% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. A review response strategy should be implemented to respond to each review – as quickly as possible.
Brainstorm typical review topics and develop a script that can serve as a guide to answers. Make sure your answers are not too strict – customers will appreciate honest, personalized answers. For operators with multiple websites, Google My Business now offers the ability to manage reviews and sort them by date, highest or lowest rating, which can help improve overall response efficiency.
The more a company responds to reviews, the higher its rank in Google searches. You may need to increase the number of organic reviews that come in with a proactive review review strategy. Creating a custom Google Review location-based link couldn’t be easier. Page admins can select the “Get More Reviews” section on their Google My Business page and simply select the “Share Review Form” form to create a custom review link that can be shared with social media accounts or used in other campaigns.
Print Visit Review parts in business card format with a targeted QR code that customers can scan with their smartphone to leave a review. For example, this can be issued by team members in the vacuum lot after the team member has asked about the customer’s washing experience and has resolved any problems with the washing quality. Review links can also be easily distributed via a text message or an email campaign for companies with more extensive customer data.
Digital customer apps and management portals
Under normal circumstances, consumer interests and behavior can be difficult to predict. With the onset of COVID-19 and mandatory stay-at-home orders – followed by many companies moving their workforce to full-time work from home – one thing is clear: consumers want easy-to-manage access to information 24/7 .
For members of an unlimited wash club and even individual retail wash customers, an online wash portal is a great way to give customers easy access to wash information, purchase unlimited membership to the wash club, and manage that club membership.
Last summer, our company Express Wash Concepts published its wash portal. After creating an account, customers with unlimited laundry club can easily manage their accounts such as B. Update payment and contact information, change laundry packages, give away a laundry or buy a gift card. Retail car wash customers can also easily purchase unlimited laundry club membership and purchase gift cards and individual detergents that are sent electronically.
In addition to customer portals, mobile apps are also being further optimized and are an extremely popular offer from car wash operators. Mr. Shine, a flexible-service car wash in Peoria, Arizona, uses its mobile app to attract loyal customers who can then easily showcase the rest of the company’s marketing campaigns such as unlimited club and other offers.
“In 2021, we will focus on further getting customers to sign up for our mobile app through our geofence campaign, social media marketing efforts, onsite signage and printing. We offer a free laundry with an app download and we think this is a tempting proposition and the best way to get customers to become loyal Mr. Shine customers, ”said Alivia Gleason, Business Manager at Mr. . Shine. “We collect their information, we can send push notifications for our specials to the app and send them mass emails and texts. We like this approach because we have loyal customers rather than one-time customers. “
One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that communities and local businesses have come together like never before to take care of one another. Support Local campaigns will continue to play a prominent role and car wash operators will have a unique opportunity to give back to their communities and strengthen their customer base. Investing marketing dollars in community-based initiatives is one of the best ways to raise awareness and build loyal customer loyalty.
Nicholas Lopez, president of San Antonio-based Bubble Bath Car Wash, is committed to community relations in 2021. “Being more than a car wash but having a community care company is extremely important right now,” explains Lopez. “Working with nonprofits, running fundraisers, attracting customers for activity days, and sending our staff to help out within the community are some of the things we do to show our commitment to our city.”
As with Bubble Bath Car Wash, Express Wash Concepts will focus on community engagement through quarterly fundraising and fundraising campaigns in connection with new store openings. Express Wash Concepts allocates a local marketing budget to site managers at each of our 31+ locations that can be used for community-based sponsorships such as youth sports teams, arts education and local events.
Our company receives an average of 500+ donation requests per year from local nonprofits and organizations through an online donation form and responds with a branded bucket containing a gift card, air freshener, drying cloths and cleaning supplies for cars. Community services are encouraged by team members, from cleaning the environment to delivering meals to families in need, to making blankets for a local Ronald McDonald home.
Social media presence
Your social media pages can and should be more than just a platform for communicating corporate news. Attract new customers and keep existing customers up to date with regular, fresh content including team member and customer spotlights, pet photo contests, trivia for washing, community partner highlights, and regular customer contests like #FreeWashFriday campaigns.
Develop a content calendar in advance to encompass the multitude of holidays and specific “national” themed days, and be well on your way to having enough content to post the recommended two to five times a week. Set aside a budget to produce more engaging content on a regular basis and watch your followers grow. For example, Facebook ads offer the highest ROI of social media ads and can be an extremely economical way to grow your business if you have more loyal followers.
Think you don’t have the time to post social media content on a regular basis?
“Find a social media manager. This can be a beginner who has a knack for social media, ”explains Lopez. “You need to do some training to familiarize them with your brand, but social media is wide-ranging, popular, and one of the most cost-effective ways to reach new audiences and improve your marketing game.”
Another benefit of a strong social media strategy is the ability to provide customers with 24/7 access to information. For example, the Facebook Messenger chat plugin can be loaded onto your website and filled with a selected number of answers to the most frequently asked questions from your customers. The chat history is archived, so you can continue the conversation in Messenger after the customer has left your website.
A New Year is an opportunity to focus on generating more leads, increasing site traffic, increasing sales, and retaining your customer base. By leveraging digital marketing initiatives and engaging your valued team members, you should be well on your way to a successful 2021 and beyond.
Beth Martin is the director of marketing for Express Wash Concepts, the 31-year-old parent company of Dayton, Ohio-based Flying Ace Express Car Wash, Central Ohio-based Moo Moo Express Car Wash, and Cleveland-based CLEan Express Auto Wash.