Utilizing Consumer Data for Marketing Opportunities
Every year the International Carwash Association (ICA) releases a Consumer Study Report, providing valuable industry benchmark data. With operators facing many challenges in today’s economic state, utilizing this data can be a powerful tool for growth and improvement.
Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many businesses have been forced to pivot and adjust their Marketing strategies in an effort to keep up withing changing consumer behaviors. The car wash industry is no exception. While some washing habits have remained unchanged, we have seen a major uptick in consumers seeking technology for a convenient and seamless wash experience.
One area of interest is the dramatic growth in Wash Club membership. According to the 2022 ICA Consumer Study, 23% of respondents are subscription members – a 43% increase since 2019! Offering a well-crafted, strategically priced, and properly promoted Wash Club is key to a healthy bottom line for operators today. There is also a huge opportunity to regain lapsed customers with targeted marketing outreach.
Additionally, 60% of respondents expressed interest in a car wash APP. We are seeing an extremely tech-savvy, convenience-craving generation entering the marketplace, and with vendors such as DRB, ICS, Washify, and several others stepping up with POS/App integration, this tool is becoming more widely available. Apps can help increase wash frequency through loyalty rewards, contactless payment, and self-managed wash club capabilities, while also providing a wealth of customer data for marketing purposes.
Utilizing social spaces such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest can be an affordable and effective way to reach customers, creating top of mind awareness and driving them to a purchase point. A whopping 79% of respondents stated they use Facebook the most.
Yet, even with an extensive digital toolbelt at our fingertips, the car wash industry appears to be lagging when it comes to online communication. In fact, 84% of consumers say they did not receive any online communication or promotional offers from their local car wash in the past year! This number pale in comparison to many retail businesses, proving that online communication is an underleveraged opportunity for operators.
While social media can be highly effective in reaching an existing customer base, it is not the best tool for creating initial awareness. Consistent with past trends, 77% of consumers discovered their preferred car wash simply by driving by. To differentiate your wash from the competition, it is important to maximize your roadside presence. Is your signage visible, concise, and eye-catching? Is your property clean, well-kept, and free of construction cones and clutter? Is your facility easy to get in and out, with clear directional signage? Many washes are now investing in digital monument signs, with great return on investment. Messaging can easily be changed to keep customers engaged.
Similarly, digital menu signs are becoming more enticing for operators, providing flexibility when it comes to price changes, promotions, and value-added applications. Having a clear, concise menu is imperative in the purchase decision process. Up from past years, 61% of consumers reported that they look at the menu of services each time they visit their favorite car wash.
Year after year, consumers’ top needs include cleanliness, price, convenience, shininess, and dryness. When designing your menu, it is important to communicate these core desires, and even more important to deliver!
Beyond pricing strategies and assurance of quality, there are a variety of ways to encourage more frequent washing. Shorter lines, a clean and inviting facility, and friendly, professional employees make consumers even more interested in keeping their vehicle looking great.
Unfortunately, only 49% of consumers say that their car wash employees make them feel welcome, comfortable, or appreciated. Investing in ongoing training can help managers build a stronger, customer-centric business culture. Exceeding expectations with customer service is a great way to differentiate and earn loyalty.
Despite the undeniable impact of the pandemic, the car wash industry continues to thrive. Executing a well-crafted Wash Club, embracing technology, maximizing roadside presence, and making customer service a priority are key in differentiating your business and increasing your bottom line!
References: International Carwash Association’s (ICA) 2022 Consumer Study