How to Market a Car Wash

Favorite Ideas for How to Market a Car Wash

How to Market a Car Wash — Our Favorite Ideas

As a leading manufacturer of commercial car washes for over 20 years, New Horizons does business with thousands of successful car wash owners. We see the successful, innovative and sometimes crazy marketing ideas employed to keep those dirty cars rolling in. Here are some of our favorites.

Car Wash Marketing Ideas

You can run ads in the yellow pages and distribute discount coupons to market your car wash, but these modern, innovative marketing ideas can raise your business profile and bring in a steady stream of customers each month.

  • Invite car clubs- Car clubs are popular again, and almost every community has a few. From classic car enthusiasts to brand loyal groups, clubs are built around a common interest in motor vehicles. Offer to host an event at your car wash for a local car club. You can offer discounts on your products and an opportunity for club members to show off their vehicles.

Local DJ Can Help Market Car Washes

    • Go on the radio- Radio is a bit old-school, but it still works for car washes. Ask a local DJ to broadcast live from your car wash and offer special discounts for customers to redeem during the broadcast.


    • Create fun signage- Strategically placed colorful signs will draw customers. Use fun visual images and a catchy tag line. Be sure your messaging is clear, concise and easily read while driving by. Adopt some fun character as a mascot for your brand and feature him on your signs. Consistency in signage will help build brand recognition.


    • Amp up the fun- Remember the mystic of the car wash when you were a kid? Add some fun elements, like music and lights, to jazz things up. These small changes can have a big impact on the fun-factor and help draw in kids and families.


    • Add comforts to the waiting area- No one likes to wait — unless they can be pampered and entertained at the same time. Make your waiting area a fun and comfortable experience. Offer free Wi-Fi, cable television, clean and comfortable seats and even massage chairs. While the vehicle is being scrubbed and shined, drivers can enjoy a little pit stop of their own.


    • Develop a theme- People go to theme parks by the thousands because they are fun and bright and colorful. Your car wash can have the lights and sounds, so why not tie it all together with a fun theme? Choose an idea that is related to automobiles, like race cars or classic cars. You can even go with something unexpected for a car wash, like a disco theme.


  • Increase your offerings- Adding services is a good way to bring in extra customers. Your competitor might be a little cheaper, but he may not offer self serve pet washes, oil changes or snacks. Think of things your customers might want to do while their car is getting washed. Offering extra services can cut down on the number of stops a customer has to make in the day to accomplish their to-do list. Services like pet washing or laundry are natural fits because you already have other water-related services.

Provide Your Customers With Exclusive Deals

A car wash is not a new concept, but you can use new ideas to market your business. Take advantage of the fact that everyone has a smartphone and use mobile text messaging to communicate with customers. Collect customer phone numbers for product discounts. Blast messages to your customers to advertise new services, events or specials.

Get your car wash into social media to take advantage of another strong trend. You can get people talking about your business and raise your brand recognition with a few Facebook posts each week or some Tweets on the weekends. When it comes to increasing sales, you need to reach a broader audience, and everyone is on the internet.

There is no limit to how you can market your car wash. Do what you can to get your business in front of potential customers. The more people who know about your services, the more customers you will have.

Car Wash Marketing Myths

Operating a car wash as a business is not a new concept. Car washes have been around almost as long as cars have, and their business model hasn’t changed much. The traditional car wash marketing strategies are still around, too.

If you want to boost your business, and appear new and fresh in an old industry, watch out for these car wash marketing myths:

Coupons Can Impact Your Revenue From Car Wash

Myth: Discount coupons can rebuild your slumping business.

When you rely on discounts too much to drive up your monthly wash totals, people become dependent. Your customers expect you to run a special because your prices are always discounted for a sales event. Giving out too many discount coupons is equivalent to lowering your prices permanently. You may make more sales each month, but your revenue from sales will suffer.

Myth: You can make all the money you need by running one of those internet promotions.

Big internet promotions are popular and can get a lot of recognition, but most businesses do not use them right and end up making very little money. The promotion relies on a deep discount to bring people in the door. If you sell enough of these discounts, you can make your money back in volume. To really capitalize on a promotion like this you need a follow-up plan. Once those new people buy your discount and use your car wash, what are you going to do to keep them coming back?

Myth: Competitors devalue the market by lowering prices and leave you no choice but to lower yours.

It is important to understand your competition, but not so you can follow them. You need to differentiate your business, so customers have a reason to patronize your car wash instead. Chasing your competitor down the price scale is a losing strategy. Instead, focus on the business you are trying to build and create a strategy to get you there, despite what your competition is doing. We have some guidance for creating your strategy here.

Myth: Giving away free car washes is like throwing away potential profits.

Free car washes can be used as an incentive to bring in new customers to try your car wash. You are not throwing money away but using it for advertising purposes, instead. Every time you give away a $10 car wash for free, you gain $10 worth of advertising for around $2. Your product costs you much less than face value.

Myth: It is easy to make an investment in a gift card program and get a big boost in revenue.

It is easy to invest in a customer loyalty program, but finding the right one for your car wash and then getting the most out of it is not automatic. Gift card programs that work specifically for car washes are the best investment. You need to learn how to use and promote your gift card system. Otherwise, it is just another investment you made that is showing little or no return.

Myth: Credit card fees are too high, so I’ll only accept cash payment for car washes.

The merchant fees for credit card use do cut into profits, but accepting credit cards will increase the size of your average sale. People like the convenience of credit cards and are willing to buy more than they would if they had to use cash. Without the convenience of credit cards, you will not gain a certain percentage of new customers.

Car washes are a good business opportunity since the love affair with the automobile has not faded. The number of cars on the road continues to increase. If you can breathe new life into this old business model, your car wash can be very successful.

How to Improve a Car Wash Business

Ideas for improving your car wash business are similar to any business marketing. You need to focus on your facility to be sure you have updated equipment that makes washing cars as efficient as possible. The name of your business and its location should be easily recognizable in your local community. And you have to keep up with modern trends.

There are three places to focus your car wash marketing efforts:

  • Your facility
  • Name recognition
  • Innovation

Making your facility efficient will help your bottom line, but making it comfortable will benefit your customers. The only real difference between your car wash and your competitors is the customer experience. Cars still get cleaned in both, but customers are the ones who develop loyalty.

When you give your customers a reason to come back to your car wash, they will. Gift programs that provide discounts for bulk purchases are one way to bring customers back regularly. Comfortable seating in your waiting area makes their experience pleasant. Lights and music add a fun vibe to your car wash that everyone will want to experience.

Advertising gets the word out about your car wash, and local signs point people to your location. It is necessary to spend money on advertising your car wash, but you want to be sure you are spending it in ways that are most effective for your business. The yellow pages are no longer the advertising medium they once were. Everyone turns to the internet, now.

Adding internet advertising can improve your marketing strategy. Social media is a very strong advertising medium in many communities. Facebook ads or Tweets may reach your intended audience faster than more traditional methods.

Modern Technology Improves Your Car Wash

Keeping up with technology and modern ways of living will help you improve your car wash. Think about what everyone is doing, where they hang out and what conveniences they are used to. Make your car wash an integral part of modern life for your customers, and they will see the value in it. No one thought they needed a smartphone until they had one. Show people why they need to use your car wash regularly.

Learn More

Get more information about ways to improve your car wash by contacting New Horizons. Adding an extension to your existing car wash may give you the increased capacity you need to accommodate a growing customer base and add new services. New Horizons could also help you with a new canopy or customizing a new car wash system.

For all of your car wash needs, contact New Horizons today!