When customers come back, wash after wash, it’s a sure sign you’re running an effective business. Loyal customers help you grow and serve as a reliable revenue stream. They’re also happy to leave you positive reviews and recommend you to others. How can you turn new customers into your most valued repeat clients? At JBS Industries, our more than 40 years of experience serving the car wash industry have taught us a lot about customer loyalty. We’ve compiled this guide to help you build lasting customer relationships.
What Is Customer Loyalty?
Customer loyalty is the result of a positive, ongoing relationship with your clients. It means people will continue using your services. They see benefits of having their car washed, and they perceive particular advantages of relying on your facility. A loyal customer will drive a little out of their way to visit your facility over a competitor’s. Clients demonstrate their dedication when they feel satisfied with the product or service quality and enjoy the experience you offer.
Customer loyalty is more than the willingness to frequent your business. It’s also the intention to continue the client-provider relationship. In some industries, a customer’s use of a specific product or service doesn’t naturally translate into a loyal bond. For example, many customers visit the same grocery store out of habit, instead of a connection to the brand. A better deal at another store could easily lure those customers away.
From the customer’s perspective, loyalty is profoundly emotional. They have positive associations with your brand because you consistently delight them. One excellent experience won’t necessarily be enough to create a loyal customer. You must earn their devotion over time through consistent, helpful brand interactions. Just as people grow closer to one another after longstanding relationships, the same is true of customers giving their allegiance to a brand. Positive customer interactions establish trust. Over time, that trust develops into a sense of loyalty.
That’s not to say a loyal customer has never encountered anything that didn’t live up to their expectations. Customers who had a problem the company addressed promptly are often more devoted than those who never encounter any issues. After all, as with interpersonal relationships, loyalty is a two-way street.
When your customers have a negative experience, it’s your chance to show how dependable you are. By solving the problem, and perhaps going above and beyond expectations, you prove your worth and earn their continued business. They’ll trust that if they ever have another similar situation, you’ll treat them well. That knowledge can be even more valuable than a customer who doesn’t have any idea how you’ll resolve their issues.
What Customer Loyalty Looks Like in the Car Wash Industry
Customer loyalty looks very different for companies, depending on what products and services they offer. For example, many customers connect specific products with their identities. A watch, a car, clothing or a phone can become deeply intertwined with its owner’s self-image, encouraging brand allegiance.
The car wash industry offers a service rather than a product, which makes loyalty a little different. However, because your business caters to cars, you may bridge the line into identity. Since their car connects so closely with a customer’s self-image, the responsibility of maintaining the vehicle and making it look attractive often follows.
A professional car wash gives customers intangible benefits that play to their emotions and strengthen their loyal bonds. Customers take pride and satisfaction in driving a clean car. By providing a reliable clean and the brightest shine in town, you can exceed their expectations. According to industry data, 43% of customers say they always use the same car wash, while another 36% say they only use two.
People who visit professional car washes tend to be loyal to a location, not necessarily a brand. For car wash operators like you, that means the customers you already have come to you because you’re nearby. You can maximize their dedication by encouraging them to increase their spend per visit or come more often.
Customers who wash their car several times a month make up 28% of the car wash customer base. However, they account for 66% of all washes at professional facilities. Meanwhile, those who come in for a wash every couple of months account for only 29% of washes, despite making up 47% of the total car wash customer population. A customer loyalty strategy focused on turning less frequent visitors into weekly customers can profoundly impact your revenue.
The Benefits of Customer Loyalty
Why is customer loyalty crucial? Consider the following reasons.
Drives Repeat Customers
By definition, loyal customers come to your location repeatedly. Frequent customers are essential because they let businesses earn consistent revenue. In the car wash industry, where sales are cyclical, business owners need to count on their customers coming back.
It costs approximately five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. What’s more, repeat customers tend to spend more as the relationship progresses.
Businesses known for cultivating loyalty grow their revenue 2.5 times faster than others in their respective industries. Another commonly cited statistic, increasing customer retention by only 5% leads to a 25% increase in profits. Happy, loyal customers are some of the most reliable revenue generators in any industry. They spend more than new customers, and it usually costs less to keep them satisfied. In the meantime, they’ll act as your staunchest supporters, recommending your services to their friends.
Defends Against Competitors
Once a customer trusts you, they’re more willing to spend more for a service they know will be good than try out a better deal with an untested competitor. When your customers are loyal, they consistently choose you over your competitors. While a less loyal customer will use your services one week and the competition’s the next, your devoted customers keep revenue out of your competitors’ pockets.
Your repeat customers can be as valuable for the dollars they spend as they are for the amount they don’t pay to your direct competitors. When you have more faithful clients, your competitors have a smaller resource pool they can use to lure away your prospects.
Creates Organic Brand Ambassadors
Customers become loyal when they’re consistently impressed and delighted by the value and level of service they receive. Loyalty comes as a result of trust and a deeper emotional connection to your brand. The conditions that strengthen commitment also contribute to word-of-mouth marketing.
When a person gives their recommendation to someone they know, they put their reputation on the line. When customers trust you to provide them with a sparkling-clean wash, they will recommend you without hesitation. If you go above and beyond with outstanding value and service, they’ll leave positive online reviews. This type of loyalty will make customer acquisition more affordable.
Gains Valuable Feedback
Your loyal customers are more invested in your success. When someone loves the service you provide, they want to make sure it’s always there for them. When they have personal relationships with you and your employees, they want to see you grow and succeed, too. And, if they want a service you currently don’t offer, they’ll be sure to let you know about it. Some of the most innovative car wash ideas come directly from the customers they serve.
Your most loyal clients are also probably the ones who’d gladly share their opinions by responding to surveys. They’re more willing to take some time out of their busy days to help you out and share their thoughts. Your weekly customers who stop by often also get to know you or your employees more personally. When they see your smiling faces regularly and stop to chat, they might even offer their feedback face to face.
Strategies to Organically Increase Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is a complicated, emotionally driven aspect of the client-business relationship. While offering a discount can encourage customers to come back, true commitment comes from how you make your customers feel. It develops organically when you offer high-quality washes and consistent service. When customers drive off in a clean, shiny car, it has more influence on their loyalty than the price they paid for it.
Here are a few car wash promotion ideas that naturally boost loyalty over time.
Create an Attractive Space
In a business dedicated to cleaning, having a clean space is more critical than in any other industry. At a car wash, a clean environment is a direct reflection of the service you provide. If you miss a spot when mopping your floors, customers might wonder if you’ll do the same when detailing their vehicles.
Besides cleanliness, building an attractive, pleasant atmosphere can also set you apart. In the 20 minutes customers spend waiting for their car to get clean, they’ll form a subconscious opinion about your business.
If the waiting room has free Wi-Fi, coffee and snacks, they’ll enjoy their visit and be more likely to come back. In a self-serve car wash, well-kept landscaping and signage can make all the difference. If you run an automatic drive-through car wash, you have an opportunity to turn the process into an event. Music, light shows and colorful scented foam create a sensory, engaging washing experience.
These small details add up, ultimately reinforcing the idea that drivers are visiting a high-quality, nice car wash they’ll want to return to.
Extend Your Hours of Operation
One benefit of running a self-serve car wash is that you can stay open 24/7, being available to serve occasional late-night or early-morning travelers. If you staff your car wash with attendants, you need to consider the operating hours that work best for your clientele.
A car wash’s busiest hours depend on their customers’ schedules. For example, most people who work on a traditional 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday schedule will wash their car outside those times. That makes evenings and weekends a busier time for car washes. Customers might also want to stop by on their way to work in the morning.
If you want to extend your hours to improve convenience, make sure you’re aware of what time of day your customers would prefer to get their cars washed. Staying open longer to improve loyalty will only work if there’s a demand for late-night washes. The customers in your particular segments could be early risers or night owls.
Cater to Consumer Wants and Needs
Besides operating within your customers’ preferred hours, consider what your customers want most. What service could you provide that would persuade an occasional visitor to start coming weekly or monthly?
According to the International Carwash Association’s latest research, these five factors cause a customer to choose your car wash over another provider.
- Cleanliness: Since 91% of customers say they choose a car wash for the clean they receive, it’s critical to use effective techniques and cleaning chemicals. High-concentrate presoaks and detergents, like those in the JBS Industries COMPASS® product offerings, help you achieve brilliant cleans with every wash.
- Value: Next on the list, 81% of customers feel the price is crucial to their decision. They want to feel like they’re getting excellent value for their purchase. Use this need to your advantage by offering bundle deals that provide added services and value for their money.
- Convenience: Accessibility is a critical factor for 78% of customers. Usually, that means the car wash is near a busy main road or along one of their usual routes. Convenience can also mean a short line and a quick drive through the wash bay.
- Shininess: A glossy, sparkling finish makes the car wash worthwhile for 75% of customers. Products like JBS Industries Shine Time® ceramic technology can ensure these customers leave happy. It offers a 30-day shine, comparable to hand waxing.
- Dryness: When 68% of customers go to the car wash, they expect to drive away in a completely dry car, with no water or suds remaining. Ensure your facility’s dryers are in good shape and use protectants that speed up the dry time.
What do your customers want and need from their car wash? They might be looking for specialty services like undercarriage washes or a bundle deal that makes purchasing multiple services worthwhile. Find out what your customers most want to see by sending out a survey.
Try Creating a Loyalty Program
A loyalty program rewards your repeat customers for their continued business. When they first sign up for a loyalty program, your facility will become their go-to solution. They get a better deal by coming to you, so why go anywhere else? Over time, a loyalty program gets new customers into the habit of coming to your facility. It gives you the opportunities you need to build trust and impress them with your consistent service.
Loyalty programs are a type of car wash promotion that sets you up for long-term success. Learn more about implementing a loyalty program for your facility.
How Do Car Wash Customer Loyalty Programs Work?
A loyalty program is any program that encourages and rewards customers for returning. In the car wash business, they take many forms.
- Unlimited wash clubs: One of the most popular loyalty programs, especially for tunnel-style facilities, is a membership program. They let each customer enjoy unlimited washes for a monthly fee. These are particularly valuable because they allow your business to earn consistent revenue, no matter how often a customer visits.
- Prepaid cards: Another option is encouraging customers to load a loyalty card with cash upfront, essentially buying their washes in bulk. When the driver comes to the car wash, they’ll use their prepaid card. Preloading a loyalty account often comes with bonuses like extra wash credits or add-on services.
- Loyalty points: An update on the traditional punch card, this program lets customers earn points any time they use the car wash. They don’t have to pay money upfront, which can be tempting for newer customers. The more times they come to your car wash, the more points they earn, translating into special discounts or free washes.
- Fleet and dealership programs: Commercial fleets and dealerships are a lucrative market for any car wash. These businesses have a consistent volume of vehicles needing a high-definition clean and regular maintenance. Consider offering special rates for local companies.
Tips for Building a Successful Loyalty Program
As you design loyalty programs for your facility, follow these best practices.
- Plan: As your first step, decide what goal you’re trying to achieve. Start small with one or two promotions you can manage, and set a sales goal to gauge success. Be sure to factor in your operating costs when designing a discount.
- Build in flexibility: Different types of customers have varying needs. Sports car owners who want their car to always look brand-new might be willing to pay more for a membership level that includes all the detailing and add-on services you offer. Other customers might be more interested in services that help them keep their car on the road for longer. Create different plans that meet the needs of the different types of customers you serve. As you introduce any new promotion, start it as a limited-time offer. If it’s successful, you can incorporate it into a regular loyalty program.
- Seek feedback: Loyalty programs work best when customers see their value. Ask for feedback and suggestions from your program subscribers to learn how well-received it is and what you can do better.
Contact JBS Industries for High-Concentrate Cleaning Chemicals
JBS Industries has been carefully developing car wash cleaning formulas since 1979. Our latest formulations are innovative, high-quality and environmentally friendly. Our powerful COMPASS® Hyper concentrates use less water with high dilution ratios, so you can promise your customers the best clean with a lower cost per car. With cleanliness being any car wash visitor’s top priority, JBS Industries is here to help you boost customer loyalty.
Call us or contact our team online to learn more about our products and place your order.