Coupon Guide for Car Wash Business Owners

Coupons drive more traffic to your business, but it’s not always that simple! There are many things to keep in mind when offering coupons for your business. There are advantages and disadvantages, different types of coupons and various ways to launch and manage them. You’ll have to use coupons strategically to grow your business. Mistakes can be detrimental to your profit margin, so read on to learn about implementing discount programs in your car wash business.

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Pros and Cons of Coupons for Your Car Wash

Almost every business today offers some type of coupon or loyalty program. Customers now tend to expect discounts or special offers whenever they shop. Coupons can bring in new drivers, prompt repeat customers to buy more and even pull new clients from your competitors. But there are many things to consider.

Attract New Customers

Business owners typically offer coupons to attract new customers. Coupons work by changing the cost-benefit analysis consumers perform every time they consider a purchase decision. Customers will only buy products when the perceived benefit or value outweighs the costs. Coupons are an effective way to direct attention toward your business and attract customers who are looking for a deal. If someone is considering trying a new car wash, they’ll go where they think they’ll get more value for their money. Promotions can even entice consumers to buy your product even if they weren’t previously thinking about making that type of purchase.

Build Loyalty

Coupons and discount programs are great ways to show your loyal customers that you appreciate them. Sixty-five percent of consumers plan what to purchase based on available coupons. That means some car wash users are likely to bounce between different car washes depending on the promotions they can find. But what if you could gain loyal customers? Coupon programs that offer discounts to faithful users help you keep people coming back. You can implement this in different ways, but one choice is to give customers a percentage off after a specific number of washes. Another option is to send coupons to previous customers after a set period to entice them to come back.

Marketing Strategy

Coupons provide an avenue for strategic marketing decisions. If you need new customers and a quick influx of cash, coupons can help with that. If you want customers to come back after one purchase, you can offer them coupons to encourage them to return. You can also use coupons to introduce a new service or help you get rid of excess inventory. Use different coupons at various times to allow you to strategically target the customers you need to grow your brand.

Introduce a New Product or Service

You can also offer coupons and deals when you want to introduce a new product or service. If you offer a “premium” car wash service or something outside the ordinary, offering a coupon can entice customers to upgrade and try out a new service. After they experience the difference for themselves, they may be more likely to buy the service at full price next time.

Get Rid of Excess Inventory

Did you accidentally order too many products? Have you decided to switch to a new brand? Offering coupons on products you may sell at your car wash will invite customers to try other services while also helping you get rid of excess inventory.

Bigger Discount = Less Profit

The most significant disadvantage of introducing coupons to your business is that you will get less profit on each service. However, if the coupons attract more new customers, you may still see a considerable profit margin. Less profit on each wash may be worth it if you end up providing more washes and gaining new long-time customers. Be careful how your team manages the coupons, as implementation issues can significantly impact profit margin.

Waiting for Coupons

One problem that arises in businesses that consistently offer the same coupons is that people start to expect them. That means customers who would otherwise buy your product or service at full price may wait for a coupon if they know it will be coming soon.

Mistakes Are Costly

You must implement coupons strategically. A slip-up could cause even lower profits, which is the opposite of what you want! Promotion mistakes can also lead to brand damage and negative perception. Read on to learn about what to avoid.

9 Car Wash Coupon Ideas

You may find some promotions and free car wash coupon templates are a better fit for your business than others. Various choices will impact your business differently, so consider your specific establishment! The great thing about coupons is that you can experiment with timing and other options, depending on what goals your business wants to meet. Some are better for attracting new clients, while others are better for getting previous customers to come back. Determine your company goals before choosing a coupon strategy.

1. Loyalty Cards

Loyalty cards are an excellent way to retain customers who return for repeat visits. Businesses implement this type of promotion in a few different ways. The most typical application of this is when you offer something for free or at a significant discount after the customer makes a specific number of purchases. For example, drivers get a complimentary sixth wash after paying for five car washes. The discount or freebie could also come after a dollar amount purchase, such as providing customers a free premium wash after they’ve spent $50 on car washes. These types of promotions reward customers for returning to your business and not using your competitors.

2. Seasonal Programs

Seasonal programs help your business get new customers and bring in repeat drivers. These programs are different throughout the year and can consist of almost anything. Your company can send these deals out to your email list and promote them in other traditional ways, such as in newspapers. In the weeks preceding Christmas, you could encourage people to buy gift certificates. In the spring, promote a “spring cleaning” deal that could include a discounted or free interior cleaning with the purchase of an exterior car wash. The best thing about seasonal programs is that you can tailor them to your marketing goals at that specific moment.

3. Volume Discounts

Volume discounts are when you allow people to pay less per service if they buy a large number at one time. You can offer this type of discount to car dealers or companies with fleets of vehicles to ensure you get regular business from loyal customers who need many washes.


Buy one get one is another choice. Businesses typically use this for physical consumer goods, but it can also be effective for services. Consider giving drivers who buy one car wash a gift certificate for a second one. Or, more often, businesses tend to offer buy-one-get-one-half-off or buy-several-and-get-one-free deals. It’s unlikely someone would need two car washes at once, so this promotion’s effectiveness can vary depending on how you choose to implement it.

5. Item Free With Purchase

You could start a limited-time promotion where customers get a free item when they purchase a car wash. The giveaway could be something like auto glass cleaner, car organizers, sunshades, tire gauges or other car-related products your business might sell. You might consider giving out a free branded item to help boost brand awareness, such as a water bottle with your business’ name and logo on it. This type of promotion can encourage first-time buyers to try your service and entice old customers to come back in after they may have forgotten you!

6. Percentage Off

A straightforward approach to increase traffic to your business is to offer a percentage discount on your services, which could be a percentage off any service or a specific service you want to promote. Some of the most attractive discounts include 20% off and 50% off. You can also advertise a dollar amount discount instead of a percentage, but don’t forget to specify the service’s usual price. Coupon users are looking for deals and probably do comparison shopping. If your coupon only says “20% off” or “$2 off” without noting the typical market price, people will have a hard time determining your coupon’s value.

7. Rebates

Rebates are a way to incentivize customers without affecting your service’s market rate. Instead of offering a discount at the time of purchase, rebates allow customers to get a specific amount back only after purchasing the product or service. The rebate’s terms usually require them to fill out a form within a given period. The rebate will entice cost-conscious buyers into purchasing your service, but only some of them will follow through and complete the tasks to get the rebate.

8. Email List Coupons

Building an email list can help your marketing efforts by offering coupons to loyal customers. But to get people to sign up, you will have to encourage them. Offer a discount or free service when people subscribe to your email list. If you decide to do rebate marketing, ask for an email address on the rebate form. Then, you can use email marketing to build your business even more. Email marketing has nearly limitless possibilities and can be as simple as sending out seasonal coupons or announcing new products or services. But you can use advanced email marketing to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more. Your company can use email marketing to remind customers it’s time for another wash or to send out discounts to customers who haven’t used your service in a while. People get busy, and email marketing is a great way to remind them to come back and visit.

9. Limited-Time Offers

You should offer all coupon types, excluding loyalty cards, on a limited-time basis. Adding an expiration date to coupons activates a sense of urgency in your customers. If they want to use the coupon, an expiration date lets them know they need to visit soon. You can also offer a deal for everyone who comes during a specific time frame, as a limited-time offer that doesn’t require people to have a coupon. This designated time could be a special day like your business’ anniversary or a holiday weekend offer. This strategy also allows you to calculate profits and coupon usage within the promotional period to let you know how your coupon marketing efforts are doing and which ones may work better than others.

Car Wash Promotion Ideas

Attracting and retaining customers is critical to any business owner. Knowing how to launch promotions can make a difference in your eventual success.

Use Technology

Technology is the secret to implementing marketing efforts that rely on tracking customer purchases, such as loyalty programs and advanced email marketing. You will have to make sure your point-of-sale system can integrate with loyalty cards and coupons or begin using coupon software. Many businesses track customers through phone numbers, allowing you to monitor customer purchases and allowing them to use their loyalty card with their phone number alone. You should also consider mobile solutions for your offers, such as an app. Redeeming deals should be easy, as this makes people much more likely to use them and sign up for future deals.

Make the Right Offer

For your coupons to make a difference, they must be relevant and valuable. Understand your customers and who you want to target with this promotion. Decide whether you want to encourage first-time clients, previous ones or loyal users. Then, target your offer at that segment. Make sure your coupon also provides value. One dollar off a premium car wash is not likely to entice an unsure customer to try your service. Most likely, people who would have used your service anyway are the only ones who’d use lower-value coupons, so you would be losing profit for no reason. A significant discount will encourage more customers to visit your business.

Distribute Through Many Channels

After you come up with a coupon strategy, you must distribute the promotion through various channels. A hard-to-find coupon only benefits customers who are actively searching it out, and these customers are often not your ideal target for attracting business. These shoppers will likely bounce from place to place searching for coupons or only purchase your service when you are running a promotion. Instead, you want to ensure your coupon is easy to find, even if your target audience is not looking for it. This strategy is how you get your business into the minds of new customers! You can use social media, your website, online marketing, email campaigns or local magazines and newspapers. Leverage as many channels as you can to get the best results.

Use Codes

It’s essential to monitor how many drivers are using your coupons. If you’ve distributed paper coupons, this could be as straightforward as collecting and counting them. But if you’re savvy enough to make your coupons available in many places, it’s wise to track how many coupons are coming in from each platform. You can do this by having a different car wash coupon code for each channel.

Tips for Managing Coupons

Managing coupons can be challenging, depending on how far you want your strategy to go. You might manage simple couponing strategies without the help of software and POS systems. However, these systems can help you refine your promotions to be the most profitable. Implementing coupons in your business will have an effect that will multiply with more effort.

Keep Track of Profitability

The more data you can collect regarding coupon use, the better. Some software can help you with this. Keep track of how many coupons people are using, and connect each coupon to the customer, if possible. After your business collects enough data, you can tell whether the promotion is increasing your profits. It may be tempting to distribute a coupon and forget about it. However, your coupon strategy could have a negative effect. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor each promotion so you can edit them for the next time.

Try Different Promotions

You may have more success with some deals than with others. Try out the different types, while tracking usage, to discover the promotions that work the best for your business. Remember to align the promo with your current business goals. Target specific customer segments, such as first-time customers, repeat customers or loyal customers.

Mistakes to Avoid When Rolling out Car Wash Coupons

As with any new marketing strategy, it’s possible to make mistakes. But when employing coupons, errors can be incredibly costly.

Excessive Discounting

Providing too many coupons could devalue your brand. If your service always has a coupon, the market rate will look lower and consumers will view your business as “cheap.” Coupons from your business will appear less valuable when people realize they never have to pay full price. Releasing the same type of coupon over and over again will also damage your business. If people expect a coupon in the future, they will wait for it and always buy your service at a discounted rate.

Not Enough Awareness

Posting a coupon on your website is not enough to spread awareness. You want many people to find the discount, even when they are not necessarily looking for it. Trying to hide your coupon so that fewer people use it is not a way to increase your profit margin. You want the right customers to notice your deal, not only shoppers who are always looking for discounts.

Confusing Offers and Misprints

Complicated coupons and misprints are guaranteed ways to damage your brand image. Ensure the offer is simple enough to explain in a few words or short sentences. If your coupon fails to describe the discount’s terms, you are asking for trouble — especially if customers might interpret the terms in a way that makes them think they are entitled to more savings than you had intended to give them. The same applies to misprints. Triple-check all advertised discounts, or you may end up with a costly typo.

JBS Industries Is at the Forefront of the Car Wash Industry

At JBS Industries, we are a leading car wash supplies manufacturer, and we have the high-quality car wash cleaners you need to keep drivers coming back for more. Increase customer satisfaction by providing a one-wash clean with lasting results. But to do that, you need effective car wash products. We formulate our products for self-serve, frictionless and touchless applications. We have detergents, sealants, drying agents, protectants, polishes, pre-soaks and more!

JBS Industries is proud to service locations coast to coast in the United States, Canada and other markets worldwide. View our wide range of products and contact us for more information. Looking for more helpful resources? Check out this article on marketing tips for your car wash.


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