Creating an attractive, inviting location is both a science and an art. Staying fresh with regular upkeep, combined with an eye-catching exterior, can go a long way toward helping you maintain and grow your business. If you’re considering any renovations, you might be wondering how much of an investment you’ll need to make. While a complete remodel could go a long way, you don’t have to spend a lot to reap the benefits of a clean, visually pleasing lot.
The Importance of Car Wash Curb Appeal
Owning a car wash business means juggling many different tasks. Your primary focus is always providing the best clean possible. Your secondary goals can still include anything from marketing, improving your service menu or expanding to a second location. Why, with all this on your plate, should you improve your curb appeal? As it turns out, curb appeal is central to marketing. An attractive facility jumps out at passersby, encouraging them to stop in. An inviting exterior will also help you accomplish the following business objectives.
Meet Your Target Market’s Expectations
Even the best marketing tricks in the book won’t attract customers who don’t care about cleaning and maintaining their car. No matter what demographic you serve, your customers all share a sense of pride from driving a clean, shiny car. That driver with a brand-new Italian sports car surely appreciates appearances. Even a family with a 10-year-old minivan cares about maintaining their investment to keep it on the road.
Enhancing your curb appeal shows your customers you share their values. Speak their language by adding visual interest and performing regular upkeep.
Enhance Your Visual Communication
While your lot’s building and look are essential, your curb appeal is also an opportunity to show off your services. What can you do that lets drivers passing by know the superior value you offer?
First, make your amenities visible. Many car washes have a long line of vacuums visible from the road. When the vacuum area looks clean and the stations look well-maintained, customers know the vacuums will do their jobs. If other clients are using them at the time, they can even see this benefit in action.
Attractive signage will also communicate a lot about your business. The branding tells visitors what to expect. A carefully designed sign with old-fashioned serif fonts that says things like “handwash” and “detailing” prime customers for a professional detailer’s personal service and human touch. Bubble letters that say something like “Splash ‘n’ Go” tell customers they’ll be in and out in minutes.
Digital signage tells visitors your experience is efficient, professional and modern. Meanwhile, a bold, surprising color scheme can show that your business is innovative and unconventional. Your curbside décor and signage are your chance to target specific customers and solidify your brand and market positioning.
What Look Are Customers Searching For?
Customers come to car washes for a clean, dry and shiny car. Your outward appearance reflects whether you’ll deliver. The car wash industry has seen a significant uptick in customers opting for professional cleaning over a DIY wash, and they have many choices in providers. What visual elements will draw them to your business? Current trends indicate customers are looking for benefits like these.
A Clean, Modern Facility
Since the car wash’s primary function is cleaning, customers have a growing expectation that the facility is clean, too. Your attention to detail must extend beyond the cars you serve. The lot itself, the wash bay or tunnel, the waiting room and the bathroom all need to represent the wash you’ll provide. While cleanliness everywhere is crucial, it’s particularly essential on your street-facing property. Your lot and the landscaping around it should look well-maintained and pristine.
More than tidiness, many customers link a facility’s architectural design to the service level you provide. As people switch to a professional car wash over an at-home wash, they see your business as a small extravagance or even a luxury experience. The building itself needs to reflect that expectation. Outdated architecture will not pull in new customers. Even a modestly priced wash can provide a touch of luxury with a building that looks fresh and modern.
According to car wash architects, most car washes start as a simple box or rectangular building before renovations begin. A boxy building in a central location may draw in plenty of customers if it’s the only facility in town. If there’s competition nearby, the building will need architectural elements to make it more attractive. If you’re converting an older building into a modern car wash, the best thing you can do is work with an architect with car wash experience. They can help you create a contemporary, inviting building that appeals to customers and fits your unique brand.
A popular way to add dimension is to add a more dynamic roof. Curved or wavy roofs are an excellent choice because they can evoke flowing water. Even a pitched roof or some height variations can add visual interest to a plain building. Work with an architect to see what adding a few small details can do for your location. Chances are, an experienced car wash designer can take advantage of a rectangular building’s clean, simple lines to achieve a look inspired by modern architecture.
Many people have memories of visiting a car wash as a kid and watching the equipment work its magic. Through a child’s eyes, the wash tunnel could evoke a sense of wonder and amazement. When paying customers visit a car wash, they might be looking for a thorough scrub-down. If you go the extra mile to deliver an energetic, high-production value or novel experience, you can remind customers of that feeling from a simpler time. It’s something your customers crave without even realizing it. Feed their energy, and they’ll keep returning.
Your friendly, helpful staff provide much of your facility’s energy. It also comes from delivering quality service and taking pride in every washed car you send out of your tunnel. The overall traffic flow is equally crucial. Is your car wash easy to navigate, and does the layout reduce congestion while allowing for a quick visit? These features can be the difference between a customer feeling stressed, rushed or confused and one who leaves happy and satisfied.
Besides these fundamentals, you can inject life and excitement into your wash in other ways. LED light shows within the tunnel certainly add production value. Bring dynamism to the cleaning process by using multicolored scented foam that sprays in unique shapes or in time with the music.
How the Right Design Attracts More Customers
More than two-thirds of consumers say they have avoided a place of business based on its exterior appearance. What’s more, 52% of consumers have steered clear of a company because it looked dirty from the outside. In any business, a deteriorating, dirty exterior deters customers. In the car wash industry, where the central promise is cleanliness, it can be an even more significant deterrent.
An attractive, well-kept lot has the opposite effect. With the right design, your car wash can draw in more customers.
Evoking Better First Impressions
In residential real estate, curb appeal draws in more prospective buyers. When the outside looks good, more buyers are willing to step inside. In this industry, increasing curb appeal has a measurable impact on the house’s final sale price.
In the car wash business and commercial properties in general, curb appeal has a similar effect. Commercial real estate agents can negotiate a higher price for a property with pleasing street-facing aesthetics because business owners know the value of a positive first impression.
Standing Out Among Competitors
The car wash business is booming, and competition is growing. While maintaining a three- to five-mile exclusive radius around your car wash location is ideal, car washes in some parts of the country can only support a radius of less than a mile. As more companies enter the playing field, success hangs on having a convenient location. As a result, competitors are crowding around the busiest roads in town. That means your nearest competitor could very well be in eyeshot.
Even if you don’t have competition right across the street, chances are the local customer base drives by several other car washes besides yours. Every time they pass your facility, they make a snap judgment based on your appearance. They do the same with all your competitors.
When a customer decides to get their car washed, their choice may stem largely from appearance. Which business looks like it’ll provide the superior clean and customer experience? It’s probably the one with the shiny new paint job, the pristine landscaping and the parking lot that always seems freshly swept.
Practical Ways to Improve Your Car Wash’s Appearance
If you’re a prospective owner calculating how much a car wash business costs, you’re probably also wondering how you can make your renovations as affordable as possible. Making your business more modern and attractive doesn’t have to mean tearing everything down and building it up from scratch. Often, a few simple, cost-effective solutions can show passersby you care about maintaining your facility. Here are five ideas to try.
1. Keep It Clean
Facility upkeep is one of the most affordable ways to increase your curb appeal. It doesn’t cost much to pick up a broom or a mop. Plus, in the car wash industry, your facility will experience plenty of downtime between your busy rushes. While waiting for your slow trickle to turn back into a flood of customers, have your team focus on cleaning.
The front lot is the most critical area to focus on. Sweeping it up and clearing out stray litter and cigarette butts will enhance curb appeal. If your vacuum stations are visible from the road, treat them with the same level of care. Scrub off any dirt and make sure they look shiny at all times.
Besides your curb-facing property, keep your whole facility clean. The areas your customers will see once they’re on the lot will leave just as much of an impression. Here, sanitation could mean the difference between a repeat customer and one who never comes back. Regularly clean the bathroom, waiting area and tunnel. Wash dirt off the walls and wipe off smudges from the windows.
2. Perform Minor Cosmetic Changes
If you’re not ready to make a large-scale investment, a few minor upgrades can go a long way. Consider working with a consultant to see which low-cost improvements will have the most significant impact on your overall business appearance. Some cosmetic enhancements to consider include:
- Resealing the blacktop and fixing cracked concrete.
- Applying a fresh coat of paint.
- Cleaning up your existing landscaping.
- Planting a few shrubs or flowers that will do well in your climate with minimal maintenance.
- Replacing your canopies.
3. Use Attractive, Professional Signage
Printed signage is a one-time investment that will provide lasting curb appeal. Choose an appealing, timeless design and quality sign materials. Attractive signage will improve your curb appeal and get more customers in the door. Signs tell your customers what to expect by listing available services and prices. When drivers need to make a quick decision about whether to stop by, readable, informative signage can make all the difference.
If you need to make your business look more modern, upgrading to a digital sign can do the trick. Create some attractive scrolling graphics and add some custom videos featuring your tunnel and services to modernize your look. Match your curb-facing sign with digital signage and payment terminals throughout your facility.
4. Invest in Seasonal Décor
Holiday lights, pumpkins and American flags can give your building a fresh new look throughout the year. Drivers will take notice as your décor changes from season to season. If you use holiday decorations, make sure to put them up and take them down at seasonally appropriate times. Keeping your holiday lights up too long can make your business look disorganized.
5. Install LED Lighting
Lighting your property’s exterior helps customers know you’re open, even after the sun goes down. It can also accentuate your facility’s visually pleasing elements. Use decorative LED lighting to highlight your landscaping and signage. Modern LEDs and a few simple lighting tricks can brighten up your space significantly. Plus, LED lighting is exceptionally cost-effective, since it is longer-lasting and more energy-efficient than other types of light bulbs.
In the car wash industry, LED lighting can also brighten up your wash bay or tunnel. They can create unique shapes, colors and patterns that can make getting a car wash fun. While this business appearance enhancement may not be visible from the street, it is sure to make a splash with visitors.
Commonly Missed Opportunities to Improve Car Wash Appearances
While appearance upgrades don’t have to cost a lot, they are a crucial part of your car wash business plan. The wrong design or poor upkeep could be costing your business new customers. Consider these three common mistakes car wash owners make.
The Site Looks Unprofessional
While chipping paint, smudged windows and other cosmetic issues may seem like small, overlooked details, they could be making your car wash look less professional. In an industry focused on cleanliness, your facility needs to show off what you can do. Take pride in a well-kept building, and know that any missed spot could be leaving the wrong impressions.
Also, customers who frequent car washes place added emphasis on appearance. They take care of their car’s paint job and come to your facility to get washed and waxed every so often because they think a clean car looks good. Presenting a polished image speaks volumes to these customers.
The Design Is Playing It Too Safe
Trying to appeal to every type of customer in your design may seem like the best move. However, without making specific choices geared toward one target market, you will lose customers to another facility that directly targets them. Identify your bread-and-butter customer, and create a design that caters to them.
Some car washes achieve this with a themed design, such as a retro car wash or a more exotic theme like dinosaurs or ocean life. They can also add excitement and action to the wash with music and colorful lighting. Choosing an expensive, luxurious design might mean sacrificing some of those secondhand car owners who want a quick, affordable wash. A family- and pet-friendly facility will probably be less appealing to those high-rolling, engine-revving muscle car owners.
The risk with any bold design choice is that it’ll appeal to some customers and not others. However, by stepping outside the box, you’ll build a stronger connection with your customers and attract more people who relate to your design choices.
The Building Is Not Using Curb Appeal to Extend the Car Wash’s Brand
An attractive storefront doesn’t attract customers on its own. Instead, it provides the clean canvas and the well-maintained look customers expect for any business. If customers can drive by and enjoy your beautiful landscaping without realizing they’re passing a car wash, your curb appeal isn’t doing its job.
Your street-facing lot is prime advertising real estate. Your signage should make it clear that you run a car wash. More than that, it should shape customers’ opinions on what type of car wash you run.
A blank white sign with black block lettering tells drivers little about your brand. Colorful signage with retro-style lettering primes visitors for a fun, themed atmosphere. Meanwhile, a sign advertising free vacuuming with every wash or your pet washing station tells customers about the added value you offer.
Enhance Your Car Wash With JBS Industries
Upgrading your exterior gets more customers through the door — or, more accurately, through your tunnel. Making their cars more attractive ensures they’ll come back next time. JBS Industries can give you a reputation for the cleanest cars in town with the help of our high-concentrate cleaning chemicals. The quality chemicals in our COMPASS product line include presoaks, detergents, sealants and other products for efficient wash times and a brilliant shine. Plus, our tricolor foams have captivating scents to add a multisensory dimension to the wash experience.
To learn how we can help you attract and keep more clients with our cleaning formulas, reach out to us online. We can set up a product trial program or fulfill your order today.