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Carwash Profitability: Tips and Techniques

If you are looking to increase profits in your forecourt shops, it’s worth reminding yourself about the exceptionally high margins that can be generated by your carwash equipment.

The economics of a carwash are a lot like a commercial airliner: once you have made the capital investment and committed to operating it each day, every extra sale returns almost pure profit.

Traditionally, carwash operators kept it simple, setting relatively high prices and focusing on quality rather than quantity. But as hand car washes have dragged prices down, this strategy has become unsustainable.

At Codax we speak to a lot of carwash operators every day and have noticed that many of the successful ones have adopted some clever marketing and pricing techniques, similar to the ‘yield management’ that airlines use to maximise customers and profits:

1. Reward customers for washing their car more frequently

Your existing customers like your carwash service, so give them reasons to use it more often. Promote multi-buy offers, where customers get big discounts on the regular price if they pay for a large number of washes at once, to be used regularly.

Systems like the Codax Smartcard allow you to set a time limit, so that washes have to be used within, say, three to six months. This kind of limit, while generous, encourages customers to think of their carwash credits as something to be used quickly, not held on to.

This principle applies whether you use Codax Smartcards to store value (€, £, kr, …) or specific wash programmes.

2. Upsell more premium wash programmes

Everyone likes to get more than they paid for, so when a customer asks for a basic wash, offer them a premium wash for the same price, if they buy several at once. They come away extra happy, while you get another customer into the habit of using your premium wash.

Another good way to incentivise or reward people who buy a bundle of premium washes is to give them a gift card for another family member. With a Codax Smartcard, this card could contain a number of basic washes that can only be used during specific off-peak periods.

3. Promote it shamelessly

Many people love the whole carwash experience, but need prompting to make this premium purchase.

Make sure your staff are all trained to offer carwash promotions with purchases of fuel. Get your marketing people to create point of purchase materials (or ask us for examples). And make sure your Codax Smartcards feature strong designs and clear branding so that they provide a regular reminder to your customers every time they open their wallet.

Running a profitable carwash requires more creativity and a little more effort than in the past, but by adopting some of these ideas, we trust your carwash will continue to return some of the highest margins available on the forecourt.

If you would like to discuss any of these points with our carwash experts, please contact us.

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