Maximizing Car Wash Revenue: 4 Key Tactics for Sustainable Growth

May 30, 2024

The car wash industry has been a hotbed of growth in the past several years with businesses building and acquiring more and more sites. But growth does not always mean expansion. 

If you’re not in the market for additional car wash sites now, that doesn’t mean you can’t give your revenue a shot in the arm. There are a number of ways to grow financially without growing your organization’s footprint. 

1.    Level Up Your Monthly Wash Plan 

Hopefully, you already have a thriving monthly wash plan, but you could get more out of it if you focus on the following areas: 

Customer Convenience  

woman smiling behind wheel of carWash plan memberships are all about convenience, so it makes sense that the more convenient you can make your plan, the more you’ll be able to attract and retain members. You can increase member convenience with: 

  • The ability to buy and manage plans online 
  • Multi-vehicle plans that are easy to manage and provide discounts on vehicles added to the plan. This is also a great way to increase your wallet share. 
  • Flexible cancelations and unified billing 

Churn Prevention 

There is a ton of focus – and an infinite amount of advice – on obtaining members, but if you’re not also watching your churn, your wash becomes a revolving door. 

Make sure your point-of-sale has robust reporting for churn so you can adjust promotions, pricing and plan structure strategies accordingly. For instance, if you find that members typically churn out after six months, you may consider an email campaign to remind them of the value of their plan.  

An advanced POS will also have a multitude of tools to help you prevent involuntary churn:   

  • Automatic retry period. Your POS should include an option to automatically retry declined credit cards for monthly renewal payments for a certain amount of time – usually 14 days.
  • Automatic credit card updater. Some credit card processors offer a service in which they automatically check for and apply credit card changes monthly.  
  • Customer communications. You can use email, text messaging, pay station prompts and other marketing vehicles to remind members to update their credit cards. Some systems will help you automate these messages. 

Dial In Pricing 

Did you know you can increase revenue without increasing the number of plans you sell a month? By simply optimizing your pricing, you can increase your ticket average by $1-2! 

That doesn’t mean simply raising your prices by a dollar or two across the board. To truly get the most out of your plans, you need a more strategic approach that considers economics, statistics and behavioral economics principles. 

If you weren’t an econ major in school, you may want to rely on the experts in this area. We can help with PrecisionPricing by SUDS, a proprietary analytical modeling tool that optimizes prices based on those factors. 

2.    But Don’t Neglect Retail Customers 

screenshot of pay-as-you-go on ewaA healthy monthly wash plan is the cornerstone of a successful car wash business, so we’re not suggesting that you abandon it. However, there is untapped potential in your retail customer pool as well. Cultivating loyal retail customers creates a warm pipeline of potential members. Even if they never become members, they represent a significant amount of your revenue.   

Remember, your retail customers are free agents. They can choose a different business every time they wash if they want, so you want to make sure they always choose you. It starts with creating a stellar experience for all customers regardless of their membership status.  

Beyond that, consider loyalty programs. Apps like those available through Beacon Mobile allow customers to earn points toward free products and services for repeat visits. 

For customers who like the convenience of a monthly wash plan but don’t like the commitment, there’s also the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) feature of Patheon’s Essential Web App (EWA).  

With PAYG, a customer can store their credit card and designate their preferred wash. When they arrive at the wash, their vehicle is identified by RFID or license plate recognition (LPR). They are then automatically charged for their preferred wash and let through the gate. This is a great way to ensure retail members keep coming back to your wash.  

3.    Deploy Data 

Data is king, and the car wash point-of-sale collects an overwhelming amount of data. The problem is, it’s hard to glean useful insights from it. 

An advanced POS can present that data in a way that makes it easily digestible and actionable. Your POS should be able answer questions like: 

  • Which locations are performing best, and what factors contribute to their success?
  • How can staffing levels be optimized based on peak hours and customer flow data? 
  • What are the most popular wash plans and services among customers?
  • How frequently do members use their wash plans, and what is the average number of visits per member? 
  • What is the current churn rate, and what patterns can be identified among customers who cancel their memberships? 
  • Are there specific timeframes or conditions under which churn rates spike, such as seasonality or after a price change? 
  • What are the revenue trends over time, and how do they correlate with marketing campaigns or promotions?
  • How does revenue from membership plans compare to pay-per-wash customers? 

You can then use that data to inform marketing strategies, deploy new promotions and enhance the structure of your wash and monthly plan packages and more. It sure beats acting on a gut feeling or trying multiple strategies to see what “sticks!” 

4.    Leverage Advanced Technology 

Investing in the right technology can help you operate more efficiently, improve the customer experience and unlock new revenue opportunities. Many of the strategies above are best executed with advanced technology, especially through a robust point-of-sale system. 

Specifically, DRB®’s Patheon platform can: 

  • Increase convenience for your monthly wash plan members by allowing online plan sales and management, easy cancellation and unified billing 
  • Increase your share of wallet while proving customer savings with multi-vehicle plans
  • Lock in retail customer loyalty with Pay-As-You-Go
  • Help you make real-time data-backed decisions with interactive dashboards that make your data consumable and actionable
  • Allow you to quickly act on that data by enabling you to make your own changes to products, plans and promotions in minutes
  • Make marketing more effective with customer segments that allow for better targeting. Add our marketing automation platform, Catalyst, to build, manage and analyze highly targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Enable personalized offers, messaging and experiences with AI trained license plate recognition. 

Sustainable Revenue Growth 

By implementing these strategies, you can position your car wash for long-term success and continued revenue growth. And with a powerful POS solution like Patheon, you'll have the tools and insights needed to execute your revenue-boosting initiatives effectively. Request a demo today to see what Patheon can do for your car wash business. 

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