A large part of improving the on-location marketing for your car wash is the exterior signs, lights, and menus — the ones that draw customers’ attention from the street and get them to come get their car washed.
By Bobby Jones
A large part of improving the on-location marketing for your car wash is the exterior signs, lights, and menus — the ones that draw customers’ attention from the street and get them to come get their car washed. One area that can easily be forgotten when it comes to marketing and signage is the car wash interior.
Adding signs, arches, or fixtures to the inside of a car wash has several benefits that will continue to increase the return on your investment, get customers excited about entering your car wash, and turn your new customers into returning ones. Interior car wash signs come in the form of specialty arches, colorful tunnel fixtures, and customized signs, among many other items.
Here are the four main reasons you should consider adding interior signs to your car wash.
INFORM THE CUSTOMER
Signs and menus outside of the car wash inform the customer of all of the available packages, offers, and pricing details. Interior signs are similar in that they tell the customer what they are getting, as it’s happening, and what’s coming up. Customers like to know that they are getting all of the items in the car wash package they purchased, so it’s nice for them to be able to see a sign light up that says, “Soap” or “Finishing Wax” as they are rolling through the wash.
Interior signs also include specialty arches — maybe the arch has a product name on it such as, “Citrus Clear Coat” or “Spot Free Rinse,” so customers know when they roll under the arch, they are getting that specific product applied to their vehicle. Similar arches also have colorful lights that really highlight the product as it’s being applied to the vehicle, which is entertaining (more on that, later).
There are also tunnel fixtures with product names on them that light up, or even a digital countdown timer to let customers know how much longer they’ll be in the car wash. The sky’s the limit when it comes to creative interior fixtures.
These signs come in many different forms, and while they may be a large upfront investment, they’ll be a great long-term marketing fixture. The chances are you won’t have to change them unless you decided to make major changes to the car wash. Interior signage can inform customers what phase of the car wash they’re in, but perhaps it can also tell them what they’re not getting (i.e., what they need to buy for their next car wash).
For example, say someone buys a basic wash package and as they are going through the car wash, they see signs for a tire scrub, or windshield bug remover — things they might need. They’ll keep that in mind the next time they pull up to purchase a wash package.
Interior signs can inform the customer just like exterior signs do. These additional signs will continue to educate the customer, but will also create a memorable experience for them.
CREATE AN EXPERIENCE
It’s easy to forget that getting a car wash is an experience for everyone involved. Car washes are practical, fun, and, if you’re always running errands with kids in the car, a car wash with unique lights, visuals, and even sounds can make it an experience worth attending time and time again.
Especially lately, customers have a certain expectation when they pay for a car wash. They expect to see lighting and signs, colorful products, and depending on the price points of your car wash, you want to exceed their expectations.
Adding interior signs to your car wash is a big part of the unique experience you’re offering your customers — these can be specialty arches or vertical fixtures. Not only will these signs inform your customer (as mentioned above), but they can create a memorable experience for them, too. Does your car wash have a specific theme? Maybe you’ve got a rock n’ roll vibe or a Las Vegas casino look going; interior signs can really add to your theme and improve the overall experience. Colorful lights around signs and on arches not only look cool, but they also light up the product, which gives customers assurance that they’re getting what they paid for.
Of course, a clean vehicle is the overall goal of a car wash, but the experience will also leave a lasting memory for your customer. That is what’s going to keep them coming back, but they’ve got to remember where they’re going — which brings us to branding.
SOLIDIFY YOUR BRAND
Using internal car wash signage and fixtures allows you to solidify your brand. Surprisingly, many businesses’ problems — even in the car wash industry — can be solved with better signage.
Think about it: outdoor signs help customers find you, nametags introduce employees without saying a word, and internal signs help customers remember who they are doing business with. The signage you place inside your car wash can add another layer to your branding.
Consistency is important in branding and marketing, so making sure your internal signs reflect your brand’s colors, logo, and voice is important.
Paying attention to even the smallest of details will show customers you take this business seriously, and show them that you’ve created a seamless brand experience.
Consider big brands in other industries, such as Coca-Cola. You can probably picture their iconic logo at just the mention of the name. If you go to their website, it’s going to have the same font, colors, and logo that you’ve seen on soda cans, two-liters, and merchandise. If you went to the headquarters, it’s likely to be decked out in those same elements because Coca-Cola is a cohesive brand. They never want you to question their product, so they make all of the details consistent.
If you have a car wash with glass walls, all of the benefits from internal signage will double given that customers can see everything from the outside.
GET BUSINESS RESULTS
On average car wash operators see a return on their initial investment within six months, and increase the revenue (from the previous owner w/o marketing) by 50 percent. They increase their car count by 120 percent.
According to the owner of Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash, Brian Krusz, customers love one of his wash’s interior fixtures: “the drying chamber,” which is a series of arches that blow air onto the vehicle, and is also augmented with red LED lights.
“It’s all about that experience, so we constantly hear about the fantastic experience from the car wash that they’re getting,” Krusz says. “As well the light fixtures help build the confidence in the customer that they’re getting what they paid for, all the way from triple-foam down to our military monsoon as well as our Sgt. Clean hot wax.”
Lighting and signage can help operators like Krusz whether they’re taking over an old location or building new from the ground up.
Don’t forget all of the benefits your business will see by either adding or improving internal signage. These can come in many different forms including specialty arches, colorful LED fixtures, and customized signs. These internal signs can be used to inform your customer of everything they paid for, and they can also show them the services they should buy during their next trip.
Internal signage also improves the customer experience and makes the trip entertaining for other people in the vehicle. Finally, internal signage is also another opportunity to solidify your brand and make the entire car wash experience cohesive.