Who knew Al Capone had a sense of humor? Always a pragmatist, the notorious gangster displayed a keen insight into basic human behavior.
“You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone,” he noted. Capone’s funny comment contains, I think, a very serious message for operators.
Indeed, with only a slight change in his words, savvy car wash operators will benefit enormously by acting upon Capone’s very insightful remark. If Capone were a car wash operator, he might say: “You can get much further with good equipment and a marketing plan than you can with good equipment alone.”
I agree. Owners who are packing a written and detailed marketing plan will be wildly more successful than those operators who might simply be winging it each week.
To help you maximize your revenue opportunities, I recommend you complete the Marketing Report Card that appears on page 72 in the November 2014 issue of Auto Landry News.
This will help all operators build a larger and more profitable customer base. For best results, I encourage operators to make this project a “team effort.” To begin, invite two or three of your most tenured employees to help you grade your marketing effort, based on their perspective and experiences.
Ask your best suppliers for their input, too. These two groups will greatly appreciate the opportunity to help you better understand your marketing strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, their ideas and comments could reveal an unexplored marketing event or theme, which could help your wash become a huge success in 2015.
Once you have completed the Marketing Report Cards, and discussed them with your team members, it is enlightening to ask yourself these five revealing questions:
1. Are we generating enough revenue from our current customer base?
2. Does our “community outreach” bring in enough new customers?
3. Do we have an effective on-site strategy to convert these one-time visitors, so they will become valued and repeat customers each month?
4. What are other successful retailers doing to build their customer bases?
5. How can we learn more about social media, and how could it serve us?
Clearly, a marketing report card is a useful diagnostic tool. It is used to identify areas where attention and improvement are needed. But a marketing report card also is fixed in time, once it is graded. A useful marketing plan, conversely, is best seen as a living, breathing document.
In fact, many operators may make two or three attempts to craft a final document and, even then, because of the dynamic nature of any successful marketing plan, an operator may wish to make important revisions two or three months after beginning his plan, depending upon the level of success he has enjoyed so far.
Each operator, moreover, will want to customize a marketing plan to his particular market, to reach his own wash count and revenue goals. This year, best-in-class operators will also want to emphasize two specific activities which they can totally control, and which will clearly differentiate their washes.
First, your community outreach — how you interact generally with the market or area that supports your business — can win you customers for life who you might not be able to reach with typical marketing activities. For instance, there are many worthy groups and charities, which are constantly looking for reputable sponsors. Operators may wish to sponsor, as an example, a local high school sports team, or to partner with an organization to help raise funds for medical research.
In addition to becoming known as a “best-in-class” business for supporting the local community, the smartest operators also will develop the most outgoing greeters, trained attendants, and customer-centric store managers and cashiers.
Thus, in 2015, make your on-site “customer care team,” your most important and sustainable competitive advantage, especially if your wash is in a market where value-conscious consumers will come to appreciate the small but important differences in how they are treated.
In closing, those operators who are most diligent and dedicated to this detailed and comprehensive marketing process will also attract and serve the most customers. Not surprisingly, they will reap the greatest financial rewards, too. Says guerrilla marketing expert Jay Levinson, “Tiny shares of gigantic markets are abundant and profitable.” For “best-in-class” operators, getting a bigger piece of the multi-billion-dollar car wash market begins today.
Mike Perry has more than 30 years of experience in retail marketing and in business-to-business sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (770) 330-2490.