This article originally ran in the August 2017 issue of Kleen-Scene Magazine.
Editor’s Note: During the writing of this article we (the editors of The Kleen-Scene) googled “subscription based business model” and “subscription economy”. We encourage carwash operators to do the same. We learned that membership-based growth strategies are revolutionizing how customers purchase goods and services and how businesses that adopt a monthly subscription model are growing at a staggering rate.
Creating an additional revenue stream through monthly membership sales is perhaps the hottest movement in the car wash industry today, winning over the ranks of leading carwash operators nationwide.
Modern subscription services are the wave of the future and in many cases, of the present. In the case of the car wash industry, these services give owners the opportunities to increase the average lifetime value (by rather large factors) of each individual customer, in the end increasing revenue.
But before you jump onto the monthly recurring revenue bandwagon (or if you’ve already jumped but have an underperforming membership program) we suggest that you take a closer look at all available membership management solutions. We especially encourage you to pay attention, as we did, to a membership sales and marketing company called EverWash. While they are the newest player in the industry, they likely have the most subscription economy experience of all available platforms; having served as the nations largest membership sales and subscription management company to the health & fitness industry for over 25 years.
With the exception of EverWash, it seems most every platform out there requires high start-up and RFID equipment fees, endless monthly support fees and heavy time demands from various car wash staff to manage membership accounts and member needs.
The fact is there are a number of monthly recurring revenue point-of sale solutions out there. In fact, for additional upgrade, equipment and monthly support fees, your current POS system likely offers a type of monthly recurring billing solution. But we learned that not all monthly membership platforms are created equal and not all monthly membership solutions deliver the same results.
All that said, the editorial staff of The Kleen Scene, had a chance to sit down with other carwash owners who have been using EverWash to ask a few questions about their experiences with the platform so far.
The Kleen-Scene: What made you decide to start sell monthly memberships to your wash?
Dino (Owner of Asbury Circle Car Wash): Monthly members are just more profitable than payper-visit customers. Membership increases my wash revenue and improves my cash flow by a lot. It’s that simple. I’ve owned washes for years and sold monthly memberships at this wash and my previous washes, so I see the huge financial value first hand. Members provide a big, added revenue stream that I get every month, rain or shine. And having lots of members changes the way your business looks and attracts more customers. Our wash always looks busy which helps bring in a steadier stream of cars off the street. No one wants to pull into an empty wash with no other cars on the lot. So even when it’s threatening to rain, or it’s cloudy, the place always has cars, which kind of becomes the deciding factor for prospective customers driving by who might otherwise be on the fence about pulling in.
Adam (Owner of Sponge Brothers Car Wash & Lube): Membership is the wave of the future for this industry. Most payper-wash customers are inconsistent, especially with New England We know what a properly managed membership program can do; it generates huge increases in wash volume & revenue. weather. Membership not only generates more revenue, but also helps with consistent cash flow. We’ve not only experienced the power of membership ourselves, we’ve done the research and spoken to other wash operators and industry leaders. We know what a properly managed membership program can do; it generates huge increases in wash volume & revenue.
Trip (Owner of Wow Express Car Wash): We started selling memberships to get more profit per customer. A key part of my business is to get as many people on and off the lot and see all the things we do. With my other profit centers every month starts at zero, but with membership you are starting every month with a healthy dollar amount, and I like that a lot.
The Kleen-Scene: Why did you choose EverWash over other membership solutions?
Dino: I heard the founders of EverWash have decades of experience in the membership sales and management business. That impressed me so I gave them my attention and subsequently learned they really are the best in the industry. They are the real deal. And their super friendly support team takes the all the hard work out of running a membership business. They do it all. They train my entire staff on how to easily convert customers into members; right through their smart phones. We can do up to 50 sign-ups a day thanks to their easy to use technology. And my customers love how simple the app is to use. There’s so much back office work involved with other membership solutions. With EverWash, they take care of every aspect of the membership lifecycle. From sales & marketing to giving the customer the ability to easily sign-up to a membership, refer their friends, edit credit card info, change wash plans, cancel a plan, add cars, etcetera… all from their app or customer support line. That all helps us as operators concentrate on what we do best; pay attention to the customer and produce a sparkling clean car.
Adam: We had been doing unlimited wash club programs in the past on our own (using our current POS system). But then I learned about EverWash — it just clicked! What I thought was fantastic about EverWash was the fact that its all on your phone. Members simply show their phone to the attendant. My guys then know exactly what wash package to give, and for what cars with unique car and plate info on app. Their payment and usage information is stored right there too. I also like the fact that they have no start up costs, monthly support fees, POS upgrade costs or expensive RFID equipment to buy. Their business model is commission only, so they don’t make a dime unless they make us lots of money, keeping them motivated and focused on helping us sell lots of memberships. The Kleen-Scene: How does EverWash compare to other membership solutions you’ve used in the past?
Dino: First of all, we sold more monthly memberships with EverWash in two months than we did in two years with DRB’s system. I like that it didn’t cost me a dime to set up. Having been in the industry for so long I know first hand that I could have easily spent $20,000 to $75,000 “setting up” a membership system, and that’s before we even start selling memberships. EverWash gives us their platform, free of charge. EverWash takes away the forever-long learning curve it takes to become successful in the membership business. I’ve not seen any other membership system that can come close to what EverWash has done for us. With DRB’s system there was a lot of work I had to do to maintain it, often accompanied by a lot of headaches. (Laughs). I used to have to maintain my customers, and keep the subscription system running smoothly. If a customer wanted to upgrade, or wanted to do anything else having to do with membership (like cancellations, changed or cancelled credit cards or switched cars), that was something my employees had to do. EverWash takes that whole part of having to manage each member’s account away from me. It makes things as easy for me as it does for the customers, and I appreciate that.
Adam: With EverWash, they manage the club. They let us know when there is an issue with the customer because that member is going to call EverWash if they need anything. Their customer support checks into it and works directly with the member. It takes us out of the loop and allows us to do our job. I used to have to hire someone to manage the wash club members. And to be honest, they would do an average (sometimes below average) job. I truly believe in doing what you do best. EverWash does this for a living and takes the burden off of me so I can focus on what I do best.
The Kleen-Scene: Is it easy to see and track activity with EverWash?
Dino: I check the EverWash dashboard, which is their reporting tool, at least 10 times every day. It gives you everything that you want, it really does. Anything that I anticipate being there is there from how many new members we sign-up in a day, week month, whatever. I can see at a glance exactly where we are with membership revenue and how much we’ve grown in any date range. If for some reason I want to find out how many cars I washed today with EverWash, or look at any member’s usage history in any date range it’s right there. Whatever I think is gonna be there is there already, which is very cool. I’m a numbers guy and I’m always constantly looking at numbers, so I’m very pleased with the ability to track all of these things with their reporting tool. It has everything you want as an operator.
The Kleen-Scene: How is it working, have you been getting a lot of members?
Dino: (Laughs) We did more memberships in two months with EverWash than we did in two years with other solutions.
Ori (Owner of Riverdale Car Wash, Supreme Car Wash & Casino Car Wash): Yes, we have been selling hundreds of membership through EverWash. It’s paying for our entire rent already!
Adam: It’s been going really well. When you have wash club customers you have an opportunity to cross-market every single time that person comes on site, and that is what we have been doing. Not only is the membership program helping with cash flow, the cross marketing aspect has also been a huge success.
Trip: It’s great, and the younger generation totally gets it. There are people continually asking about it, it’s not a hard sell at all. It’s just about helping people change they way they think about coming to the car wash.
In the spirit of full disclosure, our own car wash (Kleen-Rite Car Wash) also switched over to the EverWash platform. We are thrilled with the results of having sold more monthly memberships in just the first 3 months through EverWash than we sold in 2 years with our previous ICS solution.