This article originally ran in the August 2019 Issue of Kleen-Scene Magazine.
There’s a feeling in the car wash industry that membership at in-bay automatic washes doesn’t work. You’ve probably heard the chatter: IBAs can’t properly sell or market their monthly programs, and that promoting membership cannibalizes business and hurts pay-per-wash cash and credit card revenues. Add in the accounting, customer support and account management that comes along with running a successful program, and you can see why this perception is out there.
But perception simply isn’t reality. Just ask Craig Gilham, owner and operator of Sudz Car Wash in Gonzales, TX. Gilham bought the small, unattended IBA in 2015, not know- ing anything about the car wash industry.
He soon learned that monthly memberships were becoming popular in the space, but found RFID-based membership systems too costly to take the plunge. He then learned about EverWash and its membership unique solution in a magazine article.
Unlike other member- ship platforms out there, there’s no upfront cost to get started with EverWash. There’s no need for expensive RFID hardware, so EverWash costs zero dollars to set up. EverWash also only earns commission strictly on revenue generated from members, making it the only pay-for-performance platform in the industry.
“There’s no need to put up money for RFID scanners or distributing ID tags to individual people,” Gilham said. “EverWash is app-based, so anyone with
a smartphone can download the free app and sign up on their own. It just makes more sense for a customer to pull out their phone and activate their wash. You’ve got to keep up with the times.”
Not only has EverWash helped a small IBA in rural Texas, it’s also helped large-scale IBA operations grow in more populated areas as well. Lisa Laudon is the owner of Alaska Laser Wash — a group of seven car wash locations in Anchorage, AK.
Don’t let the wash’s location in Alaska fool you — Anchorage is home to almost 300,000 people and some of the harshest weather on the planet. If you think your wash gets busy during the snow and salt business, you should see Alaska Laser Wash and its 40 IBAs in action during Alaska’s ice breakup season.
Laudon had membership in place before EverWash. It was an RFID-based system that ended up presenting issues, such as scanning inconsistencies and a lack of reporting tools and user insights. “We needed to find a dif- ferent solution,” Laudon said. “We were sold on EverWash because of the technology and its ease of use. Integrating what’s new and happening was big for us, and it was easy to tie our current software to EverWash and get everything running.”
Customer service was also an issue with Alaska Laser Washes previous membership program. “When we were running our own in-house program, we were handling all the support, all the calls, all the issues,” Laudon said. “Now, thanks to EverWash’s Member Support Team, we don’t have to troubleshoot much. People aren’t having many issues to begin with thanks to the ease of the app.”
The new EverWash membership program has been a resounding success at Alaska Laser Wash with more than 5,500 total members and counting in a little more than six months, generating between $150,000 and $170,000 in revenue every month.
The returning loyal customers were not a surprise, but something was surprising to Laudon: Her washes’ amount of per-use customers has not decreased. “I was surprised to find that our pay-per-wash business had not decreased at all due to membership,” she said. “Our weekend numbers at the paystation are exactly the same as before EverWash, meaning the cash payers and the credit card payers has not changed.”
Running a successful membership program is not only about loyalty and keeping your current customers coming back. It’s also about at- tracting and acquiring new customers. This challenge is what excited Jay Scott Brown most when he entered the car wash industry in 2009 in Shawnee, OK, before adding another location in nearby Seminole, OK a few years later.
“I noticed the industry was pretty stuck in its ways and mired in old school operational thinking,” Brown said. “I felt like I had a number of ideas of my own to boost the marketing side of things using technology. Even as an older guy myself, I appreciated the need for technology in marketing, and knew I needed to find the people who could help me execute.”
When Brown turned to EverWash in 2018 to help him run the member- ship program at his two washes, he was also pleased to find a lot of marketing support as well.
“That was a surprise to me,” Brown said. “EverWash has been helpful and engaging, and that’s helped me think about all the things I can be doing to help market my car wash. EverWash has become a partner that has kept me on task in seeing these marketing initiatives through.”
EverWash has helped Brown set up discounts and promotions for various contests and giveaways, Facebook Messenger marketing and messaging, email communications, giveaways, signage, website design and more.
“Having EverWash do that work on my behalf was definitely value and helped many promotions from getting shelved,” Brown said. “It’s been a very collaborative effort the entire way so far. I truly feel like its a partnership.”
Ultimately, membership is the best loyalty plan in the car wash industry for IBAs and tunnels alike. A professionally managed membership plan can boost your revenues while also building a strong connection between your customers and your wash. “The customers love the program. They love that they can come and wash their car any time they want. It’s a good feeling when your providing something that your customers love,” Gilham said. “With EverWash’s technology and the simple use of a mobile app, what you can achieve with your mem- bership program is unlimited.”