This article originally ran in the Summer 2020 issue of Kleen-Scene Magazine.
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has swept the nation and most of the world, may also go down as the largest challenge the car wash industry has ever faced. More so than any poor-weather season or economic recession in recent history, the public health crisis surrounding COVID-19 has created plenty of uncertainty for car wash operators, their employees, and their patrons.
According to a Carwash.com article citing data from Womply from the week of April 6th through 10th, weekly revenue at local auto wash and detail businesses was down 48% year-over-year. The week of March 16th was the worst revenue week of 2020, when weekly revenue was down 53% year-over-year. At the point in time, 12% of auto washes in the United State had stopped transacting entirely, with many more limiting their services, hours, and staffing.
Here we are, a few months later, and things are starting to look up: Stay-at-home orders are being lifted, washes are reopening, and the economy is once again starting to churn. While the uncertainty surrounding the virus and economy is sure to make even the most successful operators stay up at night, those with membership programs in place, especially those with programs professionally managed by EverWash, are in even better position to rebound and even grow in wake of the COVID-19.
EverWash is the industry leader in membership sales and subscription management. Wash operators who partner with EverWash are able to tap into the company’s roster of sales, marketing and membership experts to help quickly grow their profits through recurring revenues driven from membership sales.
EverWash provides support by creating an easy and intuitive subscription process for members, providing onsite, digital and traditional marketing resources and campaigns to boost sales, and ongoing technology and customer service. Plus, the entire service is commission-based, meaning that EverWash only earns revenue based on the success of their wash partner’s membership program.
Car wash operators partnered with EverWash found the support provided to them was paramount in making it through the alarming early phases of the outbreak, navigating the uncertain lockdown periods, and ultimately getting back on track and growing revenues upon reopening.
“EverWash was my most valuable partner during the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew I could rely on them to help me navigate this unprecedented time,” said Dan Armstrong, a tunnel operator in Vermont. “Their team helped me create a plan that took care of my customers when we were forced to close, and then developed signage and promotional materials to help me bounce back strong when I reopened my wash.”
Creating a Response Plan
COVID-19 was on people’s minds dating back to the end of 2019, but things really hit home in mid-March when professional sports leagues and large-scale events, including The Car Wash Show, were postponed or cancelled. As infection rates rapidly increased, states across the country ordered the mandatory shut down of non-essential businesses, which included car washes in many regions. With things moving this fast, it was easy for car wash operators to feel overwhelmed and afraid of the situation.
EverWash reached out to each one of its more than 350 partner washes in the first week of the lockdown period to ask about extra measures and precautions they were taking, in addition to providing any additional support they needed. In collecting this information, EverWash was able to communicate a wash’s response plan to its members, creating an all-important dialogue between the business and the customer.
If and when a wash was mandated to close for a period of time, EverWash assisted in pausing all active memberships at a location in order to prevent cancelations, and regularly updating members on the status of a wash and their subscription through email updates and onsite signage.
“I am so pleased that we were able to maintain almost all of our wash members during the 3 weeks we were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lawrence Woodcock, a tunnel operator in Ohio. “We owe a lot of credit to EverWash for helping us manage member accounts, and develop and effectively communicate to our membership base throughout the pandemic. The quick turnaround on the signage was a must and helped inform our entire client base of the situation of what services remained opened.”
Meanwhile, washes that remained open — mainly IBAs and express exterior tunnel washes — relied on their recurring membership revenue to bring in regular cash flow as single wash services dipped due to stay-at-home orders and fear of getting sick.
“When this pandemic hit I was struck with how fortunate I was to have the EverWash program going,” said Jay Scott Brown, an IBA owner in Oklahoma. “Although I worried my memberships might drop off with the economic hardship, at least I had steady income that I doubt I would have had just waiting for someone to decide to wash their vehicle. Interestingly my memberships have grown during the past 30 days without any marketing from me. With more time on their hands, people can absorb the information about EverWash and realize what a good program it is.”
Providing Resources and Support
Throughout COVID-19, EverWash also provided it’s wash partners with a host of resources and support. Through daily email blasts, wash partners were informed of best practices from around the industry, Kleen-Rite links to purchase gloves and cleaning products, social media and communication strategies, and access to SBA loan experts and guidance. Wash operators were also invited to join in informational webinars featuring guest speakers discussing topics pertaining to disaster relief loans, the Paycheck Protection Plan, and more.
“I can’t thank EverWash enough for hosting a webinar that covered details of the new economic relief packages,” said Tammi Anderson, an IBA operator in Pennsylvania. “They really bring a lot of added value to the table, aside from just our wash club. This is not the first helpful webinar they’ve held for their wash partners to help out business.”
Through its social media channels, EverWash shared content for washes, especially IBAs, to promote that their wash is still open, such as: “Looking for something you can safely do while social distancing? Load up, come on out and go through our automatic car wash! Sign up for monthly unlimited washes and activate the wash with your smartphone without ever even having to touch the paystation!”
Recovery Plan and Aftermath
As things began to look up in May, EverWash directed its attention to ensuring success from the moment a wash decided to reopen. Promotional materials, campaigns and signage was developed and created to help draw increased awareness of EverWash’s app-based, contactless activation system, which requires no human interaction. As car washes begin to enter a world that must embrace the “new normal” of social distancing, messaging and promoting a contact-free payment method has become a top priority for both business owners and consumers.
“We used the EverWash App as justification to our Health Department for reopening our wash to members only during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jacob, another tunnel operator in Ohio. “The EverWash membership system allows our employees to work and our members to wash while avoiding all unnecessary interactions. Members stay in their vehicles at all times and scan the EverWash App through their windows. Since reopening and marketing our contact-free membership program, we’ve actually been able to build our membership numbers during the pandemic.”
As of June 1st, all of EverWash’s wash partners have reopened their washes. Due to the response plans created by the washes and EverWash, membership numbers barely dipped during the bulk of the pandemic, and sales have been hitting record highs. The ease of signing up in a contactless manner allows for a safe and seamless transactional and wash process.
EverWash isn’t just the fastest way to grow your washes revenue and ensure cash flow each month, rain or shine — it’s also your number one partner, advocate and ally during difficult times such as these.