This article originally ran in the August 2018 issue of Kleen-Scene Magazine.
Vermont Lazerwash Tells Kleen Scene Why They Chose EverWash
When it rains in Vermont, it pours. Dan Armstrong, owner and operator of Vermont Lazerwash in the state capital of Montpelier knows this first hand.
“We learned that weather was the driving factor for our business,” Armstrong says. “We are incredibly seasonal — we’ve always had about 50 percent of our total revenue in the first quarter. The rest of the year we’re kind of just hanging on to get back to the good three months.”
This probably sounds familiar to many car wash operators. Armstrong, who has run his 75-foot tunnel wash with his business partners since 2007, tried all the old-school advertising tricks of the trade to drum up business during slow periods. He quickly realized, however, that marketing didn’t matter if it was raining outside — nobody would come in anyway.
As a way to combat the seasonal nature of his business, Armstrong and his team began looking into unlimited monthly membership programs for their wash — something that would take weather out of the equation and add revenue to their bottom line.
“We had gone to a trade show specifically to attend a seminar on unlimited monthly membership,” he says. “When the moderator asked how many in the audience have a monthly unlimited wash program, we were the only ones to not raise our hands. That’s when we realized we were doing something wrong — everyone here is doing something and we aren’t.”
However, the search for the right unlimited program proved challenging. Armstrong was put off by the hardware, software and set-up costs of an RFID-based membership platform, and wasn’t sure if he’d see the return on investment necessary to justify those exorbitant costs.
“We dragged our feet until we picked up an issue of Kleen Scene Magazine last year and saw the feature about EverWash. After reading it and seeing there was a membership platform that didn’t have those same setup and up-front costs, I knew we had to go to the NRCC Trade Show and meet with EverWash.”
At NRCC 2017, EverWash outlined to Armstrong that the company handles all of a wash’s membership accounts in-house so operators don’t have to. There was also no need for pricey RFID equipment, POS systems or software maintenance with their app-based platform, and the company only earns commission based on the additional revenue stream generated from membership sales.
But costs and fees weren’t even the biggest concern for Armstrong — instead it was a question about security. In a day and age where internet security and privacy is a topic on everyone’s mind, Armstrong wanted assurance that his customer’s personal data was safe.
“EverWash explained that a large, reputable company called Stripe handles all of the credit card processing, and that Stripe’s clients include major web and app-based vendors like Postmates and Lyft,” he says. “Hearing that really made me feel comfortable with the platform — just knowing that our customer’s information was safe was a big deal for us.”
Armstrong took that information back to Vermont and his business partners, where they compared EverWash to the other membership platforms available to the car wash industry.
“Within a few minutes of discussion, it was clear that EverWash was the right choice and fit, especially for us,” he says. “No up-front costs and their commitment to customer privacy and security made it an obvious answer.”
Armstrong launched the program in mid-December 2017. After a few weeks of snowy, wet weather (remember, in Vermont when it rains, it pours), the wash’s new membership program really started to gain traction.
“Customers familiar to services such as Netflix and Spotify quickly understood and adopted the membership plan,” Armstrong says. “People really jumped on board quicker than we thought. Our growth has been way higher than any fantasy we could have thought of.”
While there has been some challenge in getting older customers or those without smartphones signed up for membership, Armstrong use these cases as a good opportunity to work with a customer.
“We have people who have never downloaded an app before, or who only use their phone to make calls,” Armstrong says. “We make sure that when they leave, the app is on their phone and properly working. We then have them pull right up to the car wash and do it for the first time, so they can see just how easy it is. Then they’re off and running — no more questions, no more problems.”
He adds: “The customer then is so happy that we worked with them, you’ve pretty much made a member for life. You only get one opportunity to make their first impression a good one, so you have to make it count. Then the recurring payment kicks in and you’re good to go.”
For any questions that Armstrong had at the wash that were not easy to answer, he was always comfortable knowing that EverWash’s Member Support Center had his back and could answer any questions.
“Our customers have only had positive experience with EverWash support staff, we’ve never had a negative comment come back at all,” Armstrong says. “For the first time in my life, I’m comfortable referring people to call customer service — it’s really that good. I can’t say enough great things about EverWash’s customer service team, 42 they are fantastic.”
EverWash has also supported Armstrong in other facets of his business, providing him with assistance in signage and sales.
“EverWash handling the entire design process for the signs was huge. Honestly, the signs have been the biggest sales tool for us. Now, you can’t come to our wash and not know we have an unlimited program,” Armstrong says. “EverWash shared with us the different sign packages they’ve found success with in the past. We had our ideas and they had their ideas — it turns out in the end that their ideas were correct.”
When it came to direct sales pitches, Armstrong never used to up-sell his customers on anything — it just wasn’t something him and his partners were comfortable doing. So when Vermont Lazerwash started offering membership, the operators were wondering, ‘are we even going to be able to sell this?’” That was until EverWash sent in the reinforcements.
“EverWash President Scott Caplan drove up to our wash taught us his conversational pitch and style, and within a few cars the light bulb just went off. It was unbelievable,” Armstrong says. “He taught us how to sell without being pushy, while also answering all of our customer’s questions about membership. Even more importantly, he taught us how to deliver the pitch quickly so we’re not slowing the line down.”
He adds: “That really stuck — I had selling memberships worked up as a huge deal, that I had to be a pushy salesman. But we have a good car wash, we have a good product and at a good value — I’m not afraid to sell this because I believe in it.”
Just a few months into their EverWash-managed member program, Armstrong has seen dramatic results at his wash. He says that his wash is setting new records in daily car washes, monthly car washes, and quarterly car washes — all their numbers are through the roof to the point where their sales charts don’t make much sense anymore.
“It’s still early for sure, but it appears that EverWash has upped our car count dramatically,” Armstrong says. “We’ve been busier and it’s given us some stable income through what used to be our slow season. We’re just barely six months into this but we just had our best May by almost 250 percent. It wouldn’t have happened without EverWash, for sure.”
We know that when it rains in Vermont, it pours. Has membership eliminated Armstrong’s anxiety of the weather?
“Weather just currently isn’t something I worry about anymore,” he says. “You can look at the 10 day forecast and you don’t stress over that think- ing you won’t have any cars for ten days. That’s just not the case anymore. We’re washing cars all the time and we have that steady recurring revenue — it’s amazing.”
Armstrong believes the choice for a professionally-managed membership platform is an easy one, especially if you’re a wash operator looking for a true partner. EverWash is more than just software — it’s a long-term partnership fostered with significant revenue growth in mind.
“The thing I keep saying to people is that EverWash was easy — it was just way easier than I thought it would be,” Armstrong says. “I would absolutely recommend EverWash. Not having any up-front cost and the fact that they offer sales support so that we aren’t on our own make it a no-brainer. Their continued support and partnership continues to make me happy with my decision to partner up with them.”