Like it or not, broadband and smartphones have changed everything in business and in order to find continued success and reach a greater audience local car wash operators need to be willing to take steps to embrace this new technology and make their washes as visible in the digital world as they are in real life.

Here at Tommy Car Wash we’ve seen how car wash operators, be they tech savvy or old school, can use basic e-marketing to steer modern consumers to their doors at a fraction of the cost of more traditional marketing (like radio, tv-ads, print ads, banners, and more).

Your competitors are using these techniques and absorbing local customers because of them. Don’t miss out.  Take the time and put in the effort to develop these digital spaces—you won’t regret it.

1. Google Maps and other Mapping Services

First and most importantly, you need your physical car wash location to be registered online. Why? Well, when someone needs a car wash and they pull out their phone and check Google Maps for the nearest Car Wash (and directions to get there) you want to show up in the results. More than that, you want it to appear for related search terms including ‘car wash’ ‘carwash’ ‘car cleaning’ ‘auto wash’ and more. Google maps is probably the biggest of these services with MapQuest, Apple Maps, and Waze as other options.

These services may add your location automatically with public-record information, but it is always best to take control and optimize your profile with a correct address, location, phone number, and other contact info. You can also moderate reviews as they start to role in.

2. Yelp and Other Review Directories

Reviews are a huge part of life these days. By some surveys, including information collected by Adweek (HERE), almost 9/10 Millennials check online reviews before making purchases—be they large (new cars) or mundane (where to go for lunch, where to get a car wash). If your car wash has bad reviews you will bleed customers as they glance through and head for a higher-reviewed wash.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take. Most review sites like Yelp (the biggest) which host reviews won’t allow you to remove those reviews from your page, but they will give you the option to respond to critics and, possibly, overturn negative reviews to boost your scores. It is also possible to offer an incentive your best customers in exchange for positive reviews (boosting your score). Yelp, SuperPages, Facebook pages, and Google Plus Local are some of the most important review directories. Also, you may have a page already, as Yelp also adds businesses from public records, and claiming your page is quite straightforward.

3. Facebook and Social Networks

Millions and millions of Americans are on social media now and many will use it to vet local companies before patronizing them. A good social media page will host reviews, but primarily it will serve as a place to share updates and build a following (like an email list but more interactive). Link to your blog articles, share local updates, host promotions, even look for help on social media.

Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter are the most important sites to start with, and keeping up with comments or reviews takes less time than you might expect.

4. Groupon and Daily Deal Sites

We wrote a whole page on this topic before, so read up on it HERE. Groupon, the biggest daily deal site, interfaces with Google Maps, so anyone skimming it may still be able to find you on their service. But the best way to use it is to sign up (getting your company listed properly, whether you have a current deal or not) and offer the occasional deal for customers to take advantage of.

Call up a customer service rep and they should be able to help set one up. Groupon deals are unique in that they offer steep discounts, but only become valid when enough visitors buy your deal to make it profitable. Groupon’s dedicated audience and advertising also can help you greatly increase your customer base for the future. Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local are the biggest sites you should consider, and you can promote your deal across other channels like social media or traditional advertising.

5. Your Website

It is 2015 and a website, even a basic one, is a vital part of any public facing business—including your local, every-day car wash (also fantastic destination washes like the Totally Tommy design!). Your website gives you a place be found on Google searches, to route traffic from social media, daily deal sites, review sites, and mapping services, and—most importantly!—to sell memberships and list hours, contact info, and prices. Anyone vetting your wash before they show up is likely to check your website first, so make sure it looks modern, well maintained, and current, and make sure your customers can easily find purchase information if they are looking for it. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure your website offers the right first impression.

Digital storefronts are here to stay but they can be surprisingly easy to deal with even for the most tech-unfriendly staff—but it will take time and consistency. If you are struggling with planning or maintaining your wash’s digital presence our team of social media and e-marketing specialists would be happy to help. We are ready to help so check out the services on our store HERE and follow our blog often for more tips and tricks!

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