Car washes across the nation regularly experience the brutal effects that weather can have on wash volume. One day, conditions such as heavy snow or rain dramatically reduce patronage, keeping customers indoors or satisfying them with a so-called 'natural car wash' respectively. The next, bright skies and clear roads trigger soaring demand and long lines at the wash.
But as experienced operators know, seasonal effects on car wash demand are actually far more impactful than weather in terms of overall yearly car wash operations and profitability. And, thankfully, the conditions brought on by the changing seasons are also far easier to predict and prepare for.
While car washes are busiest in the winter and early spring due to customers eager to remove road salt and grime, the summer months cause a steady dip in demand as higher numbers of individuals are willing to wash their cars at home. In fact, according to WashTrends 32 percent of the industry’s annual earnings occur during the cold weather months while spring and summer seasons each account for 25 percent of yearly revenue. Autumn is even worse with only 18 percent as fewer customers have warm-weather activities planned to keep their cars clean for and road salt isn’t yet put down. These disparities are, of course, even greater in areas with severe winters and less severe in areas with more temperate seasons.
So, as we begin the summer season, what are some of the best tips regarding summer car wash operation?
1. Hire and Cross-Train Employees
Summer provides an ideal time for training staff and preparing for the winter rush. Students and recent graduates are out of school and looking for jobs (jobs that can be carried over part-time into the fall school year), the wash isn’t as busy (providing a better environment for training new staff), and veteran team members can take time to cross train for other roles and stations. This will allow you to bring a workforce into the winter months that is able to adapt and cover different responsibilities more effectively, simplifying scheduling and preventing off or understaffed days.
2. Give the Wash a Tune Up
Fine tune your wash equipment throughout the summer off-season. This will still prevent down-time and promote proper operation during the busy winter months. You’ll also have much more time to make any major repairs or upgrades as revealed by your tune-up work. As an added bonus, once your wash is optimized you’ll be providing a top-notch wash for those who ARE using the car wash during the summer, rewarding them for their patronage and giving your core customers a great reason to keep coming back.
3. Try Different Marketing
Summer is a great time to prepare and test new wash packages, deals, sales, and marketing techniques. Groupon, TV ads, radio, banners, free wash giveaways, and social media connectivity should all play a part. Ready your pitch before the busy season rolls in and finalize your plans early for end-of-year shopping events including Black Friday and the Christmas rush.
4. Connect with Your Customers
Summer is the perfect time to refocus on building connections with your customers. Whether that means hosting fundraising events with local church, school, or scout groups, providing bonus services or events for your members, or re-training your staff to improve customer relations, work to find ways to reach out to customers and build a good impression—one that will endure through the cold months to come.
Tommy Car Wash Systems