Your customers aren’t a captive audience, they have plenty of options. Driveway washing, inbay washes, tunnels, or just putting it off. So, if you want people to choose your wash and to keep choosing it over and over again for years or decades to come, you have to understand what exactly they are really looking for, and you need to make sure you’re in the best position to give it to them.


Low pricing structures and great deals are attempted so often. But a race to the bottom won’t give your customers what they really want (though it will devalue your services). In this economy value stands heads and shoulders over raw cost, and value as a concept encompasses the physical and sensory experience of the wash, the quality of the wash product, the variety of services available, and a whole host of other factors (all of which are on this list).

While pricing—including membership pricing—is extremely important, always compete on value rather than simple dollars and cents. When something is worth more, good customers will be willing to pay what its worth.


You need good land, period. Building on good, centralized property in main shopping areas or commuting routes puts more eyes on your property to boost word of mouth advertising, gives you convenient proximity to your customers, and makes it easy and painless for countless drivers to add a quick car wash to their commute or weekend routine.

Good land is worth the investment.


Processing speed is a car wash force multiplier. It keeps queues short and perceived wait times low so larger numbers customers pull in rather than bouncing when they see a long line. When tunnel travel is fast and the line is moving it shortens each customer’s time commitment, so they feel more productive and come away with a more positive impression.

Not to mention that relentless processing also increases the total hourly and daily capacity of your wash—which is critical for high capacity days.


Visiting the car wash needn’t be a life-changing experience, but it should still be one that conveys a sense of quality and comfort. Use the customer’s senses to your advantage with lights, sounds, and scented detergents as well as attractive landscaping, well-maintained equipment, and top notch customer service.

There should be nothing in the process of using your car wash that negatively impacts your customers’ perception of the visit or their willingness to participate in the future.


Wash quality, delivering a completely clean car at the end of the tunnel, is the central proposition that every car wash makes. And considering the huge variety of vehicle shapes and sizes, as well as the difficulty of removing road dust, stains, and soils, establishing and maintaining good wash quality can be profoundly difficult.

It falls to operators to take up this challenge and run with it. Your wash results must be ensured and guarded wash after wash, or your entire value proposition will suffer.


When given the choice modern customers prefer to participate with a company they feel values them and their community. This gives operators a golden opportunity to build a fan base (and membership pool) through efforts as simple as good face to face customer service, compelling marketing (including, but not limited to social media), and community outreach efforts.

Give your brand a some personality and highlight the various ways the car wash supports nonprofits, conserves water, protects the environment, serves its customers, and does good.


You could also it novelty, buzz, or production value. Energy comes from being the best in town, having a cheerful and engaged team, generating massive word of mouth marketing and customer loyalty, being consistently busy, maintaining the same great experience you had for your customers when your wash first started, and eventually growing and spread with new locations.

Never underestimate the value of an excited, engaged, and motivated fan base. Success breeds success, and if your car wash is vibrant customers will notice in a thousand little ways that all make them more willing and excited to participate with you over the months and years to come.

Tommy Car Wash Systems is a national leader in high performance car wash equipment and building design, providing both for the fast-growing national Tommy’s Express Car Wash Franchise. Visit for round arch stainless steel equipment, high volume car wash detergents, backroom components, and much more.

Tommy Car Wash Systems.