WashIdeas.com Relaunching Under New Ownership

Press Release:

Joint Announcement From: Ryan Carlson, Perry Powell and washideas.com

Ryan Carlson, Founder of WashIdeas.com -  Saint Paul, MN

Years ago I created a podcast and a blog all about the car wash industry, customer loyalty, marketing, and brought together each week a panel of experts from within the wash industry to discuss news, events, and best practices that owners and operators could benefit from. In an effort to continue the work I began in the car wash industry, I am pleased to announce the transfer of the WashIdeas site into the knowledgable hands (and brain) of Perry Powell.

As many of you know, Perry has worked for many years in the car wash industry helping business owners truly understand how their business works. Perry was the first sign consultant that I'd ever met that used neurological science to create menu signs to influence human behavior and buying habits. His career has taken him through a variety of sign, sales, marketing, and business matters pertinent to the car wash industry. I learned a lot from Perry and others like him as a result of my work on WashIdeas 

On Monday, June 2nd - 2014 Perry will launch an entirely new WashIdeas website reflecting his vision and expertise within the wash industry. I encourage you to participate in this new venture as I am sure that Perry will provide very useful information for you all.

Thank you again for the time we shared, it was truly a highpoint in my career in the wash industry - to this day I still slow down and rubberneck when driving by a car wash facility.


Ryan Carlson


Perry Powell -  Fort Worth, TX

 To all my car wash colleagues, I am grateful for the time I have spent in the industry and the friends I have made through the years, not the least of which, is Ryan Carlson. Our industry is not the better for his absence.! 

I look forward to advancing the concept, first conceived by Ryan, and placing my own fingerprints on the effort.! 

You can visit the current site and sign up for the upcoming announcements and be notified of the launch on the current site, www.washideas.com!

Please stay tuned for the June 2 launch and if you will share this news with others. Thank You!

Perry Powell 

Posted on May 16, 2014 .

Free GPS/Navigation Registration For Your Carwash Business

For those that have recently been to my seminars at the SECWA Roadshow in Jacksonville FL and the SCWA Expo in Arlington TX I told you about how to get your businesses registered with the GPS map services and with Google Maps.

Here are the links mentioned in the presentation.


Tele Atlas

NAVTEQ (Click 'Find and Report' Tab)

Google Maps (iPhone / Android Smart Phones)

Business Listing

Posted on March 6, 2012 .

Groupon Sales Drop by 50%!

Bill Tancer, a research manager wrote the following blog post that has peaked my interest. 

Is it any surprise that this crazy discount giant could continue indefinently? Either through copy-cat services, and the growth of their primary compeditor Living Social (which is up 27%) or what retail analysts are calling 'discount fatigue' the writing is on the wall - marketing needs to be more than just couponing. The most successful marketing revolves around customer retention.

Consumers want a reason to keep going back to a business, not just a coupon to go from one blind-date to the next. Because thats exactly what these services are doing is create nomadic consumers... seems consumers really want more than just a big discount, and those that do... do you really want them as your regular customer anyways?


Posted on September 12, 2011 .

Preview: The Myths of Carwash Marketing and Promotion

People who wash their car at a car wash facility have some really crazy ideas about car washing that border on superstition. Most of what you likely hear from customers will fall into the, “You just don’t know what your talking about” category. Or the ,”so you had one bad experience long ago at a car wash and believe all car washes are created equal” category.

These bad experiences or word-of-mouth stories are how myths are created. Some of the myths that seem to circulate amongst car wash customers that I’m certain you’ve had to address on numerous occasions.

Bob says he will never use a tunnel wash because it’s going to “scratch the hell out of my car and break off my antenna!”. Bob heard it from a guy who knew a guy that had a bad experience.
Susan will never use a touchless in-bay automatic ever again because she bought the bottom “basic” (cheap) package, the chemical was not adjusted properly, and “it didn’t get her car clean” - therefor all touchless services don’t get cars clean. You want to scream at Susan, “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR LADY!”
Tim says that he saw drugs being sold in the parking lot of a self service wash he once drove by, therefor all self service locations are “unsafe” and filled with hooligans.

These are the kind of myths that are passed on from father-to-son and mother-to-daughter. They are rarely based on fact or are just perpetuated over time based on a singular experience.

Operators create their own myths concerning carwash promotions and marketing.
I get to talk with hundreds of car wash operators every year about what they are doing to promote their car wash. Most car wash locations are not built on a multi-million dollar piece of dirt getting them  rock-star visibility with the public. Many car wash locations have been struggling to rely on old fashion marketing if they are marketing at all. Let’s be clear that good old fashioned marketing is exactly what you do not need if your trying to differentiate your business and create a loyal customer base. Traditional marketing relies on heavy discounting to generate volume. Old school advice also recommends traditional advertising like Yellow Pages and Radio Ads (both of which desperately trying to maintain relevance as primary means of sucking up your ad dollars).

I hate to have the incredibly cliche and overused definition of insanity. You know that whole bit about ‘trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result’? Yup, thats the one. The reason why I bring it up is because of the relevance in our discussion about promotional myths. Carwash operators need to rethink their game plan if they think they’ve got it ‘all figured out’. Consider the following myths commonly held by car wash operators.

Myth: When business is slumping I just need to send out a bunch of coupons.
We all enjoy small wins, right? We love to get the exhilaration from seeing a spike in wash counts, the palpable anticipation of seeing the numbers for the end of the day. I’ve found that these jumps in car counts coincide with optimal washing weather OR when some kind of promotion drives people into a washing mood (usually this is because of some big give-away, giant discount, or coupon). So we’ve established that big discounting drives an uptick in business (well no kidding - consumers love to not pay full price). Where the house of cards starts falling down around operators is when the ‘big discounts’ cease to be a special event and turn into the norm - people work their washing habits around your sales. So now that your trapped into this catch-22 and find yourself in a pickle. You realize that you now only get customers when your discounting and your discounting because you need to get customers into the wash. Since this is not an editorial about breaking bad discounting habits you get the short answer. Stop sending out straight up discount coupons without getting something in return. Use discounts to build a club, grow your mailing list, support a local charity fundraiser, use the discount as the piece of cheese in the mouse-maze and influence customer behavior.  

Myth: If Bob’s carwash down the street lowered his price, I need to match or beat his price.

... Continued in Professional Carwashing and Detailing Magazine (June Issue, 2011): After the story has been published for a month I will put the rest of the story here on the blog.

Posted on April 28, 2011 .

The Myth About Social Media and your Car Wash

Have you realized how much press is being given to Facebook and Twitter and “social media”? It sounds like this magical thing that is going to make people rich and if your not on the bandwagon, your missing out. The truth is that the only people making it rich from social media are paid consultants who claim to be experts, and Facebook and Twitter.

I’m willing to step up to the plate and say that I consider myself an expert in social media, but I won’t take a dime from anyone because the proof is not yet in the pudding. The realm of social media is still very new and the business world is trying very hard to make money off of something that is typically a very personal and “social” experience.

The flip-side is that I remember businesses reaction to the Internet when it first came out - it was primarily very personal and a social experience. Businesses were either “on the web” or they got in much later in the game. Sure, there are some businesses that came in at the right time, had the right message, and figured out the format to turn some quick bucks. MOST businesses failed to do it right and spent tens of thousands of dollars on geeks that claimed to understand the Internet and “web sites” and “home pages” and only ended up wasting a lot of resources.

Considering what we know now about the success of the Internet, maybe trying something new isn’t a bad idea right? Just make sure you go in with your expectations set correctly, nobody is going to be making a million bucks from social media except Facebook - ok? Keep your budgets on a shoe string and performance based - so you only pay out when business is generated.

The reason social media should be getting some attention is that there are businesses that really can be taking advantage of it and should be taking advantage of it. The myth of social media is that “everybody should be doing it and your missing out if you are not drinking the kool-aid”. Just like businesses that were leveraging the Internet early on only some of them got it right and most got it wrong and were doomed to fail to begin with.

There are 3 key things you need before you should consider getting involved in Social Media with your business.

Time: The first and arguably the first reason companies fail with social media is that there is an investment of time (thankfully, money doesn’t come into play here - yet). If you can devote 20 minutes a day to making updates, reading comments, and making sure the gears keep turning on the “machine” you’ve overcome the first hurdle. The great news here is that if your an owner of your own business, you can create time by hiring somebody to either free up some of your time, or make this investment of time part of their job description.

Inclination: The second hurdle to overcome is the genuine desire to run a social media marketing experiment. If you have no inclination to deal with tweets, walls, posts, friends, fans, yelps, and ‘status updates’ you need to walk away now. I had a collage roommate that paid to goto class, even had the time to do the homework and show up each day to his english courses. But he lacked the inclination to succeed and ended up wasting a lot of time, energy, and a lot of his parents money. There is no real work-around here, if you do not have the inclination to see this project through I suggest finding a PR firm that specializes in Social Media and they will handle everything for you if your worried about ‘missing out’ on the mad social media cash to be had.

Ability: I’m not certain I really need to spend too much time here - but understand that if you still want to go ahead with a social media experiment you will need to know your way around a computer a little bit. This is the easiest of the hurdles to overcome since most business owners are good at picking up new skills or have young people at their disposal to teach you new things. If you know somebody under the age of 30 you have somebody with the ability to show you the basics of how the computer side of things works for social media. There are a lot of car wash owners that have the inclination to do something with social media but their time and ability is not where it needs to be - so they find somebody on staff that is looking for some additional responsibility and gives them a new job. Just understand that IF you give this job off to somebody else you will need to closely monitor what is happening. The employee you put in charge of your social media is now representing your business on the Internet. The Internet never forgets anything, it’s hard to take something back, and damage control involves more than just giving away a free car wash in some instances.

In Conclusion:
There is no shame in letting other companies with more time and money to pioneer the way to harness social media. There are huge companies with entire marketing departments with millions of dollars for their budgets that are still trying to ‘figure things out’ - just remember it’s the big companies that can’t afford to be blind sided by another Internet Revolution in case social media does find it’s legs. Until then, keep checking in on education seminars offered by your association, talk with other operators at networking events, and understand that if social media is the next big thing you won’t want to have your head in the sand having written it off in it’s infancy.

Have you found the time to make Social Media work for you? Share your experience in the comments section.

Posted on January 21, 2011 .