How customers react to revolution, not evolution

Let’s be very clear that there is no one-size-fits-all pricing plan, magic menu or bullet-proof marketing plan that works for every business, location and demographic. Making decisions to change your business are some of the most frightening and stressful things an owner of a wash business can do because it borders on the unknown. Business owners that are making changes to their business are going to in nearly every instance fall into one of two camps.

Within the first camp there are the washes that have been running successful operations and have been making incremental changes and updates to their locations to meet the demands of an evolving customer base over time. These businesses won’t be perceived as those that are making “Quantum Innovations” because they are already seen as a successful business that give their customers what they want whether it’s convenience, a compelling wash-club, a price point that fits their community.

Then there are the businesses that have gone so long without making updates, changes, or modernizing their equipment that ANY changes that they make are going to be perceived as a Quantum Innovation. These are the businesses that are now struggling because they are losing business to competitors or have been recently purchased by new owners as a “fixer-upper.” The community is going to see new paint, new sign, new equipment decals and maybe even a new service or the ability to pay with credit cards in the self-service bays as a major leap forward. Any one of these changes is on it’s own not going to make a major impact on customer perceptions about whether the business made a “quantum innovation” but, a business that does many small things can make a big impact. Car wash owners that have any construction on site see a significant increase in their business during those months because people are curious and want to know what’s new.
Business owners looking for strategies to turn an ailing business around need to plan on doing more than one or two evolutionary changes to the location—the perception needs to be that revolutionary changes are being made. In concert with new equipment, launch a new marketing promotion, find ways to stand out from the other competitors in town that may be doing the same incremental updates.
Make your plans now to make a splash—if you’re going to make updates come out of the gates swinging. If you want to take full advantage of making upgrades or site updates make certain you’re doing a mix of visible changes with your back-room changes.

Businesses that are looking to improve their already successful car wash business are in a great position to find out what updates could strengthen their position in their territory. Would a monthly wash club be well received? Is your community receptive to businesses that “Go Green?”  Have you focused on the businesses in your community and are you attending to their need for a fleet-friendly car wash?
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they would like to see—you might be surprised with what they tell you!
Posted on May 26, 2010 and filed under Marketing.