By David Dougherty

As a carwash owner, you know that a carwash system can be one of the most successful investments on the market today. However, many operators ignore the additional practices that will add value to the customer and increase business revenue, including important and often necessary carwash upgrades. Outlined below are three simple strategies that can help separate you from your competition, increase your profit margin and help ensure that you exceed your business goals with a carwash system.


Technological advances have made both friction and touchless systems more reliable and efficient than ever before. However, that doesn’t mean carwash owners should neglect working relationships with their distributors. Your distributor should be trusted as an ally for anything and everything, regardless of which stage your carwash business is in.

Successful carwash operators are the ones who have built strong relationships with their local distributors. Why? Much more than sales agents, your distributor is a trusted expert and can provide valuable guidance regarding your local market, potential customers, and competition to help maximize your revenue potential.

Some of the areas where you’ll be able to tap into the distributor’s knowledge include:

Identifying environmentally efficient solutions

  • Assist in site evaluations in order to select the best options for your system, potentially adding value or saving you money
  • Providing factory-certified installation, preventative maintenance and emergency service
  • A good carwash distributor will help you set price, and reduce operating costs always looking to help ensure you are maximizing your ROI.

Your distributor’s goal is to partner with you in growing your business for years to come -taking the if your successful they are successful approach. Utilizing this effective resource will not only increase the value of your business, but reduce unnecessary stresses and confusion associated with incorporating a carwash, as well as the daily operational needs of your system. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to leverage this valuable resource.


Maintenance and cleanliness are paramount to ensuring continual revenue growth from your carwash. In addition to a clean car, customers prefer a clean facility. The owner is responsible for keeping the carwash clean, safe and operational for the customer. At least one employee at the facility, or in an area, should be responsible for maintaining a clean site and taking care of sweeping, trash removal and overall cleanliness. A clean site projects success and has an influencing impact on repeat and potential customers.

Customers also require a safe experience, especially with around-the-clock hours. A well-lit facility is crucial to delivering a safe carwash experience and lights should be replaced at regular intervals. As more organizations switch to long-life LED bulbs, the need for bulb replacement has lessened, though this does not mean your signage should be ignored. Making sure signs are clean and in good repair are a necessity, as clear signage also contributes to a safe and inviting atmosphere.

Last but not least, consider installing vacuums, vending machines and cash machines to your facility. These simple conveniences are a value to customers and provide additional revenue sources for you.

Once you’ve made your site as welcoming and safe as possible, it’s time to maximize your business with a mix of marketing efforts.



While the quality and effectiveness of your carwash will result in clean cards and happy customers, this alone will not attract new customers to your business. Through a mix of tactics, you can help make sure your business stays top-of-mind with existing customers as well as reaches potential new customers. Effective customer retention and marketing initiatives don’t need to break the bank, either: by leveraging the tactics below, you can break through the noise of competition, and differentiate your business for little to no additional cost.

Some of the most effective marketing efforts can be done on-site. Take advantage of customers that are already at your location by rewarding their choice and encouraging repeat visits.

Loyalty Program: Create a loyalty program with exclusive promotions and rewards to keep customers coming back.

  • Signage: Take advantage of on-site signage to promote your carwash. Large signs on your building or eye-catching signs along the road make for great attention grabbers.
  • In-Bay Wall Space: Leverage the in-bay carwash wall spaces by promoting other revenue streams or sell the advertising space to local businesses. You have a customer’s full attention while they’re in the carwash, so make the most of it!
  • Change Mats & Window Clings: If your carwash is part of another business, like a convenience store, take advantage of the opportunity to promote your carwash to every customer that comes through the door.

Additionally, maximize your exposure in the community by taking advantage of these low-cost opportunities:

  • Fundraisers: Similar to the community give back at your grand opening event, partner with a local charity to donate a portion of the profits from car washes on select day(s).
  • Social Media: Serve geo-targeted digital ads and boosted posts to current and potential customers through social media. For example, share a photo of a happy customer and their clean car on Facebook and boost the post to Facebook users within a 10-mile radius of your location.
  • Local Media: Local radio and newspapers are cost-effective ways to reach potential customers. You can also work with media outlets to offer on-air prizes in exchange for promotional mentions.

The carwash industry offers a lucrative business model with potential for high profit margins and excellent customer retention. With a trusted distributor, optimized site and effective marketing, you can leave your competitors far behind.

David Dougherty owned and operated carwashes in the Midwestern United States for 10-plus years. Today, David is the senior product manager for in-bay automatics at PDQ Manufacturing Inc. in De Pere, Wisconsin. For more information, visit or call (800) 227-3373. David can be reached at


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