One of the most profitable areas of a car wash is the vending however it can also be one of the most challenging areas as well to achieve a sale. There are two core reasons for this. In a car wash there are two types of vending customers, the first is the one off customer who only wants to buy one product from your vending machines for immediate use and the second is the customer who wants to buy bulk vending items for use over multiple cleans.
Most carwash sites are specifically setup for the one off customers however one of the key issues my team and I have had to address is redeveloping our vending area to incorporate bulk sale vending products. For example, instead of selling individual glass cleaning satchels to our vending clients we have had to provide the ability to buy bulk glass cleaning containers.
With our ever increasing global population and an explosion of unit developments we have found that our clientele base has changed with our customers now being housed in units than the traditional home. Unit owners are now, more likely to use our carwash sites because the majority of unit developments do not provide car wash facilities.
The market mix of individual satchel sales to bulk item sales is sitting at around 80 to 20 however we have found that it is easier to sell bulk items to our regular unit dwellers than to our one off customers.
This has meant that we have had to develop onsite promotions to increase the satchel sales. Most satchel products have a 300 markup which provides us with the opportunity to run competitions and giveaways as part of the onsite promotions.
Our most successful onsite promotion was to offer the opportunity that when each customer buys a vending product that they would win a prize. It was very important for each customer to know that every product sold came with a prize. The upper end of the prize range was for two tickets to a basketball game in a Corporate Box, we also offered a free rapid clean as prize, free chamois and we also offered low end prizes of free product satchels, free tokens for the wash bays and free softdrinks.
On each vending satchel we added a small colour ticket which tells the customer what they had won. We attached the ticket using a staple so that it would not damage the product or get caught in our vending machines. Each ticket had an expiry date and explanations of how to collect their prize.
All marketing for this promotion was done on-site via display boards in each wash bay and vacuum bays. To keep the cost of this promotion to a minimum we simply purchased A3 Acco Display Boards and mounted them in each bay. The total cost of 15 display boards was 600 dollar however this now also provides us the ability to use them for other future promotions. We used Microsoft Publisher to produce our own tickets and A3 printers to create our own posters. I calculated that the total cost of the promotional items was no more than dollar 50.
The return on investment for this promotion, which we ran over 2 months, was a 2000 increase in vending sales. We also found that more and more customers were coming to our site than to our competitors, because word of mouth marketing led other car wash users to us so that they could win the valuable prizes and they felt they were getting better value for money.
The key with carwash promotions is to constantly monitor the Return on Investment. If you are not making money on the promotion, whether it is through increase sales or patronage then there is no point in continuing the promotion. All to often I have seen carwash sites go broke simply because their marketing was far in excess of the sites revenue capability.
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