ComplicatedIf you’ve got the cash, it’s easy to buy or start a car wash business. It’s another thing entirely to get people to bring their cars to you. In their frenzy to lure customers, owners may do things that aren’t best practices. Here are five:

1. Don’t wait tables if you own the restaurant. You never see restaurant owners down in the trenches. At best, they swing by to make sure your food is OK. That’s because the owner is busy managing aspects of the business to find ways to decrease overhead, increase efficiency and increase profit. Delegate what can be delegated, and outsource the things that aren’t your key proficiencies — including marketing.

2. Go big or go home. A small investment will yield small results. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to hire the most expensive publicist and buy billboards on the Turnpike. An investment doesn’t have to be money; it can be also be commitment and time. Commit to your marketing plan, and be prepared to plunk down if there are likely to be returns.

3. Don’t silo your marketing. What we mean by that is you shouldn’t treat marketing like a thing you can outsource, plan in meetings, and implement in a vacuum. In reality, marketing is an every day thing. It’s talking to folks in the community, at your kid’s ball game, at the grocery store. Marketing is relationships.

4. Stick to basics. What do people want more than anything when they get their car washed? They want it cleaned well as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Assuming you’ve got the quality and speed down, the cheap part is the hard part. You should never give your product away (that’s another mistake — pricing too low). But your marketing must include cold hard cash incentives. Gift cards, coupon books, and loyalty programs.

5. Be a human being. Whatever marketing plan you choose, it must represent your personality or the personality of your brand. People always connect well with companies when they sense the sincerity of the people behind the business.