wintercarwashThe car wash business is a tough racket. Unhappy customers have plenty of other options. Success in your area, then, depends on small extras that leave a big impression. Here are five things you can do to increase your chances of success.

1. Be consistent. Once your customers experience the excellence of your services, don’t ever let them down. They should have the same great experience every time.

2. Make your customers feel valuable. This may go without saying, but treat every customer like your best customer. And make sure your employees understand that.

3. Offer something your competitors don’t. The more out of the ordinary the better. Have you ever thought about giving away free espresso instead of that stale drip stuff? How about hot dogs on the grill? For a small up front cost, you can give your car wash a more festive feel.

4. Offer the best deals. Coupon books can be your best friend. They encourage repeat business, and can even spread the word when people tear off coupons and share them with friends and family. And they’re relatively cheap to produce, so you can change up your offer around holidays or themes. Everybody likes a good discount.

5. If you mess up, make it right — every time, even if you didn’t mess up. This probably also goes without saying. But any quarrel with a customer is just not worth it. Honor expired coupons, let it slide if they’re short change, stay open just a bit longer if they show up at the last minute. And if you do something that inconveniences them somehow, do whatever it takes to keep them coming back. A free wash for a month is well worth it if you can get them to come the month after that.

It’s more expensive to recruit new customers than to keep the ones you have.