It has been said that millennials appreciate a personal and unique experience when shopping retail, but does that translate to being greeted by their first name in these situations? When someone is greeted by their name it is usually because they are frequent or regular customers who have now a relationship with their usual attendant. You might see this in your local coffee shop with a barista or your hairdresser, but what about at your car wash? Is greeting a customer by their first name creepy or friendly?

The situation

The Springfield News-Leader covered a story about a local Mister Car Wash that was greeting customers by their first names. A man inquired after his experience where he pulled in and was addressed by his first name by the attendant. This seemed worrisome to the man as he was concerned about his privacy and wondered if the license plate was being scanned or entered in order to connect the car to his name.

A reporter visited the location and asked, which led to the conclusion that the Mister Car Wash was looking at the license plates. Each license plate number was looked up, and plates that were connected to current or former customers led to using a first name or last name to greet the customer. The reporter was a former customer so his name did surface with his license plate and the attendant asked if he’d like to be greeted with his name or title.

Pros and Cons

Now that we know some car washes are using membership information to create a custom greeting, is this a good idea to implement into your business and car wash marketing protocol? There are both pros and cons to using customers first names since it could be considered friendly by some and weird by others.


  • Creates a unique and personal experience
  • Shows customers their loyalty is valued
  • Creates a friendly and comfortable environment


  • Customers may find it creepy or violating
  • There may be questions about privacy

If you feel that using a first name basis in your business is a good idea there are a few steps you can take to inform your customers, get their input, and apply the method to include everyone. Using your customer database for their names or title is the most practical method, but it may be better to greet the customer with a hello and then scan their membership card, doorjamb sticker, or window sticker, and end with a personal send-off. Using their name at the end allows them to see where you got the information, instead of feeling violated with a license plate scan and caught off guard with their name.

It’s also a good idea to inform the customer of your personal greeting style and allow them to opt out of this feature. When customers sign-up or renew their loyalty program membership you can make this option known which will both keep customers informed and allow them to choose to be greeted personally or not, which reduces the creepiness factor and helps you use the proper pronouns and name when addressing each customer.

Need help with your car wash marketing? Contact the industry experts at Wolford Communications.