washme.jpgIt used to be you either had your car washed or you did it in your own driveway. Now though, consumers are faced with a litany of options: everything from waterless car washes to ones with multiple rinse cycles and either at the wash or from the comfort of work and home. Mobile businesses and the need for eco-friendly options has further diversified the options. Here’s our list of tips for deciding how to charge at your car wash.

  1. If you’re mobile, charge for convenience. Make sure your app is free to download, but don’t be afraid to charge more when your mobile business delivers to the customer. We haven’t yet seen a service charge by mile, but setting up a radius will ensure you aren’t driving all over town only to break even. Charge more than a hand-wash and consider a rewards program to incentive repeat customers.
  2. A hand wash vs. automated washes. Considering a cup of coffee can run you $7 in some parts of the country, it’s not crazy to charge more for a hand wash where customers can see the elbow grease going into the job. And don’t forget tips. If you want your customers to tip workers, consider lowering the cost by say 50 cents so drivers are inclined to leave the change.
  3. Minding the environment. This one can depend on where in the country you’re located. If it’s California where a drought has plagued the state and the industry fora  past few years, not only will this be a requirement but customers will expect it. And we’ve found they’ll be willing to pay top dollar. A new car wash in San Francisco called Auto Fresh charges between $30 and $60 for a wash using plant-based chemicals and just one cup of water. Pricing depends on the size of the vehicle and which premium option. Commenters at first thought this wash was pricey, but then realized they were willing to pay given the benefit to the environment and the relative cost of other services. Those who used it noticed its streak-free finish.
  4. Check the competition. Angie’s List tracks local businesses so you can see what you’re up against.