The value proposition in any business is one of the most important factors determining how successful you may be. It promises that you will deliver some benefit to your customers that differentiates you from your competitors.

The car wash business is no different. Keep the value proposition in mind throughout the entire package-build process. Your goal is to incentivize and upsell the customer to purchase the next wash up in your menu and reinforce the ‘pay more, get more’ concept in their minds.

Here are 12 tips for leveraging your unique value proposition to promote your best wash packages to grow your business.

  • Start with a Spreadsheet

    Using a spreadsheet to build each wash package is not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a highly useful tool that will help you to visualize and list out what services are included in each menu item.

    Start with your basic wash package and increase in value upward. As you add applications to each package, your spreadsheet will help you visualize additions to each package before you commit to buying a digital menu or printing signage.

  • Do Your Customers Notice the Difference?

    As the packages go up in price, can you tell the difference between the washes? If you can’t see the difference in value, chances are your customers won’t either.

    As cars roll in and out of the wash your customers should clearly see value no matter what package they purchased. This is why it’s important to have your package structure written down so you as an owner/operator can see the difference.

    If the value of package offerings is not distinct to you and your customers, you may have to go back to the proverbial drawing board and restructure one or more of your offerings until you get it right.

  • Avoid Confusing Terminology

    Like any other industry, car washes have their own terminology that we understand, but do your customers? Avoid confusing language where the benefit is not clear. If they don’t see value in a service you’re promoting, such as drying agent, they will be less likely to pay more for it. Sometimes it’s more beneficial to use terms like: water repellent or bug remover, terms more commonly relatable.

  • 3 Versus 4 Packages

    Many car washes offer four packages—from basic to a premium wash package. But if you run out of applications to differentiate the wash packages, your customers may lose sight of the value proposition and refrain from buying your top offering.

    If that happens, try going down to 3 packages. If you have 2 to 3 applications separating each package, that’s usually a good menu offering. You can always go up to 4 packages later if you find an application your customers are demanding.

    The key is to make sure there is enough incentive for customers to choose between each package. This is why keeping a spreadsheet listing each application comes in handy so owners can visualize the differences between each menu offering.

  • Is That Wash Worth the Price Difference?

    Evaluate the amount of money you charge customers and whether the jump in price point between each package is justified.

    Try not to get hung up on even or odd, or consistent dollar amounts between packages. What matters most is that you and your customers can justify the additional dollar amount between packages based on the applications offered and perceived value.

  • List Free Vacuums, Towels, Free Air and Air Fresheners on Menu

    Don’t forget that part of your value proposition—beyond things like waxes and wheel cleaners—are the extra services you offer. Perks such as free vacuums or free air, although not typically listed on the menu as part of the wash process, are still part of the value you offer customers. That holds true with even the lowest priced offering on your menu. If you offer free vacuums with your basic wash, list it on the menu. Customers will see the full value of what they are paying for.

    Try advertising free towels or air fresheners on your menus to help justify a higher top wash price. You want customers to know the full value of your wash packages to help them make a decision to purchase.

  • Keep it Simple and Clear

    Make sure the language of your menus is clear and uncluttered.

    As you move up in price, there is no need to list each detail of the basic package again. Instead, Use a condensed catchphrase to describe the basic package— ‘wash and rinse’ or ‘the basic wash’, etc.— then mention what additional services are part of the next higher-priced wash package.

    Once again, your goal is to make it easy for the customer to distinguish what they are getting in each wash package so they fully understand your value proposition.

  • Focus on Your Brand and Theme

    You’ve likely put a lot of time and thought into your brand.

    When naming or describing your wash packages, be sure to tie the application names with your brand and theme and be consistent through each of your offerings.

    Remember to use your theme advantageously to make application names that are appealing to the customer and that are consistent with your branding model.

    For example, package names like ‘The Wheel Deal’ is specific enough to communicate to your customers that if they have dirty wheels, that would be the package for them to select.

    The idea is to stick with a theme that will be remembered and enhance the customer experience.

  • Make Your Top Package the Most Visually Appealing

    All of your menu signage—digital and static—should direct your customers to focus on the top wash package. In fact, the top wash should account for 40% or more of total menu real estate.

    You can accomplish this in a few ways. The top wash should have a bigger sign at the top of the menu. It should have nicer icons, clever themed application names and use enticing colors to stand out.

    The bottom wash should, in contrast, be relatively ‘boring and simple.’ Advertise your lowest priced wash by employing catchphrases like ‘Basic Wash’ for example.

  • Find the Deal, Find the Steal

    Once you’ve laid out the menu and designed it, see if there is a deal or steal directly under your top wash offering.

    Is there enough differentiation between the top two packages?  You want to avoid the customer seeing a cheaper package that meets all their demands and lose the incentive to buy your premium wash.

    Chances are if you see a better deal than your top wash package, your customers will too.

  • Offer $20 Wash with a $21 or Greater Value

    Justify the dollar amounts that you charge your customers and be confident in knowing that you are providing quality service to your customers.

    For example, if the top wash is $20, your menu should demonstrate that you are providing a greater value than the money spent. Customers are generally more concerned with the value they receive than the price paid.

  • Raise Prices When Necessary

    The rule of thumb when raising prices is to make sure you add something new such as a new function or new application to the product or service. As long as customers perceive they are getting a fair deal, they will generally not object to a price increase as long as it is not too steep.

    Lastly, prices go up all the time on goods and services we use every day so don’t be afraid to raise prices based on market conditions or competition as long as you are providing something different or better and your customer clearly sees what your value proposition is all about.