How to properly introduce innovations to car wash customers?
They say carwash customers are always looking for something new. They choose their preferred car wash, based on the experience factor. So, as a car wash owner, how can you best respond to customer reluctance? How to introduce an innovative solution such as a self-service dryer?
With a self-service dryer, vehicles can be blown dry under high pressure within minutes. In an interview with sister title CarwashPro.de, Andreas Pasching, general manager of Austrian manufacturer AIRFFECT, says that many self-service drying systems have a full payback after only two years. Some systems even after five months. But this, he says, does not happen by itself.
“We try to appeal to carwash customers at the respective location with very targeted promotion,” says Pasching. This is to prevent them from not knowing how to use the newly installed device. “During the development and testing of our device, we repeatedly observed that the usage figures show a continuous increase, but that initially there was a clear skepticism.”
This prompted AIRFFECT to build a strong presence from the start, especially on social media. On YouTube, Facebook and Instagram customers can see how to use the self-service dryer and what the results will be, even before it is actually offered at their local car wash. “We have sold most of the systems to operators who were specifically asked about AIRFFECT by their car wash customers,” says Pasching. According to him, this clearly illustrates the impact of social media.
Details that count
Pasching goes on to explain that small details matter when it comes to a new service, so carwash customers are willing to try new products. The location of the device plays a big role, for example. If it is located on the side next to the self-service car wash and is difficult for the customer to reach, this reduces the willingness to try the new device. However, if the carwash customer already has a new self-service device in view while washing his car and can see how other customers are using it, it is very likely he or she wants to test it themselves.
“One should not underestimate that many customers react cautiously to any tech device. Fear of contact, fear of possible damage and embarrassment can be such obstacles.
During the development of the AIRFFECT prototype, Pasching made sure that the product is ‘failsafe’ and won’t cause any damage to the vehicle. This will remove many obstacles.
Operator is leading
It is not enough to offer a new device or a new washing range. This overwhelms certain customers. It is up to the operator to take his car wash customers along when changing the offer. Innovations should be communicated in detail and several times over a period of time.
Nowadays, not every customer washes his vehicle punctually on Saturdays and does not notice innovations immediately. Furthermore, in the digital age many new products are quickly lost in the flood of information. A thoughtful approach helps to present a new product in the appropriate way.
What’s more: when it comes to the use of new equipment, the threshold for the customer is high at first. In the past there was always an alternative way for the customer, a lot of them manual. So it’s useful to offer customers practical support during the changeover. If possible by dedicated staff, who can help in the early days of a new offering.