Soapytopia, the motor behind Soapy Joe’s success
Customer-friendly, well equipped car washes with a fast throughput and free vacume cleaners are very common. So what do you need to do for your car wash to stand out from others? How do you become a brand that consumers keep coming back to? “Start an online community”, says Anne Mauler of Soapy Joe’s.
Probably the best example that Soapy Joe’s is more than just the car wash is the simple fact that the American company hosted more than 20 marriages on their locations since 2011.
Since the birth of Soapy Joe’s that year, the company grew to more than 30 locations in and around San Diego. There are solid plans to grow to 50 locations in the coming years, reveals Anne Mauler, who is vice president marketing at Soapy Joe’s.
Loyalty is key in a country where you can find express tunnels around almost every corner of every city. How do you bond people and turn them into returning customers?
“With the right equipment and chemistry, you can achieve a fantastic end result. But everybody does that, nowadays. The trick is to distinguish yourself from the competition,” Mauler emphasizes.
With beautiful and perfectly maintained clean establishments on prime locations, Soapy Joe’s did all the basics right. But to be able to grow, to increase the number of washes per month to an average of two or three and to attract new customers asks for something stronger. Here’s where the community-thing kicks in.
Mauler: “Soapy Joe’s is not a carwash formula, we are a membership company. We pamper our members. There’s a fast lane for them, so apart from money they also save time and have unlimited access. We go to great lengths to get, keep and continually improve our relationship with our customers.”
For their car wash formula, Soapy Joe’s built Soapytopia: a membership community in which customers who have registered with the online platform are connected to the formula in every possible way, very playfully. Members enjoy a range of special benefits. “Think savings, promotions and price discounts,” Mauler said. “When we launched a new shampoo in our car washes with a super-glamorous end result, our members were given priority to be the first to try it out without extra cost”.
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Soapy Joe’s also found out that their customers have more pets than they have children. More than 60% have a pet animal. “We tapped into that and organized a “Magic Pet Parade”. People could bring their pet and share pictures of them. It lead to a lot of interaction with our customers and many new leads.
“Later we found out that 45% of our customers heard about Soapy Joe’s via friends or family.” According to an ICA-investigation into referrals, this normally lies around 15% nationwide. So at Soapy Joe’s the referral rate is more than three times as high.
According to Mauler, the key is to have an “emotional bond” with your customers. “Build a lasting relationship with them. This loyalty pays out. More than 80% of Soapy Joe’s is a member. The trick is to keep these people satisfied and happy. “By knowing who your customer is and what they want, you can make a lasting connection with them.”