The Car Wash Industry Goes Mobile

In our last post, we highlighted several observations gleaned from the recent ICA Car Wash Show in Nashville.  One of our key takeaways was the healthy growth in the car wash industry, and how this growth is fueling expansion –existing owners and new entrants alike are adding capacity via acquisition, greenfield construction or both.  However, many of those pursuing expansion also expressed that finding and retaining customers is their biggest impediment to growth;  a survey of owners cited by Brandon Gaille found that 53% listed this as their most serious challenge.

With more washes creating more competition for the same customers, the car wash industry has seen wide adoption of loyalty programs, a concept deployed by other industries many years ago.  Given the dynamics in the car wash industry, however, car wash owners need to do more to get out in front of the competitive curve.  Digital marketing and mobile applications can provide the next wave of customer engagement and operational excellence, and these channels are underutilized by many competitors in our market.

In our discussions with carwash owners and operators at the ICA show, more than one-third indicated that they do not engage in digital or social media marketing at all.  Nearly two-thirds indicated that Facebook was their primary/only platform.  While Facebook is better than nothing, and a good place to start, forward-thinking car wash owners are expanding both the breadth (channels) and depth (content and proactive communication) of their marketing efforts.  Facebook is just one channel and recent data points to decreasing levels of adoption and engagement, especially among younger consumers.  With ever-increasing demands on their time and money, customers expect you to be present whenever and wherever needed, on the channels they prefer.  And once they choose your car wash, customers expect a consistent, high quality, reliable experience.

Additionally, adopting mobile applications for both marketing and operations is an effective response to these competitive dynamics and customer preferences.  One of the main benefits associated with mobile applications is the ability to send location-specific and time-sensitive pieces of information via multiple channels.  These include push notifications, QR codes, app-based marketing, proactive text messages and automated calls.  Features like this allow you to connect directly with consumers, through their devices, at a specific location and when it matters most.


  • 57% of all US online traffic comes from mobile phones and tablets
  • 75% of US consumers open their email on a mobile device
  • People today have twice as many interactions with brands on mobile than anywhere else – including TV, radio, print and billboard advertising
  • Click-through-rates, a key measure of marketing effectiveness and consumer engagement, are 30% higher on mobile
  • Mobile now represents nearly 2 out of every 3 minutes spent on digital media among all consumers

Check out this excellent article from the digital marketing experts at Blue Corona for more fun facts about mobile marketing. Note that the benefits of mobile technology do not end with marketing and promotion.  Mobile applications are being rapidly adopted in operations as well – for real-time monitoring of key systems with wireless sensors, tracking volume and purchase activity across locations, and proactively alerting owners of potential issues.  Making life easier for the customer, in turn making things easier for the car wash owner, is our focus at Equilibrium – more on that in upcoming posts!