new product launch
branded car wash
development and implementation program
Following a car wash study major oil companies like Shell and Texaco learned that customers viewed their car wash business as “scary little tunnels” that did not produce a clean, dry and damage free wash.
To counter the public reaction to gas station car wash facilities, I developed branded car wash programs for both Texaco and Shell.
These updated car washes feature large windows and skylights to let in plenty of light, state-of-the-art conveyor car wash equipment, easy pay systems with the exterior building designed by James McFarlin
The program included one year of pilot testing in three geographic markets, a refinement phase, followed by a national roll-out.
Major program elements included:
site analysis tools
facility design, pilot testing, operations guide
site analysis model
Developed for detailed car wash operation profitability analysis, from both the company’s and the retailer’s perspectives, and for both “the status quo” and “with branded car wash program” scenarios.
phase one pilot testing program
Pilot testing in three markets revealed phase one facility design proved difficult to permit in many municipalities due to the tall yellow columns. I redesigned the facility exterior to allow for easier permitting.
site selection, program development and efficient operating systems
phase II program guide design
Pilot location results were incorporated in this Phase II program guide used in the national roll out of FormulaFinish and StarFinish branded car wash facilities.
phase II exterior design
Designed the Phase 2 exterior for both brands to facilitate ease of permitting and reduce the overall construction cost.
facilities and branding
upgraded equipment standards and car wash exterior
product and pricing strategy
sire selection, program development, efficient operating systems were developed.
free standing menu of services
To allow for different entrance configurations free standing menu entrance kiosks.
To attract car wash use, car wash menu of services signs for side walk display were developed.
Consumer Promotional Materials
promoting car wash trial
Several types of on- and off-site promotions, including direct mail, were tested during the market-test phase of the program. Ultimately, a multi-pronged promotional campaign including hand distribution of flyer's and door hangers along with ad inserts in local publications and on-site POS proved to be the most effective. In one test market, a coordinated promotional campaign consisting of on- and off-site promotions received a whopping 27% response rate.
Car wash is a conjunctive-use profit center concept that has been available at retail petroleum outlets for decades. Many petroleum companies and retailers view car wash as an ancillary service which helps promote gasoline sales. However, as gasoline product margins continue to be under competitive pressure, there is now a gradual, but definitive, trend toward treating car wash as a stand-alone profit center.
On the demand side, recent consumer surveys, revealed important trends in consumer preference. The percentages of consumers washing their cars at home or using self-serve car washes have decreased significantly.
The majority cited convenience as the primary decision- driver, and many would prefer to visit a car wash facility with add-on services. Clearly, convenience emerged as the key factor in business success.
Primary features comprised highly visible architectural elements, state- of-the-art equipment technology, proprietary chemicals and a customer satisfaction focus. Phase I of the program roll-out was a limited market test that included a dozen locations in three metro areas nationwide.
Pilot location results would be used to refine the program for Phase II program roll-out.
- Analyze market test results and identify strengths and areas for improvement;
- Refine and create additional program guidelines and components for Phase II program roll-out in strategic market areas; and
- Develop a wide range of marketing communications materials essential for successful program implementation.
Market Test Results
A comprehensive analysis of the pilot location results was conducted. The scope included: car wash facility design and sinage, site selection and evaluation process, compensation and profit-sharing arrangements with the retailer, pricing strategy, car wash operation, vehicle damage and customer complaint handling, local store promotions.
phase II market results
- Customers confirmed brand was visually appealing;
- Re-branded car wash sites produced average 30% increased revenue;
- Off-site promotions produced response rates as high as 27%; and
- Customer satisfaction increased by 40% because of satisfaction guarantee.