Making your Car Wash More Competitive. Part IV

It’s easier than you think…

FACT FOUR: Car Wash Referrals are POWERFUL advertising!

So far we’ve discussed some really easy ways to update your car wash to become more competitive. From adding every payment method possible, to adding a mobile app, and the advantages of point-of-sale signage, we now come to the discussion around…(drum roll please)…referrals!  

Along with being one of the easiest ways to get new customers, it’s also one of the most lucrative. 

Referrals create an opportunity to really build your business. 

Let’s take a quick look at some of the general consumer facts: 

  • Today, 49% of U.S. shoppers discover brands through family and friends
  • A single happy customer can yield nine referrals
  • Customers referred by others have a 37% higher retention rate
  • People are 4X more likely to buy when referred by a friend

Higher Conversion Rates 

The stats are clear: no other acquisition channel converts as efficiently as referrals. They outperform the average conversion rate by almost four times, marking them as a must-have in any marketing strategy.

There are tons of marketing options available in the market today. Radio, social media, email, digital billboards, and more. We’ve heard from customers who have tried all of these different methods and none of them come close to consumer statistics, but more importantly, the data we have on how well referral programs work for the car wash operator. 

We’ve heard from customers who have tried radio ads. Some report spending some big dollars to get what they think is a 1 or 2% conversion. Email marketing is another one example. You may be investing time and money when the fact is, the average open rate of marketing emails is 30% with only a 2.3% click-through conversion with no guarantee of customers making an actual purchase at your wash.

Car Wash Referral Program Success 

The UWashApp Invite-a-Friend program has had some incredible success so far. And there are some powerful numbers.

With the UWashApp and the Invite-A-Friend program, operators can reward their loyal customers who invite, and the invitee with a free wash. This does two great things for your business. First, it rewards your customers loyalty. And second, it brings new faces to your wash. 

With the data we’ve found on our reporting car washes, one-third of all referrals become members at your wash – 33%. We can also see that out of the 33% of referrals who become members – 33% of those referrals become regular returning customers who wash at least 5 times. 

So from a program that takes little or no investment on your part, there are huge returns, while giving you the added benefit of gathering a lot of valuable data on your customers. The benefit of giving away free washes far outweighs any casualty of not having a referral program and benefits in place. 


At WashCard Systems, we specialize in serving independent self-serve and in-bay automatic car wash owners and operators. We help you compete against big chain competition, tunnel washes, and other competitors. We’ve been in business for 34 years, pushing the technology envelope in the car wash industry – focusing on payments, mobile apps, loyalty, and marketing. 

Amy Olson
Consumer Marketing Expert
WashCard Systems