Tips and tricks

Top 5 Tips to a Successful Car Wash Membership Program

Proven fact:  Successful car wash membership programs help build a recurring revenue stream and keep customers coming back month after month.  They dramatically increase overall revenue and remove seasonality and…

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Proven fact:  Successful car wash membership programs help build a recurring revenue stream and keep customers coming back month after month.  They dramatically increase overall revenue and remove seasonality and uncertainty from your bottom line.


But launching a successful program isn’t always easy. Time and time again, we at
AMP have seen membership programs fizzle with poor participation and disappointing outcomes.


Whether you’re considering a first membership program or have an existing program that is not meeting expectations, these 5 tips from the AMP Membership Car Wash Team can help steer your car wash on the road to success.


1. Fully commit


Launching a membership program can be scary. There’s upfront time, energy, and cost to set up the program. Effective advertising to get the word out is a must. And employees and customers need training on the new platform. What if, after all that, only a few folks sign up for the program?


To ensure a successful launch, we suggest you “go all in” in terms of commitment and hard work to quickly grow your initial customer base and reach critical membership mass.


  • Communicate early and often with existing clients through SMS and email campaigns to showcase your new program.
  • Keep website and social media pages updated with fresh content
  • Display signage that is clear and easily seen by customers as they pull into your car wash.
  • Add placards to payment devices with easy sign-up instructions for the new program.


2. Select the right technology


License plate readers? RFID stickers? Mobile applications? Choosing the best technology solution for your membership program can feel overwhelming. You need to balance cost to implement, speed to market, and—most importantly—your customer’s experience. Let’s explore some of these options in depth:


License plate readers


Pros: The efficient user experience makes this a very attractive option. The customer simply drives up to the car wash and the gate magically opens.


Cons:  This option has some significant downsides. The cameras are very expensive to install. Even the most modern equipment has issues reading dirty or slightly covered license plates. Members are limited to washing a single car. And it can be a hassle if the license plate changes.


RFID stickers


Pros: Like license plate readers, they offer the same convenient user experience.


Cons: RFID stickers are pricey. Labor is required to distribute the stickers to customers. Members are unable to wash multiple cars. Stickers need to be managed when people sell their cars or terminate their memberships.


Mobile Apps (like AMP):


Pros: A great user experience and alternative to license plate readers and RFID stickers. Virtually no set up costs involved. To redeem a wash, a user simply launches the app and pulls up a bar code that is scanned on the payment system. And here’s an additional bonus: the app is also a great vehicle for communicating ongoing deals and promotions with customers.


Cons:  The customer needs to pull out their phone and make a few clicks to start a wash. While this is slightly more steps than RFID or license plate readers, we have found that people are very comfortable navigating their phones and enjoy the additional value that an app can provide.


3. Conversion, conversion, conversion!


One of the most common questions we get at AMP is, “How do I keep my membership program from stalling?” There’s a simple formula: sign up more members per month than you lose through cancellations. Easier said than done, right?


So, what should you do when your membership becomes stagnant? The secret sauce is—continuously evolving and implementing novel ways to market your membership plan to non-members. Devise new deals to encourage sign-ups. Promote referrals. Launch a family plan. Hit the streets and talk to local businesses and apartment complexes to explore ways to partner and advertise. Talk to your customers while they are using your wash and try to understand their needs and the things that would convince them to become a member. Be creative and have fun with it!


4. Membership retention is cheaper than recruitment


Did you know that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to seven times more expensive than keeping an existing customer? That’s why it is imperative to keep your current members satisfied.


The key to high customer satisfaction is great customer service. When a customer raises an issue, address it immediately with compassion and understanding. Have someone available to answer customer phone calls. Respond promptly to online reviews and offer remedies so that everyone can see how important you regard each customer.


Find other ways to add incredible value for your members. Give them free vacuums, dog washes, or product discounts. Do a monthly give-away like sports tickets or a free month of membership.


With the AMP platform, we take it even one step further. We analyze member behavior and present targeted deals and promotions to individuals who are more likely to cancel their membership. For example, we can identify members who have not washed in a few months and send them deals to entice them to come back and let them know how much they are missed.


5. Market like there’s no tomorrow


Marketing is both an art and a science. It balances creativity and proven analytical techniques. When done right, marketing helps attract new customers, reduces churn, and drives revenue growth. But with so many options, where do you begin?


Start with your existing customer base: Market to customers wherever and whenever you have their attention. Onsite signs and placards should promote your membership plan, special deals, and anything else unique to your business that drives value for your customers. Build up your email and phone lists and use targeted SMS and email campaigns to stay connected and communicate promotions. If you have a mobile app, use push notifications to communicate—right in the palm of your customers’ hands.


Have a strong online presence: When people do an online search, what do they see? Your website, Google listing, and Yelp profile should have vivid, professional images; relevant product and membership information; and accurate details about your hours and location.


Stay active on social media: What do people see when they visit your Facebook and Instagram pages? Are you actively posting? Are your posts a good representation of your brand? Are there positive reviews about your car wash and customer service?


Understand effective messaging across different mediums: Good content on Facebook is not necessarily good content on Instagram or Pinterest.  Facebook is ideal for communicating and sharing information with customers while Instagram and Pinterest should primarily be used to make brand impressions through interesting and lively imagery.


Above all, don’t take yourself too seriously. Try a lot of different things, see what works, see what doesn’t and keep moving forward. Have fun with how you market and communicate to the world!


Closing Thoughts


Launching a thriving membership program takes a tremendous amount of planning and work, but the results can have a tremendous upside on your bottom line. The AMP Membership App was developed to take the sting out of the process and maximize success. We provide car washes with their own customizable, fully-branded mobile app; white-glove customer service; advertising and promotion ideas; and all the support needed to launch a successful membership program. “AMP provides you with a whole new way to connect with your customers,” says CEO Adam Trien. “The results speak for themselves, with above-average membership growth and industry-leading customer retention.”


If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at or sign up for a demo below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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