Which Car Wash Marketing Agency is Right For You?

If you’ve ever gone to a car wash convention, you’ve likely seen booths for Rinsed, Slam, Optspot, and more. So which marketing agency is right for you?

Controls-Owned Marketing Agencies

First, let’s delve into the “controls marketing” world. Every express control system seems to have its own marketing arm these days. Whether it is Slam Marketing (Sonny’s), SUDS (DRB), or The Agency (ICS), these subdivisions are built to keep your business in-house as part of a one-stop car wash model. If you’re new to the car wash world, they are a good starting point and generally have free graphic design if you purchase signage from their companies.

These agencies tend to focus on content production versus marketing. This is a good route to go if you’re interested in having websites, signs, branding, logos, and other items that look like your competitors. You’re also likely to get themed and cartoon-styled items from these agencies. Our biggest caution is that the graphic side of these agencies doesn’t keep up with the data side. Do we sound jaded? There’s a reason: we’ve found multiple examples of the above marketing agencies using the same brand mascot for different washes (yes, they have a color and line tweak here and there). Want a webpage? They have pre-built templates, and yours will be customized to your colors, but it isn’t optimized for online purchases or membership management. These agencies work for some washes, especially regional washes; however, services tend to cost more, and the implementation of current practices feels outdated.

However, we do recommend going to their conferences and purchasing their reports. These reports will give you live data on current client trends since they pull data from all customers using their system. For example, SUDS of DRB will run reports on all DRB customers, then use that data for its new location service to help you find the best place to build. SUDS also has the most accurate customer data we’ve seen (based on all the car washes we’ve worked with). These reports and presentations are worth looking at, especially for new washes.

Bay wash control systems also offer “marketing,” but these are typically promotions rather than advertising and other marketing tactics.

OptSpot

OptSpot started as a mobile text messaging service for various industries and has since focused on the car wash world. For a few hundred dollars a month, you can access their mobile system, which allows you to send text messages and track promotions. You can also access features like a referral program that isn’t available out-of-box for most control systems.

OptSpot has expanded its service also to include marketers who write and manage campaigns. If you want to be hands-off on marketing while being able to access your analytics and dashboard, OptSpot is a great option. Account managers are usually quick to respond and will help you navigate the system. COO Jeremy Renken is a rock star and freely shares best practices. OptSpot is always trying to innovate and listen to customer feedback, so it is likely to come if they don’t have a feature you want now.

If you’re looking for someone to run your marketing (check out their website services, too) and have access to track promotions from your controls system in one dashboard, OptSpot is a good option. It is a great entry point for new to medium-sized washes and consistently grows membership retention. It also has go-to-market campaigns, but the industry seems to be underutilizing these. Up your service, if needed, and start driving new customers to your wash, as they are increasingly important in today’s crowded car wash market. OptSpot definitely has the talent to help you with this.

OptSpot integrates with major express wash control systems but has a clunky backend if you have washes under different brands. The good news is that the account reps always walk you through the steps or send step-by-step videos on what to do.

Rinsed

Rinsed is the newer vendor in town. This PE-backed company is the technology organization you want and need if you’re running in equity circles or marketing many brands and locations. You will need help utilizing this customer relationship manager, including API information for whatever controls system you’re using (your controls system will supply the info for you) and someone to run your marketing campaigns. It is more expensive than OptSpot and does not include marketing services (aka someone to create and run campaigns for you), but it is technically the most advanced system on the market right now. You’ll have more access to your data and the best reporting. The user interface is also easier to use than OptSpot, but you’ll pay for some of this integration and reporting through staffing to run your campaigns. OptSpot and Rinsed are slowly closing the pricing gap, so choose what services you need to figure out which system is best for you.

Again, we recommend having an in-house marketer if you want to use Rinsed, but others have been successful without an in-house marketer on the payroll.

Also, consider following Rinsed on social media, as they share great industry trends based on live data. Our favorite team members are Steve Olson and Sam Pittenger. Shoutout to our favs!

Third-Party Marketing

You’ve likely heard of Welcomemat and other marketers who provide services to car washes. We recommend using OptSpot or Rinsed (with an in-house marketer) if you want to lower your customer acquisition costs consistently. We’ve found that some of these third-party firms drastically inflate revenue projections because they don’t have access to your system and don’t have full sight of customers making purchases. For example, one car wash we worked with had an average ticket price of $18. One of these firms sent a report saying the average ticket price was $34. The numbers didn’t add up.

Here at Bay and Tunnel, we don’t offer ongoing marketing costs like other third-party options. Our role is to be a consultant or to provide tools to improve your marketing. Because of this, we are opinionated! But we’ve also worked with a lot of marketers (both good and bad), so we know the pain points to watch out for. If you’re having issues deciding who to go with, we offer free 15-minute calls and would be happy to connect you with any of our contacts. We also provide longer consultation calls if you want a deeper dive.