Does My Car Wash Need a Director of Marketing?

Our team at Bay and Tunnel comes from the car wash world, so it isn’t surprising that companies reach out to us for hiring recommendations. We’re always happy to help.

As more people reach out, we’re noticing a trend: the car wash industry needs more marketing directors.

There is a typical marketing personnel cycle for washes. Single washes usually have operators/owners run marketing. As washes grow, they may bring on a junior marketer (think someone straight out of college) to run OptSpot, events, and other agencies. But companies start looking for the director role when they hit 10-12 washes.

That means the industry needs around 100 directors based on size.

It doesn’t sound like many when you consider it spans the nation, but as car washes grow, so does the need.

Do I need a car wash director of marketing?

So do you really need to hire a marketing director? Consider this:

Have you seen the competition in your service area increase? If not, and you have a pretty good, feel for marketing, you may be okay.

But a quality marketing director can help you differentiate your value from the competitors. They can position the message and use the appropriate mediums to do so. They can also provide valuable, constructive feedback when standards start to slip or they can be your canary when your reviews start the tank. They can help the word-of-mouth monster work for you, not against you. Would someone like that on your team be worth it? As you grow, yes.

The next question to ask yourself is, how valuable is your time?

Yes, you pay the minimum for an entry-level marketing manager right out of college who will learn on your dime.

Yes, you can wind them up and set them in the direction you want them to go and hope for the best.

And with this, you will likely still dedicate a healthy chunk of your overseeing, training, guiding, and helping them. Is your time more valuable to wash operations or marketing?

Due to the intricacies of running a wash, running marketing is likely better outsourced so you can focus on the operation. Having someone more senior will not only produce better agency/vendor work, but you’re also likely to make more revenue. After all, your job shouldn’t be training marketers. It should be building the wash.

Of course, if you ever need help training, brainstorming, or creating an effective strategy, check out our consulting packages to get you through.

Finding the right people

The challenge is finding someone with car wash experience. VP levels are usually taken by professionals from other fields, possibly hand-picked by equity firms themselves. This means there is little room for career growth in car wash marketing. If you want to grab someone, you must offer a better culture and pay. Relocation is also likely part of the deal.

And sourcing them may not be easy. Unlike operators, most marketers aren’t well-connected. The industry lacks conferences or conventions for marketers – and it is rare to find a posting on the TalkCarWash network (although many marketers don’t seem to be there either). The trend of operator-run marketing departments also shifts the balance for lower-level marketers trying to make their way up the ranks.

Marketing is a competitive field, and most marketers don’t have a growth mindset, meaning they keep trade secrets. But some of the nation’s top marketing talent can be found right here in our industry.

If you’re looking for a director, consider sourcing from multi-unit business models like restaurants or the automotive industry. Feel free also to drop us a line, and we’re happy to hit up our networks any time!