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How Sgt. Clean’s Washes up Customer Loyalty

June 12, 2018
by Kim Courvoisier

Finding clever ways to retain customers– and measuring rates of customer loyalty and retention– is a worthwhile effort for many brick-and-mortar businesses. That’s why Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash, a veteran-owned and operated car wash with four locations, dedicates its time and energy to encouraging customers to stick around.

Sgt. Clean’s has won Cleveland’s Hot List for “Best Car Wash” for two years in a row and prides itself in being the most preferred car wash in Northeast Ohio. But the business didn’t get there on its own: it had help from its loyal customers.

Sgt. Clean's Car Wash

Sgt. Clean’s implemented Thanx to formalize its customer engagement and loyalty program and has proof that loyal customers are better customers. After all, Thanx members spend 140% more than the average customer. We sat down with Nick Rodia, Sales and Marketing Manager at Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash, to learn how the business uses Thanx to wash up heaps of customer engagement and loyalty.

Can you share the story of Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash?

In 2013, our two owners and lifelong friends, Brian Krusz and Andrew Bendik Jr., opened their first location in Strongsville, Ohio and soon expanded to a second location on the city’s north end. A third location opened in Westlake in 2016, and a fourth location opened in Parma in 2017.

We’re proud to be a veteran-owned and operated business, as Brian spent eight years in the Marine Corps. So when we look at ways to be involved in the community, we actively search for opportunities to support events, benefits, charities, and organizations that positively impact veterans.

How do you think about customer loyalty and retention?

In my role, I focus on three areas of our business, specifically related to our sales and marketing efforts: 1) Gain, 2) Retain, and 3) Train.

Gain – Identify opportunities where we can gain more customers by introducing them to our brand and wash services.

Retain – Retain our existing customers – we value their business greatly – so when they’re ready to spend car wash dollars, they’re going to continue to spend them at Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash.

Train –And then, training both onboarding new team members as well as ongoing training with all of our existing team members. And the nice thing about Thanx is it checks all three of those boxes.

What did you do to engage your customers before using Thanx?

A customer engagement and loyalty program was a new channel for our organization to tap. Prior to Thanx and its emphasis on data-driven campaigns, we were using a variety of different marketing channels. We used direct mail as a primary channel, as well as email marketing, social media, and some radio advertisements.

Thanx gave us the opportunity to capture, measure, and understand the data that we were collecting through our existing point of sale (POS) system. And then it gave us the ability to create targeted campaigns based on what we found. This was new for us– we were excited to see what we could learn.

How did you select Thanx?

When it came to choosing Thanx, we had the opportunity to meet the team at The Car Wash Show. Brian and Andrew got to speak directly with the Thanx team and were very impressed with the offerings. We also got a positive referral from Mike’s Car Wash, which is a car wash business in another part of the state.

Now that we’ve implemented Thanx, I’m checking our results every day, reaching out to the merchant success managers, and making sure the program is running smoothly.

How are you using Thanx?

We’ve implemented a number of rewards programs with Thanx, and the process has been very straightforward. Thanx seamlessly integrates with our point of sale (POS) system which had made things very easy for us. We also have access to our merchant success manager, who gives us a high-level overview of our campaigns and how they’re performing.

In general, the ease of use is great. I love the dashboard, which is very easy to navigate. I’ve never had any customers complain to me that the application is too difficult to access. It’s very straightforward and streamlined.

What rewards do you offer?

We’ve only really started to scratch the surface of what the platform can do. Right now, when customers sign up for the program, they’re getting our top exterior wash package which we dub the Platinum Wash.

We offer the following rewards:

  • Sign Up Reward: Platinum Exterior Wash
  • Ongoing Reward: Our ongoing reward is once customers spend $100 with Sgt. Cleans Car Wash, they receive a Platinum Exterior Wash.
  • Referral Campaign: To encourage loyal customers to refer their friends, we’re using the referral campaign with Thanxgiving.
  • Winback Campaign: We’re not yet using the winback campaign, but I’m really excited to start. This campaign will allow us to leverage data to encourage customers to come back to us and help combat customer churn.

This year, I want to activate the programs built into the platform. We’ll also be activating the birthday reward– it’s an easy one to implement that is likely to bring positive ROI.

How do you encourage your customers to sign up for the program?

That’s a huge piece of our success– a lot of the credit goes to our team members. Yes, we can send out an email, put information on our website, and put up signs. But the real key to getting customers to sign up is to have our team members communicating the value to our existing customers as well as to any potential new customers.

Sgt Clean's loyalty sign up offer

We’ve made a big effort to communicate the value of Thanx to our team. We’ve shared how it offers us a unique opportunity to build deeper relationships with our customers.

How do you use data and insights to grow your business?

I like numbers, I think they’re very black and white and they make sense to me. So being able to have a platform where we can really use the data to influence or enhance our existing marketing efforts as they continue to grow is really what excited me about partnering with Thanx.

There’s a bunch of different ways that we’re using data to enhance our marketing efforts. We’re rewarding the business that customers continue to give us. So we’re retaining them by rewarding their loyalty. We’re also able to engage our customers with the Feedback feature. And then, we’re able to send personalized and targeted campaigns based on the data that we’re collecting using the platform.

I have my finger on the pulse of all of the feedback that we receive digitally and on the ground. Whether the feedback is good, bad, or indifferent, we use that feedback to share the value with our team members, as well as to find ways to improve. It’s been great to give team members a pat on the back based on comments or ratings from customers.

If we do miss the mark, we want to understand why and how we can get better. We know that we’re not going to be 100% all of the time as much as we want to be. So finding where we missed the mark and being able to correct that is an item that I really like about feedback through Thanx.

What’s the connection between your NPS score, promoters, and your best customers?

One of the features that I really like is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) within Thanx. It’s something that I’m very familiar with, as I’ve used that metric in other jobs in my career. NPS makes it easy to communicate the value of what we’re doing to our team. And we’re lucky that we have an overwhelming majority of folks that are really happy with the service they receive from us.

It’s essential to know who our Promoters are so we can continue to reward them for their business. When they leave our properties, we know they’re going to act as advocates for our service and for Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash. The more that they come, the more likely they are to continue to promote our services and their positive experiences with us.

Wrap up

Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash rewards its best customers and has seen the immediate impact on the growth of its business. Nick and his team have rallied their team around the program, offered a variety of rewards, and made sure their rewards program is always ROI positive.

To learn more, get our free guide, The Customer Engagement Playbook for Car Washes.


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