Want to build customer loyalty? Here’s how:
- Find a program that works. Research your loyalty options and determine which approach works best for you, your site, and your customers.
- Ensure the program is manageable. You don’t want to lose money in order to have a successful loyalty program. It shouldn’t just benefit customers.
- Take the opportunity to engage. Loyalty programs allow for one-on-one interaction and can be a great way to build rapport with customers.
Loyalty programs are everywhere: Canadian consumers can earn rewards when shopping for groceries, buying movie tickets and filling up on gas. The lure of accumulating points or getting free products can alter consumers’ shopping habits and turn an out-of-the-way store into an everyday, routine stop.
According to the 2013 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census, the average Canadian household belongs to an average of 8.2 loyalty programs. It’s clear that Canadians want to be rewarded when they shop, and there is no reason a car wash, c-store or gas station can’t be part of this trend.
That’s exactly why Trevor Hoad, operator of Top Gear Car Wash in Stouffville, ON, introduced a loyalty program in November of 2012. The site was only six months old at the time, but Hoad saw the potential for a program that would grow his loyal customer base.
How it works
The loyalty program at Top Gear is simple: customers receive a stamp for every wash they purchase, and once they’ve purchased any fives washes, their sixth is free.
The cheapest wash is $8 and the most expensive wash is $16, taxes in. “They can buy any five washes, it doesn’t matter which ones, and we will give them our $16 wash, which is our best wash, for free after they’ve purchased five,” says Hoad. “This program gives us an opportunity to show customers what our best wash is once they’ve completed the card,” adding that “it works well because it makes them think twice if they’re in another town or another area and they’re thinking they need a car wash, but they know they have their Top Gear Car Wash loyalty card.”
Hoad says Top Gear now has a great loyal customer base that takes great pride in handing over their stamp cards. “They wave it out the window and they beep their horns yelling ‘I’ve got five stamps! I’ve got five stamps!’” he says. “There’s not a whole lot these days where you legitimately get something for free, no hassles, no questions asked.”
Building loyalty, building relationships
One of the best parts about the loyalty program at Top Gear Car Wash is that the simple stamp cards allow employees to have one-on-one interaction with each and every cardholder going through for a wash. Although everything about the site’s wash setup is high-tech and state of the art, the loyalty program requires human interaction.
Customers pull up to the fully automated pay station to take care of the transaction. Then, once customers approach the conveyor, they provide their loyalty card to the employee to receive their stamp. This makes for the perfect opportunity to engage in conversation with customers.
“A lot of times customers will remark on how many stamps they have, or get really excited when they know the next wash is free,” Hoad says. “You get to talk to people that you normally wouldn’t get to talk to and that small talk on a regular basis is customer loyalty in and of itself!”
Loyalty programs are a bonus for customers looking to be rewarded when they shop, but they can be a priceless way to build not just loyalty, but also personal relationships with customers. What’s better than that?