Car wash subscription programs are a hot trend in convenience retail.
My dad taught me two things when I first started driving – check your oil and keep it clean. A couple dozen years later, my car tells me when it’s time for an oil change and my kids are usually the ones to tell me to clean it, generally by writing “wash me” in the window grime with their fingers.
While there’s something cathartic about grabbing a bucket and spending hours washing, trimming and vacuuming my car in my driveway on a hot summer day, there’s absolutely nothing appealing about doing that in the dead of winter. The chalky, gray salt and road spray turns my car from a shiny, platinum gray to a matte, desperate cry for soap.
Unlimited Car Wash Program to the Rescue
I embarked on a road trip for my teen’s sporting event this past weekend. I decided to make a quick pitstop at a Circle K just off the highway to give their car wash a try. Nothing like arriving in style to a beach destination!
The process was super convenient. I downloaded the Circle K Car Wash app, purchased an Unlimited Car Wash subscription, selected to start a wash, entered my license plate number, scanned the QR code on the entry kiosk and the automated attendant very nicely directed me to pull forward into the wash bay. In no more than 5 minutes start to finish, I exited through hurricane-force blow driers and was on my way!
For just $19 a month, I can get 2 washes a day for a full month. My car has never felt so cared for. (Don’t tell my dad!)
Driving back home late the next night, I decided that the sea salt didn’t need to accompany us home so I popped off the highway again and got another quick wash. I arrived home with a spotless car and I never had to leave the warmth of my car.
My teen driver/co-pilot remarked that her car needed a wash. I quickly noted that I had an individual unlimited wash plan tied to my license plate, but if she wanted to contribute, we could upgrade to the family plan. She declined. But it’s good to know that safeguards like that are built in to keep retailers from being taken advantage of by sneaky family members.
Subscription Car Wash Programs at Convenience Retail Grow in Popularity
According to the International Car Wash Association (ICWA), car wash retail sales equal an astounding $15 billion in North America and €5 billion Europe which includes both convenience retailers and independent and chain car wash owner/operators.
While having an on-premise car wash isn’t new to convenience stores, it has only been in the past few years that convenience retailers have moved into the digital subscription territory to power their car wash sales.
Circle K in the U.S. is among a few trailblazers entering into the subscription car wash game. Launched in the U.S. in 2020, Circle K’s app-based unlimited car wash program was first launched in Europe in 2016. Circle K holds the title of the world’s largest car wash network with 2,750 locations across Europe and North America.
Forward-looking convenience retailers have realized the subscription economy is here to stay, offering monthly subscriptions for fountain drinks, coffee, and snacks in addition to car washes. Having the ability to service all the customer’s needs in one visit from snacks and drinks to bathrooms, fuel and car washing, convenience stores have that competitive advantage over standard car wash companies. Offering subscriptions for most of those items ensures that customers continue to visit as often as they’re able translating to secure, recurring revenue both in and outside of the store.
Increasing Trip Frequency is Important
Convenience stores are meant to get the customer in, out and on their way with as little friction as possible. The exterior of the store, including the car wash area, should be kept clean and well-lit. Because I had been to this store during a busy daylight hour, I felt comfortable stopping in at ten o’clock at night as a female driver with a female teen passenger. This Circle K was welcoming and I knew the entire process would take at most five minutes start to finish.
I certainly feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth in just two visits. But, knowing I have 3 more weeks to visit again (and again and again) with my unlimited wash program, I am looking forward to my next road trip down Interstate 95 – a sentiment rarely uttered in the recently-infamous DC-to-Richmond corridor!
Looking to Get Started with App-Based Subscriptions?
Liquid Barcodes loyalty platform is powering unlimeted car wash programs across several global markets by offering unique subscription, gamification, loyalty and personalization capabilities used by many convenience retailers around the world. Liquid Barcodes has developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience and foodservice retailers globally.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specializing in the convenience and foodservice industries. The proprietary, cloud-based technology platform allows retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a process called the “customer connection cycle” to engage, promote and reward customers’ activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
Learn more about Liquid Barcodes at LiquidBarcodes.com.
Test Drive the Circle K Subscription Car Wash App
Circle K United States
Circle K, one of the leading convenience retailers in the United States, partnered with Liquid Barcodes to develop the app-based car wash subscription program in 2018. Circle K U.S. customers can subscribe in the app to a monthly program for unlimited washes and have several plan options to choose from.