While local businesses around the nation have struggled over the last year, many car washes have continued to thrive. Customers feel safe inside their private vehicles and commercial trucks and vans still need to look clean.

A strong year is a perfect time to invest in your brand.

Car wash owners and managers can improve their marketing with signage that follows best practices. Allocate a budget that works for you, then add new signs and flyers on your property. With robust marketing campaigns like this, you’ll be able to grow your business and remain successful for years to come.

Signs are one of the most effective means of communicating with customers. Most people that catch a glimpse of your signs are already driving by or have decided to stop by your business. People who are looking already want to see what you have to say.

When you’re developing car wash sign ideas, make sure you’re using language and graphics that your targeted audience will understand. Take account of the demographics, values, and behavioral patterns so that your message translates well. 

Most importantly, make sure you place signs where drivers will have time to read it. For example, have signs in the place where they’ll wait in line at the car wash. You should also have signs that can be visible from the road. 

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into more relevant car wash poster ideas, suggestions, and general advice. 

Car wash advertising do’s and don’ts

It can be challenging to identify which car wash sign ideas are amazing for your business and which ones need more work and development. Let’s start with some practical car wash advertising do’s and don’ts.

Do include your logo and business name

You’d be surprised by how frequently business owners forget to add their logo and business name to every sign. Just because you’re posting the sign on your property doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use it as an opportunity to build your brand.

Don’t stuff in too much information

Putting too many words on one sign is also a common mistake. If your font is small, no one will be able to read it from afar. Even if the sign is big enough, your customers aren’t going to want to sit there and read the sign. It’s better to break up the information and use more than one sign — or, better yet, edit and trim your word count.

Do have all writing clearly legible from a car window

If your font is difficult to understand — script-style variants are great examples of this — it’s not going to capture the attention of your customers. Color counts, too. Be sure the color of your text contrasts sufficiently with the background. You want your copy to be scannable and easy to read.

car wash sign ideas
The services in this poster are described in just a few words, making it easy to read. But, watch out for the common mistake of using a font that’s difficult to read — like the one used for the word “services” in this poster.

Don’t use too many graphics

Too many words on a sign aren’t attractive, but you also shouldn’t have too many images or graphics. Be careful about adding shapes, photos, graphs, and lists. When there’s too much going on, the reader can feel anxious when taking it all in. That’s the last thing you want your customers to feel. 

Do use high-resolution images

Pixelated or blurry photographs have no place on your posters or flyers. Make sure any graphic or image you use has a high resolution so edges are sharp and realistic. Taking the time to do this also gives your car wash signs a more professional look.

Don’t try to be funny 

Not everyone has the same sense of humor. You risk offending people when you make a joke that doesn’t go over well, so be careful when trying to be funny. Ask different people within your organization to provide constructive feedback. If it doesn’t sit well with one or two people, try a different phrase.

Do stay consistent with colors and fonts

You’ll likely have more than one sign on your property. Work on your branding by deciding on a single font, color scheme, and overall theme to maintain consistency. Exceptions exist — such as holiday-themed posters — but make sure they still complement your other car wash sign ideas on site.

Don’t have outdated pricing on older signs

Car wash owners will sometimes update some signs instead of every single one. This can lead to customer confusion and frustration. Make sure that everything you are posting about your business — on your property and online — shows the same prices, packages, and other details. 

7 effective car wash poster ideas you can try

If you follow the do’s and don’ts above, you can run physical car wash sign campaigns. But what could those campaigns advertise apart from basic information? Below are seven marketing efforts you can combine with your poster ideas.

1.  Offer subscription options

In 2020, car wash owners who offered subscription plans to their customers saw fewer losses than those that didn’t. How can customers find out about your subscription plan? With a sign, of course. Use a poster on-site to describe the benefits that come from signing up right away.

car wash sign ideas
Mister Car Wash offers four subscription packages, which can be explained on signs and posters on property.

2.  Put together package deals

Let’s say your car wash offers Gold and Platinum packages, each offering different experiences for the customer and their vehicle. Have a sign that outlines what comes with each package. You should keep descriptions brief and options a manageable number to avoid long and agonizing decision-making.

3.  Highlight your ownership

More than 80% of carwash locations are privately owned — that’s a selling point for many communities. Let your customers know if your small business is owned or operated by a local family. Remind them that they’re supporting their town when they frequent your car wash.

4.  Share your social media

Do your customers know how to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media platforms? Your posters can serve as a reminder to follow you online. You can even add an incentive — like a free vacuum cleaning — if the customer shows that they’ve shared their support of your business with their friends. 

5.  Remind people of who you support 

Do you underwrite Little League teams, local public events, or nonprofit organizations within your community? Let your customers know with a sign. By sharing your values publicly, you build a brand that can gain trust and loyalty from people who share your beliefs.

6.  Create new, limited-time promotions

Certain times of the year call for special deals. You can let your customers know what you’re offering with a poster. Try making limited-time promotions, such as a free cinnamon-scented interior fragrance during autumn or an extra bug removal spray during the spring. Stay timely so your customers will be excited to know what you’ve planned next.

car wash sign ideas
Use different shades of the same color to highlight limited-time discounts, like “up to 45% off.”

7.  Give your customers a free upgrade

Encourage customers to join your VIP club. This could be different from subscription packages, but with related benefits. VIPs can sign up to your email list for access to exclusive offers like discounts and upgrades. Let potential VIPs know that they can earn a free upgrade by signing up for your newsletter while waiting in line.