Car Wash Story

car wash

A few months ago, I asked my 21-year-old daughter to help me lug trash from the three barrels next to our house to the dumpster in the alley.

She was home from college for a couple of weeks, and I thought she could pitch in.

She shot me one of those looks that said, “Dad, I’m on vacation. I’m a student, not a trash hauler.”

I considered fighting back, flexing my parental muscle, showing her who’s boss, but, instead…

I smiled and said, “I’ll take care of this first barrel. You can handle the other two.”

Her expression softened, and she said, “OK. I’ll get it done after lunch.”

And she did get it done.

I thought of my trash-hauling daughter this week when I read about a fascinating study that puts this story in perspective.

A car wash that wanted to encourage repeat business launched a loyalty program. The carwash gave customers a “loyalty card” which was stamped and dated following each purchase.

The business tested two cards: The first card required eight stamps, with none pre-stamped. The second card required 10 stamps, but two spots were already stamped when customers received it.

The two cards required exactly the same commitment from customers: Pay for eight car washes to get the ninth one for free.

But the cards generated different results…

After six months, 19 percent of customers who received the first card (eight stamps, no head-start) had redeemed the free car wash. Thirty-four percent of the those with the second card (10 stamps, with the two-stamp head-start).

What gives?

Human beings are more motivated when they perceive that they’re making progress or have a head start. This study reflects that. Countless other studies support that.

And the closer we humans get to a goal, the more motivated we become. In the car wash study, customers waited less time between visits (about a half day less on average) with every car wash that was purchased.

This has big implications for anyone trying to motivate others — parents asking kids to clean their room or take out the trash; teachers encouraging students; sales people closing the sale; supervisors inspiring employees.

Have you leveraged this concept at home or your business? If so, how? I’d love to hear from you. If not, can you imagine ways that you might? If you’d like to brainstorm, I’d be happy to discuss it with you. Shoot me an email, and I’ll schedule a call with you.

p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

3) Become a Story Power VIP in the Content Transformation Academy: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Weekly masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.

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