Bozuko Beta Customer Profile: Somerville Carwash trials marketing promotions with Bozuko

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko’s first beta customer launched their first promotion today on July 11, 2011.  Did you catch the significance of the date?  7 – 11 – 11. You don’t have to be a seasoned Craps player to know that these are EXTREMELY LUCKY numbers.   Could we possibly have planned this?  Well, actually we did.

We wish the best of luck to all our Bozuko users.  After all, it is luck that determines whether you will win at a true game of chance such as the virtual slot machines or scratch tickets that Bozuko players are using today.

But,  luck has nothing to do with running a marketing promotions program.  Good promotions are the result of careful planning, execution, experimentation, and re-planning.  To dig more into what makes for a great marketing promotions program and how Bozuko can help, what better way than to talk to the forward-thinking marketers and business owners that we are partnering with?

We had the chance to catch up with the owner of Bozuko’s first beta site, the Somerville Carwash at 680 Somerville Ave in Somerville, MA.  Dom Previte has run Somerville Carwash since moving into the family business in 1990 directly after college.  The Somerville Carwash is a Cambridge-Somerville institution, situated in a very visible location on a high traffic volume street.    We picked Dom’s brain on marketing promotions strategy for the carwash business:

J: Tell me about the basics of the carwash business?

D: A sunny day plus an extended forecast of sunny days equals the ability to wash cars.  Most people won’t wash their car in the rain or if rain is in the forecast.  So when it is a sunny day we try to maximize the day.  Controlling expenses without impacting service is truly an art and not a science.  Since we offer many cleaning and detailing services on demand (no appointment required), we need to maintain a higher level of staffing to be prepared for a surge in customers.

J: It seems like it would be pretty competitive even for a well established business like yours. How do you develop repeat business?

D:  It is very competitive.  We provide a consistently clean car at a reasonable price in a short period of time.  We are always looking to create loyalty programs and promotions to encourage repeat business.  For instance, selling gift cards or a discounted 5 pack.  One of the most successful programs we have is the Smart Pass program that offers unlimited washes (1 per day) for 30 days, month to month, or one year for a fixed price.

J. What do you do for marketing?

D. At this point, we only do web related marketing or on-site promotions.  We got out of doing coupons and direct mail a few years back – we were not seeing the return on the expense.

J. What have been the main components of your web marketing strategy?

D. We have a very active website.  I use an outside service to maintain it, but am very involved with management.  I watch web traffic closely as a measurement of interest.  We do a significant volume of business through ecommerce on the site.   A few times per year – usually Mother’s day, Father’s day, and Christmas –  we offer specially discounted pre-paid packages.  These make great, quick gifts and are very popular online.  Increasing our email list has been important.  We have a list of several hundred customers that we use to push special promotions like these.  We actually offer discounts in return for providing your email.   We are starting to focus more attention on leveraging our Facebook page for promoting deals and generally keeping our name on our customers’ minds.

J: What are your plans around mobile marketing?

D: We are actively trying to acquire customers’ mobile phone numbers with plans to offer texting based promotions in the near future.  Given the weather dependence and natural ups and downs of the business, there are times when we want to drive a short term uptick in volume.  We would like to use text messaging to offer discounted washes if you show up in the next few hours.

J. Tell me about your experience with group discounting services.

D. I am really skeptical about the profitability of these programs.  We did a deal with Groupon this past April and launched a deal with Living Social a few weeks back.  After getting some experience with them, I can say for certain that they are not designed to promote loyalty.  It is unclear how much actual new business is being created and I am concerned that the majority of the packages were sold to my existing customers who may have paid regular price.  It is very difficult to track, but my gut is that these programs are not offering me the huge bump in baseline business they claim to.   One lesson we learned was that the administrative hassle of these programs could actually hurt customer satisfaction.   We had people who had bought a 5 wash pass through Groupon show up for their second wash without the ticket we had given them when they first redeemed their package.  This resulted in several upset customers and a manager jumping through hoops to get a new ticket in seconds.

I am not sure if we will do group discounting deals in the future, but if we do we will definitely simplify the program and make sure we are also running loyalty based programs to ensure retention of the new customers we gain from the initial discount.

J.  What do you hope to get out of Bozuko?

D.  I think it has the potential to be a fun game to play while waiting in line or while in the car wash.   Everyone likes being given a chance to win, so it has the potential to enhance the customer experience.  I am probably most interested in seeing if it actually encourages more people to Like us on Facebook.   I’d like to build a larger Facebook following that we can leverage to promote the deals we have going as well as keep us on our customers’ minds.  I’d like them to see a post from our newsfeed and get reminded that it is time for them to come in to get their car washed.

Also, I am interested to see where this whole check-in thing goes.  I certainly like the idea of people announcing to their friends that they are at my car wash.  It will be interesting to see how it gets adopted by the mainstream.

I am excited to see how it goes.

So are we.  The Somerville Carwash is giving away a lot of great prizes through their Bozuko promotion starting today (Monday – July 11).   Sorry, but it is only for iPhone users for the next few weeks.  If you are in the Cambridge-Somerville area, stop by 680 Somerville Ave. for a high quality wash, friendly service, and a chance to win big!

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Learn more about the Somerville Carwash by visiting their website ( and liking them on Facebook (