Would you like to know how a car wash chain with only 12 locations has cleaned over 33,373,975 cars and has an annual revenue of over $40 Million (that is not a misprint) using little to no paid advertising?
Well, sit forward because I'm about to tell you. The company name is "Car Spa" and here's how I discovered their brutally effective referral strategy. I often go to Taco Bell to have lunch and read a book. I noticed a little flyer next to their cash register.
A few days later I stopped in with my family to get a frozen yogurt and right next to the cash register was the same flyer.
The next day, I took my family to our favorite buffet restaurant and low and behold, there was a stack of Car Spa flyers.
I then started asking the people at these locations what the deal was with the Car Spa flyer that they had next to their cash register and they all said that some old guy comes around every week and replinishes their stack.
I asked them, "Do you have some type of reciprocal arrangement with Car Spa?" They all said, "No... they asked if they could put their flyers there as a gift to our guests and we said sure."
Here's a copy of the referral flyer that Car Spa uses to drive traffic.
Pretty simple. Notice the 48 hour guarantee.
They're All Over the Place!
Before you knew it, I started noticing their little discount flyers ALL OVER THE PLACE.
The copy center I use had a stack of Car Spa flyers.
The barber I use had a stack of Car Spa flyers.
The oil and lube place I use had a stack of Car Spa flyers.
The local handicraft shop my wife goes to had a stack of Car Spa flyers.
My son's dentist had a stack of Car Spa flyers in his office.
My local chiropractor friend had a stack of Car Spa flyers in his office.
An apartment complex office I visited had a stack of Car Spa flyers.
Everywhere I went, I saw a stack of Car Spa flyers. It was amazing. The have these little "referral lead generation magnets" all over the place.
So I Finally Visited Car Spa
And it wasn't any surprise that they were so busy that it took about 15 minutes of waiting just to get my car into their car wash.
I then went inside their office to wait for my car and noticed that they did NOT have one flyer from another business inside their office.
They were able to get all those other businesses in the area to send them referrals without having to do one reciprocal referral arrangement. And they did it simply by asking the business owners. That's all.
Car Spa probably gets 100 times the amount of referrals of any other business in the area as a direct result of this simple referral tactic.
If you have a brick and mortar business, what's stopping you from doing the same thing? All it takes is a couple of hours a day and a handful or referral flyers to pass out.
Copyright 2005 David Frey
David Frey is the author of the best-selling manual, "The Small Business Marketing Bible" and Senior Editor of the highly-acclaimed, "Small Business Marketing Best Practices Newsletter." To get your free lifetime subscription simply visit