What an amazing country we live in: floods and gale force winds at Christmas and then hot sun and cold spells when spring arrives. This time the weather suits the wash industry to a tee.

For about a week, southern England and the Midlands found a thick coating of Saharan sand covering their cars. This has, of course, happened before, but not for such a sustained period.

The conditions were so bad that they actually affected the breathing abilities of some vulnerable people. The retailers of Scotland know about a ’blessing from the skies’ from when the Icelandic ash covered their customers’ cars a few years ago. What a finely balanced nation we are.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get my message over to the Meridian TV audience, explaining how a bucket and sponge could damage paintwork and this message appeared to be heeded with the jet washes and rollovers in my area at full capacity. The better hand washes that pre-rinse the car before cleaning benefited too. A good reminder that when a really good wash is required, it pays to invest a little extra in the quality end of the market.

So what next to liven up our sector? Social media and one-to-one marketing are still the buzz words of today and our customers need to know they are welcome, important and individual.

I know through my ANPR system that only 16% of my regular fuel users use my wash too. There is a huge opportunity to bring in new-to-wash users and increase the frequency of existing users.

But what they are all looking for is an individual offer. They need to know that this is not just a general offer of ’half-price Saturday’ but a genuine attempt to market a new product to a conservative consumer. What is needed is the ability to sign a customer up to washing at your site as often as they want for a single monthly cost.

You might think this is impossible, or would cost too much, or even lose your business money. But I don’t think so, and in fact, there are people working on refining that solution right now.

That way when the next cloud of dust or ash descends from the skies, we can be in a position to inform and supply the perfect solution to our customers.