Rather than showcase his “ugly” Formula One trophies for winning 25 Grand Prix races since 1974, Triple world champion Niki Lauda traded them in. The Austrian and the now non-executive chairman of Hamilton’s Mercedes team gave the trophies to a garage owner who was interested in displaying them.
In exchange, the driver bargained for a lifetime of free car washes. It was a worthy trade, Lauda told Reuters. “I said ‘If you give me a free car wash for the rest of my life you can have all of them’, and that is what I did,” said the 66-year-old.
The deal didn’t last long. “The guy died unfortunately and his son was running the petrol station but they were so demolished and terribly kept there, that a friend of mine took them away, polished them and then my kids took them and put them on eBay. “Now I have to pay for it (the car wash).”
Is a lifetime of free car washes ever a good idea for your business? The practice is common among car dealers who hope that the car wash can be a loss leader for other services, like auto repairs, and maintaining a relationship that could lead to more car sales in the future. For a car wash business, free car wash coupons are a common marketing practice. But a free car wash for life? Unless you’re offering other services, like oil changes or even a small restaurant, the losses likely would never justify the offer. Best to stick with variable promotions and loyalty programs.