From creation to fabrication, a myriad of processes have morphed and benefited from the addition of new technology. In many industries, automation is now synonymous with innovation as improvement processes generally include the introduction of technology into the workflow. In the carwashing business, the addition of up-to-date electronic systems in tunnels and bays has become commonplace.
One technology that has proven important to owners on a number of levels is a point-of-sale (POS) system. In fact, a functional POS system can accurately be described as the business brain of an operating carwash. These systems link security, cash management, reportage and monitoring to increase automation and improve ease of use.
Throughput is important for every owner today, and the continued development of POS systems in the carwash market is one factor that helped the express format evolve. Payment kiosks working with POS systems help express businesses — as well as other wash formats — because they allow for maximum throughput while conveying a consistent, professional image to customers, according to Brad Quay, vice president of sales with Hamilton Manufacturing Corp. This quick, quality-driven service, plus the opportunity to upsell additional items, works especially well for the express tunnel market segment.
Full-service operators can benefit from the speed POS systems provide as well. An exterior lane with an automated pay station can help full-service washes gain more customers and increase their frequency of use. “Fast, affordable and convenient — that’s what customers want these days. Put technology to work,” Jon Simmons, SONNY’S AutoPilot – president, said. Using automated pay stations paired with POS systems gives an owner total cash control, a speedy line and consistent messaging interaction with customers.
Another method of speeding up a carwash that POS facilitates is the use of RFID tags, Simmons stated. Customers who participate in monthly wash clubs can affix a small RFID tag to their windshields; then their vehicles can be quickly identified. The systems scan the tag, identify the customer as a monthly pass holder and open the gates.
But, POS systems can do more for monthly wash clubs than just speedy scanning. Various POS functions can help sell and collect monies for monthly wash clubs as well. One great POS feature is the monthly recurring billing with automatic replenishment, Simmons noted. This automated process eliminates the need for an owner or operator to manually charge the customer each month.
Instead, customer monthly plan accounts are monitored and charged to a credit card automatically, allowing the carwash operator to bring in steady revenue month after month. Here, knowing that a large percentage of customers do not fully utilize a wash club’s value, the operator will benefit in the end, Simmons said.
Marketing videos that play on automated pay stations help customers understand the value of choosing higher-priced packages or adding on specific services. Quay said that POS systems and automated cashiers can also sell multiple wash packages without the driver having to get out of his or her vehicle.
Different facets of POS systems can offer operational savings to carwash owners as well. Simmons explained that labor monitoring seems to be a never ending task for operators in the carwash business. To assist, many POS systems have a built-in time clock function that tracks all employee hours and wages. With the live reporting used today, an owner with a labor module in his POS can monitor labor dollars per car or cars per man hour in real-time, and that is a tremendous business advantage.
According to Quay, POS systems and connected kiosks can help operators save on labor costs by replacing one to two employees, depending on the makeup of the business. Here, the cost savings alone could pay for a new POS system in months, depending on volume. “The future of POS systems will continue to improve on the concepts of customers being able to complete business transactions without the help of employees,” Quay said. “The more that we can allow customers to create their own wash club programs and loyalty programs, the better the opportunity for ongoing revenue generation.”
Finally, the tracking included in POS systems can help an owner save by focusing his or her marketing efforts. The sales information that the systems provide is very detailed in regards to peak times versus off-peak times, and it also records what products and services are top sellers. This information can be the basis for unique, focused marketing opportunities that aim to increase daily revenues.