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Writing in favor of employee cashiers

August 14, 2006
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Writing in favor of employee cashiers
Jeremy Place

I have yet to meet a computer that could provide the "human touch" that seems to be disappearing from today's society.

I go to the hardware store down the street instead of the big box store because I know that if I have a question there is some body right there to help me. If they do not have what I need they will tell me where I can get it.

That being said, I feel like you are doing your customers a disservice by having an automated cashier. And in this business, service should be at the forefront.

Service

What does it mean? To me it means being available to assist "your customers" in any way you can.

I operate an express exterior, which does not offer as many services as a full service. In turn, I believe it is that much more important to have face time with the customer.

We are at a disadvantage because we have less and less contact with the public, so we need to make the most of the contact opportunities that we do have. You can't do that if everywhere the customer turns there is no person in sight.

I understand automated cashiers can help the bottom line, but how much "hands off" is too much? Are you really providing service to the customer by having an automated teller, or are you just making it easier on yourself?

Sales

I have heard the computer upsells itself. How can that be when most of upselling is observation and answering the customers' questions? Neither of which the computer can do — at least not yet.

Observation. Looking at the condition of the vehicle and being able to suggest a service for the vehicle. A computer can't do that.

It seems pointless to sell a customer the top package when their car's clearcoat is peeling and the rims are stained.

At our facility the customers appreciate the honesty when they ask if our top package will help their vehicle and we tell them it won't, because of the condition of their vehicle. Sometimes they get it anyway, but they know we care enough to be honest with them.

A computer can't do that.

Answering questions. Customers usually need more information to select their purchase.

How many times have you heard this, "Can you get the tree sap off?" You know full well the big globs of tree sap will not come off with soap and water.

A computer can't tell the customer that.

Simply put, a human can sell better than a computer hands down.

Safety

This is something a computer can't do at all — not even in the slightest way. Only a human can check the customer's vehicle for loose or damaged parts and warn the customer about them.

Only a human can.

How about removing antennas? Only a human can.

What about checking truck beds? Only a human can.

What about vehicle height? Only a human can.

Vehicle width? Only a human.

When you have someone around to do these things, your damage claims will go down. And when damage does occur to something that was pointed out, then the customer was warned.

Speed

Unless you are doing over 150 cars per hour (actual cars, not conveyor speed), speed is a non-factor.

Our cashier is able to process far more cars per hour than we can wash. So to say a computer gives you more speed is untrue.

The way to increase speed is to trim it out of your prep time or finalizing time, because a human cashier can more than keep up with even the fastest of conveyors.

Final thoughts

I have no answer for you on the labor end. Computers will save you labor because they don't require all the things that you have to provide a human employee.

If labor is the only reason you have for wanting to put in automated tellers, look for other ways to save labor. Cut down on prep, finalizing or services offered first before you cut out the "face" of your business.

Remember we are here for the customer — not the other way around.

Our industry is about service and you can't provide service without people.

Jeremy Place is the manager of Crater Car Wash in Medford, OR. He has been in the carwashing industry for 11 years and can be reached at jjplace86@hotmail.com