- Buyer's Guide
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Carwash owners know how important it is to keep up with and monitor the day-to-day operations of their business. Aside from the need to assure that customers are happy, staff is productive and issues are resolved as quickly as they arise, most site owners field an abundance of opportunities to market and promote their business, simply by being part of their community and supporting activities that are important to its residents.
But being on-site each day, especially for those who own and manage multiple locations, which may or may not be located in the same geographical vicinity, can be a challenge. Investing in a site controller can be a solution.
Take, for example, the carwash owner who will be traveling on business for the next two weeks, eight states away from where their business is located. Without a site controller, that carwash owner will not have the ability to monitor activity; create, reload or delete accounts; make adjustments to pricing; or implement promotional and discount codes. With a site controller, they can do all of that, and then some, creating a system of efficiency and perhaps most importantly, convenience, for the business owner that needs to be able to manage their operation remotely.
“Adding a site controller to my product line made a lot of sense because it allows me to see and track everything, no matter where I am,” said Andre Guilbault, owner of Lake Mary Carwash in Flagstaff, AZ, who also works as a Regional Sales Manager for Unitec. “Whether I am in a hotel room in Kansas City or sitting by the pool on vacation in Florida, I can see how much business I have done on any given day, adjust accounts, issue bills or implement discount codes, using my computer or even my phone. It saves me time and money.”
While site controllers are fairly common, their functionality is unique based on the type of business that is purchasing one and its intended utilities. Some carwash owners add a site controller so that the complexity of their actual payment machines and their software components can be simplified. By loading the complex functionalities onto a site controller, the payment devices can demonstrate improved performance and reliability long-term. Others find that the biggest benefit is the ability to connect all equipment to one centralized unit, which can serve as a data warehouse, capable of consolidating data and generating a single report on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, for the entire operation.
“Site controllers are an integral component for most vendors systems, serving as a central point of connection for managing multiple devices,” said Richard Carpenter, Director of Product Development at Unitec. “Consider how complex it would be for a retail store with many sales registers to collect and monitor data from each device. Obviously, it is far less complicated and labor intensive to manage when a site controller is in place to consolidate the information. It works the same way in the carwash industry.”
Unitec is seeing an increased demand for site controllers from customers, especially those who own the company’s payment systems for automatic carwashes or for self-serve bays. By adding a site controller to these technologies, carwash owners can increase purchase options for their customers through building house account programs, fleet card systems and gift card sales opportunities, while having the added benefits of remote management capability.
“I decided to invest in a site controller for my business to have access to financial and marketing options, 24/7,” said Gregg Hafer, owner of Waterfall Carwash in St. Lawrence, Pennsylvania. “Now, I can be out playing golf and managing my site from a distance. The off-site control and marketing potential is incredibly flexible. I can create and check codes, or offer fundraisers, all from my Smartphone.”
Also viewing a site controller as a valuable and worthwhile investment are carwash owners who opened their business years ago, and who don’t necessarily have a need for new equipment yet, but want to take advantage of today’s technology. Site controllers provide these site owners with 21st century capabilities, while allowing them to maintain their existing pay stations.
“For some customers, adding a site controller to the mix means that they can upgrade the capabilities of their older equipment, or manage different types of machines,” Carpenter said. “Equipment savings can be realized when the functionality that is needed can be provided by investing in a site controller rather than a completely new line of products.”
Will Hummel, owner of Willies Carwash in Manhattan, KS, said that his site controllers have been instrumental in the efficient management of his four carwash locations, which include a combination of automatic and self-serve bays. By supporting credit card and fleet account management procedures, the technology has shown Hummel a very clear return on investment.
“When we began using the Unitec site controller with our Wash Select II’s and WashPay systems, it immediately changed our business,” said Hummel, who owns seven Wash Selects and eighteen WashPays. “We needed a reliable fleet system and Unitec provided an answer that tripled the cash in our autotellers. We used all 500 fleet cards that were ordered within a week and a half and had to order more, multiple times. This is an example of a quality product that helps you continue to make money in the carwash business.”
Tracy Fitzgerald is the interim director of marketing for Unitec. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.