- Buyer's Guide
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For many rookie carwash owners, every day working on-site will be a learning experience. From perfecting customer service to scheduling equipment upkeep, each shift will contain at least a few learning moments. When it comes to carwash equipment, some pieces require no explanation while others are not as recognizable.
For instance, point of sale (POS) systems can be one of the most intimidating pieces of technology for a new operator. The interconnectivity of POS systems makes them important in multiple wash operations, but truly defining their main duties can be tough. Today, these systems are involved in a number of carwashing phases, and they tie together security, cash management, reportage and monitoring.
First up, different facets of POS systems can offer operational savings to carwash owners, according to Jon Simmons, SONNY’S AutoPilot – president. For many owners, labor monitoring seems to be a never ending task, and many POS systems have a built-in time clock function that tracks all employee hours and wages. Using this live reportage, labor dollars per car and per man hour can be monitored daily, in real-time. For an operator with a labor module in his or her POS system, this feature offers a huge business advantage.
In addition, POS systems and connected payment kiosks can help a carwash save on labor costs by actually replacing one or two employees, Brad Quay, vice president of sales with Hamilton Manufacturing Corp., said. Depending on the makeup of the business and volume, the labor cost savings could pay for an updated and newly-installed POS system in a matter of months.
Replacing employees is one potential area of growth for POS systems. In the future, carwashes will be capable of completing different types of business transactions without the help of wash employees, Quay stated. For example, if customers can work alone and create their own wash club programs and loyalty programs, this creates a number of improved opportunities for generating new revenue.
Finally, POS systems can help a new owner save money by offering information to back up marketing efforts. Sales information provided by the systems is detailed in regards to peak time and down time. POS systems will also provide a record of the products and services that end up being top sellers. Using this information, unique and focused marketing opportunities can be created with the idea of increasing daily revenues.
Ask any experienced owner, and they will reveal that vehicle throughput is extremely important for carwash operations today. In fact, the continued improvement of POS systems is one factor that helped the express business boom occur. In the express environment, payment kiosks connected to POS systems allow for maximum throughput while still communicating a consistent, professional image to customers, Quay noted. The opportunity to provide fast, quality service while upselling additional items has proven effective for the express carwash market.
Even so, modern POS systems can provide advantages to full-service operators as well. One example would be an exterior lane with an automated pay station. This option could help a full-service wash increase customer counts while increasing the frequency of their use. Simmons said customers want “fast, affordable and convenient” service, and new technology is a great way to provide it. Automated pay stations that work with POS systems will give an operator total cash control, a fast-moving line and consistent interaction with carwash customers.
Further, POS systems can facilitate the use of RFID tags. RFID tags can be affixed to customer windshields. These tags are scanned, and the car will be recognized as a monthly pass holder, Simmon stated. Once identified, the system will automatically open the carwash gates for customers to enter.
Though they assist with scanning, different POS functions can help sell and collect money for monthly wash clubs as well. POS systems can provide monthly recurring billing with automatic replenishment, Simmons said. This automated processing means there is no need for an owner or operator to process charges to customers every month.
The POS system can instead monitor and charge a credit card automatically, and this lets a carwash operator plan on taking in steady revenue month after month. Since many customers do not fully utilize a wash club’s value, an operator will actually be better off offering these programs, Simmons stated.
Finally, marketing videos can play on automated pay stations to help consumers understand the value of higher-priced packages or add-on services. Quay said that POS systems and automated cashiers can also offer wash packages that can be selected without the driver having to get out of the vehicle.