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Now that the warmer months are here, ice and water vending machines will seem more attractive to customers on their way to sporting events, picnics or outdoor parties. Knowing this, carwash owners and operators who are looking for an additional profit center, but little additional work, might want to consider adding on an ice and water vending machine to their property. One of the myths out there about the carwashing industry is that it’s a hands-off business. And, while we all know that’s not true, ice and water vending machines are in fact pretty hands-off and can be an ideal way to generate incremental income for your existing carwash location. They are fully automated, operate with little upkeep and offer up a unique service to your customer base. Also, no additional employees are needed for them to operate.
For an ice and water vending machine to be successful, you have to incorporate one into an already-successful location that has good traffic flow and easy in and out access.
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By adding on an ice and water vending unit at a carwash location, it becomes a one-stop shop location for customers, offering two necessary services. People looking for ice will then pull into the carwash and — if marketing is done correctly — will get a carwash while on the property. Along with marketing, cross-promotion can give a customer who buys a bag of ice a discount on his or her next carwash. Another great part about today’s water and ice vending machines is that they are freestanding and offer bagged or straight-to-cooler ice that is filtered, clean and made on demand. Also, they can operate 24/7 so late-night or early morning customers will be grateful when their usual go-to shop for ice or water is closed during off hours.
Ice and water machines are very modern and there are units available that even offer remote management, which allows the owner to manage this additional profit center from their computer or smartphone. They can also view a sales analysis, allowing the owner to track and summarize sales on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis. An owner can also compare those findings with regional sales of other units within the network.
Today’s machines come with their own surveillance and security features. Units will notify the owner when someone tries to enter the machine unauthorized, even in the middle of the night. Modern machines can also allow owners to remotely troubleshoot and resolve operational issues even while a customer is at the location. Whether it is crediting a free bag of ice for a customer or resetting the bill validator, this can all be done using a smartphone or computer.
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Because customers can also purchase ice from their local gas station or grocery store, it is important for owners to differentiate themselves from the competition. For instance, a competitor might not be open 24 hours a day, or offer ice that comes from a pure source. Therefore, when putting up signage for an ice and water vending machine, be sure to tell customers about the advantages your machine can provide:
Michael E. Little is vice president of marketing for Ice House America, LLC, of Jacksonville, FL. Ice House, founded in 2003, has more than 2,700 installed and independently owned ice house locations in 27 states. There are over 100 corporate-owned Ice House locations, with the balance independently owned and operated. The company has two consumer-facing brands, Twice the Ice and IceBorn, depending on the region. IceBorn has been designated “Top 10 Franchises to Watch” by Entrepreneur Magazine and named “2013 Military Friendly Franchise” by Victory Media publisher of G.I. Jobs and Vetrepreneur Magazines (compiled via a data-driven survey, which was independently tested by Ernst & Young). For more information regarding ownership opportunities, please call 888-388-1590 or visit www.icehouseamerica.com.