Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Show and teller

March 8, 2011

Operators who use automated cashiers at their carwash facilities might not realize it, but their tellers are perhaps the most important part of the wash sale process. Besides making the first impression, these tellers set the tone for not only that first visit — but every one thereafter.

Your automated “greeters” should be just like any employee — clean, neat, friendly and easy to understand. If your customer’s experience is one of ease and pleasantness, it can encourage the purchasing of additional services or buying into a membership and/or loyalty program.

There’s a small window of opportunity when a customer uses the teller, and it’s important to take advantage of those minutes before they drive into the bay.

Machine-based customer friendliness
Even though an automated teller takes away any actual human interaction, it is still possible to achieve high-quality customer service. According to Mary Madden, marketing manager for Unitec Electronics, “Using customized voice greetings at the entrance to the carwash can also increase purchases by customers who may respond better to a friendly voice rather than reading a menu.”

There is a psychology to customer/employee interactions and this science also applies to automated relations. It is often said that if you’re smiling while talking over the phone, the person on the other end of the line can perceive the emotion. If an automated teller is voice-based, be sure the speaking voice:

• Is clear and easy to understand;
• Speaks slowly;
• Uses proper English; and
• Is friendly and sounds happy that the customer is there.

These rules also apply to video-based greeters in which a person appears on the screen. The greeter should look neat and presentable, appear happy and wearing an appropriate uniform.

If, on the other hand, your greeter screen is not voice-based, make sure the wording is also clear and precise, not too small and not too complicated. Use a clear and easy-to-read font and use graphics to make additional services more appealing.

Madden also suggested that operators should use signage near the entrance to encourage additional service upsells and emphasize better wash packages. This way, a customer can see the signage, while perhaps behind another car in line, and then be reminded of upsells or package options when they get up to the teller.

Opportunity in the palm of your hand
Sometimes a customer can pull up to a bay and automatically select the same wash package over and over again. They might be unaware of other services available or price-saving programs and will stick to their usual tried and true selection.

According to George Pawlik of XpresSystems Inc., a company that manufactures auto tellers, ATMs and auto cashiers, automated tellers are an ideal way to increase sales and build customer loyalty as well. He has seen that the most popular program has been the unlimited wash programs offered through a teller. “They have the ability to generate a strong, steady revenue stream per month, regardless of the weather,” he said. They can also offer fleet, pre-payment and pay-as-you go programs.

“These programs work off automatic billing which also give operators more time in the day,” Pawlik explained. “So at the end of the day you are building customer loyalty and a steady revenue stream,” he said.

The future of automated tellers
There are a lot of Jetsons-esque predictions running amok about the future, but, for right now automated tellers are doing pretty well in terms of giving customers a modern and convenient way to get their cars washed.

For instance, according to Madden, many auto tellers today provide better change options for customers. “Customer-friendly change options like multiple-bill dispensing are much easier for a customer to manage than a fistful of dollar coins or quarters,” she said, but added that many carwashes are moving away from cash options, altogether.

“Credit-only tellers reflect the consumer’s decreased use of cash and desire for speed and convenience,” Madden explained. “The latest auto tellers offer lots of marketing functions to build individual sale totals and increase customer loyalty.

“There are still many older model auto tellers in use and those locations are missing out on the marketing advantages that the newer auto tellers have to offer.” Madden said that carwashes today consider such features as “must-haves” rather than options in today’s market.

Using RFID technology
RFID technology is a way of identifying a vehicle using a tag and radio waves (similar to the way tolls are paid on highways), at the start of a carwash. It identifies a car and attaches it to an account already set up at the carwash.

“RFID is being used a couple of ways in the carwash market today,” according to Pawlik. “First, because it processes vehicles quickly and efficiently, line speeds improve by eliminating the delays caused by customer indecision at the entry system.

“Secondly, depending on the system it helps maximize the potential of your carwash through improved marketing capabilities in this highly competitive carwash market.”

Madden added that RFID technology adds convenience and security. “Customers like the speed of RFID and the convenience of not having to use cash, not fumbling at the carwash entry with a credit card and not rolling down the window,” she explained. “Business owners like RFID for the security of controlling which vehicles can enter the wash. By tying the account to one specific vehicle, RFID eliminates abuse of multiple-vehicle use plagued by other fleet programs.”