Hi everyone, and welcome to winter. I hope you had a pleasant fall season and are now enjoying optimal profits as we cruise through the colder months of the year. For this article, I would like to cover an integral, yet often overlooked, aspect of operating a carwashing business: the computer systems.
A modern carwash must have an up-to-date carwash computer to be able to run at maximum efficiency. I have experience as an owner/operator for almost 20 years, and in my opinion, a car care business would have to invest a small fortune on bookkeepers, accounting sheets, etc. if it does not have a computer with the capabilities to monitor and keep track of the day-to-day operations, expenses and profits.
What is the solution? Carwashes must invest in modern point-of-sale (POS) systems and get on track.
Owners and operators can choose from several different systems and functions; and most, if not all, manufacturers and distributors of POS systems will help carwashes make an informed decision based on their specific needs. Over the past few years I have used several companies, and almost all were up to the task of providing quality and a high level of service with their POS and controller system offerings.
Computer system considerations
In many cases when considering a new system, owners and operators can request an online demonstration before purchasing the technology.
Here are some general factors to consider before making a final choice on a computer system:
- Make sure the system being considered is PCI (payment card industry)-compliant and has a good track record (almost all computers now are fully compliant). If available, reference product reviews to get an idea of how the system performs for other users.
- When introducing an interface component to a carwash, make sure to consider any current computer-based equipment, such as an existing tunnel controller system.
- If your carwash maintains a lot of account and fleet service vehicles, look into how easily a new prospective system can be integrated and provide accurate, up-to-date tracking.
- Make sure you have thorough and precise time-clock management for all employees and that this management can be separated by department if needed.
- And finally, check into any associated Internet accessibility and security protocols.
Over the years I have spent a lot of time working with different computer systems, and almost all are up to the applicable task(s) listed above.
Exploring POS system capabilities
As we move toward a new paradigm in carwashing, whether a wash is express, full-service, flex-serve or self-serve, the need for a comprehensive, yet simple and streamlined, computer and tracking system has never been more prevalent.
In my opinion, of all the tools now available to the modern carwash owner and operator, POS systems are some of the most important. Not only can they help carwashes control costs on-site, but most also have the ability to monitor costs and transactions off-site.
Before installing a new POS system, it is imperative to create the internal network. An experienced IT professional can help carwash owners and operators before and after initial POS system installation and software programming.
Carwashes should also consider having someone to answer questions, troubleshoot any issues that may arise and install any improvements or upgrades needed for their POS systems.
Additionally, make sure local phone/Internet service providers are up to speed (no pun intended) on their upload and download kbps. This will make a huge difference, especially when it comes to credit card processing.
The majority of companies provide a two- to three-day, on-site training with initial installation and can smooth most wrinkles then. Check to see if the company being considered for a new computer system also offers monthly tech support and, if so, at what cost.
Some companies do not charge for monthly tech support; and, in my opinion, this is usually an indication that they are confident enough in their design that end users will in fact never really need the support, which is a big plus in my book.
Numerous high-quality companies manufacturing and distributing computer systems are out there. I encourage all carwash owners and operators to do some research into the vast assortment of options.
When searching for a computer system that is right for you, if you have any questions or want my opinion on different pros and cons, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can also check out my newest training program at www.theschoolofwash.com, and read through informative features on the subject through past editions of Professional Carwashing & Detailing.
Until next time,
Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, California, can be reached at 310-947-9711 or via email at [email protected]. You can also visit his website at www.carwash-consultant.com. For more information on this subject and other carwash equipment, products and services, please visit www.theschoolofwash.com.