Vending machines are a staple for most carwashes. These machines are ubiquitous at self-serve bays and offer everything from cleaning products to beverages. According to Kent Mcguire, president of Car Care Station, “Consumers are asking for spray products in all forms as they are much easier to apply. [Products such as] Tire Shine and Last Detail are the most popular as these are used with every wash to make your car stand out from the crowd.”
Advances and advantages
Today's customers don't always have cash on hand. According to Mcguire, customers want both product and payment choices. As payments have moved from cash to credit the next payment option on the horizon seems to be trending toward payments using your mobile device. Car Care Station currently accepts all cash, coin and credit payments and their machines can be customized to meet the requirements of emerging payment systems. Like any industry customer satisfaction is the goal. As a vending manufacturer Car Care Station has to appeal to both carwash owners and operators as well as the “end user” or carwash customer. Other vending machine companies, such as ShurVend, have enabled their machines to accept “proprietary” systems such as WashCard, Wickets and Exacta.
“Our goal as a vending manufacturer in the carwash industry is to offer the end-user new and easy ways to apply their favorite products, allowing the owners to make more profit per car by offering services that were not available in the past,” Mcguire said. “We understand that looks and easy function design are key to a successful vending operation and we train our owners to lay out a plan of services that will allow their business to grow in the direction they want it to.”
Preventing theft and vandalism
Another major issue for carwash owners and operators is theft and vandalism to vending machines. In many cases having a working camera system will deter many criminals from attempting to break in to the machines or otherwise vandalizing them. However some criminals might not be aware of the cameras or just might not care. Because of this vending machines should also offer their own security in order to keep money and products secure from criminals as well as dishonest employees.
Machines from Car Care Station, for example, use a device they call a VSB (or very secure bar). Mcguire explains that the VSB works like a trailer door lock, securing the door from top to bottom with padlocks. Even with cameras and extra security on the machine itself a free standing vending machine should always be placed in a well-lit area, preferably in the front of the carwash so cars driving by would be able to witness any tampering and notify authorities.
Know thy customers' needs
As competition heats up in the industry carwash owners and operators are using vending machine products to offset having to lower carwash pricing and free vacuums given to customers in order to drive sales. If your wash has had to drop prices and/or offer free services vending machines are a great way to pick up the slack. Like most consumers, many serious about keeping their car clean are loyal to a certain brand. It’s important to listen to your customer requests and stock your vending machines with what they are asking for.
“Most Carwashes have come to the conclusion that they must offer a less expensive wash but have not figured out how to offer more services to that client,” David Crampton of Washtec Australia said. “Because in most cases you pull in, the attendant takes your money, then you drive through the wash pull over and vacuum then leave without any other communication with an employee there is no other way to make sales until now. Vending product takes no effort just the right placement of the machine.”
ShurVend has designed a vending system in which the car care products are in a vending unit attached to the vacuum stations.
“In the last year we took suggestions make to us by customers and those we received at carwash shows to design a vending system that essentially is a security cage with the vending components and equipment hung inside,” James Holve of ShurVend said. “Now instead of two separate units, we have one unit that is bolted internally to a concrete pad, can be installed free standing against a wasll or onto a wall, and is front loading or rear loading.”
In addition to these ease of use options many carwashes are offering on-demand spray products, which cut down on waste because customers no longer have to buy a bottle which would eventually end up in the garbage.
“Customers love being able to get brand name products on demand without the hassles of carrying around half empty bottles in their cars,” Mike Dickert, owner of Complete Carwash Alabama said. “It is also very easy to operate so anyone can do it. Just spray and go.”