Hi everyone and welcome to winter. I hope all of you had a pleasant fall season and are now enjoying record profits as we cruise through the colder months. In this Consultant’s Corner, I would like to cover some of the more overlooked aspects of carwashing and discuss an integral part: computer systems!

Today’s modern carwash must have a thorough and complete (not necessarily complicated) carwash computer to be able to run at maximum efficiency. It is my experience as an owner/operator for almost 20 years that without a computer, you will indeed spend a small fortune on bookkeepers, accounting sheets, etc., and at the end of it all, you will still need some type of modern computer.

The answer? Get yourself a modern POS system and get on track!

There are many different systems to choose from, and there are several companies out there that can help you make an informed decision. I have used several companies over the past few years, and almost all are capable of providing quality and service with any of their POS and controller systems. It is a good idea to check and even ask for an online demonstration before you purchase. With that said, don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet and start seriously putting together your system.

Here are some things you will want to consider before making a final choice:

  1. Make sure the system you are considering is PCI (payment card industry) compliant and has a good track record with everyone (almost all computers now are fully compliant).  
  2. Take careful consideration when introducing an interface component to your carwash if you already have an existing controller system in your tunnel.
  3. If you do a lot of account and fleet service vehicles, look into how easily your new prospective system can integrate and provide up-to-date tracking.
  4. Make sure you have thorough and accurate time-clock management for all your employees and that they can be separated by department if need be.
  5. Check into Internet accessibility and security protocols associated.

I have spent a lot of time working with many different computer systems, and almost all of them are up to the task(s) I have listed above.

As we edge in closer toward a whole new paradigm in carwashing, whether it be an express car wash, a full-service car wash or a “do-it-yourself” self-serve, the need for a comprehensive, yet simple and streamlined computer and tracking system has never been more relevant.

Of all the tools now available to the modern carwash operator, the computer and POS system is, in my opinion, one of the most important. Not only does it help you control your costs at the site, but it will allow you to monitor costs and transactions off-site too.

It has been my experience that when you go to put your system together, it is imperative that you design your internal network ahead of time. You will need an experienced IT professional to help you with your system before and after your initial installation and software POS programming. Issues sometimes occur or improvements can be done, so it is always a good idea to have someone that can help when needed. Also, make sure your local phone/Internet service provider is up to speed (no pun) on their upload and download Kbps. This will make a huge difference especially when it comes to your credit card processing.

Most companies provide for a two- to three-day on-site training session when they do their initial installation, and they can smooth most wrinkles then. Check to see if the company you’re thinking about going with also offers monthly tech support and at what cost. There are a couple of companies that do not charge for monthly tech support, and that is usually an indication they are confident enough in their design that you will in fact never really need it.

There are many good companies out there and I encourage you to look into them all. If you have any questions or if you want my opinion on a number of different pluses and minuses, please don’t hesitate to call or email me. You can also check out my newest training program at www.theschoolofwash.com.

Until next time,

Chris

Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., can be reached at 310-947-9711 or via email at chris@carwash-consultant.com. 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.