The point-of-sale (POS) system for car care providers is necessary for processing payments. However, this technology can offer so much more than just managing transactions. With the right state-of-the-art features, a POS system can boost profits, helping to navigate businesses in the direction of prosperity.

According to Adam Korngold, president of Washify, there are two types of POS systems. A staff-attended system features an employee who processes the money, whereas an express model enables the customers to pay for the service/product using a pay station by selecting their form of payment, whether cash, credit card, an RFID (radio-frequency identification), etc.

Korngold continues that the trend for the industry, especially in the tunnel market, is to implement express pay stations to save on labor while including such features as an automatized voice built in, as well as an easy-to-use touchscreen interface.

Advancements in technologies, such as automated voice features and touchscreen interfaces, are creating a more user-friendly experience for customers. Be that as it may, these comprehensible tools are not the only components available to enhance the productivity of a POS system.

The latest in payment options

RFID readers, a fairly recent advancement in POS capabilities, can increase customer amounts and provide faster service for members. Moreover, this feature, when combined with an unlimited program, can help owners and operators establish and retain steady revenue, according to a previous article featured in Professional Carwashing & Detailing. You can find this article on RFID by visiting www.carwash.com/keeping-customers-loyal-with-rfid/.

Korngold reports that technologies like RFID featuring an unlimited program would be a good addition for a high-volume tunnel, where the carwash owner/operator can easily and quickly process the unlimited membership through a pay station or terminal.

In addition to RFID, new payment methods, such as Apple Pay, are permitting today’s on-the-go, fast-paced consumers to purchase products and services in a more efficient way. “Customers want the flexibility and speed of being able to pay using other methods, [like] Apple Watch [and mobile apps],” explains Korngold.

New technology will continue to emerge, reports Korngold, enabling credit cards saved to POS files to update automatically. “So if you have an unlimited [or monthly] membership, and the credit card is declined because the expiration is bad or the card was reported lost [or] stolen, there [are products available] that will automatically update that credit card number,” he adds.

Additionally, when it comes to credit card security, Korngold encourages owners and operators to never save credit cards in the local database on-site, but rather have the POS processor save the credit cards off-site. He also suggests switching to tokens as an extra security measure. “Use something like tokenization, where the carwash sends a token [to the customer] that represents [payment that] can only be used by the carwash, so it is worthless to hackers,” he advises.

 

Mobile technology presents opportunities

Advancements in mobile technologies are creating a whirlwind of opportunities for POS systems. With mobile apps and notifications, consumers can make and track payments, view previous transactions, be notified of discounted washes and specials and schedule services online, says Korngold. “I think mobile payments are a big thing moving forward and giving customers the opportunity to buy a wash [or other services] through their phones,” asserts Korngold, adding that text messages can be sent to customers to let them know when their cars are done being detailed or cleaned.

Furthermore, in addition to mobile texting, integrated email marketing is also an option for POS, in which customers can receive emails such as when their credit cards have been declined or new specials are available.

As innovations in mobile technology continue to rise, so too will the capabilities of POS systems. These progressions in mobile and online technologies are enabling owners and operators to interact automatically with their customers through their POS systems, which helps enhance customer service and increase the chances of maintaining a strong, loyal client base.

But with this persistent growth in technology, how often should owners and operators invest in a new POS system? “It depends on the equipment,” asserts Korngold. “If the equipment is adaptable to multiple technology, it is not a big investment just [to add] an app. But I think carwash owners need to constantly evaluate their current POS system and see if it is bringing in customers. If they can’t connect to multiple apps or they can’t run an efficient unlimited program, then maybe they should look to upgrade.”

Marketing with POS

“Years ago POS really had more of an administrative function, but now there is the administrative piece as well as the marketing piece that has really become strong throughout the years,” states Kevin McLoughlin, vice president of client services for Washify.

POS system mainly report and show past transactions, shares Korngold. However, a good POS should also get a customer to wash more often, he adds, which is done by implementing promotional programs such as an unlimited/loyalty programs and online marketing. He explains that a loyalty program would keep customers information on file while also providing them with some type of reward system, such as points or a certain number of washes receives a free wash, rain guarantees and/or special, limited discounts. This in turn keeps the current customer base purchasing services more often while also generating additional business.

“For an unlimited membership you get your customer to lock in, and the POS is going to save the credit card and bill that customer every month [by] a certain amount; and by doing that, now the carwash owner has a guaranteed revenue stream coming in,” says Korngold, adding that taking advantage of the various tools POS can provide, such as wash books, gift cards and additional specials, are also great ways to get customers to purchase more often.

“POS should really be a marketing system, more than a point-of-sale,” notes Korngold. It doesn’t just end at the point-of-sale, it continues integrating the POS with the website, with online wash books, detail scheduling — all things that allow the customer to pay for your product at the carwash off-site, either through a phone app or a website.”