Selecting the right carwash point-of-sale (POS) system isn’t the easiest decision you’ll make for your carwash — or the most fun.
It may be tempting to simply default to the system that your equipment manufacturer offers. After all, who doesn’t love a one-stop shop? But think about it: If you were craving Mexican food, would you go to a buffet that had all kinds of food, or would you go to a Mexican restaurant?
In the same way, selecting a vendor that offers a “buffet” of carwash technologies may fail to meet your specific POS needs. Watch out for these common dangers of the one-stop shop.
Danger No. 1: Equipment compatibility
Going with your equipment manufacturer may require you to adjust your workflow to suit the compatibility of their equipment. This is especially an issue with tunnel controllers. If you use a manufacturer’s POS system, you may be tied into using that company’s tunnel controller. If this is a concern, make sure you select a POS system that is compatible with different controllers.
Related: POS differences in North America
Danger No. 2: Focus and support
If POS isn’t your provider’s main focus, you may find that it’s low on the development priority list. The provider may also lack the POS development expertise to build interfaces directly with other software, such as accounting software systems. It may rely on a middleman to get data from its POS to those other software systems. This can make issues difficult to troubleshoot and can lead to fingerpointing as to which system is to blame.
Further, it may not have the right resources in place to support the system before, during and after install.
Danger No. 3: Product depth
That lack of POS focus also often impacts the overall sophistication of the system. Sure, they may be able to add requested features, but does that feature really add value, or are they just checking a box? Look for a provider that develops each feature and product with you and your consumers in mind. Find out if they accept enhancement requests and how they vet and fulfill those requests.
Danger No. 4 Discounts run out
One of the most attractive things about working with a “one-stop-shop” is you often can get reduced pricing if you use its tunnel equipment, POS and chemicals. But what happens to your POS pricing if you decided to change something down the line, such as your chemicals? Be sure to ask when negotiating how long the discounts are in place and what, if anything, will void them.
Finding the right POS
The best way to find reputable carwash POS companies is to talk with other carwashers about their good and bad experiences. One of the best things about the carwash industry is that operators are willing to share ideas and information to help other operators. Attending trade shows is another great way to meet vendors and see their products.
Here are some things to look for.
How long has the company been in the industry? More importantly, how long has it been providing POS? Find out how many of the top carwashes use its solutions and ask for references and a verifiable customer list.
Who owns the data?
Ideally, you will make the right POS choice right out of the gate. Switching POS providers can be a painstaking process. But every carwash business is unique, and sometimes the first POS system you select just isn’t the right fit. If that happens, you want to be sure that you can get all of your data, including monthly pass customer data and credit card tokens. Without this data, you will need to have all pass plan members re-swipe their cards if you decide to switch POS systems, which will inevitably lead to unnecessary churn.
Ask the provider what the process will be for transferring the data in the event you choose to leave. Request references from operators who successfully left and were able to get their data.
As we said, a provider that is not focused solely on POS may not provide the level of support you need. In addition to technical expertise, find out if it offers emergency support and what its response times are. Ask how big the support department is and how the company trains its support technicians.
No easy way out
Selecting the POS offered by the manufacturer of your other carwash equipment can seem like the path of least resistance, but it can lead to more frustration and wasted money down the line. The only way to find the right POS fit for your business is to consider and properly vet the vendors.
Todd Davy is the senior vice president of sales for DRB.