As traditional desktop computers continue to be phased down or out of your operation, a prevalence of handheld, mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, will continue to dominate your company’s technology investments. In 2016 and moving forward, improvements on these devices include making them smarter and the user experience more personal.

Further, as consumers are also turning to these devices more nowadays, it behooves professional carwash owners and operators to embrace these mobile devices as well as feature them in the operational and the customer contact points of the business.

Information in a dash

More companies are using handheld devices to analyze data and customer information. Recent articles published in this magazine have shown how businesses, such as carwashes, can benefit from the information gathered about consumer buying habits in many different ways.

Smart businesses leverage collected data from consumers to formulate targeted marketing and advertising campaigns all geared toward attracting and upselling customers. Your company’s website is a great place to start.

By committing your business to building a company website, using social media and delivering unique content to draw traffic, you most certainly need to equip managers and your marketing content experts with mobile devices.

Whether it is for photos around the wash, use of popular apps that customers also use or a social media post, handheld devices, especially for Millennials, is a must-have for these employees.

Related article: How to start a carwash: 4 mobile marketing tactics to boost sales

Customer contact points

There is no better time to impress your customers than when face-to-face. During your customer’s visit to your carwash, mobile devices, apps and presentations can set the stage for a positive customer experience and possibly an upsell opportunity.

The prevalence of mobile devices at certain customer contact points can have a positive impact … when done correctly. Remember, customers visit carwashes today for two primary reasons: They want a clean car and it makes them feel good.

Professional carwash operators and crew members can also use mobile devices to educate and entertain customers who are in waiting areas of the wash. Infographics on such topics as the environmental benefits of carwashing versus driveway washing can be both educational and create customer loyalty. There are also apps, including many free ones, that can provide entertaining gaming for children in waiting areas.

And, since many customers today are using mobile devices in their personal lives, certain customers might view your proper use of these devices for business purposes as an example of your business’ quality.

If you are going to equip your staff with mobile devices, including to accept payment, make sure the employees are trained on how to properly use the device. Also, be sure to remind employees that the mobile devices are for work purposes only. Since these devices require a significant investment, which is ongoing as the technology improves, make sure to also invest in protective covers, cases and storage that are water resistant.

Back-end benefits

In addition to educating the customer during his or her visit, many professional carwash owners and operators invest in mobile technologies and software to solve everyday business challenges. There are several ways mobile technology, apps and software can advance your business, such as elevating staff communication, creating accountability and modernizing document sharing.

Technology is moving fast. Three decades ago, the idea of sending a letter through a computer, commonly known today as email, seemed to be science fiction. Today, even though email is still a viable form of communication among your staff, messenger apps and web-based document sharing should also be in your staff communication plan.

Critical information, such as on operations, car counts and revenue, can be viewed in real-time by select members of the team using these tools. Off-site surveillance can also be accessed with mobile devices. With these devices, the information is accessible from anywhere, anytime.

One mobile technology breakthrough over the past decade is face-to-face contact with service technicians at different locations. With popular apps, service techs and manufacturers can now view carwash owner and operator issues without physically being present at the wash.

Mobile devices can be used to communicate problem-solving tips while minimizing downtime at your carwash. This is a big cost savings and customer service benefit for professional carwash owners and operators. Such savings are why operators must invest in mobile technology to stay competitive. In order to achieve a desirable return on your mobile device investments, the technology must reduce the chance of errors or improve your service quality in some tangible way.

Regardless of your level of engagement with mobile devices and internet-based selling and marketing, these technologies are here to stay, and professional carwashes must embrace these devices as the new normal of doing business. Today, it is beyond just staying current. The use of business software and mobile devices is all about staying relevant.