Carwashes offer a variety of payment options for customers, each with its own set of pros and cons. According to David Blumenfeld, director of business and product development for Osborne Coinage Co., carwash tokens can help to deter common carwash crimes. “Since the late '70s, operators have switched from quarters to tokens as a way to reduce theft and discourage vandalism,” he notes. “Today tokens are accepted in over 40 percent of U.S. locations.”

Tokens can also allow payment via credit card without installing new equipment or updating every self-service device, says Blumenfeld. The card swipers can be retrofitted to existing bill changers, he adds.

“The tokens dispensed work in all [carwash] bays. Most vending machines can be programmed to accept tokens as well,” explains Blumenfeld.

Tokens can offer security

According to Blumenfeld, tokens can offer more security than cash. Technology makes coins difficult to counterfeit, he says.

“Criminals want money, not tokens,” Blumenfeld notes. “It’s too hard to convert tokens to cash. Criminals target unattended locations where real money is kept. They smash coin meters for quarters and pry open vac coin boxes to steal quarters…Cash is only stored in well-protected bill changers. All money is secured in the changers, making it easy to limit cash access to the owner alone.”   

Unattended carwashes must often take extra steps to keep their locations safe from thieves and vandals. Blumenfeld states an increasing number of in-bay automatic locations are turning to tokens for their vacuums.

“[In-bay automatic] pay stations dispense a vac token with each wash,” he shares. “Paying customers get a free vac while noncustomers have to pay to use the vac.”

Make tokens a marketing tool

In addition to keep your wash more secure, carwashes can also extend branding efforts to their tokens.

“Customization is a small and inexpensive way to keep your brand in front of customers,” notes Blumenfeld.

The coins can also encourage patrons to return to your wash to use their tokens, creating repeat customers.

“Patrons wind up saving an extra token or two in their car which become constant reminders to come back and re-wash,” Blumenfeld concludes. “Branded tokens are a hook to bring folks back to your location.”