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Operations and Management

Servicing fleet accounts

Unlimited programs are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Recurring revenue helps stabilize your bottom line month over month. However, single-car owners aren’t the only recurring customers you should be going after. Tapping into fleet services is an excellent way to bring in some more cash.

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For instance, as the popularity of ride sharing grows, more and more people need to keep their cars in clean condition on a daily basis. However, ride-sharing drivers are only a slice of the pie. Numerous companies in your market area have fleet vehicles, even if they are not as obvious. Therefore, if you haven’t already, it is time to take advantage of companies’ needs for clean vehicles. 

Offering fleet services to businesses not only provides reliable weekday traffic for your carwash, but it also gives a significant boost to your bottom line. In this article, we’ll look at the best ways to set up a fleet service and maintain it.

Setting up your fleet accounts

“Services can be provided by any type of wash, depending on your point-of-sale (POS) system and the type of program you would like to set up,” Todd Davy, senior vice president of sales for DRB Systems, explains. 

You want to make it as easy as possible for both you and the customer to operate and use a fleet account. 

For that reason, Greg Snow, marketing manager for Washify, states, “A modern POS should have CRM and accounting capabilities to manage accounts and collect payments. Charging to a card on file or adding to an invoice on file are key to making your wash easy to do business with.”

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With today’s subscription culture so widespread, you can offer subscription-type plans to business owners as well. On the other hand, businesses are used to monthly bills, and sending them regular invoices that allow them to see the spikes and declines month over month might be useful as well. It comes down to customer preference.

As such, according to Davy, there are three typical options that carwashes might choose from in regards to offering fleet account services.

The first option is to have the customer pre-pay for wash units and have drivers within the fleet use cards, pre-assigned wash codes, license plate recognition or RFID tags to redeem washes. Once the company uses up the wash units, additional washes or wash packages can be added at the carwash’s main office.

The second option is manual billing. In this instance, drivers essentially charge the purchased wash to the fleet account. These charges are then tracked through the POS system and exported to accounting software for invoicing and billing.

“The point-of-sale system can restrict what can be charged to the fleet account, either by specific wash or wash package, or by total dollar amount per transaction,” Davy adds. “If the fleet account user wants to add a service that is not allowed to be charged to the account, the point-of-sale system can either block that item from being added to the transaction or allow the item but require the customer to pay for that item via cash or credit card.”

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The third option is to treat fleet account members like unlimited customers. However, in this instance, you would price your monthly plan slightly higher to account for the additional usage you’ll see from fleet accounts.

For example, if your standard unlimited plan costs $19.99 per month, you would increase it to $29.99 a month. This plan is especially useful for Uber and Lyft drivers, since you know they will wash more, and you want them to use your business. So, you target your pricing to earn that business.

In fact, Uber and Lyft drivers can be your best advertising, Davy says. For instance, you can give them fliers to hand out to their local riders. Of course, a clean car is the best advertisement of all, and you can be certain their riders will notice whether these cars are clean or not.

Now that you know how to bill them — what do you offer them? Do you give them a choice of your wash packages or restrict them to a certain one? Certainly, it’s easiest to keep one fleet to one package, but not every fleet has to be treated in the same way.

Snows says that, typically, operators will either have one package for all their fleet accounts or allow fleet owners to choose the package they want their vehicles to receive.

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“The sky is the limit when it comes to offering fleet service,” Davy says. “Use your advanced point-of-sale system to configure a program to best meet the needs of your fleet customer. Encourage the fleet to get the most out of your carwash business.”

Mobilizing the fleets

Of course, fliers are not the only way to advertise, and you shouldn’t only seek out Uber and Lyft drivers. There’s a plethora of business types that you can attract, but it will take active work on your part.

“Don’t wait for fleet account customers to come to you — seek them out,” Davy suggests. “Put together a promotional flier that you can distribute to local businesses and government offices. Visit local car dealerships that don’t have their own wash tunnels and offer them a fleet discount. Visit local rental car agencies. Meet with your local government agencies. The more visible you can be in your community, the more likely you are to earn profitable fleet business.”

Snow adds that it’s important to understand which local businesses have fleets, beyond the obvious ones. You’ve probably thought of contacting the police force and funeral homes, but have you thought about medical and pharmaceutical companies that also have to keep their fleets spotless?

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“Building awareness through direct mail, walk-in visits and prominent signage is best,” Snow says. “You should also work with the local chamber of commerce to spread the word and offer promotional pricing for fleets.”

With a program that’s so easy to manage, there’s no reason to delay and waste another month that could have seen more profits with these accounts. Be fleet-footed, so to speak, and talk to your POS system manufacturer to see what options your system has for fleet accounts.

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