Where to Start with Car Wash Point-of-Sale Metrics

July 21, 2021

Tracking metrics is critical to every business. They facilitate data-based decisions. They show you where you’ve been, where you are and where you need to go. And they help you catch problems early so molehills don’t morph into mountains.

The question is: What should you be tracking? A good point-of-sale system (POS) will include a robust reporting engine that will provide a ton of data, so much so that it may be overwhelming at first. We’re here to help you navigate these reports and focus on the most important metrics.

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Daily Reports

There are a few reports we recommend car washers review every day to help them stay on top of their business.

General Sales

Whichever POS you choose should provide you with a General Sales Report. This report shows the details of everything that has gone into your system for the day, including items, coupons, discounts, etc.

As you are looking at this report, pay special attention to:

  • What products you are selling – If you’re selling more lower-tier washes, for example, you may want to consider marketing tactics to move more people up to your premium wash.
  • Coupons/Discounts – Discover which offers are driving business so you can invest your efforts in the most successful promotions.
  • Over/Short Amounts – Shortages may indicate internal theft, but it could be an issue with your setup. Either way, the sooner you can identify the problem and resolve it, the better.

SiteWatch_Web.pngWash Stats

Your Wash Stats Report provides the answers to important questions you should be asking yourself throughout the day:  What is your car count? What is your dollar amount per car? Do you have more staff on hand than you need? Or are you short-staffed? How many cars do you have per hour?

The answers to these questions can help you make adjustments throughout the day. Eventually, you’ll be able to make informed predictions that will help you plan ahead, particularly when it comes to staffing.

Daily Recharges Report

If you have unlimited wash plans, and we hope you do, your POS system should be automatically recharging member’s credit cards monthly to renew their plans. The Daily Recharges Report will show you how many plans were renewed and the total dollar amount.

Perhaps more importantly, it will also show you recharges that were declined. Of those declined, you’ll be able to see which ones will be retried and which will be marked lapsed because their retry period has expired.

Beyond that, you want to look at the success rate for your first attempts. In our experience, most washes are around 90%. Yours may be a bit lower, but the important thing is to identify what is normal for your wash. If you notice that the percentage starts to stray from that norm, you’ll want to investigate. You may find that there was a credit card breach or issue at a local bank that you’ll want to proactively address.

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Weekly Reports

There are some key reports that car washers sometimes overlook, such as these that should be reviewed weekly.

Employee Security Keys

Most POS systems will provide you a report that details the security events that occur at your wash, such as voided sales, discounts that require special approval, incomplete sales and abandoned sales.

Voided sales are particularly important. An increase in voids could indicate employee theft, but it also could just suggest that a cashier needs to be retrained. Either way, you want to identify and resolve the issue before it becomes a bigger problem.

Incomplete sales can also help you fix problems before they get serious. If you have a spike in sales that were marked paid but never marked as serviced, there could be a problem with the communication between your POS and your tunnel controller. Gone unchecked, your staff will inevitably find a workaround, but it will likely be less efficient and result in longer customer wait times.

Deposit Amounts for Credit Card Transactions

Remember, when you’re dealing with credit card transactions, you’re dealing with two different systems: your POS and your credit card processor that are communicating back and forth online. Many things can happen in that communication. You need to make sure that the amount your POS system says should be deposited in your bank account from the credit card company matches what actually is deposited. Keep in mind that the date the POS system has recorded the transaction in the report may be different from the date the credit card processor has recorded it as deposited. Also, remember that the card processor will likely deduct their fees before making the deposit, which may cause a discrepancy in the amounts.

Member Analysis

This report allows you to look at current members as well as those who have recently fallen off. You can also see member recharge status. If you see a customer who has an expired credit card, you can reach out to them and get their correct information rather than allowing the system to continue retrying.

The usage stats in this report can help you identify customers who aren’t using their unlimited wash plan. While that may seem like free money, those customers are less likely to remain on your plan. In fact, SUDS has found that customers who use their plan at least four times in the first month are 61% more likely to still be on the plan six months later. So rather than simply collecting money from these customers, you may want to reach out and remind them to use their plan. Particularly in that first month, SUDS recommends reaching out to them four or five times to help establish a healthy washing habit.

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boost_unlimited_wash_plan_membership.pngMonthly Reports

Most of the reports we suggest operators look at monthly revolve around your unlimited wash plans.

Churn Rate

Your Churn Rate is the percentage of wash plan members who have dropped out. You can see the bigger picture if you look at it monthly rather than daily or weekly.

There are different ways to calculate churn. If you have multiple POS systems, you need to learn how each one calculates it so you compare the numbers accurately. At DRB®, we calculate Churn Rate by dividing the total number of customers who have left the plan (whether voluntarily or involuntarily due to credit card decline) by the starting membership number.

To determine how to drive churn down, you need to determine what drove it up. If customers are choosing to leave, look at their usage and how long they’ve been in a plan. If you notice a large percentage of customers are leaving soon after they sign up, you may want to offer discounts for staying in the plan for a certain length of time, such as half off for the first six months.

If credit card declines are causing churn, look at your automatic retry settings. If your system is not automatically retrying cards or only doing it for a few days, you could drive Churn Rate down if you set it to retry cards for 14 days or longer. Also, consider utilizing a processor that provides a credit card updater that will automatically update expired credit cards if allowed by the customer’s bank.

Ending and Starting Membership Counts

You may assume if you are selling the same amount of unlimited wash plans that your membership numbers are steadily climbing. That may not be the case though if you have a lot of drop-offs. The Ending and Starting Membership Counts will show you that big picture.

If you look at this monthly, you’ll begin to identify patterns and peak membership seasons. When you know your slow time is coming, you can ramp up your marketing efforts to drive new memberships and convince existing members to stay. SUDS can help with data-backed marketing strategies.

Membership Usage

A Member Usage Report will show you how many washes customers redeemed over a 30-day period. This report can provide a great perspective. When you see a customer come in daily, you may think they’re killing your profits. This report will show you that for everyone who overuses the plan, they are typically offset by those who only wash once or twice a month and may even skip some months altogether.

We have found that the cheaper plans tend to have the lowest usage. It’s the “The Netflix Effect” where it’s so cheap, they don’t think about the auto-renew coming through.

Again, if you notice that some plan members aren’t coming in at all, you may want to reach out to make sure they understand the recurring charge or send out incentives to get them to the wash so they see its value and maintain their memberships.

Wash Stats

As we mentioned earlier, you should look at this daily, but don’t forget the monthly data. If you’re a multi-site owner, this is a good time to compare car counts and revenue. It’s not enough to just look at revenue.  If you do, you may assume a site with lower revenue is doing poorly, but it may actually be your higher volume site. If you notice this trend, you may want to dig in deeper with a Cross-Site Usage report. You may find that the site with higher revenue is doing the unlimited plan recharges while the site with low revenue but high volume is where customers are using their plans.

Another thing that you want to do is compare your stats to the previous month and the same month of the previous year. If you use a DRB POS, you can also access IndustryWatch®, which allows you to compare your wash's numbers to current industry averages.

Get the Data You Need

Now that you see how important metrics are to the success of a car wash business, you want to make sure the POS system you select includes a robust and intuitive reporting engine. It should be cloud-based so you can access your data anytime from anywhere. You also want to ensure that they have a support staff that can help you understand the data and make adjustments to your POS settings based on what the data tells you.

The value of data is undeniable. Knowing how to track and use it effectively can make the difference between a good car wash and a great one.

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For more insights on investing in the car wash industry, download our ebook “The Car Wash Journey: A New Investor’s Guide to Point-of-Sale, Optimization and Business Success.”

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