New investors often prioritize the quality and efficiency of car wash hardware over the point-of-sale (POS) car wash software solution that integrates with it. Rather than accept a perceived risk, new owners choose to invest in the software solution recommended by the equipment manufacturer or the one that fits whatever’s left in the budget.
It’s understandable. Financial success is tied to customer retention, and customers that leave with a mediocre wash may not return.
But by deprioritizing POS software, new owners could lose out on solution flexibility, adaptability and security. Before long, their off-the-shelf POS solution causes more issues than it solves, forcing the owner to invest in new technology, which contributes to a growing – and expensive – tech stack.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, new owners are better served by selecting a POS solution in parallel with the rest of their equipment and before they break ground, begin renovations or choose a car wash location.
The reason why is simple.
Your point-of-sale solution will become your car wash’s central nervous system, connected to every element of the car wash business, from pay stations and plan membership to tunnel equipment and even employees. Compatibility is a must.
It is the secret to your success.
Jump to a Section
Exceptional car wash POS solutions provide robust marketing and reporting capabilities, as well as e-commerce capabilities. They seamlessly integrate with third-party apps, provide mobile access, manage self-pay terminals and so much more.
Any POS software solution will process transactions, automatically calculate totals, as well as handle opening procedures, end-of-day reconciliations and provide some rudimentary reports.
A good POS solution does so much more. It tracks labor, executes marketing efforts, and manages inventory. For your car wash, it can handle unlimited wash programs, fleet accounts and other programs car washes typically run. It should collect and analyze data at every turn, giving you the insights you need to optimize your business.
It’s enough to make choosing the right POS software for your car wash business a bit of a challenge, so start by carving out enough time in your business plan to adequately evaluate your software shortlist.
Choosing the right vendor means knowing who’s out there. Car wash industry owners and operators are well known for their willingness to share ideas and information to help other operators, so a great place to start is by talking to other car wash owners. Attending trade shows is another great way to meet vendors and see their products.
Once you have your list of potential vendors, reach out and ask questions, like:
When comparing POS systems, make sure you are comparing similar modules. For example, one vendor may break out various components, while another will quote on a lump sum.
There was a time when customized software meant engaging developers to build a stand-alone solution. Doing so required time and money to maintain the system and further design and development whenever a new feature was required.
Today, customization refers to POS software that is flexible and intuitive, allowing users to tailor solutions to fit the immediate needs of the car wash. Customization allows owners to build an efficient solution for their individual customer loyalty programs when a one-size fits all approach simply won’t work. One that can accurately retrieve totals and apply promotions at a customer’s request.
Data measurement, reporting and analysis are vital to car wash success. Customization allows owners to build data tools that collect relevant metrics, recommend areas of improvement and identify opportunities to increase revenue.
Most importantly, a customizable POS solution can evolve with the business, allowing car wash owners to build new solutions that meet the needs of the business, delivering extended ROI over the long term.
Profitability begins with site layout and traffic flow optimization for your full-featured car wash. A robust POS solution can help here, too, by pinpointing the optimal placements of kiosks and POS terminals, as well as employee and customer flow.
Employees will interact with the POS system more than anyone else, so owners will want to ensure easy access to the system terminals is included in site plans. This also makes it more efficient when it’s time to service hardware. The result? Increased efficiency, reduced waiting times and great customer experience.
Owners should put special emphasis on a POS solution’s reporting capabilities. The better the system is at collecting and analyzing data, the more opportunity there is to pivot toward profitability. For example, a good POS solution will reveal:
Take time to review each POS solution’s ability to manage labor. Owners will want a solution that provides the best labor and volume data available to help schedule employees. Robust systems will even allow you to track site traffic in real-time to help you determine whether you are properly staffed.
Some car wash POS solutions include integrated time clocks for employees, allowing them to punch in and out via smartphone, on-site kiosk and other integrated devices.
Choosing the right POS solution plays into the most important component of repeated sales: The customer experience. As car wash owners move through the selection process, it’s important they remember that the POS is often the first thing prospects and customers encounter. And they expect a fast, convenient and friction-free experience.
Great point-of-sale systems cover the requirement by offering self-serve options, including a pay station, e-commerce and a mobile app. They provide an intuitive interface and allow customers to manage their membership through the digital devices they are most comfortable with.
They go the extra mile by providing reliable vehicle recognition technology that automates customer entry and queuing, topping it off with personalized messages and customized promotions.
Owners will likely encounter POS solutions that operate on one of three computing systems: on-premises, cloud and hybrid-cloud. Each system offers its own set of pros and cons.
POS software installed on servers owned by the car wash business and located within its facilities are considered on-premises solutions. On-premises solutions tend to process information faster since they’re not sending information to a remote server. Additionally, internet connectivity is not required to access programs. If an investor owns more than one car wash, however, they either have to host multiple iterations of the solution, which require individual maintenance and updates, or manage a centralized server that impacts business continuity at all sites when an issue arises.
By now, everyone is familiar with cloud technology through which software solutions are hosted on a network of remote servers accessed by users via the internet. Those who invest in a cloud POS solution can access the data management system anytime, anywhere on almost any device. Synchronization of data across sites is easier, computing resources are scalable, upgrades are handled by expert partners and disaster recovery is all but assured since data backups exist outside the car wash’s native system.
The cloud’s biggest downside is accessibility when internet connections are down. An outage, or even a weak connection, can create unexpected downtime or latency.
A hybrid-cloud solution offers the speed of an on-premises model with all the benefits of a cloud implementation. Hybrid-cloud frameworks leverage edge computing, which global professional digital services firm Accenture describes as “an emerging computing paradigm [focused on] processing data closer to where it’s being generated, enabling processing at greater speeds and volumes, leading to greater action-led results in real-time.”
Car wash operators using a POS with this type of architecture enjoy native remote access to cloud services, allowing for multi-site management from anywhere and efficient data analytics in the cloud. They also maintain continued operation during times of poor internet connectivity or internet outages. Architecture updates are delivered via the cloud automatically, allowing users to access new software and solution features as soon as they’re released.
The challenge for new owners will always be forgoing car wash site selection and facility construction prior to choosing a car wash point-of-sale solution. But it remains the most vital component of every car wash company’s success strategy.
Get a head start by choosing the POS solution that’s perfect for your business. Need help? DRB is here.
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.”