At the Car Wash
Paystation Upgrade Opportunities
Knowing what to do with older entry
station equipment can be stressful, especially
when you’re forced to decide between
keeping what you currently have
or buying something new.
Common reasons to up grade or replace a paystation
Unreliable equipment - If your entry
station is the reason you have to put orange
cones in front of your automatic it
may be time to invest in new paystation
equipment. It hardly matters that your
wash equipment does a great job cleaning
a car if your customers cannot pay for
their wash or make a wash selection in
the first place.
Lack of payment options - If your
entry station only accepts codes from
inside a C-store or only accepts cash, it
may be time to consider replacing the unit
or upgrading it. The convenience factor
of an automatic wash weighs heavily on
whether a customer chooses a car wash
for a first or second visit. If customers are
forced to park their car to go inside to purchase
a code it is likely they will never
wash there in the first place.
If a customer cannot use their credit
card for payment it is unlikely that they
will have the cash to pay for the higherpriced
wash packages let alone the basic
wash package. If your entry station does
not take your customers’ money than
what good is it? Many successful wash
operations will accept cash, credit card,
loyalty gift cards, and fleet cards at their
automatic entry stations. These businesses
that take multiple forms of payment are
in the “making money business” and have
the bank accounts to prove it.
Lack of wash options - Older paystation
units only have the basic ability to offer
up to four different fixed wash packages.
One of the popular ways in which new
automated entry stations largely pay off is
in their ability to up sell additional wash
services to customers.
Whether up-selling an application of Rain
X or a tire scrub, the ability to increase
your dollar per ticket by $1-2 dollars per
customer pays off very quickly.
Keep the equipment you have -
If your entry station meets most of
your business requirements there are a
number of retrofit options that may be
available to you depending on what kind
of paystation equipment you currently
Credit card acceptance - Accept the
most convenient form of payment for your
customers and earn their business in return.
Commercial fleet tracking - Take advantage
of the largest untapped business
opportunity for your wash by establishing
business-to-business relationships in your
Loyalty gift card acceptance - Studies
prove that customers with a loyalty card
from your wash will wash far more often
than cash or credit card customers will.
Cash monitoring - Keep an eye on your
money remotely because nobody cares
more about your money than you!
Dollar coin acceptance - If you dispense
dollar coinage you had better accept them
at your paystation as well.
Paper bill acceptance - Some customers
will never fail to see that cash is king, so
you had better take their paper money at
the paystation if you want their business.
Factory up grades - Entry station manufacturers
may offer a number of upgrade
kits that existing customers can purchase
after the fact. The most common upgrade
is a dial-up modem kit for adding batched
credit card processing to your entry station.
Factory upgrades are generally limited
in scope since an entry station manufacturer
spends its resources on adding any new
features to their new line of entry stations.
It is generally cost prohibitive for wash
equipment manufacturers to offer many
upgrade options to older model units when
they could be focusing their resources on
innovating new designs.
Third party up grades - There is a thriving
market for companies that provide retrofit
solutions to car wash owners with older
entry station equipment. Most entry station
manufacturers offer ‘interface kits’ for the
leading third parties to allow communication
between third party components and
the entry station circuitry. These third party
companies primarily specialize in adding
cashless acceptance to entry stations that
normally do not have that option.
What makes third party retrofits so
popular is that wash operators with more
than one manufacturer’s equipment can
use a single retrofit solution for multiple
machines. For wash owners that look to
add credit card processing to multiple entry
stations--and perhaps multiple locations--
can greatly benefit from having a single
cashless system manage their cashless
monitoring and reporting regardless of
which equipment they have.
When wash owners can get away from
proprietary solutions, they find that they
gain a lot of additional benefits for their
entire wash operation.
Features worth considering
with a new purchase
Colour display screens -Humans process
information with all of their senses
but, 80% of that information is processed
visually. The optical nerve is hysically connected
to the brain and is 25 times faster
than the auditory nerve. Since a picture is
worth a thousand words, it should be no
surprise that animated touch screens allow
for a faster and less confusing customer
Entry station up-selling - Whether by
voice prompt, text prompt, or interactive
video, the latest in entry stations will do
a lot more than provide wash packages
for consumers to choose from. Based on
the selection made by the consumer, preprogrammed
add-ons are presented to the
customer for effective up-sales.
Internet credit card clearing - In a
service industry such as car washing, time
is money. A handful of the new entry stations
are able to process credit cards via
a high speed Internet connection. Having
the capability to process and clear credit
card transactions in three seconds or less
has multiple benefits.
Not only is throughput of the wash increased,
but credit card fraud is decreased
because the entire transaction is cleared before the service is provided. This is unlike
existing dial-up credit card systems
widely in-use that batch their transactions
throughout the day. Remote access and
troubleshooting: High-speed Internet capabilities
and computer software are not
just for clearing credit cards.
Manufacturers and car wash service
technicians now have the ability to remotely
access and diagnose issues with
some of the latest entry stations. Imagine
not having to wait for a service technician
to drive out to diagnose an issue!
Remote reporting and administration - By giving owners and operators this level
of accountability, it reduces the risk of
employees getting away with theft. If you
know how much money should be in the
deposit and if it comes up short you know
you have an employee problem, not a machine
Voice prompting - If humans process 80%
of their information visually, that leaves
the other 20% to what they hear. Studies
on human behaviour have concluded that
humans are prone to confusion which
leads to inaction when given only written
instruction. The addition of voice prompting
makes a consumer five times more likely
to follow instructions as they navigate an
Proximity tag technology - Proximity
technology has been making a big splash
in the gated entry and express wash community.
Entry stations are set up to read a
specialized proximity tag that is adhered to
the inside window of a vehicle. The entry
station reports the wash selection, time and
date stamp of the vehicle and software in
the back room authorizes the transaction.
The actual promotional value of the
proximity technology varies depending
on the software and the application.
Making the right choice for
The moment you buy a new entry station
for your car wash operation it will no
longer be the latest and greatest. Advancements
in entry technology are evolving so
quickly that to stay on top would cost a
fortune. Thankfully, most of the recent
software-based entry stations can all be
updated remotely to take advantage of the
latest programming and feature sets. Wash
industry manufacturers make a point of
offering existing customers with limited
upgrade options when new hardware or
software is available.
For existing businesses considering an
entry system upgrade for their location,
consider what your goals are for the upgrade
first. Remember that many retrofit
solutions are available to help defray the
cost of having to buy an entirely new paystation.
So whether you’re replacing what
you have, or you ascribe to the philosophy
of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, remember
that no matter what you decide,
you have options available to you.
Do your homework before you buy,
talk to your distributor, contact manufacturers,
and look into what third-party solutions
are available to you and you can’t
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