Selecting the right self-serve car wash payment system to partner with and integrate into a full car wash solution can lead to quicker, more and, in some cases, recurring revenue for diligent integrators and manufacturers.
Self-serve carwash payment systems have become the expected experience for a majority of consumers. Even more so over the past year, unattended, contactless payment is naturally considered a cleaner and safer solution versus PIN entry credit card or cash transactions by increasingly health-conscious consumers. In fact, according to a Mastercard study from April 2020, 82% of global consumers view contactless as the cleaner way to pay, and find that it enables them to get in and out of stores 10 times faster. Most consumers today visit a carwash or gas station with the assumption they will be able to tap or, at the very least, use their debit or credit card to pay, and the overall experience will be quick, seamless, and secure.
A subsequent Visa poll this past January 2021 found a whopping 75% of US small-medium businesses expect consumers to prefer contactless payments the same or more than they do now. None of this is surprising given our current pandemic situation, but the tide has most certainly shifted and the convenience of self-serve solutions is here to stay.
Unattended low-touch, Contactless OnlyTM payment solutions can and have been incorporated into carwash, tire inflator, vehicle vacuum systems, and many other self-serve stations. Carwash operators are realizing the time, maintenance and overall cost savings that new self-serve carwash credit card systems and technology can bring vs. traditional cash and coins. Further, it’s been proven that customers will tend to spend more and return more frequently when they have more convenient options to pay.
With all of this in mind, it behooves carwash manufacturers to implement and offer best in class carwash payment systems as part of their fully integrated solutions. However, there are a number of features and options to consider when researching and selecting an unattended payment solution to integrate into a broader carwash system; options which will benefit carwash integrators, manufacturers, operators and their end customers, the average consumer.
Carwash Integrator/Manufacturer Specific Features
Ease of Integration
Look for and select a solution which offers a simple, easy to use and well-documented API through which your own or other third-party systems can be integrated for seamless data transfer. This may enable you to offer a fuller data solution now or in the future as your system or those of your other partners evolve.
Ideally you should choose to work with a self-serve carwash payment system vendor offering a single, OS-agnostic solution. Depending on your customer base, you are likely also well advised to choose a single payment processor for both the US and Canada.
A single integration point will be greatly appreciated when it comes time for upgrades, maintenance or support.
Mobile phone apps can be used to support both carwash operators and their end customers.
Operators can use a carwash management app to check on the status of equipment, issue refunds or check on real-time financial reports from anywhere and at any time.
Self-serve carwash payment apps can be used to enable customers to pre-pay for washes or enroll in customized loyalty programs, both of which encourage repeat visits and added revenue for operators.
QR Code Payment Option
Mobile apps can also offer end users the added low-touch convenience of contactless QR Code payments, whereby they only need to point their phone at a terminal to initiate a transaction. This is quickly becoming a preferred method, particularly for younger, more tech savvy consumers.
Hardware Service Fee Billing Support
Some payment processing solutions will take on your hardware service fee billing, which can streamline the experience for carwash operators and alleviate this particular task from your billing team, which may currently be manual.
Cost Savings and Revenue Opportunities
Not a feature, per se, but keeping costs at a minimum is certainly an important factor in determining what profit margins can be realized when integrating a self-serve carwash credit card system. Be sure to understand all of the potential costs associated with the systems that you evaluate and consider.
In addition to assessing cost, investigate what, if any, ancillary revenue generation opportunities a payment system vendor may offer.
Solid Warranty Service and Support
While also not a feature, it is always important to work with a solution provider who stands firmly behind their product and offers a solid warranty in the event of malfunctions or outages. Hardware sometimes fails and software can experience bugs despite even the most rigorous testing, so be sure to choose to work with a partner who is committed to providing a solid service level agreement and reliable customer support team.
Carwash Owner/Operator Features and Benefits
Flexible, Convenient Payment Options
Modern self-serve carwash payment systems enable carwash owners to offer a wide range of credit card and mobile payment options in addition to cash and coins, thereby increasing potential revenue from those customers who don’t carry or want to handle the latter. Self-serve carwash operators have reported up to 20% increases in the average amount customers spend after enabling electronic payments. Contactless solutions can and should include support for Interac debit, Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, Apple Pay and Google Pay. As noted, QR code payments via mobile apps can also be offered as a convenient alternative.
Count Up or Count Down Carwash Payment Options
Payment options on self-serve car was payment systems can be configured to allow for counting up or counting down; each of which has its pros and cons for both operators and customers.
When customers tap and pay for their car wash, time begins counting down (e.g. from five minutes) and when the time is up, they are required to tap again for more time.
The benefit to the customer with this option is that they always know exactly how much they are spending on their wash. There are no surprises when they receive their credit card bill or look at their bank statement. The only downside is that they may have to tap more than once if they require a longer wash than anticipated.
Car wash owners benefit in having generally happier customers and more positive reviews by delivering a straightforward, easy to understand payment system. A secondary benefit is not having to issue as many refunds and thereby, having more time to focus on growing the business.
A count up system pre-authorizes transactions at a set maximum amount. The timer continues to charge the carwash customer until they press the button to stop washing their car. Automatic shut-offs at specified dollar thresholds can be set on the units, as needed.
A benefit to the customer with this option is not having to tap multiple times to continue their wash. The benefit to owners is the potential for higher revenues as some customers are likely to continue washing without paying attention to the time, particularly if their car wash is not complete.
However, there are also a few cons to consider. The first is that owner/operators must equip each wash with the aforementioned automatic shut off switch, so customers have the ability to stop the clock whenever they choose. Secondly, customers may not realize how much they are going to be charged for a wash, or forget to turn the meter off as they may get distracted or simply lose track of time. Carwash operators often find themselves receiving calls from angry customers, bad online reviews or even having to issue refunds, which takes time and effort and affects the bottom line.
Easy Setup and Maintenance
Setup should be quick and simple as carwash payment systems typically only requires a secure, Wi-Fi connection. PCI compliance further ensures the security and privacy of end user personal data.
The devices themselves should be self-contained, water proof and tamper proof, therefore generally requiring very little in terms of ongoing maintenance. Depending on carwash locations, be sure to review and select solutions built to withstand a wide range indoor or outdoor temperatures and weather conditions.
Since there is no key injection required to collect cash or coins, as is the case with more traditional payment solutions, potential malfunctions and downtime can be significantly reduced. In fact, downtime with a modern carwash payment system should be negligible. This being said, do inquire about warranty and service options in the event of an outage for any reason.
Remote Monitoring and Configuration
As self-serve carwash payment solutions are Internet enabled, owners should be able to remotely monitor and interact with each individual unit per carwash bay via a mobile app. This may include the convenient ability to adjust car wash pricing on-the-fly or comparing the revenue being generated by each bay.
Reduced Theft and Reconciliation Errors
Secure, electronic payments are obviously not subject to the same potential for theft as hard currency. All of your payment device sales data should be stored in the cloud and accessible in real-time via a mobile app or Web browser.
Likewise, as transactions are recorded and tallied automatically, there is much less potential for counting error vs. traditional cash and coin systems.
Your carwash payment system data can then be taken a step further and incorporated into Web based dashboards and reporting. Filter, sort and view your data by location, device, data range or other relevant criteria, so you can quickly determine where your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to drive more revenue lie. You should be able to configure and assign specific user access to this data to empower staff with data to make business decisions.
Choose the Right Self-Serve Carwash Payment System
Technology and the pandemic have drastically changed the way consumers expect to pay for anything, including their car washes. They demand convenient, contactless, safe experiences and those who can deliver will get repeat business.
Are you a carwash system manufacturer in the process of reviewing systems to integrate into your total service solution? The folks at MONEXgroup are here to answer any technical, partnership, revenue, or service-related questions you may have about Tap & Wash™,
our industry-leading, self-serve carwash payment system. Feel free to reach out anytime to discuss how we can partner together to better serve your customers and their customers.