Technology Solutions to Improve Operational Efficiencies
By Lanese Barnett
During the last half-decade, there’s been a major boom in technology and innovation. So much so that companies are now hiring for specific positions to process data, like business intelligence analysts, who are responsible for taking the data a company holds and translating it into quantifiable and valu- able insights that are often used to shape and inform key busi- ness decisions and influence how a company operates.
On the heels of such explosive growth in the carwash in- dustry, there is no reason why carwashing shouldn’t be at the forefront of utilizing such innovations to help owners improve operational efficiencies and maximize overall performance. For many carwash owners, however, hiring a dedicated person — or team — to focus on capturing, organizing, and turning data into meaningful information that creates actionable insights is sim- ply not in the current operating budget. Fortunately, more and more data-driven tech companies are turning their attention to the professional carwash space, and with it, the plug-and-play resources available to carwash owners of all sizes are growing. Here we’ll take a look at some companies we’ve been following.
Capturing Customer Sentiment, Reducing Churn
Most business owners can attest that negative online and social media reviews aren’t generally thought of as creating con- structive dialogue and generating helpful insights for a business to improve. What’s missing is the conversation before the customer is really upset. And it’s not just heading off a bad Yelp review, but what about all the customers who’ve called a carwash location to cancel a plan or share a concern and didn’t reach someone? Many times, they simply slip out the back door unnoticed.
Retention Express provides carwash owners and operators with an in-brand customer experience support solution, with POS access, that closes the loop with their customers across all inbound customer touchpoints. For example, when a monthly plan member calls to cancel their plan, a trained customer ex- perience support agent answers to help process the request then and there, find out why they want to cancel, and use the opportunity to maybe change their mind, down-sell or at least help them leave seamlessly which creates a much better chance the previous member will remain a retail customer. By provid- ing members and customers with first-call resolutions, Reten- tion Express can provide customer support, reduce churn, and increase customer satisfaction while alleviating pain points and inefficiencies for carwash staff. Because all interactions are cap- tured and documented, owners gain valuable analytics and ac- tionable insight from the voice of their customers.
Customer Interaction on Their Turf
While Starbucks and many other retailers have used cell phone apps for years, in general, the carwash industry has been slow to widely adopt this technology. Building a custom app, es- pecially with the functionality to interact with existing carwash systems, can be clunky and expensive.
One company bucking the trend is AMP Membership which creates a fully customized, fully branded mobile solution for carwash operators. It’s easy to set up and run on the back end and easy to use and fun on the front end for their customers. Because the platform was born out of a carwash owner’s personal frustration with this void in the market, it is built with the car- wash owner in mind, allowing them direct access to their data and messaging without needing to submit a support ticket to a developer for most of its functions. By providing an advertising and promotion engine with powerful marketing tools to launch, grow and maintain a successful membership program, the plat- form captures rich data about customers and then allows car- wash owners to use that data to create audience segments for marketing and derive insights into the performance of their car- wash. AMP Memberships help to increase sales with a recurring, dependable revenue stream while building brand loyalty over convenience loyalty by engaging with customers through playful and effective ads, promotions, family plans and referrals.
How to Ditch Spreadsheets
In a world of larger wash volume, more metrics (though often disjointed), and an increasing desire to optimize across multiple data sources, business intelligence software company WashMetrix has invested significant time and resources to build a series of bridges that connect POS data, consumer data and financial data. As another company born out of an operator’s own experience, WashMetrix aims to unify POS and account- ing systems to optimize financial and operational performance to create a holistic view of a company’s data in one dashboard, eliminating the need to run tedious reports and manually enter the data into a spreadsheet.
As regional chains continue to scale and private equity firms deploy more investable dry powder in the carwash space, this kind of enterprise resource planning (ERP)-type software becomes even more attractive to coordinate the data for optimal performance, reduce data entry across the organization, and automate manual workflows.
Recovering Wasted Credit Card Fees
Though the subscription model has created greater revenue stability for many carwash owners, it still comes with issues and challenges from automatically processing (or failing to process) credit or debit cards. Attempting to recover credit card fees, even with documentation, can be a pain point. Merchant Advocate is a resource for businesses that helps negotiate and secure lower rates and fees and helps owners save money from the unregulated credit card industry. Carwash owners don’t have to switch credit card processors and the fees for Merchant Advocate are paid out of the savings achieved from the service with an upfront cost.
“Work Smarter, Not Harder…” “Work On Your Business, Not In Your Business…” Okay, these phrases may be overused. But most business owners would agree they want to increase the bottom line, grow customer loyalty, reduce churn, and optimize their operational strategy and execution. Entrepreneurs can of- ten get stuck in the day-to-day of their business, which hinders meaningful growth and can burn some folks out trying to do it all. Luckily as the carwash industry evolves and becomes more sophisticated, so does the technology, providing new tools and resources that offer robust solutions on how to capture, quantify, and use data in a meaningful way to improve operational efficiency. It seems we may only be at the tip of the iceberg, and it will be exciting to see what’s next for the industry.
Lanese Barnett is a Senior Vice President of Business Development at Amplify Car Wash Advisors. You can reach Lanese at [email protected] or connect on LinkedIn.