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.

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Jet Brite Car Wash

With decades of hands-on experience as operators, when it came time to sell our car wash business who we sold to was important to Sam and me. Chris [Jenks] and the team at Amplify listened to us throughout the entire process. They found the right buyer in ZIPS who would be a good steward of the brand and helped find the best path forward for us where we can continue pursuing our passion for manufacturing high-quality car wash equipment.  

Jet Brite Car Wash  
Dave Delesandro  | Founder

Quick N’ Clean

My relationship with Commercial Plus over the past 20 years has been a very professional and trustworthy relationship. The feel of trust is very important in this business, and Jeff Pavone and his staff have exhibited a level of trust that makes me continue to feel that they have my best interest front of mind. I deal with many brokers across the nation, and my best experiences and results have been achieved with Commercial Plus representation.

Quick N’ Clean
Richard Karle | Owner

Zips

It’s been a great experience working with Amplify Car Wash Advisors to bring these sites into the ZIPS portfolio. We look forward to serving Dallas area customers with an enhanced car wash experience unique to ZIPS, with the added benefit of our extensive network of stores. This year we have continued our aggressive growth track with the goal to truly shine in our efforts to be the best express car wash provider in the industry and it’s acquisitions like this that help us reach our goals.

Zips
Gene Dinkens | CEO

ModWash

It was truly a pleasure to work with the Amplify team on our most recent acquisition of three additional operating locations in our home state of Tennessee. Their team provided great support and ensured a timely and seamless closing process, and we are excited for the additional growth opportunities this relationship will produce in our near future. We know this is the first of many transactions we will successfully complete with the Amplify team as we grow from our current operating store count of 23 to well over 200 locations across 14 states in the next two years.

ModWash
Brian Thornton | COO

Busy Bee Car Wash

For years I’ve talked to a lot of brokers with the same goal; sell your car wash chain as quickly as possible. But I chose to work with Amplify because they were interested and invested in the emotional side of selling my business and truly value long-term relationships. They weren’t forcing me to take a deal just to take a deal. They listened to my concerns and goals then educated me on all my options. And that’s how I decided on the right partner for my chain specifically. I went to bed at night after I signed the papers knowing I got the best deal possible versus just having any deal put in front of me that is only about money.

Busy Bee Car Wash
Jim Mulholland | Owner

Q Car Wash

We really appreciate Jeff and his entire team at Amplify. Their expertise and deep industry knowledge helped us navigate our options and best showcase our strengths to maximize our value. Caliber is a good fit for Q Car Wash as they look to expand in North Texas.

Q Car Wash
Viran Nana | COO

Cobblestone Auto Spa

I have known both Jeff and Bill for over thirty years combined, and respect them both as experts in our professional car washing industry. Their unique and individual strengths bring very strong talent and advice to operators, sellers, and buyers with sharp knowledge, client’s best interest in mind, and an actual personal touch. They hold the expertise and performance track record to hold a very high level of respect within this rapidly-changing car wash industry.

Cobblestone Auto Spa
Tuck Bettin | CEO

Oasis Car Wash

Turning over a business you started from one shovel of dirt 25 years ago and grew to several locations is a difficult and even uncomfortable process. So, when it came time for Larry and me to sell, we chose Amplify Car Wash Advisors to guide us through the process because of their strong reputation and thought leadership in the industry. Their team was professional and did a great job walking us through each step.

Oasis Car Wash
Dallas Hawkins | Partner

Busy Bee Car Wash

Selling our business after 52 years is big deal and certainly not a decision I took lightly, turning over our family legacy was an emotional process and I appreciated that the team at Amplify respected that. They helped me understand my options and found the best deal for me.

Busy Bee Car Wash
Jim Mulholland | Owner

Ducky’s Express

I have been a multi-site developer and operator in the car wash industry for over 30 years. Four years ago, a partner’s health concern forced me to sell a portion of my portfolio, and during that process, I was introduced to Jeff Pavone of Commercial Plus. I was immediately impressed with Jeff’s knowledge of my industry and his volume of successful deal closings. In a very short period of time, Jeff found the right buyer at a very fair price, and the transaction closed shortly thereafter. I was looking for a team with honesty, integrity, and a proven track record of success, and I found all of that in Jeff.

Ducky’s Express
Richard Miller

Trademark Car Wash

These are some of the most exciting times for car wash owners. As we grew 350% in revenue in just one year, we recognized the time to partner up with a top-tier team that has mastered growth in retail and specifically the automotive industry. Amplify Car Wash Advisors had helped us acquire, raise capital, and was the perfect partner to help us reach this next chapter of the Trademark story.

Trademark Car Wash
Andrew Goldberger