The Future Isn’t What It
Used To Be:
MarketView 2009: The Future Is Now
As the first decade of the 21st Century approaches its last year at least one thing about it seems certain: there has never been a time of such rapid change. Setting aside the wars, terrorist attacks and historical political changes that have taken place since 2000, this decade has transformed the marketplace for carwashes and every other business many times over.
Since we welcomed in the new millennium on January 1, 2000, businesses of all sizes have had to adapt to market changes that in earlier, more leisurely times would have taken an entire generation or two to unfold. Consider all that has happened in nine short years:
- The dotcom bubble burst, the economy recovered, and then sank back down again during the current housing crisis
- Large and powerful manufacturers and financial institutions have disappeared or declared bankruptcy while companies that didn’t even exist in 2000 are now powerhouses.
- Google didn’t go public until 2004, the year Facebook was started and two years before Twitter appeared.
- YouTube didn’t come into being until February 2005; a little over a year later it was sold to Google for $1.65 billion.
- The iPod was introduced in October 2001, over the next seven years more than 173 million of the digital music players were sold.
You can add PDIs, WiFi and USB drives to the long list of things that were non-factors in 2000, but are bringing profound changes to business (and life) today. So much change occurring over such a short time is certain to create challenges for any business, including carwashes. This is why it’s so important to have powerful and flexible tools like the SiteWatch® POS System that can help your carwash stay a step ahead of even the most super-charged market developments.
The flexibility designed into modular computer systems like SiteWatch offers three major advantages to businesses operating in a revved-up marketplace.
- They can be expanded easily to help a business keep up with changes in consumer demands and other market developments. Please see “A Decade of SiteWatch Development “ below.
- They make it relatively simple and inexpensive for a business to test different marketing concepts.
- They provide a ready means for a business to turn those concepts into real world marketing campaigns.
:: A Shorter Cycle Time To Evaluate New Ideas
In a Wall Street Journal article entitled “The New Fast Face of Innovation,” MIT researchers Erik Bryn Jolfsson and Michael Schrage describe how the same technology that is fueling rapid market changes, is helping businesses keep pace with the fast-moving flow of events by providing the means to test new ideas (and put the successful ones into practice) more quickly and efficiently than ever before.
By tracking sales through computer systems like SiteWatch, business can immediately gauge the impact that a new display or promotion has on the bottom line. Target and Wal-Mart have both done this on a store-by-store basis according to the MIT researchers. The two retailing giants are experimenting with different signage and merchandising concepts at specific locations, then measuring the immediate effect on sales. Using their computer systems’ reporting features, these retailers can quickly evaluate the effectiveness of different ideas so they can build on the good ones.
According to Jolfsson and Schrage the Internet is also playing a key role in helping businesses shorten the cycle time for evaluating new ideas. By floating new concepts on websites companies can now get feedback on new ideas in hours rather than months, helping them become more responsive to the quick gyrations of a hyper market. It's no small wonder then that many of the largest marketers have shifted their research efforts to the Internet. Jolfsson and Schrage quote Joan Lewis, a senior vice president at Proctor and Gamble, "In the U.S., we do the vast majority of our concept testing online, which has created truly substantial savings in money and time."
What This Means To Your Carwash
A Decade of SiteWatch Development
During this eventful decade, SiteWatch has been updated consistently with the addition of major new features and enhancements, such as:
- The Xpress Pay Terminal® (XPT) self-pay station
- FastPass® Wireless Acceptance System, which completes transactions in less than three seconds by reading windshield tags
- Automatic Monthly Recharge Module® (ARM), which automatically renews monthly passes by billing customer credit cards
- Website Connect™, which allows you to sell washes over the Internet
SiteWatch can help you keep pace with rapidly changing market conditions by providing you with the tools to evaluate new concepts quickly and accurately at your carwash. Here are just a few examples:
- SiteWatch ARM makes it simple to offer a wide variety of monthly pass plans. (Some of our customers run over a half dozen pass plans.) You can experiment with different plans to see which ones best fit your market and then promote those winners.
- SiteWatch XPT can be configured to show different menu screens. You can experiment with various screen ideas to determine which is best for your wash.
- The same SiteWatch FastPass tag can be used for different prepaid offers. This gives you the flexibility to test different prepaid plans without going through the time or expense to print new tags each time.
- User-friendly SiteWatch Reports make it simple to determine how sell different prices and promotions work.
- SiteWatch Website Connect™ lets you sell washes, pass plans, FastPass Tags and prepaid cards online. This provides you with an ideal opportunity to test different offers over the Internet before promoting them at your site.
Measuring Behavior, Not Attitudes or Feelings
Using the technology built into a system like SiteWatch to evaluate a new marketing concept through the sales it generates either at your site or online is a more accurate gauge of future performance than surveys, focus groups, market studies or plain old “gut instincts.” That’s because sales-based evaluations are measuring actual behavior, rather than feelings or attitudes, which can often be misleading
This was demonstrated recently at Google Inc., which runs 50 to 200 web-based surveys at any one time. In one such survey Google asked people how many search results they would like to see on a single screen. The results? Users told Google that they wanted more results on each screen.
The Wall Street Journal
August 17, 2009
Using this survey-based feedback the search engine giant tripled the number of search results per screen. To Google’s surprise its customers weren’t happy. Adding the extra results to each screen slowed down the loading process slightly so it took about 1/3 of a second longer for each page to appear. Although Google users liked the idea of seeing more results per page “in theory,” in practice the desire to save time was more important to them. (There is a lesson here for carwash operators about the value of saving time with FastPass and ARM!)
Google misjudged what its customers really wanted because its survey measured feelings, not behavior. The advantage of a flexible computer system like SiteWatch is that it gives you the ability to gauge the actual behavior of your customers so you can make more informed decisions about their needs and wants.
:: Implementing Change
The flexibility of SiteWatch not only gives you the power to evaluate new ideas, but to implement them efficiently too. For example, consider prepaid cards and FastPass tags. With SiteWatch the same cards and tags can be used to run a variety of different promotions with varying prices.
So if a new promotion is added or an old one is dropped (or an experimental price is changed), there is no need to go through the time and expense of printing new cards or tags. All you need to do is enter the change in the SiteWatch System; even if you have multiple sites, the system’s Replication Logic feature will automatically make the change throughout your chain.
By comparison consider what you would have to do to make changes to a paper card promotion. In this case, you would need to print new cards and distribute them to all of your sites. That would cost a lot in terms of time and money, making you less likely to innovate and try new ideas. In today’s rapidly changing market that’s a sure way for a carwash or any other business to fall far behind the curve.
Learn more by contacting DRB Systems.
Click here or call 1-800-336-6338.
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