Busy Bee Car Wash, Miami FL


Dollars-Per-Vehicle Jump 8.2% with SiteWatch® XPT

Challenge: To offer customers a self-pay option, without sacrificing average ticket size.

Solution: Install the user-friendly SiteWatch XPT With Xpress Card Clearing, And Promote Credit Card Usage.

Although he was excited to install the SiteWatch Xpress Pay Station at his Miami area flex serve, Busy Bee Car Wash owner Jim Mulholland had a couple of nagging concerns. For starters, having his exterior customers pay for their own washes at the XPT station meant that Mulholland could no longer charge one dollar extra for oversized vehicles as he had in the past, and he worried that this would drive down his dollars per vehicle.

Mulholland 's second concern was closer to home. When his mother Isabelle first saw his XPT, she cautioned that there was "no way" seniors like her would ever be persuaded to use such a machine!

Time has proved both fears to be unfounded. Isabelle Mulholland now uses the XPT every chance she gets. Apparently quite a few other customers of all ages do, too. In fact, Busy Bee's XPT has become so popular that it now accounts for roughly half of the car wash's volume, and "seniors love it," according to Mulholland.

As far as Busy Bee's dollars-per-vehicle figure is concerned, Mulholland has been pleasantly surprised to discover that rather than go down, his average exterior wash ticket has jumped from $6.25 to $6.76, since he installed his self-pay station.

This 8.2% increase is especially impressive, considering that Mulholland gave up 40 cents per exterior wash ticket when he stopped charging for oversized vehicles. "We were hoping that our average ticket wouldn't drop by too much when we added the XPT, but our dollars-per-car actually went up," he said. "When you consider what we gave up by not charging extra for oversized vehicles, the XPT is bringing in almost a dollar more per ticket than we got with salespeople. Plus, we've lowered our labor costs, and we don't have the cash control issues."

Mulholland believes that his average ticket has increased because customers feel less pressure buying from an XPT. "People are able to evaluate our different options at a more relaxed pace when they use a machine," he said. "They don't feel like someone's looking over their shoulder, so they're more likely to buy."

Studies by major research firms support Mulholland's theory. According to an IHL Consulting report, "privacy and control" play a key role in the decision to use a self-pay system, especially for men. Explaining the affinity many customers have for the self-pay concept, Bruce Temkin, research director at the highly-regarded Forrester Research firm, said, "I think that there are a lot of things that people don't mind doing themselves and even prefer doing themselves, and the technology is making it easier to accommodate that."

Increased Credit Card Usage Boosts Average Ticket

Another key reason why the XPT has allowed Busy Bee to maintain a healthy average ticket is that the self-pay terminal makes it easy for customers to pay with credit cards. Featuring SiteWatch Xpress Card Clearing, the XPT processes credit card transactions in less than 2-3 seconds. This, together with the easy-to-reach positioning of the XPT's card reader, makes customers more likely to use their credit cards. Mulholland encourages this even further by displaying credit card signs on his XPT.

"People spend more with credit cards," said Mulholland. In fact, a recent Visa survey has found that the average ticket at quick serve restaurants is 30% more when customers pay with credit cards.

The XPT has also enabled Mulholland to extend his operating hours. He used to close at 3 pm on Sundays, but now he keeps his XPT lane open until 6 pm, washing an average of 150 cars (for $1,014) in the extra three hours.

XPT Helps Entire Business, Including Full-Service

Mulholland has been "amazed and impressed" by the level of customer traffic at his user-friendly XPT. "It's been extremely busy, both with new people who have never been to Busy Bee before, and with our regular customers who are using it between full-service washes."

Busy Bee's XPT traffic has grown to account for roughly half of the car wash's volume. However, Mulholland is quick to point out that this growth has not come at the expense of his full-service business. "Our full-service volume is up 3.4% since we installed the express lane," he said. "My feeling is that the express lane has drawn new people to our site, and this has created added exposure for the full-service option. Some people who come here for the XPT wind up buying a full-service wash on their third or fourth visit."

Also, by directing exterior customers to a separate lane, the XPT has made Busy Bee's full-service employees better salespeople. "Now that they know that everyone who drives up to them is a serious full-service customer, more interested in quality than price, they can focus more on selling extras," said Mulholland.

Every Full-Service Should Have An XPT Lane

Based on his experience, Mulholland can't imagine opening a full-service car wash without using the XPT to offer an express exterior service. "I would recommend that any full-service site that can do this, go ahead and do it," he said. "For a full-service operator, adding an express lane is like opening another car wash at your facility without investing in a new building or adding more labor. Basically, what you're doing is filling empty roller space, so it's really plus business."

In Mulholland's view, adding an XPT provides a full-service site with a means of competing against the discount gas station car wash. "The XPT has allowed us to capture some of the business we were losing to the gas stations," he said. "Now we can offer the price-conscious customer something the gas stations can't match -- speed. If you're fourth in line at a gas station wash, you might have a 20-minute wait, but if you're fourth at an XPT, you'll be through in just a few minutes."

Bottom Line: The SiteWatch XPT with Xpress Card Clearing helped Jim Mulholland increase his dollars-per-vehicle while still realizing the labor saving and competitive benefits of having a self-pay station at his site.