Station Auto Wash, Leesburg, VA


SiteWatch® Intelligent Receipt Messaging and Portable Touchscreen Terminal Help Sell 300 New Prepaid Customers A Month.

Evoking images of a 19th century Victorian railroad terminal, Station Auto Wash blends nicely with the architectural flavor of historic Leesburg, Virginia. Yet despite its traditional appearance, this bustling flex-service site bills itself as "the most advanced car wash in the nation." Anyone who visits the wash on a busy Saturday will quickly realize that this is no idle claim.

For starters, customers won't see their transactions entered into a "traditional" stationary terminal at Station Auto Wash.  Although there is a fixed position pre-sell terminal on site, it serves only as a backup to the SiteWatch Portable Touchscreen Terminals (PTTs) that are carried by all of the wash's greeters.

"We process all sales using our PTTs," said owner Tom Magazzine. "The PTT gives us a more high-tech image; it reduces transaction time; and it gives our employees more time to talk to customers, since they don't have to walk away to a fixed position terminal. Our employees spend much of this extra time selling customers on the benefits of buying a prepaid card."

Selling prepaid cards is essential to Magazzine’s marketing strategy. He doesn't use traditional paper coupons, nor does he run any special advertised sales. The only discounts he gives are based on prepaid cards. "We want to encourage as many customers as we can to buy prepaid cards," said Magazzine. "This is a much more effective way to advertise in the computer age. Unlike coupons, which simply give the customer a discount, prepaid cards lock in loyalty and generate repeat business."

Magazzine encourages card sales by offering prepaid customers lower prices on all wash options and extra services. Menu signs at Station Auto Wash display two separate prices -- one for prepaid cardholders, and a higher one for other customers. "Our signage makes it very clear to customers that they can save money on all of their purchases by using prepaid cards," he said.

This message is reinforced by Station Auto Wash's receipts. Using the Intelligent Receipt Messaging feature in SiteWatch, the wash's receipts show "regular customers" how much money they would have saved had they made their purchase with a prepaid card. (Customers that use prepaid cards are given different receipts that show their account balance.)

"The intelligent receipt messages are a very effective marketing tool, because the customer leaves the wash seeing exactly how much he would have saved had he used a prepaid card," said Magazzine. "This drives home the benefits of becoming a prepaid customer in very real terms."

Station Auto Wash's signage and receipt messages have apparently been very effective. The wash has been selling over 300 cards a month since Magazzine began his prepaid program. Cardholders are coming back frequently too, as evidenced by the fact that prepaid sales account for 100 to 200 transactions a day. According to Magazzine the majority of prepaid customers have re-charged their cards after their initial purchase.

Magazzine charges a minimum of $50 for prepaid cards. This relatively high minimum locks in repeat business and makes it more practical to offer generous savings to prepaid customers. Interestingly, most customers load their prepaid accounts with an amount higher than $50 when they re-charge their cards.

Loading more dollars on to their accounts makes sense for prepaid customers, said Magazzine, because they tend to spend about 10% more than his other customers. "Prepaid customers are much more likely to buy extras, just like credit card customers are," he said, "so they not only increase our volume, but our dollars per vehicle too."

In addition to selling his $50 minimum prepaid cards, Magazzine offers $25 gift cards. Unlike prepaid cards the gift cards have no special discount prices attached to them. "These cards are just for people to give as gifts" said Magazzine. "They're not intended to encourage repeat business or step up sales." However, about half the people who received gift cards ended up buying a prepaid card for themselves, because they like the convenience of using a card.

Looking at the results of his prepaid program, Magazzine says that he wouldn't market a car wash any other way. "Prepaid cards are an essential tool for a car wash," he remarked. "SiteWatch makes it possible for us to use this tool by giving us tight control over our prepaid sales without involving a lot of paperwork."

Bottom line: Tom Magazzine has encouraged the sale of prepaid cards by promoting attractive discounts. This has allowed him to sign up more prepaid customers, which in turn has boosted traffic and dollars per vehicle.