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Photo gallery: Alberta car wash gets technology makeover

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Janice Grasse is on the last leg of her renovation journey. She’s been retrofitting the wash equipment and building a foodservice offering in the 1,800 sq. ft. c-store since she bought Giant Truck and Car Wash in Rocky Mountain House, AB six years ago.

As the site’s traffic increased and wash became the primary business, it was apparent the back-end technology wasn’t keeping up with the site’s growing wash volume.

With the help of Exact One, an electronic control system provider based in Calgary, AB, Grasse’s site has been brought up to speed. Before the renovation, there were three different components to the business: a c-store, a car barn (time-charge style) and two 100-foot truck bays with one pay point. All three components have undergone technology upgrades to improve payment processing times while reducing the potential for theft and data entry errors.

“Through experience and growth over the years, Janice came to the conclusion that the POS system was not geared for the bulk of her business. It was designed primarily for the c-store portion of the business,” explains Doug Garratt, Exact One’s general manager.

With the help of Exact One’s EXACTA technology, which was installed by P.D. McLaren, Giant Truck and Car Wash has undergone one-of-a-kind upgrades.

All about service

Grasse and her staff of 13 run this busy site 40 minutes west of Red Deer. The customer base consists primarily of oil, farming, and logging workers.

“There’s lots of time pressure in the oil industry, so customers are looking to get in and get out and that’s it. We’re trying to speed it up, so even if we’re 20% faster, it will help,” says Grasse.

Before the renovation, all payment transactions had to be completed in the c-store, which meant long lineups, and occasionally, disgruntled customers.

“There are usually three to four people standing in line, and because it’s a time-charge facility, wash clients get very anxious because they’re still on the clock.”

The new system allows customers to complete their own transaction within the wash bay at one of four EXACTA payment terminals.

Many of Grasse’s customers use fleet cards, and the new payment technology uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to identify the vehicle and its company.

The grand total for the upgrades comes in at about $125,000, and includes the RFID system, a new ticket spitter, payment terminal, desktop computer, and EMV teller all from EXACTA, as well as new gates on the barn.

Learning curve

“I think I’ll need to be there more so that I can show customers how to use the new technology. It’s like when you go to a grocery store and there are self checkouts. You just have to have someone there to guide people through the process at first.”

Not only does the technology upgrade help with transaction efficiency, it also provides better reporting for Grasse. “I want to better understand what this facility is doing,” she says.

To help with this, Exact One has integrated a phone app called Cash Flow on the Go, which allows Grasse to, at the touch of a button, access a snapshot of the day’s performance up to the second. As Garratt says, “What owner wouldn’t drool over an app like that?”

View the photo gallery above for more shots of the new site.