At Valet Car Wash sites, on-site vending systems are must-have pieces of equipment that contribute significantly to the chain’s high level of overall customer satisfaction by ensuring necessities, such as car air fresheners, wipes and drying towels, are easily at hand.
The company uses drop-shelf vending units that accept tokens, however a tap-and-go credit card payment option is coming soon, says Mike Black, managing partner with Valet Car Wash, a 10-unit chain based in southern Ontario. “We have five choices of Little Trees air fresheners in one unit and individual units that dispense Armor All pads, moist window wipes and cloth drying towels. The wipes and drying towels are probably our biggest sellers.”
Convenience is key to vending success. At Valet, vending machines are located front and centre where customers can’t miss them. Operators agree that vending systems should be strategically placed in areas close to change machines, vacuum islands or customer service desks.
Red Hill Car Wash in Hamilton, Ont. takes convenience up a notch by connecting its drop-shelf vending machines to its app. “I use these because they can interface with our digital app,” says proprietor JJ Woodley, who operates two car washes in ‘Steeltown’. He suggests drop shelf units are more durable and this means less maintenance and fewer breakdowns. Fewer breakdowns mean happier customers.
Red Hill is further upping the convenience factor with Nayax, a global provider of payment solutions for unattended market. Nayax systems work alongside digital apps, as well as bill readers and coin mechanisms, to offer a complete turnkey approach to payment that allows customers to use all formats so businesses don’t lose sales.
Convenience and professionalism are two key factors in Red Hill’s success. “Our app gives us an edge and makes it easier for us to service customers. For example, we can offer rewards that allow customers to select an item, like an air freshener, from the vending system or a complimentary vacuum. This all happens electronically through the digital app,” Woodley says, adding that customers easily select the vending machine on the app and then toggle to obtain a product that is charged to credit or debit cards. “It’s seamless and very easy and digital payment means less cash on hand. We can also operate machines remotely and have them dispense goods to customers when asked.”
What’s selling at Red Hill’s vending systems? “Dry towels are our biggest seller,” says Woodley, adding Little Trees Black Ice air freshener is the leader in car scents, ahead of New Car Scent, Pure Steel, Vanillaroma and Watermelon. They also offer Armor All packets, glass cleaner and re-usable microfibre towels.
App connectivity is only one aspect of new technology impacting the vending sector. New equipment, such as PepsiCo’s new Social Vending system, is stretching boundaries. Using a touchscreen interface, PepsiCo customers can buy a soft drink, but also gift one via social media using onboard digital interfaces that send messages to operators about inventory levels, sales and other information. The Social Vending machines also drive customer engagement by playing media content, including advertising and music during downtime. The idea is to motivate impulse purchases and generate sales growth.
At the car wash, systems may not be as advanced as PepsiCo’s offering, but manufacturers are constantly evolving with new tools to drive sales. For instance, the Digi-Max Three Column Display Vendor units (manufactured by Laurel Metal Products and sold by Kleen-Rite) prompt customers with easy-to-read instructions on display screens. Prices can be set from 25¢ to $99.75 and the optional Cryptopay credit card swiper can be configured for higher-priced items, such as earbuds or car accessories.
“A car wash can be more than you expect and vending systems can be part of that surprise,” says Woodley, adding the industry is evolving to deliver more technology with displays and promotion capability to drive those impulse purchases. “People expect to find a well-stocked vending system at their neighbourhood car wash. New vending capability allows us to deliver the goods on this expectation.”