From the outside, it may seem that cleaning cars is a simple business, but the Car Wash Association released a report showing the size of the industry with an estimated 110m hand car washes every year. The industry is highly fragmented and largely unregulated, tarnished by well-publicised variations in operating standards and high-profile investigations into modern slavery, labour exploitation and tax evasion.
So how can customers make a responsible choice for their provider?
We caught up with Abby Holdsworth, Franchise & Innovation Director at Waves, one of the UK’s largest and most respected providers of hand car wash. Waves operates from 275 high profile sites across the UK predominantly in supermarket car parks and for nearly a decade they have invested in bespoke software systems that have become key to managing the network.
Technology is changing our business in a number of ways, explains Abby.
Technology gives our customers choice in how they interact with us: they can use our App to find a car wash, pre-book, pay and collect loyalty points. On site the customer experience is simple: with check-in through our electronic booking in system, using ANPR technology to speed up the process and provide a seamless customer service. To minimise waiting times, we message our customers once their car is ready. On the move, the customer can download receipts, check loyalty points, explore the range of services, leave a review and more.
Historically, hand car wash has been a notoriously non-compliant sector. At Waves we use technology to deliver a transparent and compliant model: electronic booking-in, integrated contactless payment technology and financial reporting improves the transparency of our business, providing reassurance to customers and landlords.
Ethical employment practices
Similarly, our employment practices are best-in-class thanks to our bespoke software systems. Real-time information about our network’s 2,000 employees allows us to track trends, monitor pay and conditions, ensure training levels are attained and ensure attendance is logged for every member of staff. Our technology gives particular reassurance to our Landlords (including Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s) as well as an unparalleled labour insight into our network.
The data collected through the systems is collated to provide an end-to-end business management tool for our Franchise Partners who can track and compare trading levels, wash trends and customer purchasing patterns to manage their businesses more effectively. They can centrally manage fleet accounts, take pre-bookings and run personalised marketing campaigns tailored for their business needs. Technology gives our Franchise Partners flexibility to manage their businesses remotely, or on the ground.
Cleaning cars will always be our passion, but thanks to technology we offer more to our customers: knowledge that we run a cleaner business as well as improved consumer choice. Car washing has come a long way indeed.