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Building the future of car wash payment technology

Helping WashCard create new revenue and new freedom for car wash operators by de-risking digital investment

The challenge

Car wash operators yearned for a way to modernize their offering and capture new revenue without a gigantic investment.

The outcome

WashCard’s UWashApp helps operators leapfrog expensive fixed infrastructure using the point-of-sale system customers already have: their phone. UWashApp became WashCard’s flagship offering.

Accomplishment data

Next Mile helped WashCard build a successful digital offering from scratch:

  • Round-trip testing (app to cloud to car wash hardware) immediately successful
  • Pilot garnered over 100 interested leads from one trade show
  • UWash active at 60 locations in first six weeks
  • UWash demonstrably increasing traffic and transaction value
  • WashCard team obtained new skills and methods
  • WashCard team delivered a new technology
  • WashCard gained new line of business
  • Saved at least $500,000.00 versus design/build firms’ proposed v.1 approaches

In the three years since launch, UWashApp has become WashCard’s core business.

WashCard: modernizing car wash

Unpredictable conditions

Car wash operation can be a fickle business. Seasons, weather, and the economy impact operators’ revenue, whereas maintenance, chemical, regulation, and labor changes burden their expenses. Fluctuation produces uncertainty, putting operators’ growth and livelihoods at risk.

WashCard: a legacy of critical car wash equipment

Wash Card Dan

As a car wash operator himself, Dan Yarusso lived the feast or famine cycle. Dan founded WashCard to help operators escape the ups and downs by building consistent business through increased customer convenience.

Customer behavior drives payment technology

For 30 years, WashCard has helped operators navigate every transition in customer payment behavior, from cash to card, to credit card, and now to mobile. Previous payment technologies required operators to invest in fixed physical infrastructure, retrofitting entry stations or digging up concrete. Mobile payments using customers’ smartphones could help operators bypass that risk and hassle.

The question was how? One app? Multiple apps? Mobile web? NFC? New hardware? The spectrum of possible solutions was broad, and not all were appropriate.

Next Mile: co-piloting a fantastic success

Architecting the right solution

WashCard’s experts had already brainstormed dozens of potential features for a mobile solution, so Next Mile audited the options using the customer’s perspective more than our own. We researched prospective features with live customers through WashCard’s industry contacts, producing surprising, inspiring, and above all, focusing results.

Learning from the pilot

Next, we planned a pilot that could test the technical, operational, and business case unknowns in one go. It also served as a practice run for WashCard’s engineering team. To motivate the effort, we chose the car wash industry’s primary trade show as the deadline and an invite-only debut to gauge real interest. It was a smash hit, producing sales leads and first-hand feedback.

Planning clean execution

With good news from the pilot, we got serious about production. Next Mile helped specify the 1.0 experience and requisite technical architectures, toolsets, design approach, and development methodologies. From there, we proposed ideal vendor options and missions for each, then helped WashCard vet and select them.

Governing toward launch

Finally, all teams concentrated on launch day. Throughout production, Next Mile drilled WashCard’s engineering team on modern project management, software architecture, code management, quality assurance, deployment, and release practices. With a little help, WashCard’s designers, engineers, and product owner overcame every challenge.

Execution went smoothly. WashCard even gained an extra month for vigorous quality assurance testing and careful go-to-market planning.

Car Getting Washed

Service specifics: Activate, Deliver

Outcome: making a splash

From concept to UWash

What began as an undefined concept became UWashApp: a carwash-specific Android and iOS application enabling users to pay for and activate car washes with their phone.

Behind the scenes, WashCard created new hardware that can activate any manufacturer’s automatic car wash as well as the connectivity layer and backend systems required for device communication.

Everybody wins

UWashApp embodies one of Next Mile’s golden rules of connected product development: unless everybody in the value chain wins, the technology will fail. Together, we succeeded in delivering value across the board:

  • >Wash customers get a solution that genuinely simplifies buying while earning loyalty rewards, special access to services, and exclusive offers from wash operators.
  • >Operators expand their business without a burdensome investment.
  • >Operators get a low-risk way to generate new traffic, capture bigger transactions, reduce costs, and increase profit.
  • >Wash chains and integrators gain new insight, using the monitoring portal to review activity and transactions or administer changes.
  • >Retail data systems employ a powerful new data source.
  • >WashCard gets a new line of business without refactoring its organization.

WashCard made the leap.

Today: success for operators and their customers

Digital traction

Operators are seeing higher traffic, hearing positive customer feedback, and getting increased transactions from UWashApp. WashCard jumped from back office tool to true retail technology that increases loyalty, profitability, and revenue. WashCard created and delivered another sustainable success.

Try UWash yourself

UWashApp went live on April 20, 2020 and has expanded throughout the carwash market ever since. Download the iOS app here or the Android app here.

How’d it go, and what’s next?

In the three years since launch, UWashApp went from being a new WashCard product to becoming WashCard’s core business. Since Next Mile helped WashCard develop a sustainable digital practice, WashCard has operated UWashApp independently as a core offering ever since.

The UWashApp product team continues to add new features and WashCard owns the road ahead.

Digital Traction Image

Next Mile helped, but this is WashCard’s success.

Reach out to see how Next Mile can enable your digital sustainability.

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