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Don't Get Hosed. 3 Tips for Evaluating Merchant Accounts for Your Car Wash

Ray Moorman

The decision to accept credit cards at your car wash operation is a big step in expanding your customer base and increasing your sales. But, not all payment processors are created equal. Use the tips below to help you select a payments partner that is experienced in supporting clients in the car wash industry so you can maximize your processing dollars.

Tip #1: Make Sure the Processor Will Help Grow Your Business

Accepting credit cards at your car wash shouldn’t just cost you money, but be a catalyst for making more money and growing your business. Here are some ways that a credit card processor or merchant accounts service can help expand your car wash operation:

  • Broaden your customer base by accepting the full range of payment options popular today – traditional magnetic stripe credit and debit cards, EMV chip credit and debit cards, mobile payments and other contactless NFC (near-field communication) payment types.
  • Consider implementing a gift card program to increase brand awareness in your local community. Whether givers are purchasing a gift for someone near and dear to them—such as a sibling or parent—or a gift for a colleague or a child’s teacher, car wash gift cards are a great bet that virtually everyone can use and enjoy. Don’t miss out on the additional revenue stream that gift cards can bring your car wash.
  • Establish a customer loyalty program to reward your customers for coming back to your car wash time and time again. These days, consumers are accustomed to swiping their loyalty card for many everyday purchases—from the grocery store to the fuel pump. Car washes are yet another business type that can profit from establishing a loyalty card program. Partner with a payments processor for car washes that’s experienced in supporting businesses like yours and set up and reap the benefits of a loyalty program.
  • Boost your marketing efforts through a payments system that enables your car wash business to capture valuable customer data and grow your database. Use that information to send out on-demand promo alerts (“Sunny day special: All car washes $5 today only!”) via email or SMS text message. You can also use the customer data to inform your larger-scale mail campaigns that help your car wash attract new customers.

Tip #2: Make Sure the Processor is Committed to Data Security

Any business that processes credit card transactions has a responsibility to secure that sensitive card data, even if you’re processing mostly lower dollar-amount transactions like a car wash. Choose a payments processor that offers several layers of security protection so your business isn’t left vulnerable as a result of a data breach. Depending on your security needs, consider adding the following to your protection suite: tokenization, and encryption or breach assistance. You should also consider what fraud solutions you should employ to stop it before it happens.

Tip #3: Make Sure the Payments System Will Integrate with Your Existing Systems

Choosing a car wash POS system that allows you to work with your current systems will save you big-time in terms of upfront time and money. Make sure you take the time to research your options and ask lots of questions to all processors you’re considering to make sure you are committing to the processor and payment system that best fits the needs of your car wash operation.

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