Revolutionizing IBA Carwash Customer Experiences with a Mobile App

Revolutionizing IBA Carwash Customer Experiences with a Mobile App

Transactions at in-bay automatic carwashes are fairly straightforward. A customer pulls up to an entry unit, selects a wash, pays and waits for the bay to become available.

Modern entry units have provided some additional functionality, such as upselling and contests, but the opportunities have been somewhat limited due to the lack of staff at most IBAs.

However, as they have in nearly every other industry, mobile apps are changing how people interact with the carwash, particularly at in-bay automatics. They augment the pay station experience and provide a host of new options for operators and customers that were previously out of reach for unattended washes.

Monthly Wash Plans – Not Just for Tunnels Anymore

One of the most significant opportunities mobile applications open up to IBAs is the capability to provide monthly wash plans. Previously, these plans were primarily managed through RFID technology, which recognized member vehicles and permitted entry. This method involved a carwash attendant affixing an RFID tag to a vehicle’s windshield, a process that does work at unattended IBAs. As a result, IBAs faced challenges in adopting subscription models.

Mobile apps eliminate the need for an RFID tag. The customer can purchase various services, including wash subscriptions through the mobile app. Upon arriving at the wash, customers can scan a QR code provided by the app at the entry unit, which recognizes their membership and allows them to wash. With this ability, IBA operators can now generate recurring revenue while locking in customer loyalty.

More Ways to Drive Loyalty

Monthly wash plans aren’t the only way mobile apps encourage repeat business. The most obvious way is through loyalty programs similar to those offered by popular coffee chains and retail staples – customers earn points on purchases that can be redeemed for free services and merchandise. A mobile app could provide your carwash with a loyalty app in which customers could earn free washes.
Additionally, mobile apps cultivate loyalty with:

  • Personalized push notifications offering deals and coupons with single-use bar codes to prevent fraud
  • Games that keep them engaged and allow them to win free washes
  • The ability to purchase wash bundles (e.g., by four washes, get one free)

Don’t Forget the C-Store

If your IBA car wash is part of a c-store and/or gas station, there’s even more to love about a mobile carwash app. A mobile app makes it easy for customers to purchase carwashes and gas in one convenient place, even allowing them to start the gas pump right from the app.

Beyond that, there are a wealth of opportunities for cross-promotion, allowing you to combine carwash, fuel and drink promotions to drive traffic. For instance, a customer who comes in for a coffee may see a sign that says “Save $2 off your next carwash. Download our app.” You’ve already got the customer in your ecosystem, so why not leverage that to promote other services?

You can have subscriptions for products/services outside the carwash as well, such as a drink subscription. Best of all, you can tie all store profit centers under a single app, saving you time and frustration when trying to calculate financials.

Make a Positive Impression

When you’re running an unattended wash, intuitive, engaging technology is critical. By offering a mobile app, you can provide a friendly, convenient experience that will enhance your reputation and help your entire business grow.

Build Recurring Revenue
A mobile app allows a wash customer to purchase, redeem, and manage a wash membership, all without the assistance of an employee.

Increase Customer Loyalty
Drive return visits by capturing contact information from wash customers with the app and  incentivizing them with a loyalty program or other promotions.

Drive Customer Engagement
A mobile app is a great way to engage and communicate with customers at an unmanned wash.

Julie Graff is the creative manager for DRB, a leading provider of point-of-sale and business optimization technology for the carwash industry.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.




Tanknology largest company in the world devoted to compliance solutions for petroleum systems. If you operate an underground or an aboveground petroleum fueling system, you are no doubt governed by multiple environmental regulations. In our blog, we discuss topics of interest to our industry community; whether it be a regulatory development, our take on breaking industry news, news from our company, or anything else we believe may be of interest the tank compliance community. We hope you will join us in the conversation.


Canadian Choice Award Nominee