By Mika Alapiessa, Senior Advisor at Superoperator Oy

Digitalisation is a way to drive more revenue, improve customer experience, and innovate new business models in various industries. We all know the wonderful success stories of Uber, AirBnB, and Google. The car wash industry does not need to be an exception, but why does the change seem so sluggish?

Let’s take a closer look at Uber. They are offering passenger transport services that are based on a worldwide IT network. They enable customers to book a taxi or other ride by mobile phone. In other words, what they do, is utilise digital technology to enable customers to use their service, which has a huge impact on customer experience. But that’s not the only factor that makes them as successful as they are. They have also innovated their business model. Uber does not have any company-owned cars. Just like AirBnB does not own any property. The ownership of the interface between the customer and the provider of the actual service is what has made them a top player in their respective industries.

Technology is a crucial part of digitalisation, and digitalisation of a product or service is an effective tool to change and extend “old” ways of doing business. But the key competitive factor is found in innovative business models. A true transformation happens with brave leadership and change management.

So, we may ask, where’s the first Uber of the car wash industry?

You’ve probably heard about “The Kodak Moment”. This classic advertising slogan used to describe the happy moments that consumers chose to capture with their Kodak cameras. Nowadays the phrase is used rather sarcastically to describe a moment when executives fail to realise how consumers and markets are changing. It’s the moment when a company loses their market relevance.

Conservatism. That’s the first answer to the question in the title, the key obstacle of digitalisation. That’s what happened to Kodak when they didn’t react in time for digital cameras, despite the fact they already had a prototype designed by the company’s engineers. It’s because the executives refused to take it into production.

Conservatism as a resistance of change is ever more harmful today when we think of the speed at which technological development is increasing and costs decreasing. It is exceedingly high, and present-day companies must have an operational model that will enable them to leverage the new technologies on a continuous basis.

Furthermore, as the technological change gathers pace, consumers are becoming more demanding in terms of customer experience. Mobile applications, features and services have profoundly changed everyday consumer behaviour and expectations across industries. According to a research by Rescue Time, people generally spend 3 hours 15 minutes on their mobile phones every day. On average, we pick up our phones 58 times every day.

Let’s think about the vast opportunities this trend brings to the car wash industry.

Using mobile as a form of digitalisation produces car washes invaluable data to be analysed and utilised in the name of improved customer experience as well as business optimization. Think of tailored hyper-targeted services and pricing models, new types of customised loyalty programs and marketing touch points. The real-time data of wash site capacity, down and uptime etc. significantly help to improve operational efficiency.

A lot to take in? Fear not. Keeping up with the pace of digitalisation is best done together. Combining various technologies with innovation to create new value and to provide best possible solutions and experiences can be done by forming expert partnerships. None of us is better than the best of us together.

If you wish to hear what Superoperator can do for your car wash business, please contact Erkki Aminoff, erkki.aminoff@superoperator.com, tel. +49 151 1023 98 49