Technology and Recurring Revenue Accelerate Car Wash Industry Growth 

When car wash membership and subscription management company EverWash began deploying machine learning (ML)-powered cameras to make sure that cars pulling into an unmanned car wash belonged to members, the company soon realized the technology could also provide other benefits. 

For example, using the security cameras that already exist at car washes, the ML platform can tell the staff at an attended car wash whether a customer is here for the first time or the third time and can give the car wash operator information about operating efficiencies such as how long it takes for a car to be washed and vacuumed. 

“But ultimately part of our goal with omniX is essentially making the car an extension of the wallet,” EverWash Co-CEO Scott Caplan told PYMNTS. “We think the future is — it’s really already happening — where you can pull up to a car wash or gas station and automatically the car will process the payment as you go, similar to E-ZPass.” 

Smoothing Out the Cash Flow Roller-Coaster 

That’s one of the projects EverWash is undertaking after securing a $6 million Series B investment announced March 2 — continuing to develop the omniX Labs real-time analytics and ML platform it acquired in November. The company will also continue to scale its network of car washes, which includes 800 participating locations. 

For these car wash operators, EverWash provides a membership platform as well as an app that consumers can use to sign up, manage their memberships and check-in at the car wash. 

EverWash began in 2013 with the idea of applying to car washes what the co-founders had learned while selling gym memberships. At the time, there were only a few early adopters using memberships in the car wash industry. Over the last five years, the number has grown from 1% to a significantly higher number. 

For car washes, one advantage is that the membership model smooths out the “cash flow roller-coaster” caused by the 85 days a year they typically lose due to weather. For consumers, memberships provide unlimited car washes for one monthly price. 

“Getting your car washed feels good and there’s a lot more people that have cars than are buying memberships to a fitness center,” Caplan said. 

Using Data to Improve Efficiency and Service 

Car wash traffic has also been growing because of the growing number of vehicles on the road, new car wash equipment that is better than that used in the past and operators who are running their car washes in a way that offers customers a better experience. 

“There’s a proliferation of car washes like few industries have probably seen before,” EverWash chief revenue officer Scott Pashley told PYMNTS. “There’s so much private equity money — it used to be that you had a car wash, but it wasn’t great and it was three miles away, but now you might have three great ones within a mile.” 

Car washes are also using data from apps to improve their efficiency and their customer service. For example, they can determine whether a consumer prefers push notifications, in-app or text messages, when the customer tends to read them and when it’s the best time to send them an offer. 

“The app gives us so much more power to communicate to members in the right way and then to understand consumer behavior,” Pashley said. 

These sorts of advances in the deployment of technology and the improvement of customer service will continue as more car wash operators add a membership model and earn more recurring revenue — just as the gym industry started doing 20 years ago. 

“That’s what really took the business to the next level,” Caplan said. “It’s really the same thing that’s happening in the car wash space right now.”