7 Questions to Matthias Bertoldi, managing director of WashTec Cleaning Technology GmbH
1. How do you assess the trend towards pay-per-use in general?
In the past few years, we have noticed that our customers are open to the way in which we have been able to offer pay-per-use. However, various constraints have meant that we have not been able to adapt the principle on a broad scale. The trend is certainly moving strongly in the direction of demand for such financing solutions, which is also the reason why we are increasingly offering them. I also think that this trend will increase in the future. The financing modalities, and especially balance sheet issues, are certainly points that suggest that pay-per-use will become much more important in the future.
2. What prompted you to offer financing in cooperation with Linxfour in the future? In other words, how does Linxfour support you particularly well and what do you expect from this cooperation?
The key factor for us as a joint stock corporation has always been—as you already know from our earlier discussions—balance sheet neutrality. Without Pay-per-Wash, we would always have to have the machines listed in our books at full value, which would then also always represent a burden on cash flow. So, we had to find a way to make possible an off-balance sheet treatment of the machines. Being able to handle this with a partner who takes care of everything is yet another advantage, because even when we implemented this model on our own, a leasing model was still necessary in the background, which meant that even in this independently organized setup, the machine had to be sold to a leasing company and then leased back by us, which also meant double the work in sales. That is why we had to find an easier way to offer Pay-per-Wash to our customers.
3. WashTec is expanding its product portfolio with Pay-per-Wash. What do you expect from this new business model in the future?
On the one hand, we expect to be able to offer the customers something extraordinary, on a scale that we have not been able to offer before. And specifically about WashTec in Austria, the goal is that we want to offer everything. In other words, we offer the machine, the service and the chemicals as one package that can be billed to the customer on a cost-per-wash basis. In the future, we want to be able to offer this service to every customer in Austria and thus create a unique selling point. And being the market leader, the first to enter the market with such a cooperation, is always a signal to the competition because it means that the journey is going that way and therefore you should be going there, too.
4. You want to offer your customers a unique package. Where do you see the biggest benefits of Pay-per-Wash for your customers?
After all, it is also their own cash flow and their balance sheet that play a role in financing. With Pay-per-Wash, they only pay for the utilization of the machine. The industry is relatively financially strong, you need to know that. So, we have only had to deal with payment defaults very rarely over all these years. This is also a sign that our customers really have a very, very good business.
But they are also facing more and more outside pressure. Particularly when the market as a whole goes down a little, as you can see time and again, things always get very tight. Sensible and necessary investments get postponed in that case. That is, of course, a rather risky endeavour. If the investment period for machines or sites is wasted, then you automatically lose sales, which you often cannot make up for afterwards. Postponing an investment that would make sense because of budgetary constraints is never a good idea. That is why we think Pay-per-Wash will be very attractive to our customers. After all, Pay-per-Wash not only affects your costs, but also your turnover and the value of your site.
5. A USP of Linxfour is the actual assumption of risk in the event of underutilization. Not just an extension of the financing term. What exactly do you think your customers will appreciate about this fact?
If the operator can offload some risk, that is always a good thing. The carwash industry has a certain fluctuation, if only due to weather conditions. So this has often been an issue for some operators. After all, the risk of a rainy peak month with no revenue and fixed financing costs makes a little extra security quite desirable.
6. How do you think point-of-sales financing will change your business in the future and what impact will it have on your sales?
Our sales department thrives on people and their expertise. If they are given the opportunity to discuss financing directly with the customer and put it on the table right away, that is obviously very attractive. Getting down to business in just a few steps helps our sales force maintain its focus. Not having to repeatedly go to the customer to handle financing makes sales more efficient. This frees up resources for other things, such as supporting our existing customers and the more than 5,000 assets we have with them.
7. What goals and visions are you pursuing with WashTec in terms of Pay-per-Wash?
Ideally, strong growth. We are the market leader, and as the market leader you want to at least maintain the status quo. Even that is often enough a struggle. Because there are always enough competitors in the second tier trying to challenge our market leadership. Of course, they also have good ideas, which is good, because our industry thrives on competition. In any case, we are confident that our latest step wit Pay-per-Wash will take us a long way and that we will not only be able to maintain our market leadership, but also expand it.
WashTec is the world's leading provider of innovative solutions for all aspects of vehicle washing. Over 1,700 employees in more than 80 countries are shaping the future of the car wash business. WashTec products, processes and solutions offer operators and end customers the best results and experiences, constantly setting new standards in the global car wash business.
Linxfour is a European leasing company, based in Austria, providing Pay-per-Use financing solutions to manufacturing companies. Using proprietary IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technology and AI-driven risk management, we are unique in underwriting true utilisation risk. Operating across different countries and industries, we are committed to helping businesses finance equipment with our unparalleled solution.
Linxfour: Transforming Equipment Finance