Car wash businesses can harness big data, too. (Photo: Flickr)

Car wash businesses can harness big data, too. (Photo: Flickr)

Big Data is often associated with the National Security Agency, major corporations and privacy incursions by advertisers. But in fact, big data has applications closer to home that you can use to create better efficiency in your business — from determining peak business hours to calculating chemical mixes.

In a recent post in the tech blog for Umbel, Rishi Shah writes about a car wash business owner in Tucson who has found a high-tech solution for dealing with his solutions (literally):

One of the ways big data improves small businesses in a very human way is that it makes inventory control more efficient. Brian Janezvic, a car-wash owner in Tuscon, AZ noticed that he had advanced automation machinery that determined how much of a mix to use when a car entered a car-wash station, but he was still taking inventory by hand. With the help of FileMaker Pro, he installed a series of sensors on all barrels of car-wash chemicals so he could monitor usage on a car-by-car basis. This ensures quality, consistency, and best of all, exports PDFs directly to the chemical supplier.

In other words, he harnessed the power of data to make sure he wasn’t using more chemical than he needed to. When a business is uber focused on consistency, it can capitalize on efficiency. Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine recently touched on the same issue in a recent post, saying, “excessive use of chemistry can lead to loss of profitability as well as diminished wash results.”

It’s easy to imagine other areas where big data — or just small data — can pay off. It can even come in the form of a Google Spreadsheet. With certain loyalty programs, you could track the number of visits from particular customers and reward them periodically. You could track email addresses for newsletters or mailing addresses for direct mail promotions. And let’s not forget the power of a hand-written thank you note