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Hiring, Training and Retraining Quality Carwash Employees

Fred Grauer Comments

Many years ago, one of the most successful carwash chains in the country ran an ad to attract employees. After many successes and more than his share of failures, the owner finally reverted to using an ad format used by the U.S. Marine Corps: “A few good men wanted.” He then described the physically demanding aspects of working in a carwash and that basic training for the job would be similar to the Marine’s. The ad proved successful and this owner had a fair share of talented applicants and recruits from which to pick.

Over the past few years in the carwash industry, much attention has been paid to understanding what drives an employee to perform well. Our workforce pool draws from at least four or more socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds than a decade ago. We have generation X, Y, baby boomers and others who fill out applications, and they all have different needs.

Each has its own set of “hot buttons” that will attract, retain and allow them to become productive team players in our business. Knowing what buttons to push, though, is not always easily defined by employers because there are so many from which to choose. Fortunately, there exist human resource recruitment organizations that, for a small fee, can help you in your quest to find the right applicants for the job.

Levels of Service

Certainly, a self-serve carwash—where motorists wash their own vehicles—dictates the least amount of skills. Labor is primarily housekeeping and maintenance functions. In many cases these services are provided by the owner. But for operators overseeing multiple sites, a larger staff must be hired.

For self-serve sites with approximately six bays, a single person putting in 30 to 40 hours a week is the norm. If you need others, besides yourself, look for retirees interested in part-time employment. The advantage of pulling from this pool of workers is that a senior’s psychological and fiscal needs are usually less, and part-time employment is often appealing. Stability, reliability and loyalty are, especially in this case, more important than the strength of many younger employees. Most senior workers will seemingly adopt your site and, in doing so, lay the foundation for building, retaining and servicing your customer base.

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