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Business Operations

Getting results from employees

October 11, 2010
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Last month I wrote about an instruction sheet for customers using the self-serve carwash. This month I’ll tell you about instruction sheets for carwash attendants.

The attendants can’t do what you want if you don’t tell them your expectations. Instructions should be clear, in writing, updated for the inevitable changes and given to the attendants every so often to remind them of their mission.

It is also important that they understand your policies regarding handling cash, checks and tokens. Attendants also have to be able to answer customer questions about time given, cost per minute, etc., so make sure to supply them with the answers to typical customer concerns.

For more information about my preventative maintenance schedule and instructions, check out my article in the October 2005 issue.

New employee packet
The following is typical of the instructions I give to a new employee. I don’t have to hire very often, but the instructions are also handy when I need to remind my employees what I’m paying them for.

Usually I’ll post the instructions on a bulletin board, but this time I think I’ll include it in with their paycheck with a short, personal note of thanks.

These are not intended to be the full scope of the attendant’s job, but rather the basics. If you like it, adapt the information to your carwash and pass it on.


1. Keep the carwash clean.
Focus on the areas the customers get a close look at.

The coin faces. Wash these constantly. Carry a wet towel with you and as you walk by, run it over the face of the coin machine. Don’t forget the stainless steel around it.

The trigger gun and wand. Customers hold this equipment in their hands, so it needs to look very good and clean. Perform repairs as soon as you notice them — do not wait. If you have to get a bucket of water to wash it, do it now.

The bay. I know this is one area we tend to ignore if we are busy. It’s usually because we say we can’t get in to wash it. Think of it this way — if there is not a line, then there is probably one bay you can wash.

It is when we are busy that it’s most important to keep the bays clean because more customers will see our bays.

At least once during your three-day shift, wash the bay walls down with high pressure soap from top to bottom.

Drying area. Pick up the drying area and hang up the vacuum hoses. If there is an abundance of small items of trash on the concrete or drive, put a clean-up token in the vacuum and suck it up.

Once a day, wipe down all the stainless steel vacuums and rug beater. Pay particular attention to the sides of the fragrance and shampoo vacuums where the hoses are hung.

Trash cans. Empty the trash cans at least once a day, more if needed.

2. Interact with the customers.
Greet each customer. Say things like, Hi, Hello, Nice car or Windy isn’t it! Always be friendly in your greeting.

If someone should ask, say that this is the best carwash in the state of Wyoming and if they don’t ask, tell them anyway.

3. Know time and worth.
It is important that you be able to tell a customer how much time they can purchase. Our prices are as follows:
  • 1 quarter — 30 seconds;
  • $1 coin or bill — 2 minutes;
  • $5 bill — 10 minutes;
  • 1 token worth $1 — 2 minutes;
  • 1 green token (clean-up) worth $1.50 — 3 minutes
4. Understand how tokens are purchased on credit cards
Sell customers tokens only; never give any cash on credit. No free tokens for credit card sales regardless of the amount. It costs us to process the credit cards so that is a discount in itself.

Never buy back tokens. Explain that we sell tokens at a discount and if we were to buy back one token, it may be the free one and that just wouldn’t be good business.

Write down all token sells, cash or charge, in the appropriate space on the list for entry into the computer.

Keep track of tokens same as cash.

5. Be aware of the cash drawer.
Drawer has $225 in it at all times. Note any difference during the following times:
  • Morning shift (on) count;
  • Morning shift (off) - PM shift (on) both count; and
  • PM shift (off) count, put in safe #2 for night.
6. Understand check cashing
Take local, personal checks for the amount of the carwash and for tokens only. Company checks are OK, but only for tokens. Some businesses may have prior arrangements for check writing, token exchange and cashing.

7. Do not share company information.
All information at the carwash is proprietary. Don’t tell anyone (not even a trusted friend or family member) anything about the carwash’s security, sales, petty cash, check out procedures, safes, lighting, cameras, bank deposits, time or days of deposits, cash or currency in coin face, etc.

It is nobody’s business how much we do in sales. Don’t talk about it in the office when somebody else is around. Don’t let anyone in the back room when we are counting assets.

There are some things that we want everybody to know. The security alarm is state of the art, has battery back up, tied to a siren and dials the Evansville Police Department automatically. We have 16 security cameras, digitally recorded 24/7 on battery back up.

8. Know how to handle a robbery.
If there should ever be a robbery, give them anything they want. I can replace everything but you! Don’t be a hero.

Don’t try to get them to look at the camera, just do as they say. Give them whatever they want and get them out of there as soon as possible. Then call the police.

9. Sell the wash.
Whenever customers are here, it is important that you sell them on how great our carwash is. We have the best carwash in Wyoming because:
  1. We have the friendliest attendants;
  2. We have 5-hp pumps;
  3. We pump 4.5 gallons per minute, almost twice as much as some other carwashes;
  4. We have a covered drying area;
  5. We have the only stand-alone car dryer west of the Mississippi;
  6. We accept $1 and $5 bills in the bay;
  7. We accept credit cards in the bay;
  8. We have 11 bays and the largest carwash in Wyoming: six bays are 30 feet long, six bays are 40 feet long;
  9. Our wait line allows the first in line to have the next open bay;
  10. Well-lighted open wide bays;
  11. Well-lighted common areas;
  12. Sixteen closed-circuit digitally-recorded TV cameras;
  13. The in-bay equipment talks to the customer;
  14. Large count down timers can be seen from anywhere in the bay; and
  15. The only carwash with a dog wash.
You can adapt this list to your carwash, or you can adopt my policies. Either way, it seems like a winning game plan.

Dennis Ryan has been in the carwash business since 1988 and the construction business for 40 years. At one time he owned and operated five self-service carwashes. Currently he owns and operates American Pride Carwash in Casper/Evansville, WY. He can be contacted at

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