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Today, Autobell is recognized as one of the top three largest carwash chains in the U.S., with 63 washes in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. According to Autobell’s leaders, a large part of the company’s success can be attributed to the way its employees are treated.
Hiring and promoting
Autobell has a set of stringent hiring guidelines. A drug-free workplace that pre-screens all employees and randomly tests their wash managers, the company knows what they are look for when hiring new employees.
“We take pride in our people. We think we have the best and brightest young men and women out there, and we work hard to get them,” Monty Rast, director of store operations, said. “We spend a lot of time and effort training and preparing them to give our customers the best carwash experience available.”
The company also promotes employees from within, and there is a regimented process for promotion.
“We have developed people from within for close to 20 years now,” Rast explained. “Everybody, all of our managers and decision makers in this company are home grown, so to speak. And we’ve identified those traits and skills that we’re looking for in our leaders of tomorrow.”
Chuck Howard, president and CEO of Autobell, said the great employees that they’ve had are a big part of the company’s success. “Over the years we’ve developed our system, our methods, and documented them and developed the training to pass on to our employees,” he said. “So, we have a system that’s easy to run; it’s easy to duplicate in other locations. And we have great people that have stayed with us and understand our philosophy.”
The following are various tips provided by Bruce Hensley, owner and president of Hensley Fontana Public Relations & Marketing, who company has worked with Autobell Car Wash and its sister company Howco, Inc., in a variety of PR and marketing capacities since 1999.
Six tips for recruiting employees
- Word of mouth: Ask your good employees to refer friends, siblings and associates who they think would be good employees. Good folks usually associate with and know of other good folks.
- In-store signage: Let your customers know that you are hiring. Promote the employment advantages on posters in your carwash.
- Job fairs: Show up with some of your finest employees. Good people attract other good people. Encourage recruits to talk to and quiz employees
- Schools: High schools and colleges are filled with young, energetic kids who need and want jobs. Most have newspapers and counselors/advisors who can direct students to employment opportunities.
- The Internet: Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites are popular with the younger generation in particular for communicating, rating, bragging, recommending, and discussing everything from relationships to schools to jobs.
- Advertising: Utilize the old standards of classified ads for employment in newspapers, small-town radio stations, well-placed bulletin boards and posters, and any other methods created or discovered.
Five tips for training employees
- Establish and record all of your policies, systems and procedures. This includes: Greeting, vacuuming, maintenance, safety, dealing with customers, proper uniforms, calling in sick, cleaning restrooms, etc.
- Instill the above solidly in management and constantly sell them on it.
- Create a training manual and training procedures.
- Continually refine, tweak, enhance and promote training procedures.
- Train, train, train!
Seven tips for retaining employees
- Train, train, train!
- Treat them as if they are your most valuable asset, because they are.
- Treat them as if they are going to be with your company a long time, and they might be.
- Communicate. Let them know what is expected of them, give guidance, listen to their questions and suggestions. Take notice and learn about their school or family life. Treat them like a member of your “company family” and expect them to act and perform accordingly.
- Delegate. Teach them how to perform new and more complicated tasks. Help them grow into your business.
- Compliment, encourage, mentor. Positive reinforcement, a good attitude and good work habits are contagious. Offer constructive criticism when appropriate.
- Promote from within. Demonstrate to employees that good work is rewarded.