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Business Operations / Sonny's-Carwash College™ Tip of the Month

Does the "Stigma" Still Exist?

CarWash College™ Tip of the Month

June 27, 2014
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I got started in the industry back in 1985. I had just moved back to south Florida after a stint in the Midwest and was looking for work. Back then, before the advent of the internet and search engines, folks advertised for help in what was called a newspaper. Some of you would now refer to this as a "hard copy". I looked at the "help wanted" ads everyday hoping beyond hope that my dream job was listed somewhere inside.

Imagine my disappointment when all I found was, "Bartender wanted", "Valet parker needed", "Now hiring, Car Wash Assistant Manager". I had tended bar and parked cars in my younger years and they were both admirable professions, but I was looking for something more suited to my age so they were out. Car wash manager?? If I recall, my exact thoughts were, who would ever want to work at a car wash? I was not that desperate!

Fast forward another month and a few failed dead end jobs later and I'm back looking in the paper for work again. It was pretty much more of the same. Even that car wash job was still listed! Now, paying bills and being able to eat regularly have always been high on my priority list. Putting my pride aside, I called the number shown in the ad to inquire about the assistant manager position at the car wash. Little did I know that almost 30 years later, I'd still be in the industry. And, ironically, I am once again working for the same gentleman that gave me my start originally, after selling my own tunnel wash after 13 years of operation.

The point of my rambling is, back then, there was a stigma attached to car washes. I had personally never been to a car wash in my life, yet I knew their reputation, which led to my hesitancy applying to one. Movies portrayed washes as dark, dirty places where drug deals were common place, the employees were all ex-cons and, unfortunately, in some instances, they were pretty accurate.

Has the stigma been removed? I'd love to say yes, but as we travel to trade shows or client visits and are asked by strangers what we do for a living, we are sometimes still greeted with a look of disdain often reserved for carnival roadies. While the stigma has been greatly lessened, there is still some work to do.

Has the business come a long way in the past quarter century? You bet! Can it be bettered still? Absolutely!

In the CarWash College Maintenance program, we stress the importance of facility cleanliness and maintenance. From a customer's stand point, if a tunnel looks dirty, equipment is pinned back, and the landscape is unkempt, where would the confidence that you could produce a clean car come from?

By making facilities maintenance part of your daily, monthly, semi, and annual maintenance plans, you should be able to keep the appearance up without a lot of effort. The trick is to not let it get dirty in the first place!

Apply the same diligence to the appearance of your facility that you do to the care of your equipment and watch it pay dividends. Not only will it help to grow your business, it will help to reduce the stigma, and that helps all of us.

Bob Fox is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at BFox@sonnysdirect.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.carwashcollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.