The Question: "Why does it take so long to remove a link in my chain? Is there an easier way?" I often hear this question asked from CarWash College™ participants and our on-site customers. How the question is asked is not as important as the frequency and undeniable inevitability that it will be asked again. There are many ways to answer this question and I have listed what I consider to be simple solutions below.
Keep a clean Pit: One of the major reasons for the increased level of difficulty is the cleanliness of the conveyor trench, or pit as it is commonly referred to. To have the ability to enter the pit and perform emergency repairs and concentrate on what you are doing instead of staying clean has a significant effect on the amount of time it takes to finish the repair. As a car wash operator it is important to not only keep the facility clean but yourself as well. After all, you are selling "clean". One idea to aid you in staying clean is to line the pit wall and floor with a clean mat or cardboard before entering the pit. This will allow you to kneel or sit, giving you easier access while performing the repair as well as keep you clean and dry.
Practice, Practice, Practice: We have all seen movies and heard stories about members of the military who are able to "field strip" or disassemble their issued rifle, clean and reassemble it in a matter of seconds. Even more incredible, they are often capable of doing so blind folded in the same amount of time. The rifle typically consists of multiple pieces and can be somewhat complex compared to a link taken from a conveyor. If you were to apply this same type of training to a section of your conveyor chain you would see similar results. Even better, use this training in the conveyor pit and time how long it takes to perform the removal of a link. You could go as far as having a contest on a rainy day between members of your management staff and whoever has the fastest time wins lunch or some other type of prize. The point is to be able to perform an emergency chain repair under any conditions and do so quickly to minimize down time. A quick repair also minimizes loss of revenue, as we have stated in previous articles As we have stated in previous articles a quick repair also minimizes revenue loss that could be as much as $7,000.
Murphy's Law: A preventative maintenance program will help minimize the amount of downtime you will experience, however, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that regardless of how much you maintain the equipment and perform routine inspections to protect yourself, unexpected downtime will happen. It's not if, but when, the conveyor chain needs emergency repair. When you keep yourself and others ready with practice and maintain a clean pit you will create a more comfortable environment with less panic when it comes time to use this new plan of action. In the end, the customer is the one who will, unknowingly, be grateful for your efforts and continue to return.
Wes Rowe is the manager of on-site training for CarWash College™. Wes can be reached at WRowe@carwashcollege.com. For more information about CarWash College certification programs, visit www.carwashcollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.