Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Great expectations

October 11, 2010

The topic of employee management was weighing heavily on my mind as I made my way home from the Western Carwash Association’s 28th Annual Convention and Trade Show this October. Earlier in the week I had attended the educational sessions put on by the Disney Institute which focused on quality service and loyalty branding. Not surprising, the majority of the discussion centered largely on leadership, management and company morale.

What didn’t hit me until the flight home, though, was just how universal this topic is; how much of it transcends our business and professional lives and instead seeps over into our personal experiences. So many of our daily exchanges are opportunities to learn a bit more about employee relationships and to grow as leaders and business owners.

For instance, on the first leg of my trip back to San Diego, I listened as a flight attendant recommended a passenger put her large laptop bag into an overhead container instead of continuing to squeeze, kick, shove and otherwise abuse it to make the case fit under the seat. However, the attendant’s helpful suggestion was negated by the sugar-sweet-but-catty tone she used and the exaggerated way she widened her eyes and pursed her lips behind the passenger’s back.

Maybe the Laptop Lady didn’t catch the sarcasm in the attendant’s tone, and likely enough she didn’t see the facial gestures which clearly indicated the attendant’s annoyance, but the other passengers in my row certainly did. And while some might have been sympathetic to the attendant (Laptop Lady was clearly delaying the boarding process with all of her pushing and shoving), I am sure more than a few of us were appalled at the unprofessional and discourteous behavior.

How many times a day do you think just one of your employees encounters a similar situation? Have you clearly expressed your expectations in these scenarios? Will your cashier say and do the right thing, as well as keep their attitude in check, when a customer insists on having the “Daily Special” despite the fact your wash stopped offering a “Daily Special” five years ago? What about at 4:57 p.m. on a shift that ends at 5? Will they say and do the right things and act the right way then?

When I was working my way through college, I tried my hand in several service industries. Among the more memorable jobs, I waitressed, served customers in a clothing store, and telemarketed to pay the bills. In none of these jobs was I ever trained on the finer points of customer service, but in each and every post I encountered situations where the customer’s satisfaction largely depended upon my attitude and concern.

Most of my managers expected that a minimum wage worker would put in the minimum effort and they had minimal expectations to boot. Technically, the flight attendant fulfilled her job description. She suggested the woman move her bag elsewhere, and even helped lug the case up into the overhead container. Beyond that, what else was expected of her?

The larger question, of course, is how do you expect your employees to know what you expect of them unless you’ve told them, shown them and reminded them every single day? Your staff can’t meet your expectations unless they fully and completely understand your goals, mission and vision for the company.

Starting every day, great expectations begin and end with you.