I fielded a call the other day from a reader who was worried that Professional Carwashing & Detailing reported too much “bad” news in its e-Newsletter and that this might negatively influence the general public’s opinion of the carwash industry. He was particularly concerned about two types of stories: the “drug busters,” as he termed reports about carwash or detail shops where local enforcement officers had conducted sting operations to uncover storefronts for illegal drugs; and the “sweat shop stories” about carwash operators who hired illegal help under unfair (and illegal) wages and conditions.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had this conversation. My initial knee-jerk response is always to point out that PC&D e-News, like our magazine, is intended for car care business owners and operators and that it is unlikely that our “bad news” stories reach the eyes and ears of the general public. Likewise, the reports about good news — which generally outweigh the bad on www.carwash.com — probably don’t do much to sway your customers because unlike you, they’re not checking our website daily.
But the better response, that I usually stumble on later in the conversation, is that PC&D has a responsibility to report all the news. It is useless for us to dig a hole in the sand and bury our head like the foolish ostrich, pretending that there are not less-than-ethical car care business operators out there. Yes, we’ve come a long way from the standards of the 1970s, but off-the-books and outside-the-law carwashes still exist.
Not only do they still exist, but regardless of the coverage by PC&D or even the local newspaper, they are still affecting the overall perception and reputation of the carwash industry. Putting pen to paper and reporting their bad deeds doesn’t change much other than our understanding of our own industry.
I don’t think the shady operators who make the news are actually reading PC&D’s reports, and so I don’t include these stories for their good or understanding — instead I present it to you, the responsible and hard-working operators, to encourage your awareness and to remind you there is still a burden on this industry to prove to its customers — and even more importantly, its non-customers — that it cares about rules and regulations and good customer service.
The bad news is there will probably always be operators who aren’t up to our standards of operational excellence. The good news is PC&D has the best resource for you to stay informed, delivering stories every Tuesday and Thursday to your email inbox. Use these stories — the good, the bad, the ugly — to help you improve operations at your own carwash and to stay current in our industry. And maybe together we’ll reach the point where there’s so much good news, its sickening.
Kate Carr is the editor in chief of Professional Carwashing & Detailing® Magazine and she prefers good news to bad news.
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