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Singing in the rain

October 11, 2010
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I’m in the midst of planning a wedding and along with worrying about the shades of difference between moss green and peat green and how much to tip the photographer, I’m stressing out about the weather. I know, I know. It’s not like I can do anything about it. In fact, I keep replaying some advice I had before I ran my first marathon: There is no point in worrying about the things you can’t change; i.e. the distance, the course layout, and yes, the weather.

But, still, I worry. And I’m sure you do, too. (Maybe not about my wedding… although, if you’re in Utica, NY, this March 14, you might as well stop by for a free drink or two. Especially if it’s raining or snowing — no point in being wet or cold when you could be toasting to the happy, carwash-loving couple.)

Let’s face it. The weather rules our industry. You might be operating the best carwash in town and a rainy Saturday is still going to throw a damper on your business. You can even try safeguarding your carwash with additional profit centers, but a pet wash or convenience store isn’t able to magically make cars appear in the tunnel on a wet, damp Tuesday. Rain = free carwash. There is no easy way to fight this mentality.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing used to devote a lot of pages towards weather coverage. Kevin Hart, editor and publisher of the magazine from 1999 to 2005, was a believer in keeping our readers informed about weather movements, like the El Nino “phenomenon” in the 1990s. I’m the opposite. I’ve been burned too many times before.

Just last week I consulted in order to better prepare for a triathlon I was competing in, in Burlington, VT. They said sunshine. I packed sunglasses and sunscreen. Turns out, I should have packed a poncho and an umbrella.

So if the weatherman can’t even get it right two days before my outdoor athletic event, how am I supposed to trust the experts when it comes to three or four-month forecasting?

These last few years, as gas prices have risen and the economy has faltered, I’ve had a few readers take issue with some of the news reports on “It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s the weather,” one reader bluntly argued. I’ve also had readers take the opposite tract. “Stop blaming the weather. It’s the economy.” Or, “The weather may be ruining a weekend or two, but gas prices are ruining my whole year.”

What I do know is this: We can’t change the weather and we can’t change the economy or gas prices. Most importantly, we can’t (despite how hard the media may try) reliably predict most of these situations either.

That being said, there are still a lot of resources out there for operators who want to stay in the know. The best being the National Weather Service,, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Climate Prediction Center. As my fiancée pointed out, if I’m going to continue on worrying and fretting about the weather I might as well make use of my time by doing some research on the Internet. Not only did he manage to shut me up for a few hours, but I also learned quite a bit about La Niña weather patterns and the affect this has on the ocean’s temperature. Who knew?

Kate Carr is the editor in chief of Professional Carwashing & Detailing® Magazine and she used to love watching a thunderstorm before this job! You can send your grumblings, compliments and suggestions to

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