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Business Operations

You’ve got a job to do

March 08, 2011
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As a carwash operator or manager, you wear many hats. Some days you’re the marketing executive, and others you’re the janitor. Some hours you spend managing and training new employees, while in the afternoon you might concern yourself with settling accounts and balancing the books.

Still, your most important job is one that many operators fail to seriously consider and perform; that of the educator. On a daily basis, you need to educate yourself, your staff, your local government and your customers.

A few weeks ago I had an e-mail from an operator who was having trouble with a very large charity carwash event that was happening every weekend and negatively impacting his volume.

The charity did not have to worry about contaminated water because the city’s drains fed directly to a water treatment plant. The operator did not feel comfortable partnering with the charity because the scale of their fundraising was so large it would hinder his ability to profit or gain from such a relationship.

And so the question became how could this operator stop the charity from continuing their mission every Saturday, week in and week out?

In a word: Education. A carwash operator presented with this unique situation should consider informing local code enforcers of their responsibility and raising questions to be used when investigating the operating procedures of the carwash.

Were any carwashers being paid for the time spent sudsing up vehicles or were they all in fact volunteers? Was the exchange of monies for services now becoming a commercial use of the property or were donations optional? Had the weekly charity wash affected the local economy — had the commercial carwash been forced to lay off any staff members or was the municipality losing out on significant tax dollars?

At about the same time that this operator reached out to me, I had an e-mail from another operator in the South. He had recently received an online newsletter from a local car dealership in which a columnist came down hard on commercial carwashing. The author of the article insisted that home washing was not only preferred, but better for the vehicle.

Lacking a response from the dealership, I took my concerns to the top: I e-mailed Eric Wulf, executive director of the International Carwash Association. Within a day, Wulf was able to get the dealership to agree to replace the article with one that encouraged professional carwashing and pointed out the hazards of home carwashing.

So, my message to you, dear operator, is to never stop educating yourself and those around you.

We have an uphill battle to climb, although it is heartening to see movements like those in Washington State where legislators have started to take action against home and charity carwash events which harm the environment. At the end of the day, the efforts come down to you and your fellow operators. May you never stop learning, and never stop teaching.

Kate Carr, Editor in Chief

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