From January 15 through 17, 2023, 60 women (and a few good men) gathered at the B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale for the 7th biannual Women in Carwash™ conference. Unlike a trade show, where participants come to represent companies and tout their wares, Women in Carwash elevates the individual. It is designed to encourage personal development and foster professional relationships through inspirational content and informative, hands-on workshops. Women attending the event experience four key elements: networking, personal growth, connection and fun.
Since it’s easier to make professional connections in a relaxed atmosphere, the networking in Fort Lauderdale began Sunday evening with a casual cocktail hour. The attendees represented every aspect and level of the industry. Their conversations — crackling with happy energy — never stopped from drinks through dinner. Keynote speaker Connie-Lee Bennett, the founder of Meraki Training Academy, amplified vital messages and set the tone for the next two days by encouraging every woman to choose authenticity and “stand on the center stage of [her] life.”
The Monday and Tuesday workshops focused on both personal and professional development, while generous breaks allowed everyone time to reflect, soak up the sun on the veranda, enjoy coffee with a new contact or walk on the beach. Together, the group learned body language for leaders. In breakout sessions, attendees practiced techniques to manage stress and learned how predictive data might optimize business performance. They also gained wisdom on leadership skills, mentorship, membership sales, business writing, carwash insurance, financing options and credit card processing fees.
The workshops were large enough to provide substantive discussion but small enough to create a safe environment for close connection. Women shared openly and honestly about their desires and concerns. Speaker Charlotte O’Connor of Town Wash Holdings LLC, attending her second Women in Carwash conference, said, “After the first time, I walked away feeling inspired and energized. Then after this last time as a guest speaker, I felt accomplished on my journey while helping others. This conference is more than talking about women in the carwash industry, it’s about building a tribe of people who are networking in a growing and fast-paced industry.”
Monday evening, it was time to celebrate the day’s success. Women in Carwash Founder Brenda Jane Johnstone has always known that fun was the final — and perhaps most important — element of the Women in Carwash equation. At every conference, she plans an unforgettable evening activity. So it was that the women in Fort Lauderdale garbed themselves in bell-bottoms and neon for a DJed ’70s and ’80s dance party that lasted a full 3.5 hours!
Tuesday, the conference closed with two amazing sessions for the entire group. First, everyone heard about the science behind vision boards and made one as inspiration for the coming year. Then, Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corporation, spoke about the resilience lessons she’s learned while reviving an 86-year-old brand. Her advice to “find your tribe,” echoed Charlotte O’Connor’s words and the thoughts of everyone in the room. “Because of this event,” says Jacqueline Goohs of Working Globally Closing Locally, “we are now the women who stand up for one another in this industry.”
Truly, Women in Carwash is like no other conference. Participants not only find value in the information and inspiration they receive, but they are also leaving engaged and excited about the future, because when women come together for one primary reason — to support one another — magic happens.
Gretchen Matthews is a writer, Women in Carwash™ conference speaker and the editor-in-chief of L.E.A.R.N.— the Women in Carwash™ newsletter. Contact her at [email protected].