Maximize production and reduce labor costs by creating an accurate schedule and making the on-site adjustments needed to hit the Target CPM (Cars per Man-hour). Awareness and experience will be great assets in this process. The benefits of accurate scheduling are many but let’s touch on a few of the more critical ones. First and foremost is the ability to service our customers in the manner which they deserve and expect. Obviously, there must be adequate staff to accomplish that. Secondly is the desire to make our workplace desirable for our current and future staff. There is the need for everyone to get adequate hours to meet their financial needs. This requires accurate scheduling so that there is not an overabundance of staff resulting in no one getting adequate hours. Next, there is an individual’s need to know with reasonable certainty when they will be working so that they may take care of the personal matters they have. Scheduling day-to-day results in an unnecessary stress level and shows a lack of respect for the employee.

The third benefit is that accurate scheduling controls the labor cost for the business. This expense accounts for the single largest expenditure at a car wash and has tremendous impact on profitability. And after all, an unprofitable business will not be around to serve either the customer or the staff very long.

A word of caution is due here. Controlling labor costs is critical but do not do so in such a way as to restrict volume or volume growth. If schedules are done too restrictively, there can be an effect of constantly being too thinly staffed. The result is higher turnover and the possibility of gradually strangling off volume. This happens when there are constant lines or slow service. Ever so gradually fewer and fewer customers are stopping in due to the delay or the perception of one.

Schedules should be done for a week at a time and posted at least a couple of days before they are in effect. Ideally, the pay week will be the schedule period since this allows for more accurately gauging payroll amounts. Also, starting the pay period on Friday and ending it on Thursday allows for much better control of overtime since there will be no need for concern on the two busiest days of the week.

2 WEEKS PRIOR              
1 WEEK PRIOR              
SAME WEEK              
NEXT WEEK              
4 WEEKS PRIOR              
3 WEEKS PRIOR              
2 WEEKS PRIOR              
1 WEEK PRIOR              
DAILY AVERAGE              
CURRENT TREND              


  1. Use monthly summary report by day set on range of dates for the historical information desired.
  2. For car washes that do more than 60,000 cars annually, discard any day with less than 100 cars washed. Omit these and reduce the number to divide by appropriately. (i.e., if 2 days are not used you would divide by 6 instead of 8).
    For car washes that do less than 60,000 cars annually, discard any day with less than 50 cars washed.
  3. Use the computed daily averages as the projected volume for that day.
  4. Spread this projected daily volume hour by hour in the normal distribution pattern.
  5. Then use the production chart to determine scheduling needs.
  6. Adjustments will be necessary throughout the day to achieve targeted cars per man-hour.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College. Robert can be reached at For more information about CarWash College certification programs, visit or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.