What is a good manager worth? If you are looking to find the pinpoint answer to that question in dollars, this article may disappoint. The truth is good managers are invaluable to a carwash business. Therefore, especially for hands-off or multisite owners, finding a quality manager who is the right person for the job, has a vested interest in its successes and can find complete job satisfaction is the difference in increasing or possibly decreasing car counts.

As competition grows, having the right staff members to represent the quality and consistency of your carwash will help separate your location from others in the area. Attracting and retaining qualified managers starts at the interview stage and continues throughout the life of the business relationship. Being an owner, you play a big part in the employees’ successes or failures.

Putting your best foot forward in hiring

According to Executive Coach for the Middle Market Stacy Feiner, PsyD, many business owners struggle to find and accurately assess good talent when hiring. Further, she adds, owners who do not have advanced hiring skills will eventually lose quality employees to the competition, resulting in two negatives. “The good news,” she says, “is whatever hiring problem a business owner has, it is completely in their control to fix.”

Dr. Feiner’s three important steps for effective hiring are:

  1. Before posting a position, bring several key members of the organization together to discuss and establish the primary goals and objectives of the role.
  2. Use the criteria during the interviewing process by asking questions that address the criteria directly.
  3. Bring the small group back together to compare impressions of candidates as a group. Use the criteria to avoid random decision-making.

“Business owners should look for candidates who are able to recount a specific experience that will help you determine if they are qualified for your job, rather than tell a general story that sweeps many experiences into one thing,” notes Dr. Feiner, adding that hiring owners should ask potential managers to describe a particular situation, what his or her solution was and the outcome.

During the interviewing stage, owners must project professionalism, control and general courtesy. Especially as unemployment reports continue in a positive direction, quality employees have choices today and want to be sure the work environment and situation are a good fit for them. As the interviewer, you have to be aware of the type of employee you are looking for. In the carwash market, good managers do not necessarily possess the same traits.

Know your type

No two carwashes are quite the same. Some aim to be quick and convenient, while others look to provide a destination experience packed with entertainment and attractions, as examples. Similar to the industry as a whole, quality managers are successful based on various factors. Knowing the best type to fill the manager role at your unique carwash is critical.

There are two types of carwash managers, explains Stuart Levy, president of Auto Glanz Solutions. “One type is very good at handling customers, and the other [is] very good at maintaining equipment,” he says. “It’s hard to be both; and, in my opinion, a carwash should have both types if they can afford it.”

With such a great emphasis on providing a good customer experience, managers who can set a standard for customer service, training and enforcing a team effort is the best way to go, continues Levy. “This type of manager must be very good at dealing with people. One is never sure what is going to happen from one moment to the next [at a carwash].”

A quality manager will need to know the best ways to deal with angry customers, such as how to keep them calm. And, effective managers will know how to turn negative situations into positive experiences which lead to loyal business. This type of manager is responsible for creating a positive customer experience, reminds Levy, and that is not such an easy thing to do.

“The manager who can maintain equipment is important as well,” asserts Levy. “When something goes wrong in the wash, he is the go-to guy to take care of the problem. He knows where all of the tools are; he knows where to get supplies; and he is the guy who keeps things running and spots [and corrects] a problem before it becomes one.”

While finding a manager with both skillsets is becoming increasingly difficult these days, some candidates are indeed out there; and if you are lucky enough to have this hybrid manager, retention is your primary goal and responsibility.

Rules of retention

While pay is important, many employees find job satisfaction almost as or equally important. As an employer, do not make some of the common mistakes associated with hiring, such as not finding a qualified person for the manager job, finding the qualified person who has a bad attitude toward coworkers and the tasks associated with the job, and not setting clear goals and objectives for the new hire.

Dr. Feiner weighs in with the “four aspects of employee engagement, which must work in concert to achieve employee satisfaction”:

  1. Does the new manager have clear goals and objectives?
  2. Does he or she have the tools to achieve these goals?
  3. Does he or she have opportunities for career development or career advancement?
  4. Does he or she feel valued and appreciated at work?

“When employees believe work is offering them these experiences, [they] are intrinsically more engaged, more productive, bring more energy, have higher standards of performance and, ultimately, take the extra time to get through obstacles as well as add new ideas,” explains Dr. Feiner.

Making leadership a learned trait

A carwash’s manager can play a pivotal role in various aspects of the business. From selecting the right inventory to solving customer issues, possibly no other employee is tied to your business’ future than the general, on-site manager. Setting achievable expectations and providing a comfortable workplace are important retention tools.

Experienced owners also know empowering the manager with high-level business decisions will help further the his or her development. It will also build trust between owner and manager. Successful owners are humbled by their managers’ opinions about their businesses.

“Leadership is learned, developed, fostered, cultivated and experienced,” adds Dr. Feiner. “Leadership is not determined by title or by charisma. Leadership is defined by character and found throughout organizations. Leaders evolve by creating environments where people can do their best work, where people’s opinions matter and where teamwork is rewarded. Sometimes it’s about standing alone on issues or making unpopular decisions. Leadership is about maturity and confidence, and those traits take a lifetime to learn. But, knowing what it takes puts us on the [right] path.”