Most carwashes across the country invest significant capital, time and energy to implement a well-developed employee training program. Far fewer seem to place the same emphasis on educating and training their customers in safe practices. The most successful washes emphasize employee and customer training equally to create a safe environment and mitigate risk. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider while designing a customer training plan for your carwash:

  • How effective are your entrance and exit signs? Signage should be visible in more weather conditions, easy to read and provide adequate directional symbols.
  • Are there signs recommending that customers refrain from using cell phones at the wash?
  • Do you alert your customers about the potential damage to the wash, employees and other patrons from loose parts, debris in the back of pickups, certain aftermarket items, etc. in their vehicles?
  • Does your wash subscribe to the practice of using employee hand signals when customers are driving onto the conveyor? Is there a standard in place supported by signage instructing patrons on what to do?
  • Have you considered using stop and go lights at the exit of the tunnel to more effectively control the flow of traffic?
  • Are you using sound devices to alert customers to when the carwash process ends?
  • In the vacuum area, are you using signage to advise customers to properly replace hoses after use?
  • Are you using signage to inform motorists driving around your property to be cautious due to a high level of pedestrian traffic?
  • What policy do you have in place in the vacuum area to advise parents with children to stay vigil and keep them close and under control?
  • What have you done to keep customers from walking in dangerous areas of your property? For example: cones, foot path visuals, striping, barriers, etc.
  • If customers must cross in front of bays to retrieve their vehicles, is there signage to warn them to stay alert?
  • Are you using signage and locking the door to the equipment room to prevent unwelcomed access from customers?
  • Are your chemicals stored in a safe and secure location?
  • Is your property free of debris? Old equipment or empty containers lying around can pose a risk of injury to wandering customers.
  • Do you periodically perform an in-depth walkthrough of the property to determine if there are any dangerous conditions customers might be exposed to? During that time, if you observe any questionable safety concerns, don’t assume your customers will “know better.” Forewarned is forearmed.

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, and I’m certain there are more items that can be used to educate the customers while they visit your wash. It might be a good time to challenge your employees to come up with their own suggestions.

I believe there’s a misconception that if your wash is an exterior only or express exterior where customers drive their own cars, the business is absolved of any liability. However, the owner of the property still has the responsibility of maintaining a safe environment at the location. As such, it’s essential that you take the proper steps to protect your customers, or you may face property damage or personal injury claims.

Evaluate and implement your customer training plan today so your wash is prepared to prevent or mitigate potential risks. It will not only increase your profits, but it’s the right thing to do.

Remember, a safe wash protects people and profits.


Mike Benmosche, CIC, is the national carwash program manager for McNeil & Co. McNeil & Co., with over 25 years in business, has become a nationwide leader in specialized risk management and insurance, specializing in the professional carwashing industry. For more information, please visit www.mcneilandcompany.com.