Crew Carwash recently announced plans to hire more than 150 new full-time and part-time employees, including 30 management positions, which Professional Carwashing & Detailing has covered in past editions of Carwash eNews. You can find this coverage here.
In this special Q&A, PC&D catches up with Tom Wiederin, director of recruiting for Crew Carwash, to discuss employee management strategies.
PC&D: For many carwashes, finding and retaining quality employees, especially managers, are critical for effective operations. In your opinion, what are the key traits carwashes should look for when hiring new employees? Are there any particular characteristics to keep in mind when hiring managers?
TW: At Crew Carwash, we know the most integral part of our success is our team members, and it starts with our managers. When hiring for management positions, we look for people-focused leaders. One of our main focuses is to grow and develop employees both professionally and personally at Crew, and the managers who are most successful are the ones who make it a priority to develop their team members.
When evaluating candidates, we ask them to share past experiences for which they developed people and helped individuals get promoted.
A key trait that we look for in all candidates is a strong aptitude for customer service. We have a positive reputation for providing an outstanding customer experience, and we have to make sure we hire individuals who will help us maintain that status. It’s not an easy job to work outside in all kinds of weather conditions wearing a necktie and a smile. It takes a positive person committed to doing whatever it takes to care for our customers.
PC&D: Once hired, what training best practices should carwash owners and operators execute to ensure optimal performance? And how does training differ, if at all, for regular employees compared to managers?
TW: Training is a key strategy to company growth, and it is crucial to have a well-thought-out training program that addresses all areas of your business.
At Crew, all of our new employees go through extensive training. Associates undergo 20 hours of training before ever assisting a customer on their own.
For any type of management position, team members must complete the Crew Carwash Leadership Development Program. This is for those working toward supervisor, shift manager and assistant manager positions. It is a nine-week course, and team members participate in approximately 400 hours of on-the-job site training.
As Crew continues to expand its central Indiana footprint, we’re looking to fill approximately 30 management positions each year; and we seek top talent from both within the company and outside. Our fast track managerial program provides the opportunity for individuals from outside industries and states to join our growing team.
Each year, Crew hires 25 to 30 people for our fast track management program, which takes approximately 10 months to complete. Candidates have the opportunity to earn certification all the way through a shift manager position. Once an employee becomes a shift manager, they enter the same promotion process as internal candidates.
This program is getting a lot of attention and is highly competitive. A new employee recently moved to Indianapolis from Wisconsin to work as a manager at Crew, and two new “fast tracker” employees came directly from managing fast food restaurants.
My best advice for any carwash looking to implement a training program is take your time to ensure that team members are retaining what they are learning. We find this is the best way to set them up for success.
PC&D: How often should retraining be implemented? And what quality assurance should be included to make sure training is effective?
TW: We have scheduled retraining for what we consider the most important areas of performance. Safety refresher training is a must. Our teams conduct a safety refresher at each monthly team meeting, and we have at least one safety refresher per month in our weekly video communication called “Crew Tube.”
Some retraining is seasonal. For example, we refresh everyone on the importance of speed of service going into winter, bug removal going into spring and on how to recommend our loyalty programs going into a big promotion.
In addition, our managers are required to earn continuing education credits by participating — for refresher purposes — in our online and classroom training curriculum. They can choose which training they revisit, based on their opportunities or needs.
We measure training effectiveness in multiple ways. The first approach is through direct observation. Managers observe teams performing a job and then provide feedback using a tool we call the Station Observation Checklist. We closely watch feedback from customers on our customer survey and assess the customer experiences against our expectations and guidelines.
A key source of assessment is our mystery shopper program. The other source of feedback is from our team members. They complete surveys to share how effective the training was at preparing them for their job. We have surveys to rate our classroom, online and on-the-job training.
PC&D: Employee retention is important for any business. How can carwashes effectively reduce employee turnover?
TW: We understand that we are in the service industry and compete with other successful retailers, and because of that we are extremely competitive with wages at all levels. All new Crew associates earn a starting wage of $10 per hour, which is 38 percent higher than Indiana’s minimum wage.
Also, because many of our team members are in college, we offer a unique tuition assistance program that offers team members up to $2,500 per year paid directly to the student. They can use this money toward whatever they want — tuition, books, groceries, rent, etc.
We also provide benefits for full-time associates, which include health insurance, paid time off and a 401 (k) plan.
It’s important for employees to know there are opportunities to grow at the company. Our Leadership Development Program, as mentioned, provides opportunities for employees to earn promotions and certifications and also develop personal leadership skills that they can use at work and in their everyday lives.
A big issue for any retailer is maintaining quality of life for your managers. We try hard to make sure our managers can enjoy every other weekend off and find that it creates a healthy work-life balance.
PC&D: Are there any common pitfalls or mistakes regarding employee management and hiring practices? If so, please explain why this might be and how these hurdles can be avoided.
TW: We find success with taking our time and having several sets of eyes meet our potential new hires. This makes sure that everyone is going through the same selection process. Many times when you need to hire, the first mistake people make is rushing candidates through or overlooking red flags. This may give you a temporary solution, but it will always come back and bite you.
We can’t sacrifice our reputation for having great people, and our customers expect that. While our state-of-the-art equipment and technology is wonderful, we know it’s the exceptional customer service our team members provide that keeps customers coming back.
To learn more or apply to join the Crew Team, please visit www.crewcarwash.com.