Unlike most of my colleagues here at Sonny’s, I didn’t come from a carwash background. This made me somewhat intimidated at first, and although I endured some good natured ribbing, everyone was eager to lend a hand in getting me up to speed.

I started off in the customer service department, taking parts orders and doing returns. From there, I moved into the catalog division, breaking down equipment components so that the parts needed to repair equipment were easier for customers to find. It was during this time that I developed a passion for helping people keep their washes operational. Soon, I became obsessed with learning how the equipment operated, going to washes with the techs to see how they were repairing equipment and what could have been done to prevent the failure in the first place. It was on these field trips that I learned that almost all equipment failures are preventable with a proper maintenance program in place, yet, at several of the sites I visited, there was no maintenance being done at all. Their strategy seemed to be to run it till it breaks, then deal with the consequences.

This bothered me. How can washes, whose very existence relies on their equipment to survive, neglect the very thing that supports their livelihood? Determined to do what I could to learn more, I studied harder, went on more field trips, asked a million questions and, over time, found myself working in the tech support department helping customers over the phone.

A few years ago, I was approached by the CarWash College to see if I would be interested in becoming an instructor. Although I would still be working in Tech Support, it meant a transfer to a different division and reporting to a different department head. I’ll admit to having some doubts — change is always difficult — but looking back on it now, it was the best move I could have made.

The point of all this is really threefold:

  1. You’re never too old to learn; if you’re new to the industry, ask questions.
  2. Don’t be afraid of change; if you’re not growing and changing, you’re falling behind.
  3. If you don’t currently have an equipment maintenance plan in place, you’re planning to fail. As mentioned earlier, most catastrophic failures can be prevented with proper procedures in place.

Find your manufacturer’s owners manuals (Sonny’s are available online). Most list the proper daily, weekly and monthly maintenance in them. Build your plan from them and then follow up to make sure all maintenance is being done on time and properly.

A wise man once said, “If you don’t schedule your maintenance, your equipment will do it for you.”

Be the boss of your equipment — be proactive rather than reactive, and get years of clean, dry, shiny cars.


Richard Ovalles has 13 years of industry experience. He is the lead tech support and an instructor in the CarWash College. Richard can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.SonnysDirect.com or call the registrar’s office at (800) 327-8723.

This content is sponsored by CarWash College. Sponsored content is authorized by the client and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Professional Carwashing & Detailing editorial team.