Successful Employees 101 - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Successful Employees 101

What qualities help make an employee successful in the carwash industry?

What qualities help make an employee successful in the carwash industry?  Having trained and observed many carwash employees and having had the opportunity to speak to many managers and operators, I’ve found there are some common characteristics with top-performing carwash employees. The good news is, all of the qualities I write about can be taught and learned.

These qualities will make you a successful employee in our industry.

Respect safety

A car wash is a busy place with its own set of hazards. Here are some key things to understand and practice regarding safety on-site:

  • Know where your e-stops are located.
  • When in doubt, retract!
  • When in doubt, e-stop!
  • You must have at least two qualified maintenance people present when performing equipment repairs or preventive maintenance at all times.
  • Do not perform any maintenance or work on equipment unless you first perform lock-out safety precautions.


Personal appearance must be a matter of extreme importance in your position at a carwash location. A neat, professional appearance and image contributes to the positive impression you make on your customers. Your carwash location sells clean, and it is the responsibility of the employee to personally present a clean image. You are expected to be suitably attired, well rested and properly groomed while on the clock.


In this industry and at your carwash location, there is always something to do; therefore, there should be no ‘hang time’. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean!

This is the expectation carwashes should hold their employees to. Even on slow days, employees have several things to do in between cars, before opening or closing, etc. For example, clean a window, empty trash cans, fold towels, pick up trash in lot, wipe trash cans down, clean tunnel walls and equipment, wipe down signage, pressure wash, etc.

Customer service

Customer service has the ability to make or break your business. Customer service is often the last thing a customer will remember about your carwash location, regardless of how amazing the quality of wash, experience or vacuum services offered.

A successful employee should carry a certain set of customer service skills to enable him or her to effectively serve customers. Essentially, good customer service skills include:

  • Giving attention to customers when walking the lot and loading vehicles.
  • Speaking in an enthusiastic and positive manner regarding the need.
  • Ensuring monthly membership customers stay loyal and happy.
  • Going out of the way for customers to ensure their problems are solved before leaving the site.

Personal development

I once heard someone tell me, “Ashton, if you want to be wealthy and happy, there’s something you must understand: Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Personal development lasts a lifetime in any job, any industry or any leadership achievement.

Who I become is far more important than what I can give my company or organization. The reality is, who I become directly influences what I can achieve in my job. I’ve also found that your yearly income rarely exceeds your personal development.

Sonny’s has really great resources to help you with personal development. Visit for super helpful case studies, articles and carwash education, or visit Sonny’s The Car Wash Factory YouTube Channel (my favorite) for tons of incredible information and education.

Effective communicator

Successful employees realize the importance of clear communication — in email, voicemail, person-to-person and so on. They also understand that we all have different communication styles. It is important for you to know how to effectively communicate up (your management), side-to-side leadership (your co-workers) and down (your employees). You must understand that communicating to different folks requires different approaches.

Common sense

Common sense includes seeing the big picture by figuring out the unspoken rules at a carwash location/organization. Common sense is required for success as a leader, and it makes you a very valuable (and respected) worker. You can practice common sense by observing and listening — figuring out and respecting the sites systems and processes that have been put in place.

These are just a few qualities that I have observed in highly effective employees over time specifically in our industry. The good news is, mostly everything we do can be learned. If you find you’d like to up your game at work and lack any of these habits, consider trying one or two at a time.

Joining the industry in 2010, Ashton Hines is an instructor at Car Wash College. She’s a member of the sales team at Car Wash Services of the Southeast Equipment Division and has been overseeing business development at Car Wash Services of the Southeast. In these roles, Ashton helps train investors, owners and operators how to be successful in the industry. She sells equipment using her experience and knowledge to help customers have an A+ site.

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