How to create a culture of community service for your carwash business

The ripple effect

An outline of how giving back can result in good standing with your customer base.

The ripple effect is a phrase that is universally acknowledged, resonating with tales of how seemingly insignificant events can profoundly impact our lives. My personal narrative begins with a recurring query from my grandfather during my childhood: “When have you paid your community rent?” To him, aiding others was not just virtuous; it represented a duty to the community that provides us support.

This article delves into the essence of service, influenced by the sagacity of my grandfather. We will scrutinize how seemingly modest actions, such as attending meetings, joining local groups or volunteering, contribute significantly to the overall well-being of our community.

Each action plays a role in crafting a larger picture — a picture my grandfather, perhaps unwittingly, contributed to by instilling in us a consideration of our roles within the community. His words lingered in my consciousness, steering me toward a life of service — from the Marine Corps to Rotary — involvement in my local school district, coaching youth sports, and now, passing on these impactful principles to my family, friends and the dedicated team at Sgt. Clean.

Many individuals grapple with a similar predicament: the desire to contribute, but uncertainty about where to start. It’s essential to recognize that one does not need to undertake monumental tasks like curing cancer, solving world hunger or even rescuing a cat from a tree. Instead, one can start with small, manageable steps.

Here are some practical pointers on how to initiate a journey of giving back in your communities.

Discover your purpose and passion

The concept of “Start with why,” which was popularized by Simon Sinek, encourages individuals to delve into the core motivations behind their actions. This principle invites us to explore where our heart truly lies and what drives our desire for positive impact. To embark on a meaningful journey of contribution, it’s crucial to connect with causes that resonate with your passions and values.

A practical starting point involves researching local nonprofits, civic organizations and community groups. Seeking recommendations from peers, friends or family members who share similar interests can provide valuable insights.

However, it’s equally important to do one’s own due diligence. Before committing time or resources, ensure that the organizations align with your purpose and passion. Platforms like Charity Navigator ( can be valuable tools, offering comprehensive assessments of various nonprofits, aiding in the decision-making process. By aligning your actions with a clear sense of purpose and thoroughly vetting the organizations you engage with, you pave the way for a more meaningful and impactful contribution to your community.

Start: step out of your comfort zone

Embarking on your community involvement journey often starts with attending events or gatherings where you can discover your niche. To begin, check community calendars for upcoming events that align with your interests. These gatherings serve as valuable opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and explore various community initiatives. The key is not to overthink it — simply take the first step.

Starting small is a prudent approach and there are numerous entry points for community engagement. Consider participating in local park cleanups, attending neighborhood meetings, or volunteering at local food banks or schools.

These initial forays allow you to acclimate to the community environment gradually, helping you identify areas where your skills and passion can make a meaningful contribution. By immersing yourself in these smaller-scale activities, you will gain confidence and a better understanding of how you can actively contribute to the betterment of your community. Remember, the journey of community involvement begins with that first step and each subsequent one propels you toward a more engaged and fulfilling role in your local community.

Make a plan and set expectations

Making a positive impact in your community should be a sustainable and fulfilling endeavor, integrated seamlessly into your daily life. It is essential to start small and manageable, avoiding the temptation to bite off more than you can chew. Instead of overwhelming yourself, consider beginning with a commitment to volunteer twice a year. Gradually, as you become more comfortable and find a rhythm that aligns with your lifestyle, you can increase your involvement to quarterly or even monthly contributions. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Taking your time is crucial, as rushing into commitments can lead to fatigue and potential burnout. It is important to let your involvement in community service unfold organically, allowing yourself the space to adapt and grow within the experience. Avoid forcing things and instead, let your contributions evolve naturally.

Pushing too hard can have the opposite effect, potentially turning you off from volunteering altogether. Be candid with the organizations you choose to support — communicate openly about your availability and let them know when you can realistically volunteer. By approaching community involvement in a gradual and authentic way, you ensure a sustainable and positive impact over the long run.


Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude is not only a personal benefit, but it can also serve as a powerful catalyst for positive change within your community. One way to amplify the impact is by involving your team and family in your giving-back efforts. However, it is crucial to recognize that their enthusiasm and passions may differ from yours. Acknowledge the unique journeys each person takes to embrace community involvement. While you may have found your path, allow them the time and space to explore and discover their own.

Recognizing the significance of this principle, at Sgt. Clean Car Wash, we established the role of community impact coordinator. Tracy Parnell, previously a site leader at our Green location, emerged as the ideal candidate for this new position. Tracy brought a wealth of passion for community service, strong organizational skills and a personal commitment to volunteering during her free time.

In her current capacity, Tracy plays a pivotal role in assisting site leaders in identifying their passions, facilitating their volunteer efforts and developing strategic plans to support their community engagement. The initiative has proven to be highly successful, fostering a positive and impactful community involvement culture within our organization.

As you engage in philanthropic activities, it’s essential to share your experiences with others in a humble and genuine manner. Communicate how and why you give back without boasting, allowing your actions to inspire rather than overshadow. By fostering an atmosphere of openness and understanding, you create a supportive environment for those around you to embark on their own journeys of giving back. Ultimately, the collective efforts of a grateful and compassionate community can lead to lasting positive change.

As we navigate the intricate threads of community involvement, consider this: Every small act, each moment of volunteering and the ripple effect you create within your community contributes to a greater tapestry of positive change. Remember, you do not need grand gestures to make a difference; rather, it is the cumulative impact of collective efforts that fosters a thriving and compassionate community.

So, as you embark on your journey, ponder the words of my grandfather, “When have you paid your community rent?” Let these words echo in your endeavors, urging you to embrace the marathon of giving back, starting small and allowing the transformative power of reciprocity to weave through the fabric of your community. Together, in humble steps and shared experiences, we create a legacy of positive influence that resonates far beyond our individual contributions. 

Brian Krusz is the co-founder and director of growth and development for Sgt. Clean Car Wash. Based in Ohio, Sgt. Clean Car Wash currently operates 15 carwash locations and continues to grow as a market leader. For more information, please visit

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