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Operations and Management

The well-managed wash

Learn the basics of determing management needs for your business.


Howdy everyone!

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Hope your spring is going well, and by now you should be getting ready for the summer season.

I appreciate all of you that offered feedback on my last article on window cleaning and some of the methods used. As always, I welcome comments any of you may have on the topics I cover.

Now for the latest from the West Coast: Out here in California we are experiencing our once-every-10-years-or-so drought. The governor has recommended people use professional carwashes, and many cities and municipalities are actually making it illegal to wash at home either in driveways or the streets. This has been extremely helpful for many of us who have been trying to get the word out and impress upon the public the need for using professional carwashes — especially ones that use recycled water and other forms of environmentally responsible products and methods. We shall see how this all plays out.


Now let’s move on to this month’s topics of management, management training and effective tools to keep your wash running at maximum.

Management essentials

First, let’s cover some of the basic rules as they apply so you can ask yourself some questions.

  1. Do you have an effective, cohesive and working operational guideline?
  2. Is there room for supervisors instead of managers, or do you need a full-time head honcho?
  3. What are some ways to improve productivity that manages itself?
  4. Are you maximizing and streamlining your current methods and taking full advantage of systems already in place?
  5. Can any enhancements be put into place on existing methods and techniques?
  6. Are proper tracking procedures in place to help you recognize and monitor these and other changes as well as potential improvements?

In my experience it is imperative that either the general manager or the owner be involved in the training and accountability standards of the manager(s) and the supervisors. By employing some effective “from the top down” methods, you will not only be able to better control the productivity and quality standards of the carwash, but you actually streamline the process while saving huge amounts of money at the same time.

  1. Some methods that have proven effective include:
  2. Training manuals
  3. Comprehensive and a well-thought-out schedule for employees
  4. Proper consideration of the weather and day of the week
  5. Guidelines and rules for clocking in and out along with a notice of employee rights (in English and Spanish) so that everyone is clear on the policies
  6. Accountability standards and ways of taking responsibility for achievements and faults
  7. Posted customer relations policies and set practices for dealing with patrons.

This might seem a little too thorough or even over the top, but this is exactly what a manager does. And if you can find a way to do these and some other related tasks by delegating them to supervisors or assistant managers, you will save yourself at least $40,000 a year. With smaller, less cumbersome operations, this is the preferred method.


Evaluate your needs

If you (the general manager or the owner) are willing to spend just a few hours a week overseeing your assistant managers and supervisors with these clear and concise policies in place, you do not need a full-time manager since you are now acting as the manager.

If you have multiple washes and/or a large operation where you are not able to spend a lot of time, these guidelines will help you and point you in the right direction.

If you are in need of a full-time manager, you may want to check to see if perhaps one of your supervisors or assistant managers is up to the task. I personally prefer this method because it gives you someone who is already familiar with the business and the carwash specifically. It also gives you someone who is acquainted with customers and their habits along with the flow of the carwash (this will help tremendously when making the employee schedule).


If none of these scenarios are applicable or viable for you or your business, I suggest checking the classified section of PC&D where many ads are run seeking managers. Managers looking for new opportunities will definitely want to check out that classified section.

Sometimes bringing in a fresh perspective is a good choice, and if you can afford it you may want to consider this option. Also, by bringing in an experienced manager, you gain the knowledge she or he has acquired at their previous jobs.

As always if you have any questions on this or any other topics covered in Consultant’s Corner, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Until next time,


Christopher C. McKenna of McKenna Assets LLC, based in Redondo Beach, California, can be reached at 310-947-9711 or via email at [email protected]­ You can also visit his website at For more information on this subject and other carwash equipment, products and services, please visit

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