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Operations and Management

Tips for a carwash manager

Do you need to hire a manager, or can you take care of it yourself?

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Howdy everyone. Hope your summer is going well, and by now you should be getting ready for the fall season, respectively.

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Now for the latest from the West Coast. Out here in California, we are experiencing pretty good conditions, now that we have gone through an unusually rain-soaked March. We are still pushing for water conservation out here nonetheless, with the governor helping a little too. 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 to use professional carwashes, especially the ones that use recycled water and other forms of environmentally responsible products and methods. We shall see how this all plays out.

Critical management questions

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

First, let’s cover some of the basic rules as they apply as well as some critical 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 simply “manages” itself?
  4. Are you maximizing and streamlining your current methods and taking full advantage of systems that are already in place?
  5. Are there any enhancements that can be put into place on existing methods and techniques?
  6. Are there proper tracking procedures in place to help you recognize and monitor these and other changes and 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 supervisor(s). 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 will actually streamline the process while at the same time saving huge amounts of money.

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Related: A carwash manager’s guide to success

Proven strategies

Some methods that have proven effective are as follows:

  1. Having training manuals
  2. Having a comprehensive and well-thought-out schedule for the employees
  3. Taking proper consideration that accounts for weather and the day of the week
  4. Having guidelines and rules for clocking in and out along with a notice of employee rights (both in English and Spanish), so that everyone is clear on the policies
  5. Having accountability standards and ways of taking responsibility for both achievements and faults
  6. Posting customer relation policies and setting practices for dealing with the business’ patrons
  7. Posting drug testing policies
  8. Having a complete understanding of potential inter-company relationships and how they might affect you legally; I have a full non-fraternization policy at my carwashes that each employee signs when he or she is hired.

Now, this might seem a little too thorough or even over the top, but this is exactly what is needed and 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 have saved yourself at least $40,000 a year.

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With smaller, less cumbersome operations, this is the preferred method. 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, then you do not need a full-time manager, since you are now acting as the manager.

If you have multiple washes and/or a very big operation where you are not able to spend a lot of time, then these guidelines will help you and point you in the right direction. So, 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 familiar with the customers and their habits along with flow of the carwash (which will help tremendously when making the employee schedule).

If none of these scenarios are applicable or viable for you or your business, then I suggest checking the classified sections of prominent industry associations and trade magazines, which run many ads seeking managers. Also, if you are a manager looking for new opportunities, then you will definitely want to check out these classified sections.

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

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


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] Visit www.carwash-consultant.com for more information on specific customer marketing. For more information on this subject and other carwash equipment, products and services, please visit www.theschoolofwash.com.

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