Leverage the Experts - Take Advantage of Education Opportunities
By Kaitlin Wilson Wright
So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to join the world of car washing. You’ve signed on the dotted line, and either you’ve purchased an existing operation, or you have completed construction of your new business. Everything is great, except, where do you go next?
Car wash education and training is crucial to avoiding this very conundrum. Car washing combines business management, mechanics, chemistry, plumbing, electrical, and rolls it into a service that the consumer generally has very little knowledge of — the critical backend processes that make this instant-gratification service possible.
Unfortunately, I’ve not come across any sort of college or university offering a major in “How to Become a Car Washer.” However, manufacturers and service providers have risen to the occasion to offer this type of education to operators.
ON YOUR OWN
After months and months (sometimes even years) of planning and preparation, experts will help you build and establish your business up until you open the doors on your first day. But after all the celebrating and washing your first customers’ cars, the experts will have to depart the car wash at some point, leaving you to operate your business.
Everything is great until you need something done that you don’t know how to do. Whether that is replacing a bearing, resolving a leak, or swapping out a roller, the task can seem more than daunting if you don’t have experience doing this type of mechanical maintenance. While the experts are available, it is not necessarily appropriate or cost effective to call them in for the “small stuff.” But if you don’t know how or where to start, that small stuff can pile up and cause a big problem.
Don’t feel bad, younger generations don’t consider themselves “handy,” and many do not own what were once common power tools. There are even humans on the roadways who do not know how to change a tire. The down and dirty days of fixing stuff yourself have been overturned by a population that has grown accustomed to technology that bypasses the need to know some of these basic skills that can be used as a foundation for nurturing more specialized talents.
How do you combat finding yourself in a perpetual state of maintenance headaches that you cannot relieve by prescribing a dose of elbow grease?
Leverage the experts, before you find yourself in a bind, by taking advantage of the countless car wash training and education opportunities offered. Not only can you personally train and learn alongside some of the heavy hitters in the car wash industry, but you can also offer the same comprehensive training for your staff and team members.
Investing the cost and time into developing your team members will not only save you time and money in the long run, but it will instill a sense of pride in their newfound skillset. Even if you take the time to train an employee who ultimately seeks other employment, you have, at the very least, helped someone become a more productive member of society.
Employees who are offered developmental programs and training opportunities are more likely to stay with your company and take personal ownership in the work they are doing. Employees with feelings of personal ownership will attract more employees looking for that same feeling and desire to have meaningful impact.
Car washing does not have to be just another job; it can turn into a worthwhile and fulfilling career for many people.
With various types of coursework available, what should you primarily focus on for your new business before opening the doors to the consumer?
1. Car wash equipment maintenance and/or car wash equipment repair
2. Car wash management
3. Multi-site management (if applicable)
Car Wash Equipment Maintenance
Car wash equipment maintenance can either make or break a great car wash location. While you should absolutely utilize your local service company for the big problems, your customers do not want to go through a wash that is only half-way operational. Your staff should be equipped with the knowledge and capability to make repairs and keep the wash not only functional, but fully operational. Equipment maintenance courses offer your employees an opportunity to work with equipment and understand the “how” of car wash. These courses are designed to empower your staff to troubleshoot, repair, and keep the wash washing.
Car Wash Management
Work smarter, not harder by investing your time in car wash management courses. No one should work 24/7. Not only should you be delegating tasks to your staff, but even if you intend to be at your wash most of the time, you still need a manager that you can trust is going to run your operation at the same speed and quality as if you were there. Management courses are a great incentive to promote growth opportunities within the business.
Multi-site management is crucial for any operator that is diving into the realm of creating a car wash chain. Whether two sites or 10 sites, your customers will anticipate the same offering, including customer service, when visiting each of multiple locations. Understanding the best strategies in the car wash industry will make your expansion that much easier for you and your customers.
And what about training in areas not directly related to car wash management? What can one do about learning about the business side of the business without committing to enrolling at an institution for higher learning on a part-time or full-time basis?
Many universities now offer online solutions for potential students seeking education in specialized areas of business and business management. The courses are often month-long condensed versions of traditional offerings and come with their own certificate of completion.
Of course, it is important to follow the industry organizations and take note of training opportunities offered in different regions throughout the year. Not only will you learn about specialized business dealings for car wash operators, but you will also have the opportunity to network with other car wash pros who can offer education in their own right.
If you employ a payroll-service provider, your payroll company will also offer educational courses. This can be a great resource for smaller businesses that may not have access to a full-fledged HR department.
Your insurance provider should be happy to help you enroll in safety courses. These courses can help prepare you and your staff to prevent accidents and react swiftly and appropriately if the worst happens.
Most importantly, leaning on your local service-support staff is critical. Not only are they familiar with your specific site, they undergo constant training in order to stay sharp on the equipment and components they’re tasked with repairing. Your local service organization can also help you enroll in courses such as car wash equipment repair and car wash management. Courses are available for operators with any type of equipment and are offered throughout the year. Your local service organization can even facilitate on-site training for your staff.
If you are worried about exposure to COVID-19, there are now online maintenance course options available. Videos and downloadable content will give you in-depth step-by-step instruction, without ever leaving your location, on how to complete common maintenance tasks.
For training geared toward the business side, be sure to check out the International Car Wash Association’s Executive Management Institute. This week-long gathering focuses on business, financial, and leadership development for participants to take home and implement at their own car wash business.
Most importantly, never stop seeking new information to use and implement at your business. Complacency in training and education opportunities can be a killer. If you haven’t completed some sort of training course in a while, maybe it is time to take a refresher course. A wise man once told me, “If you’re green, you’re growing. If you’re ripe, you are rotting.”