Auto Laundry News - November 2012

Train Them — Good Training Will Reduce Employee Turnover

By Sharie Sipowicz

One of the most common problems for those in the detail business is constant employee turnover, which is very costly. If you expect any improvement, the value of training cannot be overemphasized.


If you operate a detail business with employees and experience high employee turnover, you need to train and to get the most value from your investment in training.

Hands-On Course
Training experts working with the latest technologies say there is nothing better than “hands-on” training. If it does nothing else, it provides some assurance that the person, who is
supposed to be getting the training, actually gets it. And, because detailing topics generally spark questions or side issues, having an instructor around to answer them is always a benefit.

Use Ancillary Materials
Much of what is learned in a classroom situation is often quickly forgotten. Therefore, it is critical to have and use collateral materials as an important part of detail education. This could include CDs, videos, web-based programs, and books. Moreover, these materials will expand your detailers’ knowledge, covering ground maybe missed in the original course.

Tap the Detailing Community
If you have a problem, chances are another detail business owner knows how to solve it and is willing to share that information with you. You can also get help from your chemical supplier, or from one of the online detail forums.


Unfortunately, the labor base for detailing seems to be getting…baser. So the need for training must be addressed at both ends of the spectrum. That is, to give both the experienced detailer the opportunity to grow and to also provide the novice with need-to-know material. The problem with hiring experienced detailers is “they already know everything,” and it is difficult to get them to learn anything new.

One key issue in training is to simplify information for newcomers to detailing, which will benefit you in the end.

You need to attract good people who want to work in detailing. They need a good understanding of the principles of detailing and to know the basic terminology and the basic chemicals. But, there is a lot of material being taught that is not necessary for them to know, which can puzzle a novice, as well as some of those with experience.

Too much of the training that is available is inadequate. Not enough time is spent on chemicals, new technology, paint finishes, interior materials, etc. So be sure you know what will be taught before committing.

Other issues that need to be stressed are safety and environmental responsibility. The need to have MSDSs on all chemicals and to know what they mean is imperative. OSHA inspectors can be unmerciful if your detailers do not clearly know the hazardous materials in the chemicals they are using.

Then there is the issue of wastewater. You need to know that wastewater cannot, by law, go into the storm drains or onto the ground. Non-compliance is a violation of the Federal Clean Water Act and punishable by huge fines and clean-up costs.


Hire the best people (not “experienced detailers”), train them properly, and pay them what they are worth. If you pay people minimum wage, then you will have high turnover. In short, “high turnover” is synonymous with “underpaid.”


At the other end of the spectrum is specialized training. At present, there is no real specialty training available in the detailing industry. However, you could hitchhike on specialty training in other industries: collision repair, trim and restyling, carpet cleaning, or janitorial. All these industries, through their associations and suppliers, offer phenomenal training resources for specialty training.

It is becoming clear that detailers need more opportunities to learn. For example, mold is a huge issue in all areas of cleaning and detailers “need to go there.” Mold spores have always been present, but all kinds of things have been blamed as allergens. Experts are realizing that mold may have been responsible for illnesses in many cases.
Odor is another issue. Yet, the typical answer to an odor problem is a fragrance to mask it when there is so much more to know and do.

Biohazard cleaning (crime scene) is extremely profitable, but requires a lot of specialized knowledge.


There are many sources for training information. The Internet has opened such a huge window of opportunity for information that no detail business owner has an excuse not to have access to the knowledge they need. It is out there.

For some resistant to research, there are training videos and manuals available to purchase that give the detailer ready-to-use information. Several companies offer, in addition, on-site training for the experienced or new detailer. These materials can be used to develop your own in-house training program.

Many detail-industry suppliers offer technical articles on their websites. The idea is to empower their customers. It is another example of servicing the customers. Detail business owners have no excuse for not using these resources.
You might say you do not use the Internet, but that is a feeble excuse. Today, everyone has a computer and Internet connection; it is becoming as common as a TV or a cell phone.

I personally believe in the importance of education and training to ensure ultimate long-term success for the detail industry. Those who seek to educate themselves are the ones with sufficient vision to thrive in today’s competitive market.

While industry trade journals and Internet forums are important to the detail business owner, your detail-product suppliers, who are in daily contact with your company, provide the best guidance and counseling. If they do not provide you this education, you should demand it, or buy elsewhere.

It is said that compressing training into predetermined time periods tends to limit retention; up to two-thirds of the information can be forgotten within 20 seconds of transmission. Therefore, manuals, videos, and multimedia materials must be used as tools to refresh the memory. You must absolutely demand that your suppliers expand their offerings of these training materials, especially specialized training materials. If you do, suppliers should respond or lose your business.


In short, take advantage of existing opportunities to refresh or augment the basic detail training of your staff. Expand their knowledge of useful information, and make them explore specialized areas of technology. You need to be on the lookout for new sources of information and to communicate about detailing with your peers to see what they are doing to improve in that area.

Sharie Sipowicz is aftermarket sales manager with Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems Inc. She has been involved in the detail industry for over 20 years, both as a vendor of products and equipment and as a hands-on operator in a retail detail environment. You can contact Sharie at

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Media Kit | Editorial Calendar | Events | Links | Archives

Auto Laundry News is published by EW Williams Publications Company
2125 Center Avenue, Suite 305, Fort Lee, NJ 07024-5898, USA Phone: 1-201- 592-7007 Fax: 1-201-592-7171