Teamwork - Improving Communication at Your Car Wash
By John Waters
In any business, effective communication is key and car washes are no exception. You and your staff’s ability to effectively communicate with each other and your customers directly affects the reputation of your business aswell as your financial bottom line. Car washes that establish effective communication make more money because it creates better customer service and helps you and your employees improve good processes and get rid of bad ones.
Communication is an essential part of a functioning car wash and is a skill that must be learned and practiced in order to master it. Here are a few tips for improving communication at your car wash. Following these steps will make better owners, managers, and employees.
COMMUNICATION IS MORE THAN TALKING
Did you know that verbal communication is the way that we communicate the least? It is true. The 7 percent rule coined by Dr. Albert Mehrabian in 1971 states that communication is 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. This means that effective communication requires more than just saying the right things. Good body language is an essential component of communication.
For employees interacting with customers, this means making direct eye contact, standing up straight, and providing the customer with a genuinely upbeat and professional demeanor. Customers are more likely to patronize your car wash if they feel that your employees want to help them and answer their questions.
The same principle can be applied to owners communicating with their employees. An employer is more likely to retain good employees if those employees feel like they are being listened to. This means taking the time to talk with your employees and listening to their suggestions and concerns about improving your car wash.
Successful car wash owners understand that strong professional relationships create strong businesses. In order to achieve a strong relationship, you must establish trust; and you establish trust by listening to your employees and letting them know you respect their opinions and contributions.
You can only grow your business if you hire and keep the right people so listen to them and watch your car wash grow.
CHECK-IN FREQUENTLY WITH EMPLOYEES
Establish frequent check-ins with your employees. The frequency of the check-ins will depend on the size of your car wash. A small car wash should have meetings with each employee weekly. A larger car wash should have individual meetings once a month.
These meetings are a great time to get to know your employees. Learn about their strengths and weaknesses and discuss how both the employee and you, the owner, can improve your professional relationship.
Your employees are the most valuable part of your car wash so taking a half-hour once a week or once a month to talk with them is a small amount of time that will reap huge benefits down the road.
These meetings should set clear expectations on what is needed to improve the car wash and how well you and the employee met the expectations set during the previous meeting.
Also, take this meeting time to learn more about your employees personally. Remembering a birthday or another big event in an employee’s life can go a long way in creating a strong relationship.
Conducting productive and individual meetings with your employees will ensure that they will go into the next meeting as better employees.
Car wash owners should also take the time to conduct frequent group meetings with the entire team. These meetings should occur once a week if you are a small car wash and once a month if you are a larger car wash.
The purpose of this meeting is peer accountability. You want to make sure you are meeting your goals, and your employees are meeting theirs and know their responsibilities.
It is important for you and your team to know where everyone is at in their work.
The benefit of group meetings is peer accountability. Successes are more likely to be recorded and failures are more likely to be noted if everyone is in the same room communicating.
During these meetings make sure everyone is involved. Encourage participants to ask questions and communicate directly with any employee who has not spoken in a while. The meeting should foster a safe and intellectual environment where no one is afraid to speak and no one should be ridiculed for saying something others might consider wrong.
Remember we want to improve communication in our car wash and that requires you to foster an environment where people feel comfortable to speak.
USE INSTANT COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Technology plays a huge part in improving communication. Being able to talk to someone clearly and quickly is important to keep your car wash running smoothly. Two-way radios are an excellent way to instantly improve communication at your car wash.
Two-way radios ensure that every employee can talk to another instantly with the press of a button. This means the front desk can talk to the crew at the conveyor tunnel without having to walk back and forth.
Stewart McClintic is a corporate account manager at two-way radio dealer HQ98 in Scottsdale, AZ. He says that two-way radios provide car wash employees a tried-and-true tool for instant communication.
“Car wash owners love to use two-way radios because they are easy to set up and require very little effort to use,” McClintic says. “You press a button and you are talking to your team. No need to dial a phone number or take a long walk to the other end of your car wash.”
Jordan Bradley, general manager at Cobblestone Auto Spa in Phoenix, AZ says his team’s implementation of two-way radios made them more efficient.
“It has just made it really easy for one department to communicate with another,” Bradley said. “Two-way radios have become an essential part of our communication strategy, and we wouldn’t be able to operate our business without them.”
Communication is key to running a successful car wash and it is important for you and your team to constantly work to communicate more efficiently in a way that benefits your employees and your car wash. Finding the right methods and techniques to improve your team’s communication will lead to a happier workplace and a more profitable car wash.
John Waters is the principal of Waters Business Consulting in Scottsdale, AZ. He is an expert in helping small businesses grow their businesses.