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Car wash operators share 5 training tips to boost retention



Good training delivers worker retention and enhances customer service. Here are five suggestions from leading wash operators that help raise the bar on workplace labour challenges.

  1. Give new hires a proper orientation not just a manual

“The orientation is your first opportunity to create a positive culture and direct workplace behaviour. Don’t just hand new workers a booklet and think the job is done. Spend some time here and reap the rewards with motivated crews and incoming staff that has a basis of core knowledge,” says Karen Smith, training and Compliance manager, Valet Car Washes.

  1. Do a full safety tour on the first day

Explain the equipment and talk about the various noises in the plant. “Car washes can be intimidating places to work. They are noisy and dangerous environments that require a presence of mind on the job. In-coming staff need to be walked through the full operation and shown all the hazards and how to work safely in this setting,” says Smith.

  1. Shadow established workers

“Our training program is two weeks long. We team a new worker with one and only one of our established staffers. Over two weeks they follow and mirror the job with the experienced worker,” says Smith.

  1. Train to develop a team culture

“A lot of our detailing staff have been with us for the long haul. This has enabled us to develop a crew with unique skill sets that deliver quality performance and customer engagement,” says Chris Skoglund of Skogie’s Auto Spa, where they start by paying staff a higher wage than competitors. “We also pay a commission to any staffer that sells products and services. Tips are also shared at the Kelowna Auto Spa and this helps level things out and makes a positive addition to wages. The result is a highly competent team that is supportive of the business. It’s a win/win for everybody.”

  1. Be proactive

“Anticipate a problem before it becomes a problem. A customer that receives a wash and was not happy after leaving is a lost opportunity. Not only the single wash but the washes they would have purchased afterwards. We train specific staff to conduct daily, weekly and monthly preventative maintenance checks. The checks are all documented and followed up with our maintenance supervisor to ensure the problem is corrected,” says Randy Andrusiak, gas bar operations manager, Red River Cooperative Ltd. “The very first thing we do every morning before opening is to conduct a test wash. Is everything turning on like its expected? Are there any nozzles plugged? Is their enough chemical in the barrels? Are the doors and bays clean? Is the garbage at the entrance emptied?”


How can the federal wage subsidy program help your business?

Unknown-3For those in the convenience, gas and car wash industry who are struggling or worried about keeping staff on board during the COVID-19 crisis, the  Federal Government is outlining new measures to help operators stay in business and support staff.
“I would suggest that convenience store operators and regional chains prepare to take advantage of this wage subsidy as it will allow us to keep employees in every community,” Dave Bryans, CEO if the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, said in an email to members.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined more details regarding the previously announced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, which is to provide an up to 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses for up to three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This goal is to help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.
  • If your revenues have decreased by 30% you will be eligible for this subsidy

  • The number of employees will not determine your eligibility

  • This subsidy applies to not-for-profit organizations and charities, as well as companies big and small

  • The government will subsidize 75% an individual’s salary on the first $58,700 earned, which will mean up to $847/week.

Businesses are being asked to do everything they can to retain employees in the wake of closures and mass layoffs across the country. In addition, operators are encouraged to pay staff full and fair wages whenever possible.

“We are trusting you to do the right thing. If you have the means to pay the remaining 25% that’s not covered by the subsidy, please do so,” said Trudeau. “And if you think this is a system you think you can take advantage of or game. Don’t. There will be serious consequences for those who do.”

The unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action and good faith and trust. For a comprehensive list of what the Federal Government is doing to support business owners, click here.