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Car wash operators share 5 training tips to boost retention

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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?”