Training is a huge part of owning and operating a successful car wash. With 12 years of experience in the car wash industry, and a background in direct and technical sales before that, Colorado Springs car wash owner Dave Begin knows a thing or 10 about training.
He was gracious enough to sit down and share some of his top tips for car wash training.
1) Why do you need training anyways?
A car wash attendant is one of the more complicated entry level jobs. There are a lot of moving parts.
Not only do you need staff to be courteous and provide excellent customer service, but you need to learn the Point of Sale (POS) System, know about equipment usage, have an understanding of the process control system, and be great at customer service (people in cars can be really unpredictable)!
About 90% of employees don’t know anything about the industry when they start. It takes a long time to get them up to speed because so much knowledge needs to be transferred. Good training systems take employees through a path to help them become proficient over a period of time that allows them to properly learn about each area of the car wash they will be focused on.
2) What does training solve?
Training can help with a number of pain points. Three big ones that training can address are consistency, turnover, and safety.
When training is done right and integrated into the culture of a company, the experience for the customer is streamlined and consistent. Consistency leads to a stronger customer experience which can create more customer retention, improve customer satisfaction, and increase cross-selling and up-selling.
Training paired with a training system, creates job satisfaction. When your employees know what they are doing and have a clear path to where they are going, they feel like they increase their value, and are prompted to stay engaged and motivated.
A proper training program minimizes injuries and downtime. When everyone on your team knows how to execute properly you create a safer and more productive environment.
3) What does a great training program look like?
We have identified 8 of the top elements that make up a great training program. This is a linear list that follows the trajectory and growth of an employee.
A typical employee moves from a new hire learning the ropes to an experienced employee getting more in-depth information on equipment maintenance to a veteran able to run the back room and make business decisions. Eventually, this new hire can work all the way up to becoming a manager.
While each stage of employee growth is different, note that equipment maintenance and safety training should be an on-going focus no matter where the employee is in their career.
Standard loading/misloading procedures
The tunnel attendant should learn standard loading and misloading procedures in the beginning of the new hires training.
Customer service training is an important focus at all levels of your business. Put procedures in place for dealing with difficult clients and roleplay scenarios with your staff to help them learn aloud from each other how to work together to diffuse difficult situations.
Basic general equipment training includes a lesson on proper terminology and basic equipment use. If your new hire is mechanically inclined or has prior experience, it can also involve an overview of how all the machines work to create the wash experiences.
Learning the point of sale system is an important training measure that helps employees to become more versatile.
Train your new hires how to correct the pay station in the event the customer makes a mistake.
By teaching your employees how to perform routine maintenance, you help to encourage ownership in the equipment. Learning how to check and replace minor issues lets your employees practice independence and contribute to the team.
Managing people includes learning how to delegate, motivate, and hone the right skill sets to lead a team.
There is so much you can do when it comes to safety training. It’s important to cover chemical safety by teaching staff how to identify hazardous chemicals, but there are also more advanced, time-sensitive safety processes to learn (e.g. preparing for the event that a pump goes down). The key to this type of training is building it into your quarterly or every six month schedule. After all, if people don’t practice these things there’s a good chance they will forget them.
Dave Begin hosts a bi-weekly industry podcast called “The How of Car Washing” that offers resources and discusses issues and challenges for car wash owners and managers. You can tune in by visiting www.thehowofcarwashing.com or on iTunes and Stitcher radio.