One of the most important tasks of owning a business is hiring and training a team that will represent your business the way you want it to be represented. I learned a few simple but valid points early on that helped me develop the training program for my new team members:

• No two employees are alike
• No one will handle every situation the same way the business owner would
• There has to be structure
• I cannot do it all myself

With a combination of the right people, proper training, and a structured work environment, it is possible to develop a winning team so that your car wash can be all that it can be.


If you have never hired anyone to work at your car wash, there are many important items to consider. As with any job, it takes a special set of skills to work at a car wash. Each new employee that I hire cannot believe everything that it takes to run a car wash. The ideal candidate has experience with electrical and plumbing, has mechanical knowledge and customer service experience, and is ready and willing to work in the outdoor elements. That person is not easy to find. Here are a few key items for your consideration:
1. Have you properly budgeted, and is your business healthy enough to hire an employee? You have to look beyond the hourly wage and factor in training costs, employee benefits, employer payroll taxes, uniforms, and workers compensation insurance.
2. Have you written out a job description? Any potential employee needs to clearly understand the tasks and responsibilities associated with the position.
3. How do you plan to train the new employee? A structured program tailored for the individual employee has worked best for my company. All new employees go through the same two-week introductory period and then we develop a program for each individual employee to train him/her in areas where he/she has limited or no experience.
4. Do you have an employee manual? An employee manual should cover the following:
• A brief company history, company objectives, and operating procedures
• Employment policies
• Labor laws and rules
• Safety rules
• Benefits package
• Organizational chart
5. How do you plan to find the new employee? Attracting a quality pool of applicants can be difficult. The friend referral process has worked really well for my company. When we open a new position I speak with my other employees and ask if they know anyone who is as qualified as they are that is looking for a position. If the person referred is hired I give a bonus to the employee who gave the referral. Several other methods we use to attract new employees are a “now hiring” message on our marquee signs, school placement centers, and online ads.

If this process seems overwhelming, there are companies who specialize in this area. There are several payroll service providers (PSPs), and professional employer organizations (PEOs) that can help even with a single employee.

Payroll Service Providers

PSPs perform such tasks as preparing paychecks; withholding and sending tax payments to local, state, and federal tax agencies; preparing and sending quarterly and annual reports to these agencies; and preparing and sending employee W-2 forms at the end of the year. Many PSPs will also handle and administer employee benefit programs.

Professional Employer Organizations

PEOs are companies that co-employ an employee with you. They share certain responsibilities and liabilities and handle all aspects of human resources. They are paid based on a certain percentage of the employee’s wage.


Once you have identified a qualified pool of applicants, it is time to interview your potential hires. If this is your first time interviewing job applicants, remember this is a two-way street and you are trying to make a match. Be respectful of the applicant’s time. Don’t take phone calls or read e-mails during the interview. Have the job description written out and go into more detail about what the job entails. Discuss the pay structure, benefits included with the position, work schedule, etc. Ask questions that are open ended, not just simple “yes” and “no” questions. Make sure the applicant knows what is required for the position by the end of the interview. At the end of the interview ask applicants if they understand everything about the position and answer any questions they may have about your company.

After the interview process is complete narrow down the list of applicants to the few you feel are a good fit for your company. Next, call the references they provided and have a background check completed. There are many online services that conduct basic background checks for a small fee. This is an area you should not overlook. You want to make sure you know the background of the person you are hiring other than what they tell you.

After the background check and calls to references are complete, you can decide which applicant is the best fit for your company. Call the applicant and offer the position. After the applicant accepts the position, schedule the first day of work and make it known what is expected of a new employee.


The new employee will need to complete all necessary paperwork for payroll deductions, state and federal tax forms, etc. An important form that also needs to be filled out and kept on file is the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). All U.S. employers are responsible for completion and retention of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. You as the employer must verify the employment eligibility and identity documents presented by the employee and retain copies in the employee’s personnel file.

Once the employee has completed the necessary paperwork, you should start the introduction process to the position. Remember the new employee will be a little nervous on the first day so start the process by discuss the job responsibilities, the training process, company policies, dress code, payday, and employee breaks. Then introduce the new hire to other team members and give a tour of your location.


After the first two weeks of employment, I like to have a meeting with the new employee to review the first couple of weeks and answer any questions. I make sure the employee is excelling in the assigned tasks and then make a custom plan to help him/her understand different aspects of the wash process. We also start establishing goals for him/her to achieve.

I conduct periodic reviews with each individual employee and observe his/her work habits. If I notice an area of concern I politely correct the action and explain why it should be handled in a different way. I never do this in front of other employees or customers, though.

Now that you have brought the new teammate on your team and he/she is going through your structured training program, have a little fun! People don’t like working for boring companies. It was a process to find the right person for the job, so make it a process of keeping them around too. Employee turnover is very costly. With the right tools and attitude in place, you can develop that winning “A” Team.

Wash On!

Bobby Willis has been in the car wash business for over 20 years. He owns and operates Cool Wave Car Washes in Virginia. He can be reached at