Keeping Your Car Wash Employees Safe During Extreme Heat

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This summer large portions of the country are experiencing high temperatures and humidity, with above average conditions expected through July and August. These heat spikes can be particularly dangerous for car wash employees and warrant measures to prevent heat stress and protect the individuals working your facility.

 

Why is Heat So Dangerous At the Car Wash?

Human bodies are surprisingly good at dissipating heat and maintaining a precisely balanced internal temperature. When an individual gets too hot, the body adjusts blood circulation to push more blood closer to the surface of the skin in order to divert heat from the internal organs and release it. At the same time, the body automatically releases water and dissolved chemicals from sweat glands, to pull away heat via evaporation.

 

However, extreme or prolonged heat exposure can easily overwhelm these mechanisms, causing internal temperatures to increase to dangerous levels even as the body dehydrates from sweating. This is doubly true for high-humidity heat waves or for work conducted in a high-moisture car wash tunnel, as the moisture in the air cancels out evaporation and stops the body from benefiting from sweat formation. The risk of heat exhaustion is also increased when employees are out in direct sunlight at the vacuum stations, in a car wash bay that is heating up due to natural sunlight, and when they are wearing dark-colored uniforms that absorb sunlight.

 

Heat exhaustion is marked by confusion, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, racing heartbeats, and even delirium—symptoms which are unacceptable in the high-risk car wash environment.  Therefore, any signs of heat exhaustion must be treated with extreme urgency.

 

5 Steps Car Wash Managers Should Take

1) Keep an eye on the temperature. What qualifies as a heat wave will change in different parts of the country, but you’ll know it when you feel it. When temps get too high it’s important that you take steps to reduce heat exposure among your team—especially if your bay heats up due to sunlight and humidity.

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2) Limit the amount of time your employees spend outside or in a hot car wash bay during a heatwave. This may mean shifts as short as 10 or 15 minutes with an available air-conditioned space for use when they don’t need to be outside.

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3) Keep your employees drinking cold water in order to stay hydrated and replace the fluids they’re losing as they sweat. Remember that soft drinks, while they may provide some benefit, won’t be nearly as hydrating.

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4) Have a short-sleeved, loose-fitting uniform option to allow airflow and keep your team cool.

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5) Train employees to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and encourage them to take a break, call for help, and get water if they have need.

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The last thing you need is for your team to work themselves to a breaking point. Prepare ahead of time and be ready to face this year’s biggest heat waves safely and without incident.

 

Tommy Car Wash Systems 

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Delivering a Positive Customer Experience, Even During Downtime

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Any length of car wash downtime is costly, and managers and operators should work diligently to prevent and minimize such occasions. Fortunately, with a thorough preventive maintenance schedule, robust backup systems, an up-to-date inventory of detergents, and a good stock of spare parts, the problems that cause downtime can be largely eliminated or minimized.

 

But despite all these measures the unexpected may still occur. And if a technical issue or customer accident does prevent the wash’s proper function, a plan should be in place that goes beyond just putting up traffic cones, turning off the lights, and pointing customers away. Operators and managers can take steps, like the following, to put a positive spin on an unfortunate downtime situation and deliver a great customer experience regardless.

 

Inconvenience Cards

Though they go by many names, Inconvenience Cards are business-sized cards passed out by managers or staff to customers who come for a wash but are turned away due to technical difficulties. The card explains that the car wash business regrets the inconvenience and, by way of apology, invites the bearer of the card to come back for a free wash or a dramatically discounted one when the facility is back up and running.

 

Of course, because inconvenience cards represent a certain value, there is a cost involved and they can present theft risk. Therefore they should only be accessed and their use approved by managers in specific situations. Nevertheless, using these cards effectively turns costly downtime into a free-car-wash marketing event and ensures that any new customers coming through don’t leave with negative impressions that may turn them away forever. Instead, each visitor will return in order to redeem the card, experience the wash, and possibly become members or regular customers in the future.

 

This above-and-beyond approach leaves a fantastic impression in customer’s minds, and even club members (who don’t need the cards for themselves) frequently pass the cards along to close friends or family, allowing a car wash to market effectively to new customers via referral.

 

Freebies

Other operators have had great success with freebies like air conditioners, cleaning kits, or other giveaway items to visitors during downtime. These promos can be presented to customers at the entrance as they are turned away, or at other facility locations like the dog wash centers or vacuum stations.

 

Again, by offering customers something relatively inexpensive, but which still has useful value, washes effectively combat negative experiences to promote greater customer loyalty and satisfaction.

 

Good Communication

If possible, update social media channels like Facebook and Twitter both when the downtime begins and when the wash is back up and running. Explain the situation briefly and with a positive tone. For instance, “We are experiencing a glitch in our computer system and are working to resolve it so that each customer receives the wash that they paid for. Please pardon any inconvenience and we hope to see you at the wash soon!”

 

The same goes for in-person communication on-site. Have good signage plan in place and have team members explain the situation in an open and friendly way to any disappointed customers who may come by. This can also be a great opportunity to have conversations with customers and answer any questions they raise – especially any questions regarding the local membership program!

 

Refer Customers to Services that are Still Open

Even if a car wash goes down, customers may still be able to make their trip worthwhile if other on-site services are up and running. Free vacuum stations, dog wash centers, or detailing services can all operate independently of the wash tunnel and offering discounts on these services or inviting customers to use them, since they are already there, can help salvage what might otherwise have been a wasted trip in the customer’s mind.

 

Preventing downtime and properly mainlining a car wash’s normal function is a critical priority, but failure to plan is planning to fail, and operators should take steps to make sure that if and when they do have problems, they are able to continue serving and impressing their customers. Have a plan that lets you and your team go above and beyond to deliver the best possible experience for your customers no matter the circumstances. They will notice.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

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