Workin’ At the Car Wash

Workin’ At the Car Wash

An Art of the Question Blog

How is my focus on my customers?

It had been raining for what seemed like weeks.  But suddenly, the sun broke through the clouds, and with the sun’s warmth, the temperature rose above freezing – barely.  And suddenly, I wanted a clean car.

I admit it.  I am a car nut. No, I don’t own a lot of flashy, rare hot rods.  But I love to drive, and I love having a car that handles great.  And I love to keep it looking good.  Due to the weather, I had allowed dirt and grime to coat my beautiful ride.

I swung into my local car wash, and was greeted by a young man who trotted out to meet me as I drove into the lot. “Hello!” he said.  “I’m Rob!  Thanks for coming by today.  What can I do to help you?”

I looked around to make sure I had pulled into the right parking lot.  “Is this the car wash?” I asked.   ‘Yes sir, it is,” came the reply.  “How can I help you today?”

“Wow!” I said.  “You really know how to make an impression!”  “Thank you,” he replied.  “We want to make sure we take good care of you.  What would you like for us to do today?”

“I would like a wash, vacuum and tire shine please.”  “Perfect,” Rob said.  “We can do a Number 3 for you today.  It’s on special, and will save you five dollars.  Say, that’s a beautiful car!”

“Thanks Rob,” I replied.  ” a number 3 sounds perfect.”  “OK,” he said.  “I will personally take care of everything.  Now, if you don’t mind, follow me.”

I followed him to the main building.  When we got to the door, he opened it and held it for me to enter the building.  “We have snacks and magazines.  Also, there is a shoe shine chair if you need to brighten those wingtips!  Relax, and we’ll have you out of here in about ten minutes or so.”

“Thanks Rob,” I said, a little overwhelmed by the amazing level of customer service.  I entered the waiting area and was greeted by a smiling cashier who took my payment and gave me a receipt.

As I sat, I noticed the waiting room was clean and neat.  The phones rang, and were answered promptly and cheerfully.   I watched through the window as the crew, under Rob’s careful gaze, began to clean my car.

When the wash was complete, Rob drove the car to another area.  I watched as he dried the car to remove any water spots. He began on the wheels, carefully cleaning each opening and lug until they were shining.  He continued with the windows and interior.  He selected a cleaner from his cart, and cleaned a spot on the carpet he had noticed.  He even used a bit of rubbing compound to remove a black smudge on one of the fenders.

I walked out to where he was working.  He greeted me, saying, “I should have you wrapped up in about five minutes.” “Thanks,” I replied. “I noticed you seem to do a very thorough job.”

“We appreciate your business!” he said. “Do you own the car wash?” I asked. “No,” he replied, “but I want to do the best job possible.  Our customers deserve that.”

“Wow,” I thought. “He actually said  ‘Our customers deserve that.'”

I tipped Rob, and drove away thinking about my experience.  Would I go back? Absolutely. Rob had set the bar high for any other car wash to compete against.  In fact, he had started me thinking about the level of diligence and customer service I offered to others.  As I thought through what had just happened, I was inspired to be better at what I do.  I had been inspired by a car wash guy

What was Rob’s secret? Well, he had three.  First, he genuinely loved what he did.  Next, he made it a point to do the very best job possible. Finally, he understood customer focus.


Was it easy?  Not at all.  His environment was not ideal.  The day I was there, the temp was in the upper 30’s.  His customers were not always nice and friendly.  Many of them were in a hurry and were downright rude.  He wasn’t making millions of dollars.  But none of that was his focus.

His focus was simple. To do the best job possible. To deliver the best customer experience he could. And to love what he did.

What if we had a similar focus?  What if we were inspired by the car wash guy?

Imagine the possibilities.


About terry newberry

Business Consulting, Seminars, Motivational teacher - Terry is a certified personal coach. He has served in leadership roles as Executive VP, VP Finance and CFO of several multinational companies. He is an award winning writer and speaker who has traveled throughout the U.S. and internationally consulting businesses and speaking in seminars, workshops and keynote addresses. Terry's client list includes Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Children's Hospital, Wake Med Hospital, Inquest, and Fortune 100 companies like AT&T and Bellsouth. 205.296.7679 View all posts by terry newberry

3 responses to “Workin’ At the Car Wash

  • Shelia Carroll

    I had a similar experience recently at Hardees. It was about 6:30 a.m., but the gentleman handling the drive through was so energetic and polite that I couldn’t help but find my mood being lifted. I thanked him for being so bubbly in the morning. I ran into him again a week later at Arbys (he was working there). I told him I remembered him and he just looked at me confused. When I told him where I remembered him from, he laughed and asked what made me remember him. I explained that his enthusiasm had impressed me. I asked if he had quit Hardees and he said, “No, this is my day job and that is my night job.” I can’t imagine working in those conditions in the first place, but to work two places like that and have a wonderful disposition is just crazy to me.

    ~ Shelia

  • Candyce Hinebaugh

    Definitely, what a splendid site and illuminating posts, I surely will bookmark your website.All the Best!

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