Business Management at the Coin Op Car Wash – Employees, Risks, Procedures, Safety

By | May 18, 2023

Business management isn’t just about shuffling paper work in the office, and a good business manager must motivate the team, see that the procedures are followed, worry about safety, and about risk. You see, a business manager must run a tight ship, and cannot allow for expensive mistakes to cause accidents, claims, or cut into the profit margins. This is serious stuff, and yet so many managers fail, they cut corners, and it could lead to catastrophe.

For a case study let’s look at an example of poor management and smart front-line employee thinking shall we? You see, not long ago, I received a question about something that had occurred at a car wash, the coin-op type from an employee who was chastised by his manager even though he did the right thing. Here is the story;

“I just started working at a gas station self serve car wash and a hose broke the other day, it was rated at 3000 psi. My manager wanted me to replace it, however the only hoses they had on hand were hoses for the scrub brushes which are rated at 180 psi. So I refused, thinking that if my math was anywhere close to correct, it would be a ridiculous to put a hose underrated by 2800 psi on the pressure wash system.”

So, what we have here is a manager telling an employee to do something unsafe, then when the employee refused, he was reprimanded. Hmm? That’s a leadership failure if I ever saw one. But was it insubordination on the employee side of things? Well, if the manager knew otherwise, he could have explained it to the employee, but apparently it was just a bad judgment call by the manager, why I don’t know?

Maybe there was an inspection that day from their corporate office, and the manager wanted to appear to have everything in working order? Who knows, but it’s a real problem you see. Let’s further dive into this issue, since I know a thing or two about car washes having founded the Car Wash Guys franchise company. My thinking on this is:

“I’d have done the same thing unless, he just used a 3000 psi hose last time because that’s all it had, but the mechanism or system only required 130 psi let us say, thus leaving plenty of safety factor.”

The employee stated that; “it was a the pressure wash system and the five other bays all have 3000 psi hoses, so I will assume I did the right thing.”

Question is did he, did the employee do the right thing and was the manager actually wrong in this case. Yes, I believe so, and I further stated; “yes, I agree – and most coin-ops operate at between 800 to 1500 psi, so a single steel braided 3,000 psi makes the most sense for safety issues, giving a 100% safety factor, I can live with that.”

Okay so, the idea of putting on a 180 psi pressure hose on a system that operates at let’s say 1200 psi (average in the industry) is utterly ridiculous in this case, and could have potentially caused injury to a customer and most likely immediate burst as soon as someone let off the trigger nozzle or got it kinked on a tire. The 180 psi hoses I know about in that venue are those used for extra-add-ons like tire dressings and soaps, but those types of hoses shouldn’t be used in high-pressure systems.

Therefore, I would like to show this as an example of piss-poor management, and it has no place in business, military, government, or engineering. It also shows how cutting corners causes more risk, and likelihood of future challenges to profit margins. So, please consider all this.