Sixth Women in Carwash Conference: Empowering and Impactful
By Angela Altass
The sixth Women in Carwash Conference, held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, June 20-22, was a resounding success. With attendees from the carwash industry continuing to praise this unique event, many have already expressed interest in the next conference scheduled for Florida in January.
“Personally, for me, this conference is one of a kind,” says attendee MaryAnne Irvine, president, London Mat Industries.
Known for its intimate ambiance, the Women in Carwash conference once again provided attendees with a chance to network and make new friends as they gleaned knowledge and information about the carwash industry and gained skills that can be used in everyday life.
“I loved every moment,” says Irvine. “This conference allows time and space for you to get to know one another, build new relationships and friendships, rather than focusing on the fact you may be competitors outside of the conference. I find the Women in Carwash conference to be about lifting each other up as women, sharing knowledge and experience. This has been my fourth conference and each one has provided me an opportunity to learn more about myself and grow as a leader. I find myself being able to open up, share my experiences, and say what I really think within a group that I can create a rapport with.”
The conference is an opportunity to connect with like-minded women who are experiencing different sides of a booming industry, says conference attendee Savannah Brush, lead account executive, Welcomemat.
“Most carwash events I’ve attended have been primarily focused on the day-to-day operations,” notes Brush. “This conference focused more on empowering women who are leaders in the industry through skill enhancement and sharing about each attendee’s experiences. There was a lot more time to connect with one another than expected, which I prefer versus sitting in lectures for the majority of the time.”
It was great to be able to network in a safe space, says Brush.
“You have the opportunity to discuss challenges and how we can find creative solutions to them,” says Brush. “There is the opportunity to work on self-improvement in a safe environment where people are willing to listen and share. It also had great food, plenty of free time to enjoy the destination you’re in and fun activities.”
The event brings together ladies within the carwash industry from a vast array of backgrounds and roles, notes conference attendee Megan Scheid, vice president of human resources strategy, Tommy Car Wash Systems.
“The conference exceeded my expectations,” says Scheid. “It includes activities and sessions for both professional and personal development, as well as fun and getting to know each other. The speakers were very inspirational. The conference helps connect women and lead them to being the best versions of themselves.”
The conference included information sessions on topics ranging from body language for leaders to understanding financial statements.
“The hiring, training and retaining seminar was amazing,” states carwash owner and conference attendee Melanie Sands. “This conference was extremely beneficial with regards to HR and writing skills. I loved the smaller groups and getting to know the other people at the conference. It’s a wonderful and fun way to learn and grow as a person and to improve my business.”
The response to the hiring, training and retention workshop was very positive, says Karen Smith, training and compliance manager, Valet Car Washes, who lead the session.
“This is a subject affecting all businesses so it was timely and well received,” says Smith. “I heard one attendee took six pages of notes.”
Smith describes the entire conference as affirming and uplifting and particularly mentions a highlight being the authentic leader of tomorrow keynote presentation by Connie-Lee Bennett, who she describes as a powerful speaker and wonderful woman to talk to.
“Attending the Women in Carwash sixth biannual conference felt like a family reunion,” states Bennett. “I was inspired by the immediate connections that were made by the participants. It was clear that the attendees wanted to learn a great deal more than just about the carwash industry. They wanted to learn how to be the best versions of themselves, to lead as role models and truly make a difference in their organizations and lives.”
Bennett tells the conference attendees and “authentic leaders” that now is their time to stand on the centre stage of their lives.
“I was touched by the level of vulnerability shared, which provided for a safe space for others to authentically express what problems they had been experiencing and ask for the support needed,” says Bennett. “Deep connections were made at this conference and, I believe, life-long friendships, where the women in the carwash industry will continue to empower others.”
The conference is a great way to connect with different types of leaders, including CEOs, carwash managers, chemical representatives, and insurance agents, says Melissa Pirkey, who presented a session on the ins and outs of insurance.
“The guests really enjoyed learning about insurance coverages and how to prevent claims in order to save money on their insurance premiums,” says Pirkey. “The guests asked a lot of questions and were thoroughly engaged throughout the process. At the end of the session, the guests asked if I could also teach a sales and relationship building class next time.”
The Women in Carwash conference is a great way to make connections in the carwash industry and form a professional, lasting bond with others who are growing and learning together, says Pirkey.
“I would describe it as informative in all things carwash and it also provides personal, as well as professional, growth,” says Pirkey. “I would state that it is more than worth the cost to attend and more companies should send more of their staff as being part of this conference has done nothing but enhance my professional and personal life.”
As a new attendee to a Women in Carwash conference, Fran DeGouveia, marketing coordinator, Just Lubes Ltd., says she was pleasantly surprised by the openness of all the women sharing their experiences and insight.
“It was a nice mix of event veterans and fellow newbies,” states DeGouveia. “As many of the delegates, I work in a male dominated industry and coming out of a pandemic, it was nice to meet new people and experience some synergies with these ladies. It’s a great forum to let your hair down and be your genuine self. The more open you are about your experience, or lack thereof, you’ll discover you are not alone.”
The conference is a game changer for those who are open to career growth in the carwash industry, says global and domestic realtor Jacqueline Goohs, whose vision board workshop was one of DeGouveia’s favourite sessions.
“The community building and sharing of information and growth experiences in every part of the conference stands out the most to me,” says Goohs. “The response to the vision board workshop was very positive. The participants were surprised that our vision boarding had a slant on perspective. Focusing on strategic vision boarding for career and lifestyle utilizing the business practices of strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis and key performance indicators (KPI) indexing for business and teams.”
Freelance writer Gretchen Matthews, who lead a you can write workshop, says the entire conference is a boost to the spirits.
“It was my pleasure to present the you can write workshop; my third presentation for a Women in Carwash conference,” says Matthews. “Attendees at these events are consistently engaged and receptive to new ideas. This time, while I spoke and watched people work on my writing exercises in small groups, I saw their faces light up with recognition, understanding, and a genuine desire to collaborate. Afterward, several people approached me to request more information about my services or to say thanks for sharing my expertise. It’s very gratifying to offer a presentation in such a supportive environment.”
Matthews says she appreciated the conference seminars that encouraged her to consider how her inner life impacts her exterior one and the way she processes information, manages teams, or approaches speaking engagements.
“And, we had fun,” exclaims Matthews. “How many people have been to a business conference that featured a dance party? Now I have! The attendees were also very down-to-earth and willing to share their experiences in meaningful ways. Many of the conversations I had will stay with me.”
The dance party was an evening event featuring 70s and 80s music with karaoke.
“Guests wore costumes from these two decades and danced the night away,” says conference organizer Brenda Johnstone. “A few people gave us some great karaoke renditions and Scott Crawford, who hosted the carwash chemical workshop, serenaded his wife with his karaoke rendition of I Swear. It was a fabulous party.”
Women in Carwash is a place to grow, both professionally and personally,” says Matthews.
“If you’re looking for networking opportunities, you’ll find them,” she says. “Programs to enhance your skill set? You’ll get those too. You’ll also make many new friends and learn a thing or two about yourself. It’s great value for anyone connected to the carwash industry.”
Johnstone expresses a big thank you to everyone who attended the conference with a special acknowledgement of the sponsors who made the event possible. Conference sponsorship information is available by contacting her at 204-489-4215 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.womenincarwash.com for full details and registration information for upcoming conferences.
“This conference just keeps getting better and better,” says Johnstone. “What a fabulous group of women who attended the conference in Niagara Falls. What a great conference and what fun we had.”