Women in Carwash Conference Exceeds Expectations!
This is the next segment in our Women in Carwash feature, introducing and celebrating women working within the carwash industry across North America. Following is the story of another inspiring woman for you to enjoy.
My name is Alyssa Sanderson. I am 23 years old and I work for Wash Worx Car Wash in Loveland, CO. I started in the industry when I was 19. I became an assistant manager only five months after the beginning of my employment. At the beginning of my career in the industry, I did not have any mechanical ability. I didn’t even know what a crescent wrench was, or that there is more than one type of wrench for that matter. My brain does not naturally think mechanically, so I must push myself out of my comfort zone every single day. I am fortunate enough to have a great mentor who took the time to show me how to perform maintenance on carwash equipment. After four-and-a-half years in the industry, I can confidently say that I can adequately perform preventative maintenance on every piece of equipment at my site.
I originally started at a carwash in Fort Collins, CO. I didn’t think too much of it. I thought it would just be another job to get me by for the time being. Prior to the carwash, my only experience was in the restaurant industry and I was ready to try something different. After working at the carwash for a few months I discovered that it is something that I really enjoy. Every aspect of it fascinates me and there is always something new to learn every single day. The carwash is kind of like the jack of all trades. Some of my job duties include customer service, solving customer complaints, maintaining site cleanliness, writing schedules, payroll services, resolving damage claims, maintaining equipment, and equipment repair. One day I might replace a motor while the next day I’m doing plumbing. You never know what each day will bring you and that is what I love about this industry.
I have accomplished a lot throughout my carwash career. One of my greatest achievements was attending Sonny’s Car Wash College in Tamarac, Florida. I obtained my Car Wash Equipment Maintenance Certificate at the end of the class. I passed with over 100 per cent in the class. I was the only woman in the program and I got a better score than many of the men. I have also been fortunate enough to give a presentation at my local Chamber of Commerce, attend the ICA carwash convention in Las Vegas, and take multiple equipment courses at High Performance Wash Systems in Denver. I think the most empowering thing for me is knowing I have the knowledge to repair several pieces of equipment without asking for help.
Being a woman in the carwash industry, which is predominantly ran by men, is extremely challenging. There is a common misconception that women are not as capable as men in the industry. Many believe that we are not able to perform maintenance and repair. It has been a struggle to get people to take me seriously. My advice to other women in the industry is to display confidence! Show them what you are capable of and share your knowledge. Speak up! Once they see that you know what you are talking about, you will gain respect. Together as women we can break these social standards!
I don’t think anybody dreams of growing up and working at a carwash. It’s a life path that I just happened to cross. There have been ups and downs throughout the duration of my involvement in the industry just like anything else, but I wouldn’t change anything if I started all over again. My experiences (good and bad) have gotten me where I am today and have made me the person I am. Obtaining mechanical ability and management together have changed me for the better. I have gained skills that help me in my everyday life.
My biggest challenge in the industry is repair. The same equipment doesn’t break often, it’s few and far in between. So, for example, let’s say our air compressor has a leak, I may have learned how to fix it at one point but then say it happens again two years later, it’s hard to remember that far back, which makes it difficult. But all I can do to overcome that is push myself. I have failed many times over, but I never stop trying and I grow each time.
In the future, I see myself continuing my career in this industry. I plan to continue managing for awhile so that I can keep obtaining more knowledge. Eventually I would like to own my own carwash. I would love to open a carwash in Colorado Springs someday. My dream is to own my own family oriented small business. I want to create a comfortable life for myself. Owning my own business would give me a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and that would be my dream come true.