Women in Carwash

Women working within the carwashing industry are becoming the norm and no longer an anomaly. This is a good thing.  Women can be more organized, more able to multi-task, deal with many age groups of employees, all without breaking a sweat. 

Again, this issue we bring to you profiles of women who have made a career within an industry that,
20 years ago, was a very male-dominated industry and who not only succeeded but excelled.

As we prepare for the 3rd Women in Carwash conference planned for January 18 – 20 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we invite you to meet Tara, Nancy, and Julie.  If you are a woman working in the carwashing industry and would like to be featured in an upcoming edition, please email  bjj@womenincarwash.com

 

Tara Crawford is 29 years old and the marketing manager for Rainforest Car Wash.

“My journey that ultimately lead me to the carwash industry is a bit of an odd one,” remarks Crawford. “I started working for a Ford dealership in Findlay, Ohio while going to college full time to be, of all things, a horse trainer. I always had a passion for vehicles (that pulled my trailers) and working at a dealership was a perfect fit. Eventually, I switched my major junior year to marketing and I started getting more involved with the dealership as a sales manager. I ended up breaking away from the dealership after college to pursue my initial career path in horses. I lived in California for a while and Texas training horses for a living. After a while I found myself back in Ohio. I knew I wanted to get back into automotive and marketing, so when I started working for the owners of Rainforest in 2017, I was their digital marketing manager for their two dealerships. Eventually, the owners decided to sell one of their stores and moved my position to working for the wash full time as the marketing manager. I’ve been full time at Rainforest since the beginning of 2019 and I believe my background in automotive paired with my experience with marketing makes this industry a perfect fit.”

Crawford recalls a 2019 haunted car wash that made national news as her greatest achievement to date in the industry.

It was our first year doing a haunted wash and it turned out to be beyond what we could have imagined,” says Crawford. “We ended up on CNN, Good Morning America, ABC News, Daily Mail, and even Buzzfeed. We went viral on Facebook and Tiktok with more than 20 million views shared between them. We washed over 1,500 vehicles during our event. We had people waiting in line for over three hours. It was an incredible and unexpected success.

Crawford describes learning the equipment, lingo, and chemicals as her biggest hurdle to overcome.

Being at the wash and actively trying to learn your own tunnels is a huge help,” she says. “I believe that being on-site gives you real world experience and I am able to do my job so much better by actually knowing how things work. I believe that the carwash industry has so much room for creativity, experimentation, and innovation. Even the short time I have been in the industry, the innovations and ideas that have come out has been incredible. Who knew this much went into washing cars? In five years, I see myself overseeing and managing the marketing efforts of our many stores. I really enjoy the position that I am in and I hope I am able to continue to grow with my company.

Although she says that not everyone will agree with her, she can see a big boom coming in dealership express tunnels.

Dealerships are slowly catching on to the benefits to a carwash and are starting to invest,” she says. “With the way that autonomous vehicles are rising in popularity, I think carwashes will become more of an essential business. I can see the RFID or LPR process evolving with vehicle specific recognition, possibly through OEM partnerships with POS companies. This is such an exciting time in the carwash industry and I am proud to be involved in a part of it!

 

Nancy Campbell is the vice president of production and managed services with DRB Systems. Happily married with two children, two bonus children and nine grandchildren, Campbell says her family means everything to her.

 

 

They are all the reasons I get up in the morning and I am so very blessed,” she says. “I was lucky enough to be offered a job with Unitec Electronics over 10 years ago working in the merchant department and programing credit devices for kiosks. I tried to learn as much as possible about our units, parts, software and customers and again, was lucky enough to grow with the company. I did go back to school and while it took me many (long) years, I did complete my MBA in business management and project management, then went on to get my MS in psychology.

Campbell admits that her plan did not include this industry because she honestly did not even know how involved the car washing industry is.

I set out to teach elementary education but it didn’t take long for me to realize that was not my path,” says Campbell. “I then found myself as a real estate appraiser for the better part of 20 years. Of course, that found me right in the midst of 2008, and it was time for me to reinvent my plan. Best laid plans… right? What a blessing in disguise. It brought me to where I was meant to be.

Campbell sees her biggest achievement is being able to help lead and develop teams within the company.

It is quite fulfilling to help build a service offering from the ground up and have it well received by customers and successful,” she says. “It is even more fulfilling to watch those team members grow and build the confidence in themselves as they realize the part they play and watch them wrap their arms around a service and make it their own and that leads me to my biggest hurdle. I have always been hands on, but as I grow, I have had changes in responsibilities and have needed to relinquish some tasks and take a more strategic view of products and services. My hurdle was/is letting go. This is an ongoing battle; however, it helps to have such a rock star team and an incredible company supporting me.

Campbell says the continued growth within the industry is what excites her most.

There are over two billion cars washed each year in North America, and one billion in Europe (ICA, 2020). There is so much potential, especially with services. There is a real need for immediate satisfaction among busy people these days and there are services to assist with keeping carwashes up and washing and creating revenue for the owners. I am very customer oriented and see myself helping to build many service offerings over the next five years that will do just that. I see the industry growing, growing and growing. I see it moving even further away from folks using a bucket and hose in their driveway to having the wash – inside and out – done for them.

 

Julie Graff is the digital manager for DRB, Julie Graff handles the company’s web presence, including websites, social media activity and blogs. Graff started her career working as a newspaper reporter.

I got to do some cool things, but ultimately the hours and overall industry weren’t the right fit for me,” says Graff. “I took a PR/marketing job for a software company where I worked for 10 years. I then spent four years with a marketing agency until I was laid off in 2018. What seemed like a misfortune ended up being a blessing because it brought me to DRB and the carwash industry. I had no idea what all went into car washing until I started at DRB. It had never crossed my mind to pursue a career in car washing, but now that I’m here, I love it.

Graff remarks that she had the pleasure of helping DRB develop a content strategy that focuses on helping carwash businesses grow.

I love that DRB strives to be a partner rather than just a vendor,” says Graff. “Everyone here is really invested in helping operators succeed and I’m proud and excited to be a part of that. The biggest challenge for me coming in was learning not only the technology we provide but also the industry in general. It just takes time, and I’m still learning, but I’ve certainly learned a lot in two years!

There is so much energy in this industry, states Graff: “Everyone is driven to advance their businesses and the industry as a whole. The camaraderie is really special. I’ve never seen an industry where people are so willing to help others and share their knowledge. I plan to continue to work in the industry and grow with DRB.”

Regarding the carwash industry, Graff says she doesn’t think it has seen the peak of growth yet.

I think operators are going to get more and more sophisticated with the use of technology and data, and they will use it to reach new levels of success,” she comments.