Looking to land a job in the car wash or detailing industry? It really all comes down to customer service and sales skills in this industry but more importantly for presenting yourself well.
Whether you are working as a mobile detailer or a car wash attendant, this industry is truly built on trust, customer service, and sales skills. In this blog post, I’ll break down everything you need to know to land a job and detailing or the car wash industry including what to wear, industry knowledge to know, and questions to be prepared for before the interview.
Tip 1: Present professionally and dress for the occasion
Appearance is everything when it comes to washing or detailing a customer’s car, so make sure you make a good first impression from the start. While you don’t have to go overboard, a collared short sleeve shirt and khaki or navy pants as usually all you need, especially if this is the type of attire you would be wearing on the job.
Dress up if interviewing for a management position
If you are interviewing for a high-level position, by all means, wear at least business casual attire. This is a business where you want people to be at ease, so it’s best to dress appropriately and avoid graphic t-shirts and other apparel that you may normally wear in a very casual environment.
Part of presenting professionally is being prepared with the resources you need for an interview. One of those resources you may want to pick up is a basic leather notepad. These you can pick up for around 10 bucks, and while it’s not a huge deal if you don’t carry one, it does show that you are willing to learn. Proper technique and understanding of the industry can take time, so taking notes can make a good first impression.
Bring your resume
You also want to bring a resume that lists some sort of customer service for sales experience. Again, I cannot stress enough how important having good people skills is in this business, but more importantly, having a good attitude. When a customer is unhappy with their vehicle (which will happen eventually) showing your future boss that you are able to stay calm and positive is key.
Tip 2: Prepare for detailing related questions
Depending on the job you are hoping to get hired for, you will probably need to have a basic knowledge of detailing related terminology, from swirl marks on a car’s paint, to what to use when drying a car. While you don’t have to be an expert, it’s best to rehearse your answers to a few questions you’re likely to be asked before the interview.
- Do you have any customer service or sales experience?
- Explain how you would wash, dry, and detail a vehicle from start to finish
- Do you have reliable transportation and are you able to drive a van?
- How have you dealt with frustrated customers in the past?
- Are you comfortable working in hot and cold weather conditions?
- Why are you interested in working at a car wash or being a detailer?
It’s okay not to have a perfect answer every time, but take some time to think of specific examples of your customer service experiences. Those questions that start with “name a time..” can be sometimes difficult to think of on the spot! There’s a ton of information online as well as my Carwash Country blog to help you prepare for these types of questions.
3. Share any relevant experience with keeping vehicles clean
Especially if you are meeting your potential employer at a restaurant or other location, having a clean ride is a good start. The last thing you want is for your employer to see that you don’t take pride in your own vehicle. Not to say that you have to keep your ride spotless every day, but attention to detail is incredibly important.
Especially if you will be detailing or cleaning luxury vehicles, share any experience you have with properly cleaning or waxing luxury or high-end vehicles. Even if you haven’t worked in this industry before, being able to even show before and after pictures of vehicles that you have detailed or cleaned may just land you the job. Any relevant customer service skills, whether that be selling online or in-store, can sometimes set you apart from other candidates without this experience.
Offer to shadow or assist employee for a day
Depending on the size of the company, the owner or hiring manager may allow you to shadow a detailer or employee. Simply offering to help without asking for anything in return may just seal the deal for you. While working to get paid is one thing, taking pride in your craft (especially when it comes to caring for something as delicate as a vehicle) is essential when entering this field.
4. Have an idea of your day-to-day expectations
Do your research on what type of business you’re interviewing for. For example, if you are interviewing for a position as a detailer, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what your morning routine will look like. What happens behind the scenes before or after you begin work? Is there any cleaning or prep work? What about filling water tanks?
If you are interviewing to work at a full-service car wash chain, take some time the walk in the facility or get your car washed and pay attention to what the employees are doing. Also pay attention to technique, as well as the products and devices being used.
5. Research basic products, devices, and technique
On that note, it’s important to understand the basic products and devices used, as well as knowing how to prevent scratching and what good technique looks like. Understanding how to properly use a microfiber towel or other devices like pressure washers safely really goes a long way.
If you have the time spend a couple of days researching online or speak with an employee to get a basic understanding of how the best detailers or car wash attendants perform their jobs. Below are few resources to check out before the interview I thought may be helpful if you are a beginner.
Interview prep resources to check out
- eBook: 25 essential detailing products for beginners
- Quiz: IDA certification terminology (Advanced positions)
- Blog: Mastering the auto detailing sales pitch
- Blog: Water & detailing: reclamation, runoff and EPA fines
- Blog: 17 interior detailing tips the pros keep a secret
6. Display customer service skills and show enthusiasm
To put it bluntly, there are some days where it’s tough to stay enthusiastic for most people, but I can’t stress enough how important it is whenever you are handling a customer’s vehicle. After all, people are handing over their keys and their vehicle, which is likely the most valuable possession many people own. Would you want to hand your vehicle over to someone who lacks enthusiasm and courtesy?
Smile and project confidence
During the interview it is important to project confidence, smile, and also be willing to admit when you don’t know something. For many positions in this industry proper technique takes years to master, but a willingness to learn is important to communicate during your interview.
In my experience, being willing to jump right in and asking questions about the facility or equipment you will use on the job can sometimes let your employer know that you are serious about the position you are interviewing for.
Now that you have an idea of what to prepare for, take a few hours to rehearse your answers to the questions you’re likely to be asked, but just be yourself. Technique can always be learned, but it’s important to be able to relate to people in this type of industry.
Have anything else that worked for you when landing a job? Let me know in the comments.