Insight: the fine art of car detailing
The foundation created in Sandu’s memory is the brainchild of the Car Wash Advisory Service. It aims to promote best operating practices, in particular that employees are paid a fair wage and taxed appropriately, and that businesses operate legally and responsibly. Car washes that meet its standards are awarded its Washmark seal of approval.
“Things are still as bad if not worse out there,” says Dawn Frazer, managing director of CWAS. “People who work in many hand car washes are really suffering. We want to ensure they are treated fairly. The public can help by reporting their suspicions to the police.”
There are certainly car washes in my area that I suspect aren’t bastions of employee rights. I encountered some for this story, when I was either blanked by groups of uncomprehending cleaners or simply told to leave. I began to wonder if there might be a decent car wash an honest operator could aspire to...
I stumbled across Luv Your Car via the internet. It’s on Canvey Island, a place, incidentally, whose civic leaders, inspired by Catalonia’s bid for independence, are seeking autonomy from Castle Point Borough Council on the Essex mainland. They’re an independent bunch, those Canvey Islanders – as is Rick Plowman, founder and boss of Luv Your Car, a steam car wash.
“Best in class is not good enough. World class is where we want to be,” Plowman tells me when I visit. (He also says things like “you could copy this but it would lack the ‘us’ power”, “the key to retail is detail” and “most people in business are dead from the neck up”.)
However, the most interesting thing he says is: “We put compliance at the forefront of our business. We take all reasonable steps to ensure our staff’s documents are valid and that they’re clear to work. They all have passports, so I know who I’m employing. They’re paid above the minimum wage and taxed on PAYE, which is why, later this month, they will be moving into their own, good- quality rented accommodation not related to this business.”