How to manage overtime at your carwash

How to manage overtime at your carwash

Discover essential tips to ensure transparency, fair pay and employee satisfaction while managing overtime effectively.

No one likes to have their time wasted by others. Dancing around discussions about overtime at your carwash can cause problems for your employees and you. Workers will feel underappreciated if you don’t recognize their efforts which can affect employee acquisition and cause retention problems.

Losing employees can be a blow to the business. After all, having stellar workers can grow your carwash in the long run. You can spot keepers based on the amount of time and dedication they put toward back-office tasks and actual operations.

Overtime is a vital aspect of work to address. To understand what you should do, it’s imperative to first determine what you shouldn’t do.

Gatekeeping overtime policies

It’s natural for businesses to have overtime policies. Some form a contract that bans working more than 40 hours per week depending on your employment type. Carwashes can do the same. Certain in-bay automatic or self-serve carwashes require minimal to no employees at all.

Clarify these policies with your employees. They may assume they get paid when they work extra hours. Don’t wait for them to find out otherwise; inform them instead. Omitting crucial information can cause confusion and distrust.

Being transparent is more important than ever as commodity prices rise. One study found that about 57% of employees want to work extra hours to have that buffer.1 Discuss your policies before agreeing to work together.

Refusing to pay employees

You are liable for paying employees if you allow overtime at your carwash. The industry is projected to reach $11.02 billion in revenue in 2024, so give your workers the compensation they deserve for their extra time.2

If you refuse to pay your employees, there are risks of your company shutting down when reported. Recognize what is accounted for as overtime and pay accordingly. Here are some things to be aware of.

Working through breaks

Did a carwash employee skip his or her one-hour break? Count this period as overtime since they’re logging work hours. Your company must pay this even if permission was not provided beforehand. Make it clear if you want to impose breaks and restrict work during those times.

Working different shifts or locations

Some carwash companies have multiple service areas which can result in shift and location changes for employees. Have an effective time tracking system to ensure all work hours and excess time are compensated whether at site A or site B. Answer any questions your workers have.

Traveling to the carwash

It’s not traditional to convert travel time into overtime, but carwash employees will appreciate this. Some workers must take public transportation or drive long distances to work. You could also include a transportation allowance in their existing salary.

Waiting for active work

Picture a quiet day when few automobiles come to the carwash. Right before the end of a shift, a vehicle rolls in and your employee takes it. Some establishments may decide to shift hours since your worker was idle before the car came in. However, that is legitimate labor time your employee has put in so pay accordingly.

Showing apprehension

Sometimes, employees may claim they worked overtime when nothing significant happened on-site. Employers should discourage this and require asking for permission before granting overtime.

Starting a conversation with anger will not lead to a good outcome. After all, how you communicate with co-workers at the carwash can improve or worsen work relationships in the long run.3 Be patient and understanding instead.

Dodging the correct rate

If you’re paying overtime at your carwash, you’re already halfway toward fair compensation. To complete this, understand the correct rates. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states overtime pay is equivalent to one and a half times an employee’s hourly rate for excess hours rendered.4

For example, your worker has an hourly rate of $15. They are entitled to $22.50 in their pay slip if they work an extra hour. If they only work half an hour or more than an hour, the exact computation still applies.

Misclassifying employees

A carwash can offer different arrangements depending on the employee’s role, workload and availability. This usually differentiates people exempted from FLSA regulations like overtime pay and those who are not.

Exempt employees usually operate under an annual salary instead of an hourly rate. Due to this arrangement, they don’t need any extra hours. Meanwhile, workers who handle the carwash hourly are entitled to overtime pay.

You wouldn’t be the first to contemplate making everyone nonexempt. However, different job requirements are needed to achieve exempt and nonexempt status. Keep track of how workers are classified to pay their overtime accordingly.

Ignoring intern efforts

Many carwashes are looking to onboard and train interns for their business. It can be an excellent opportunity to shape young minds while giving them job experience. Many are willing to do this for free with about 41% of U.S. interns unpaid in 2023. However, paying them for their regular and overtime work is better.5

The U.S. Department of Labor has specific criteria separating legal internships from exploitative ones. Businesses responsible for the latter version are subject to fines. Plus, it can be disheartening for younger adults not to get the compensation they deserve. Recognize the work interns put into the carwash by paying them.

Offering other forms of compensation

Another taboo to avoid with overtime is offering a different form of compensation. For example, some managers may reduce hours for the following week to accommodate the extra time. Framing it as free vacation time is not a proper payment for the additional work.

Some people may also provide coupons or free washes as a reward for overtime work, but it is still unjust. If an employee puts in the time to help your carwash and its clients, the best way to pay them back is through monetary compensation.

Skipping premiums

Finally, sort out overtime premiums. It’s natural for carwashes to be open all week, but some may push staying open during holidays. Don’t expect employees to be happy about coming to work during valuable time that can be spent with loved ones. They will be even more upset if they’re not given overtime pay.

Recognize premium overtime periods when accounting for the pay. You can also set company hours on holidays as a compromise. Employees get additional compensation for half the working day off and the business gains some traction during these busy periods.

Improving overtime management

All managers want to keep the peace at their carwashes, whether behind the scenes, at the office or with on-site operations. Open the conversation about overtime with your employees. Respect them and rightfully pay them for the hours they have worked.



Oscar Collins is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modded, where he writes about cars, car trends and auto news. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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