Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
We have a basic unlimited car wash plan with a chain car wash. No, it isn’t A1A Car Wash, even though we’re in Albuquerque. It’s an automated car wash with an option to have interior work done. During the lockdown, they closed their locations and stopped charging the monthly fee. They would occasionally send me messages about plans they were working on to reopen safely. Sometime around May 10, they reopened for exterior service only.
In the Before Time, there were maybe 15 people working a shift. Cashiers for the interior and exterior lanes, four to six people working the interior cleaning, a person on the entry of the wash, two people wiping cars as they exit the wash, two or three doing interior cleaning on exit, and I’m sure a shift manager somewhere. Now there are maybe three or four people working. One cashier, since only the exterior lane is open; one at the entrance to the wash; one at the exit probably watching so the wash doesn’t have an issue; and probably a shift manager.
We all know about the vast numbers of unemployed because of the lockdown and everyone probably knows of at least one business that has announced they won’t reopen. Those are known losses now. How many jobs won’t be there when businesses fully reopen? Over the course of the month, the car wash has been reopened, they’ve added a few items to the automated line. At the end, a second row of dryer blowers has been added and a buffing roller has been installed to take the place of wiping the car. There are nine locations in town and over 300 nationwide. If just those two positions aren’t available upon return and estimate that there are three or four shifts to fill, that’s 1,800 to 2,400 jobs nationwide that won’t need to be filled for this one car wash company.
Now the company didn’t think up that buffing roller during the last few months. It had to be available as an option before, but the wash decided it made more sense to manually dry the cars. I don’t know why the dryers couldn’t come back during a limited reopening. They wouldn’t come in contact with customers. Maybe the expected number of people getting exterior washes versus the total number of washes before won’t cover bringing back more people. Whatever the reason, I’m sure the buffing roller won’t be removed and those jobs will be lost. Just as increasing minimum wage laws cause owners to evaluate replacing people with machines, it appears some companies have decided to replace some positions with machines during a partial reopening. The machines won’t go away.Published in