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Culture of management success

Valencia Auto Spa manager recently named Most Valuable Carwasher by national trade publication

Posted: November 27, 2010 10:04 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Sandra Silvestre, a manager at Valencia Auto Spa in Valencia, interacts with Arturo Laureano, right, and service adviser Jacob Miranda. Silvestre was recently named Most Valuable Carwasher by a national trade publication for her work at the local car wash.

Sandra Silvestre never imagined herself working in the car-wash industry. Today, she manages the Valencia Auto Spa in Valencia.

Silvestre was recruited by the full-service car-wash owner Randy Cressall after he heard good things about the 42-year-old manager.

In October, Silvestre was named the 2010 Most Valuable Carwasher by Professional Carwashing & Detailing, a national trade publication dedicated to supporting car-care business owners and operators. She was the second woman to ever receive this award.

Silvestre was recognized for demonstrating continued optimism and a positive work ethic, as well as attaining high revenues and volumes at her car-wash location.

Winners are first nominated by readers, onsite workers, service technicians and managers from the car-care industry in general.

Silvestre attributes her success to putting her heart and mind into the job, and by living by the golden rule.

"You have to be a leader, always leading by example," Silvestre said. "Never abuse your authority, and treat everyone the same way you would want to be treated."

Company culture
The culture at Valencia Auto Spa is best summed up by the sign that hangs over the door: "Through these doors walk the world's greatest customers and the best ever employees."

Cressall is always on the lookout for what he calls "special people." Silvestre, who has worked at the auto spa for 10 years, was recruited by the owner from her position as a shift manager at local fast-food outlet.

Cressall has a unique recruitment style. When anyone on his management team has a notable customer-service experience outside the car wash, the team member discreetly hands a worker a card. The card thanks the person for good service and invites them to contact the auto spa if they ever consider a change in employment.

The Auto Spa's management philosophy is to set high expectations for employees and help the staff achieve goals through encouragement. The company lets employees know that it has faith in them and always praises their outstanding efforts.

Silvestre interacts with her employees every day, building an individual rapport with each and every one of them Cressall said. He said that hears from customers over and over again about how much they like her.

"I love my job." Silvestre said. "My employees are like my extended family. My customers are the greatest customers in all the world."

Role reversal
In an industry traditionally dominated by men, Silvestre admits it was hard when she first began working at the Auto Spa to earn the trust of her fellow employees.

She believes that because she spoke Spanish, it gave her an advantage to building a rapport with the men. Today, she hands out cue cards with translations, helping the employees learn English so they can better assist their customers.

Today, the business has five women working at the Auto Spa. Two assistant managers work with Silvestre to keep the operation running smoothly.

If a customer has a complaint, Silvestre said she immediately puts herself in the customer's position and focuses on the solution, not the complaint.

Cressall said he believes Silvestre's been successful because she has an innate ability to relate to people.

"(Silvestre) is very down to earth," Cressall said. "She doesn't have any management airs."

He said that after Silvestre assumed her position, two prominent business women in the community told him that was the smartest thing he ever did.

"We have some female customers who come in asking specifically for me," Silvestre said. "It makes me feel really good to have that trust level from customers."

About the Auto Spa
Valencia Auto Spa opened in 1996. The location averages between 35 to 45 employees, making it a sizable small business.

Silvestre often works side by side with her employees, assisting customers and servicing vehicles.

"I come here all the time," said Joe Messina, a trustee on the William S. Hart Union High School District board.
"They do such a good job."

Messina added that the Auto Spa is a great place that does a lot for the local community. The car wash prominently features fundraising opportunities on its website for local schools and nonprofits.

Silvestre sums up philosophy managing a business. She starts by being the best person, friend and manager she can be.

Describing how she developed her management style, Silvestre said, "I knew I had to be strong, but be careful to never be rude," she explained. "I knew I had to be kind, but never be seen as being weak. I wanted to be thoughtful about how I could make the business better, be humble about my accomplishments and always have a sense of humor on both good and bad days."



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