Case study – retention management

Case study must be a minimum of 3-4 pages of original discussion and analysis, not counting the title page, reference page, figures, tables, and appendixes. The statements in each Case Study must be supported by at least 1 scholarly reference, cited throughout the narrative and placed on the reference list in the APA format.  

Wally’s Wonder Wash (WWW) is a full- service, high- tech, and high- touch car wash company owned solely by Wally Wheelspoke. Located in a midwestern city of 200,000 people (with another 100,000 in suburbs and more rural towns throughout the county), WWW currently has four facilities within the city in the next two years and later he plans on placing facilities in suburban locations and rural towns. Major competitors in the city include two other full- service car washes (different owners), plus three touchless automatic facilities (same owner).

Wally’s critical strategy is to provide the very best to customers who want and relish extremely clean and “spiffy” vehicles and to ensure they have a positive experience each time they come to WWW. To do this, WWW seeks to provide high- quality car washes and car detailing and to generate considerable repeat business through competitive prices combined with attention to customers. To make itself accessible to customers, WWW is open seven days a week, 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. Peak periods, volume-wise, are after 1:00 P.M. on weekdays and from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on weekends. In addition, Wally uses his workforce to drive his strategy. Though untrained in HR, Wally knows that he must recruit and retain a stable, high- quality workforce if his current businesses, let alone his ambitious expansion plans, are to succeed.

WWW has a strong preference for full- time employees, who work either 7:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. or 11:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. Part- timers are used occasionally to help fill in during peak demand times and during the summer when full- timers are on vacation. There are two major jobs at WWW—attendant (washer) and custom service specialist (detailer). Practicing promotion from within, WWW promotes all specialists from the attendant ranks. There are currently 70 attendants and 20 customer service specialists at WWW. In addition, each facility has a manager. Wally has filled the manager’s job by promotion- from-within (from either attendant or custom service specialist ranks) but is unsure if he will be able to continue doing this as he expands.

The job of attendant is a demanding one. Attendants vacuum vehicles from front to rear (and trunk if requested by the customer), wash and dry windows and mirrors, dry vehicles with hand towels, apply special cleaning compounds to tires, wipe down the vehicle’s interior, and wash or vacuum floor mats. In addition, attendants wash and fold towels, lift heavy barrels of cleaning compounds and waxes, and perform light maintenance and repair work on the machinery. Finally, and very important, attendants consistently provide customer service by asking customers if they have special requests and by making small talk with them. A unique feature of customer service at WWW is that the attendant must ask the customer to personally inspect the vehicle before leaving to ensure that the vehicle is satisfactorily cleaned (attendants also correct any mistakes pointed out by the customer). The attendants work as a team, with each attendant being expected to be able to perform all of the above tasks.

Attendants start at a base pay of $8.00/hour, with automatic $.50 raises at six months and one year. They receive a brief training from the manager before starting work. Custom service specialists start at $9.00/hour, with $.50 raises after six months and one year. Neither attendants nor custom service specialists receive performance reviews. Managers at each facility all receive a salary of $27,000, plus an annual “merit” raise based on a very causal performance review conducted by Wally (whenever he gets around to it). All attendants share equally in a customer tip pool; custom service specialists receive individual tips. The benefits package is composed of (1) major medical health insurance with a 20% employee co- pay on the premium, (2) paid holidays for Christmas, Easter, July 4, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, and (3) a generous paid sick pay plan of two days per month (in recognition of high illness due to extreme working conditions).

In terms of turnover, Wally has spotty and general data only. WWW experienced an overall turnover rate the past year of 65% for attendants and 20% for custom service specialists; no managers left the company. Though lacking data further back, Wally thinks the turnover rate for attendants has been increasing. WWW’s managers constantly complain to Wally about the high level of turnover among attendants and the problems it creates, especially in fulfilling the strong customer- service orientation for WWW. Though the managers have not conducted exit interviews, the major complaints they hear from attendants are (1) pay is not competitive relative to the other full- service car washes or many other entry- level jobs in the area, (2) training is hit-or-miss at best, (3) promotion opportunities are limited, (4) managers provide no feedback or coaching, and (5) customer complaints and mistreatment of attendants by customers are on the rise.

Wally is frustrated by attendant turnover and its threat to his customer service and expansion strategies. He calls on you for assistance in figuring what to do about the problem. Use the decision process shown in Exhibit 14.11 to help develop a retention initiative for WWW. Address each of the questions in the process:

1. Do we think turnover is a problem?

2. How might we attack the problem?

3. What do we need to decide?

4. How should we evaluate the initiatives?

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