CREW Carwash Leaders Know This — Moods Are Contagious!

CREW Carwash Leaders Know This — Moods Are Contagious!

What CREW Carwash, an Indianapolis-based company knows, is this; the climate and weather impact the number of cars washed. 

Rain or snow followed by sunshine bodes for an increase in the numbers of washed cars. On sunny days, CREW President Billy Schaming says, “it’s a great day for a car wash!”

Even more importantly, CREW is a national leader in their industry because they focus on the impact of the inner climate, the emotional “weather”-what it feels like to be at work.

Leveraging the research measuring the link between engagement and performance, CREW invests in developing mindful leadership at every level to inspire a workplace climate of engagement.

Why? Because, as Billy says, “the spirit of the leader is the spirit of the team.” Leadership, especially from executive leaders and managers, creates a climate of engagement or disengagement, one way or the other.

Upbeat moods by leaders are contagious, inspiring teams to feel more optimistic about their abilities for autonomous decision making and goal achievement. Negative emotions are even more contagious. Overuse of the “bossy” style of leadership disrupts and highjacks the emotional climate of employee engagement.

For CREW, exceptional customer service is the holy grail of business growth. Disengaged, inattentive, or distracted workers are not tolerated because of the disastrous results of poor customer service.

According to Daniel Goleman, PhD, Harvard Business School, how people feel at work accounts for 20-30 percent of business performance. “If climate drives business results, what drives climate? Roughly 50-70 percent of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person: the leader. More than anything else, the boss creates the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to work well.”

Crew has been awarded the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice 2020 Best Places to Work. So, I asked Sally Grant, Director of Marketing, and daughter of Bill Dahm, CEO of this multi-generational family business, a couple of questions:


  1. What is the “secret” to developing a high-performance culture that was awarded Best Places to Work?


“We try to always listen to our team by asking for feedback. It is not always easy, and we are a work in progress. But we understand how important it is for the growth of our young leaders and the future success of our company. We train our leaders, not just to hear our people, but to listen deeply to their ideas and concerns. Most of our best ideas come from our teams! We create a culture of psychological safety for everyone to voice their opinions. Even more importantly, our people know that they are truly heard when they do share their thoughts.”


  1. Why have you trained your executive leadership team and area directors to improve their skill of productive conflict?


“All organizations, including CREW, are occasionally going to experience friction. We want our leaders to know how to navigate through what can be uncomfortable situations and turn them into successes. Breakthroughs can happen when you’re not afraid to have difficult ‘In-The-Moment ConversationsTM’ and hit them head-on through productive conflict resolution.”

CREW employs a quarterly engagement survey from a company called Emplify. Until Emplify came along, data connecting the positive link between human emotional climate and performance was sparse.

Positive emotions at work turn out to be one of the strongest predictors of engagement and performance. Emplify has the data that proves executive leaders, managers, and influential employees who spread bad moods are bad for business.