When you are a part of the tight-knit car wash industry, you have a great opportunity to put your voice out there and inspire others. This is exactly what Danka Djordjevic from AVW set out to do by attending the second international Women in Carwash conference in Arlington, Texas this past January.
AVW stands for Automatic Vehicle Wash Equipment, a family-owned manufacturer of car washing equipment based out of the Chicago area. Djordjevic and her mother are essential to the company operations. She decided to attend the Women in Carwash conference to support women within the car wash industry.
Djordjevic previously attended the International Carwash Association’s Women Leadership Conference in Chicago, since it was so close to home.
“I always want to do anything in support of women and helping women out within the industry,” Djordjevic said. “I know it’s not a female-dominant industry, so . . . I think it’s important to represent us and represent other females in the industry.”
Attending the Women in Carwash Event
Educational seminars at the Arlington conference included the following topics: social media, marketing, human resources, leadership, and more. Paul Krismer, speaker and executive coach, delivered the keynote presentation.
“I took a lot away from Paul’s presentation about women really dominating the 21st century and our skill sets,” Djordjevic said. “I never really thought about – with the technology changing – how important the emotional and social skills that we have naturally will help us to succeed in the coming years. I think that’s a good takeaway.”
Djordjevic discovered the value of possessing good social skills firsthand. “I’m not good at numbers, I’m not an engineer,” she said. “I like people and talking to people, so those are my strengths that I get to use . . . Other people don’t have that, but they bring other great things to the table. So, I always think that it’s interesting that – no matter what – you can find your place.”
Finding Your Niche
In the beginning, Djordjevic had no interest in being a part of the family business her grandfather started. Over time, she realized that her family had something quite special. “Not many people can say not only do they have a family business, but car washing itself is already so unique, and it’s just a cool story,” she said. “I’m so proud, and I think it comes down to I’m proud of what he did, what he started, and I want to continue it. It’s in my heart. Family over everything. I think that’s why I changed my mind and thought, let me give it a shot.”
In a family business, you get the unique opportunity to find your niche and see how you can help the company succeed. The Women in Carwash conference setting brings together many different people with unique skill sets. It provides attendees a valuable chance to learn from each other.
“Something cool my grandpa always stressed was he started the company so that our family, no matter what you’re good at, everyone has different strengths that they bring to the table, but there’s something for everyone,” Djordjevic said. “Find your place and find your way within AVW, and that’s what I did. There are so many things that can be improved on, but there’s no limits, and it’s about finding what you like to do and continuing to work on it.”
Inspiring through Leadership
Attending conferences can help to find your voice or your role, whether you are just starting out or you already have many years under your belt and are looking to advance.
“Leaving [the event] inspired me to continue lifting up fellow females whenever possible. And not only females, but the team,” Djordjevic said. “I got a lot of good feedback about how to be a good leader.
“I especially want to help inspire other females who may have been nervous to come here, and I think there’s a lot of hesitation since you may not know as many people, maybe you would love to join a group like this, and I think it’s great to get together and inspire. By coming here, I hope to inspire some other people to go back and get more girls to come back next time.
“It is a small industry, so it’s good to find other people in your same path. Work is the majority of our lives, so let’s make it more interesting and beneficial.”
Sabrina Shrack of Airlift Doors agrees with Djordjevic’s key takeaways from the conference. She attended the Women in Carwash conference in order to become more involved in the industry.
“I took away how I can be a better employee and co-worker,” Shrack said. By attending the conference, she met people she may otherwise never have met.
“It’s important that we have people to meet,” Djordjevic said. “The feeling that I now know you and you know me, and we can call on each other for help.”
What Attendees are Saying
“After a year in my Sales position, I was transferred to a new position doing daily service calls, install coordinator, parts, and RGA’s due to the 2009 recession. I would have never thought I would say I have been in the [car wash] industry for more than 10 years. I think the customer relationships I have built, and my coworkers have kept me in the industry. We have a great team and the customers really do appreciate us and what we do for them. Honestly, I am still working on getting more involved in the industry, but attending the Women in Carwash conference helped. I gained insight on other businesses in the carwash industry.” – Sabrina Shrack, Airlift Doors
“The Women in Carwash Conference had a deep impact on me. The level of professional training I received was top notch and very relevant. Carwash corporate employees, vendor participants, carwash owners, or those that had businesses outside of the industry all received value. The opportunities for networking were really quite engaging and made it very easy and pleasant to get to know the other conference participants. My introduction to the carwash industry was through my clients who engaged my marketing firm to increase their sales and impact on their local communities. I love this industry because helping small business owners thrive is quite rewarding and their success means local economies flourish. Involvement for women in the industry requires a natural desire to learn more and to seek out conferences such as the Women in Carwash Conference.” – Ruth Ann, Rose Marketing Solutions
The annual Women in Carwash conference continues to build a stronger sense of community.
If you are interested in joining the next Women in Carwash conference, visit www.womenincarwash.com. The third annual event will be taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida January 18-20, 2021.