Tara Crawford is 29 years old and the marketing manager for Rainforest Car Wash.
“My journey that ultimately lead me to the carwash industry is a bit of an odd one,” remarks Crawford. “I started working for a Ford dealership in Findlay, Ohio while going to college full time to be, of all things, a horse trainer. I always had a passion for vehicles (that pulled my trailers) and working at a dealership was a perfect fit. Eventually, I switched my major junior year to marketing and I started getting more involved with the dealership as a sales manager. I ended up breaking away from the dealership after college to pursue my initial career path in horses. I lived in California for a while and Texas training horses for a living. After a while I found myself back in Ohio. I knew I wanted to get back into automotive and marketing, so when I started working for the owners of Rainforest in 2017, I was their digital marketing manager for their two dealerships. Eventually, the owners decided to sell one of their stores and moved my position to working for the wash full time as the marketing manager. I’ve been full time at Rainforest since the beginning of 2019 and I believe my background in automotive paired with my experience with marketing makes this industry a perfect fit.”
Crawford recalls a 2019 haunted car wash that made national news as her greatest achievement to date in the industry.
“It was our first year doing a haunted wash and it turned out to be beyond what we could have imagined,” says Crawford. “We ended up on CNN, Good Morning America, ABC News, Daily Mail, and even Buzzfeed. We went viral on Facebook and Tiktok with more than 20 million views shared between them. We washed over 1,500 vehicles during our event. We had people waiting in line for over three hours. It was an incredible and unexpected success.”
Crawford describes learning the equipment, lingo, and chemicals as her biggest hurdle to overcome.
“Being at the wash and actively trying to learn your own tunnels is a huge help,” she says. “I believe that being on-site gives you real world experience and I am able to do my job so much better by actually knowing how things work. I believe that the carwash industry has so much room for creativity, experimentation, and innovation. Even the short time I have been in the industry, the innovations and ideas that have come out has been incredible. Who knew this much went into washing cars? In five years, I see myself overseeing and managing the marketing efforts of our many stores. I really enjoy the position that I am in and I hope I am able to continue to grow with my company.”
Although she says that not everyone will agree with her, she can see a big boom coming in dealership express tunnels.
“Dealerships are slowly catching on to the benefits to a carwash and are starting to invest,” she says. “With the way that autonomous vehicles are rising in popularity, I think carwashes will become more of an essential business. I can see the RFID or LPR process evolving with vehicle specific recognition, possibly through OEM partnerships with POS companies. This is such an exciting time in the carwash industry and I am proud to be involved in a part of it!”
To view profiles: Scroll over and click the image of each woman's photo to learn how these women are impacting the carwash industry.