A car wash business can be a profitable business venture for someone looking to open their
own business. There is a lot that goes into opening your own business, so these tips can help
you get started on planning your own car wash business.
Before you decide on your business model, visit some other car washes in your area to get a
feel for what they offer so you can get a better idea of what you should and should not offer in
your own car wash. There are two main business models for opening a car wash that you can
choose from and branch out from there: the mobile model and the self-service model.
Mobile Car Wash
The mobile car wash business model is a practical one, especially if this is your first car wash
business. This is the car wash where your car is rolled through the structure and washed
automatically with machines. It allows you to ensure that all of your customers get quality
attention, and it is easy to expand upon as your business grows. The mobile model is also
highly profitable because it is all automated, making it a popular option for car owners.
Self Service Car Wash
The self-service car wash business model is where a car will pull up, and the owner gets out
and washes it themselves; you just provide the structure and the tools. It is great for getting a
more passive income, where you just need to spend time on maintenance. This model comes
with more upfront costs than the mobile model, but it is excellent for high traffic areas where you
can find space.
Part of deciding on your business model is deciding what services you want to offer to your
customers. Adding extra services will make your business stand out, but you need to research
what services will be needed in your area. If your wash is a mobile model, you can offer a full
interior detailing service to your customers and give them a comfortable waiting area to sit it in
while you work. Adding on some vending machines or complimentary snacks or drinks will also
make you stand out against your competitors. You can also offer express detailing services if
someone needs a quick vacuuming or shampoo. Make sure you investigate if others in your
area also offer similar services so you can remain competitive.
Buy or Rent
Once you decide on your business model for the car wash, the next decision is the location.
Location is one of the most critical choices for a business. You can buy an existing car wash
business or build a new one, both of which have their own pros and cons.
Buying an Existing Business
You can buy an already existing car wash, which can come with a built-in customer base, but if
the previous owners did not run the business well, it could come with a dislike or distrust from
the community that can be hard to rebuild. You can open the business quicker if you buy an
existing business, which in itself can be a significant boon. However, by purchasing an old
building, you might have to spend more money updating the equipment available. The building
could have a dated wash tunnel, or it might not have the right tools for detailing that you wish to
offer. It also might not allow you to expand on the building later on as the business grows.
Buying a New Building
This option might take a little longer to get up and running, but it gives you much more design
flexibility, and you can get the exact layout and equipment you want from the get-go. If you get a
steel building for your car wash business, you will save money on maintenance costs because
these buildings do not require much to maintain; while you may have slightly higher startup
costs, this is offset by the money you will save on maintenance. You will also see lower
insurance costs because the building itself is not combustible.
Many car washes have agreements with local dealerships and auto parts stores for referral
programs. When you open your business, see what local places you can partner with for some
basic marketing. Offer special coupons for customers who shop at certain stores.
Text message marketing has become popular in recent years and can be a great way to reach
out to your customers. You can offer special discounts to customers who sign up for your text
marketing, and it can help you build a customer base.
There is a lot that goes into opening any business, and it will take a lot of planning and
preparation to open a successful business. These tips can help you get an idea of some of the
things you will need to include in a new car wash business before you open it and a better idea
of the different types of car washes available. Choosing to open a car wash can be a lucrative
venture, and if you decide to open it in a new steel building, you have more flexibility than if you
buy an existing structure that you have to remodel to make it fit your business plan.
About the Author
Auz Burger is a freelance writer who specializes in steel buildings. She has a
BA from Washington State University and has been writing and editing
professionally for 10 years.