QUESTION on How to Start a Car Wash Business
I would like to start a small car wash business. Do you have any figures as to how much money I can possibly make or profit from a car wash business? Thanks.
Paul (San Antonio, Texas)
It is hard to categorically say how much income you can expect to make from a car wash business. The rule of thumb is 15-20% return on investment on a 5-7 year window. It really depends on the type of car wash you decide on and the services you will offer.
You need to consider the following factors to ensure greater profitability in your car wash business:
1. Location – you need to choose a location that will support the operations of your business, and it should be very visible. Notice that most car wash businesses are along the main road, and often near malls and strip malls. Visibility and traffic are key in choosing your location. However, visibility often comes with a high price tag so expect your real estate cost to be substantial.
2. Type – The type of car wash operation that you are you planning to operate (self service car wash or in-bay automatic, which can either be friction automatics or touch free automatics) will also factor into your cost and profitability.
3. Equipment – Unless the car wash business you are thinking of is the self service type, an automatic car wash business requires significant capital equipment.
One good resource I found in the car wash business is Hill and Foss Car Wash Business Systems. They have an FAQ section that answers some of the common questions in starting a car wash business. http://www.hillandfoss.com/faq.html
Also check the resources of car wash associations starting with the International Car Wash Association http://www.carwash.org/. They publish a quarterly magazine called Car Wash Magazine and run the largest car wash convention and trade show, The Car Wash Show.
There are also a number of regional, state and local car wash associations. The International Car Wash Association has some listings of these car wash associations.
Recommended Books on How to Start a Car Wash Business:
- Start Your Own Car Wash and More
- Car Wash Business 101: The #1 Car Wash Start-Up Guide (Volume 1)
- Mobile Car Wash Business
- So, You Want to Own a Car Wash: Finding and Evaluating Retail Site Locations for Car Washes
Article originally published December 2005. Updated on January 21, 2012