#1 Introduction

A car wash business is considered pretty profitable, and it repays all the initial investments fast. That is why opening a car wash is a great idea for beginner entrepreneurs. Car owners treat their cars as kids, offering them all the needed services and even more. So, naturally, car services are in high demand.

Talking about the global changes, we can also notice that the number of cars is increasing. More and more personal and official state cars appear on the roads.

The modern environment creates an unpleasant situation for car lovers. The owners have to clean their vehicles more often than before. Primarily because of variable weather, dust, dirt, and heavy use of toxic chemicals.

Cars have to be cleaned more often because of aesthetic reasons and the prevention of premature corrosion and rust.

"How can I make my car last longer/forever?" is among the top requests on Google. And, really – how? This simple question worries many car owners. So, now you see why opening a car wash is a profitable idea and a good niche to start. Car care motivates drivers to apply for the various specialized car wash services regularly. Not only to keep a car clean but also to avoid more significant problems in the future.

#2 Opening a car wash from scratch

So, you've got a good idea, and everything is kind of ready to start. But how to do it? To start any business you'll need to study its peculiarities and risks, together with its advantages & disadvantages.

There are two ways of opening a car wash:

  1. Starting a car wash from scratch: trial-and-error learning.

  2. Purchasing a ready-made franchise: select a famous brand, get its franchise, start your car wash business with a fully prepared business plan, support from the management company, and under a renowned name. The franchise seems to be the best solution, but it still won't help with all the possible risks. Very often, support and training from the management company greatly help when starting a new business.

Selecting a type of car wash

The first step you have to do to open a successful car wash is deciding its type. After that, it influences future actions and investments.

There are several car wash types:

  • Handwash car wash cleans the vehicle surface very well. However, there is a risk of damaging the paintwork. Its great advantage is low equipment costs.

  • A self-service car wash involves creating a space with all the equipment for car care. Its great advantage is the opportunity to save when recruiting staff. You won't need to hire a team of washers.

  • Brush car wash cleans the car gently and effectively. To run this type of car wash, you will have to hire a few employees. Plus, the equipment costs are pretty high.

  • Waterless car wash offers the best results. A car surface is cleaned very carefully, then polished well. You won't need to spend a lot on equipment, but team training is a must-have.

  • A touchless car wash cleans a car using detergents. The cleaning process is soft and pretty efficient, but the detergent and car washing equipment are expensive.

  • Automatic car wash or Tunnel/Conveyor car wash. This type of car service thoroughly cleans hard-to-reach surfaces of the vehicle. It is possible to serve many cars at the same time. Plus, there are many additional programs for extra services. It also allows you to deal with large vehicles, but the equipment cost is very high.

Writing a car wash business plan

A business plan is the leading paper of any business. It's a roadmap with all the aims, goals, and risks of a project. There are several items to mention in a car wash business plan:

  • Target audience and competitive advantages of a car wash.

    Understand your target audience, then research the market and the nearest competitors and, after that, make competitive prices of a car wash service. Try not to start with high prices but never save on quality. On the contrary, improving quality saves money.

  • Decide on the work hours and provided services.

    24/7 car washes are in high demand. Its main advantage is that a client can choose any available time to clean his car. But the efficiency of this type of car wash depends on the location. To stay profitable and popular, calculate all the risks. Calculate the throughput of a car wash in a 24/7 mode, compare the data with the costs. Maybe for your target audience, it will be better to open a car wash that works from 7 am till 11 am.

  • The number of employees and staff commission.

    Decide how many car wash service stations the car wash will have. Then see how many employees you have to hire to work without any difficulties. Plus, you will also have to hire an accountant.

  • Marketing and promotion expenses.

    Writing a business plan, pay attention to ads. To be successful, you have to present yourself. Budget the costs of advertising, installing signage, printing leaflets, maintaining a website, and purchasing an online appointment scheduling software.

  • Define and prepare a list of documents for opening a car wash.

    Select a location and sign an agreement. You can also buy a ready-made car wash.

  • Plan preparatory work (transfer of high-voltage lines, supply, and connection of communications and treatment facilities).

    Determine the timing of construction work and the improvement of the site.

  • Prepare a budget for the purchase of basic and additional equipment + inventory.

    Consider construction and opening costs and recurring expenses such as utility bills and car wash maintenance.

Documents for opening a car wash

  • The status of an individual entrepreneur allows you to open a car wash with a staff of up to 100 people. On a large scale, you need to open a limited liability company (LLC).

  • It will be necessary to obtain several licenses and permits from the sanitary and epidemiological service, the fire safety service, health protection, labor safety, etc.

  • Coordinate the project with the architecture department and obtain a license to construct a car wash from local authorities.

  • Conclude a lease agreement with the local land use committee or a purchase transaction with a private person.

  • Sign an agreement on cleaning and disposal of waste from the site.

  • Notify the "Department of Communications and Transport" about the start of construction.

How to choose a site for the construction of a car wash

When selecting an area for a car wash, pay attention to whether sewerage, water, gas, and electricity networks are connected to the site. Check if there are high-voltage networks on the site, their relocation will require additional costs.

The favorable location of the site increases the foot (customer) traffic.

The most favorable locations for a car wash:

  • roads with heavy traffic (including on the highway),

  • parking,

  • malls and entertainment centers,

  • densely populated sleeping areas.

It is possible to collect all the licenses and permits, control the construction and renovation by yourself, or you can hire a specialist to do it for you. Usually, any intermediary services cost pretty much, so be ready to spend if you want to simplify your life.

#3 How much does it cost to open a self-service car wash

Before installing the equipment, the area for a car wash has to be leveled and paved. In addition, connecting communications and moving electrical wires will be separate expense items.

When starting a project, it is important to have contingency reserve funds.

What is needed to start a car wash?

We have prepared a complete list of all the possible expenses. For some car wash types, you won't need particular items. For example, starting a self-service car wash, you won't need to hire a team. So, the main things to spend money on are:

  • Renting or purchasing a site.

  • Collection and execution of documentation.

  • Construction of treatment facilities.

  • Preparation of a high-quality canopy structure.

  • Purchasing a set of plates with integrated underfloor heating.

  • Asphalting.

  • Installation of a video surveillance system.

  • Purchasing hot water high-pressure cleaners.

  • Purchasing high-pressure tools and automated equipment.

  • Purchasing compressors.

  • Purchasing multi-functional vacuum cleaners.

  • Purchasing overalls.

  • Purchasing consumables.

  • Payment of salary.

  • Payment of utilities.

  • Investing in marketing and promotion.

#4 Increasing car wash business profitability

Working with clients is essential. There are several life hacks on the most effective interaction with customers:

  • Offer several forms of payment for car wash services – cash, credit card, contactless payment.

  • Offer services 24/7. It doesn't mean that you should definitely open a 24/7 car wash, be available round-the-clock. Select a handy car wash software to optimize and automate all the car wash daily processes.

  • Run ads, put up a bright sign and signage. Present yourself: print and hand out leaflets, offer special offers, etc. Promotions and discounts are the best helpers to attract customers. But, again, remember to provide quality services. Price shouldn't influence quality.

  • Promote your car wash on social networks. Launch targeted ads.

  • Launch a loyalty program: reward your loyal customers with free services and special offers.

#5 How does CRM help when doing car wash business

CRM software is an excellent tool for any business. It helps to attract and retain customers, analyze business and optimize all the daily routine processes.

Advantages of CRM for a car wash:

  • A client base

    Booking software helps with maintaining a client base. You have to enter the customer's information, including date of birth, complaints, preferences, etc. Then the program will generate a card, and you can search it quickly, using any variable. For example, enter "preferences – quick manicure" to create a special offer for the customers who enjoy quick nail services. Or enter "preferences – date of birth – September" to offer discounts for clients born in this month.

  • Notifications

    E-mail, SMS, and push reminders for clients and staff. You can select the sending time and create your unique text.

  • Finance module

    Calculate salaries, reward, and collect fines using CRM.

  • Business analytics

    Analyze the performance of your business even from the smartphone: dozen reports, consumable stock management, and the ability to check the work of every particular employee help extensively when doing any business.

  • 24/7 online appointments

    Don't lose any clients by offering them an opportunity to book a service whenever they want and in a few clicks.

EasyWeek online appointment scheduling software is a great tool both for small and big companies. The software helps optimize and automate all the car wash processes, giving staff more time to provide quality services.

#6 Conclusions

Starting a car wash is a prospective idea. However, like any business, it requires thoughtful planning and investments. To open a successful car wash, you have to:

  • create a thought-out business plan,

  • calculate budget,

  • find investments,

  • start working!

Smart planning is the key to success. If you plan everything correctly, a car wash will repay pretty fast. Another important detail is the booking system.

Car wash software is essential as it helps stand out among the nearest competitors, offering staff and clients many bonuses. Selecting a good car wash software is hard work.

When choosing a car wash software, pay attention to:

  • Whether it is cloud-based, so the data will be accessible from any laptop.

  • Whether it is integrated with other services.

  • Whether it has positive client reviews.

  • How much tariffs does it offer: make sure you've selected the right tariff plan not to overpay.

  • Whether it is user-friendly: you, employees, and clients must understand what to do with the software. There is no need to choose complicated solutions – very often, you won't even be able to use them 100%.

Try EasyWeek to check how well it works for your business. We offer a free 14-day trial to set everything up, test it and decide whether it is what you need. If you have any questions concerning the software, feel free to contact our support team. They will be glad to help you!

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