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How to Start a Car Wash Business

Now’s the time to get into the car wash business! According to a Market Analysis Report by Grand View Research, the global car wash service market was valued at $33 billion USD in 2019 and is expected to grow 3.2% every year until 2025! The forecast is based on the fact that more consumers are taking better care of their vehicles. Busy schedules and an eco-friendly incentive are also convincing more people to get a professional car wash instead of cleaning them in their driveways. 

It’s estimated that 90% of car washes are small businesses, and considering the fact that consumers spend an average of $5.8 billion on car washes annually, there is an opportunity for any true entrepreneur to open their own car wash business. 

Are you convinced that a car wash business is for you? It can be a fun and lucrative venture but there are a few things to consider before diving in. 

Here is how to start a car wash business. 

Check out your local competition. 

Start out by going to local businesses and taking some notes. How much are they charging? Do they offer monthly memberships? What solutions are they using? What do their wash tiers look like? What type of car wash is nearest to where you want to set one up? Finally, and most importantly, how do the vehicles look after exiting their wash? 

There are many different types of car washes like self-service or full-service car washes, touchless, full and/or express detailing services, automatic car washes, and even waterless! Consider what services you’d offer at your own car wash. It also helps to differentiate your offerings from the competition that is close by. For example, perhaps the car wash down the street doesn’t offer complimentary vacuums if any at all. It might be more of an investment but vacuums on your lot will give you a step up!

Do your homework

Like all industries, there are always new technologies and new advancements to explore. A good resource that you’ll want to follow to keep on top of car wash news includes the International Car Wash Association. There you’ll be able to learn about the industry and trends to make your car wash more successful. Some new advancements in the car wash industry include eco-conscious WaterSaver washes and solutions that feature ceramic coating

You should also go talk to car dealers and other car wash owners about the demographics in your area. If car sales are up, car washes may be too since that is a signal that the local economy is strong and may have room for a new car wash in town!

Don’t forget a business plan. 

Whenever you start down the path of a new endeavor, it’s smart to have a business plan. Not only will it help organize your ideas but it is also necessary to show to potential new investors and loan officers. A good new business plan has the following:

  • Executive Summary (introduction)
  • Potential site analysis 
  • Market Analysis (what’s going on in the car wash industry?)
  • Company Description (why will your car wash be different from others?)
  • Organization/Management (introduce your dream team)
  • Marketing/Sales (how will you bring in customers? What’s your growth strategy?)
  • Products/Services (will your car wash have attendants? Will you offer self-service vacuums? What will your wash tiers and pricing look like?)
  • Investment/Funding/Financial Information (how much money will you need to open? Do you have enough capital or will you need investment help? If so, how much?)
    • According to various industry experts, you’ll need an average of $80,000 dedicated to startup costs to construct and equip each car wash bay.
    • Consider a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, asking private investors, or bank financing to help with the initial investment for you lead a successful car wash

Remember to get the necessary permits!

Opening a car wash is not as easy as finding and buying some real estate and erecting a car wash bay tunnel. You’ll need a business license, business insurance, and the necessary permits. That means going to your local state business office and asking them to walk you through what you need. Every state has different requirements and each municipality has different zoning laws…Don’t start anything without permission!

Work with White Water Solutions!

Perhaps not the most obvious, but the most important step is choosing the right support partner. That’s where we come in! Here at White Water Solutions, we can help set you up with everything starting with a site analysis and pro forma, to the right equipment for your car wash bay or conveyorized tunnel needs. Combine that with all the necessary materials and support including a variety of different cleaning solutions from high-end waxes to new to industry ceramic coatings, and so much more. Give us the opportunity to help you shine above the rest.

And we won’t just set it and forget it. No, here at White Water, we follow-through with our clients and can assist you with the service of your equipment when you need it. We act as consultants for the clients we work with. Interested in saving water and telling an eco-friendly story at your car wash? We can help. Want some marketing strategies? We’ve been in the industry long enough to give you some tips and tricks. From signage to social media to a grand opening, we can give you some advice learned from experience.

As a local Northern Nevada car wash distributor, we install, maintain, and service high-quality car wash equipment. Ready to start? Contact us at (775) 358-3122 to see how we can help. Welcome to the car washing business!