Starting your own car wash business

The business of car washes, carwash, self-service, hand wash, automatic, mobile or some combination of all these options are very profitable, so choose one with good potential for profit and return on investment.

You need to consider a number of factors when starting your own car wash business, particularly the type of car wash itself: Self-service, hand wash, automatic, mobile carwash, or some combination of options. All of these may be viable, but they must be carefully researched and priced for their practicality, potential profitability, and return on investment.

How to start a car wash business?

How to start a car wash businessConduct local market research in your area to determine the feasibility of a profitable car wash and what types of services to offer. Consider area demographics, competition, average weather conditions, and other factors.

Anticipate the initial investment

Handwash and mobile car washes require a smaller initial investment in equipment, but ongoing labor costs must be considered. Automatic and self-service car washes require less labor, but the upfront costs for machinery and real estate can be high. Consider hiring a market research firm or business consultant to guide you through this task and advise you on your options.

Contact the car wash team and supply dealers and request information on specifications and prices. Your dealer will be an excellent source of knowledge as to what is required to start your new car wash.

Business plan

Create a car wash business plan based on your market research and equipment selection that includes all aspects of the business. A business plan will be needed when applying for financing, and you may want to hire a business consultant for this task. Alternatively, you can visit the US Small Business Administration or SCORE websites for business plan information and other initial information (see resources).

Structure of the car wash business

Decide on a business structure for your car wash business. You can operate as a sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, or limited liability company. Your attorney, the SBA, SCORE, or business consultant will provide you with information on which structure is right for your business and personal situation. The paperwork for your business structure is available by visiting your state’s regulatory website.

Locate a building or workspace that provides the necessary utilities and space requirements for the car wash. If you are operating a mobile business, find a vehicle large enough to hold and transport your mobile equipment.

Search for financing

Request sufficient financing for the purchase, lease or rental of your building, vehicle, start-up expenses, equipment, supplies and working capital through your bank or the SBA.

Licenses and permits to open a car wash business

Get all local business permits zoning variations, environmental and safety inspections (where applicable), state tax registration certificate, federal tax identification number, and Internal Revenue Service employer identification number if you hire employees.

Buy car wash equipment, supplies and clothing.

Purchase liability insurance from your local insurance agent.

What does it take to start a car wash business?

Advice

  • Consider a franchise if you are new to the business, or want a turnkey operation. Franchises can provide all types of training, market research and business planning, site selection and construction, machinery, supplies, and ongoing support for a down payment and royalty percentage of monthly sales. If you plan to open a mobile or hand wash operation, training is recommended and available from many car wash supply dealers. The training will enable you to learn the end of the business and practical and proven car wash and detailing techniques.

  • Hand and mobile washing requires a degree of fitness and stamina, so make sure you’re up to the task. Car washes of any type may be subject to environmental restrictions and operating procedures in your area. Contact your local Environmental Protection Agency office for details on drainage and chemical use. Failure to do so can result in serious penalties and penalties.

Warnings

  • Hand and mobile washing requires a degree of fitness and stamina, so make sure you’re up to the task.
  • Car washes of any type may be subject to environmental restrictions and operating procedures in your area. Contact your local Environmental Protection Agency office for details on drainage and chemical use. Failure to do so can result in serious penalties and penalties.

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