How To Start Your Own Car Wash

  • By: Elizabeth Jean
  • Date: October 18, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Would you like to start a business that won’t take you away from your family 20 hours a day? If so, a car wash is a great business option. People will always need to wash their cars, and you can hire people so you can be home more often.

If you are thinking about opening a car wash, there are steps you should follow if you are starting from the ground up.

How To Start Your Own Car Wash

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Starting your own car wash requires a lot of research, work, and paperwork. If you are willing to work hard and do things correctly, your car wash can be a huge success. It is essential to understand what you need to do to get your business off the ground before you get started. The 10 tips below will help you see what is necessary when starting your own car wash.

Tip 1: Start Looking For a Location

The first thing you need to do is start looking at potential locations. There is more to this than you might think. You want to find a location with a lot of traffic and a reasonable distance away from other car washes.

If you have an area in mind, pay attention to the traffic in the area and the local businesses in the area. This will give you an idea of the number of potential car wash customers. You can also work with a commercial real estate agent who knows the area well to help you scout locations.

Tip 2: Check Out the Competition

Checking out the competition is essential when starting any business, and car washes aren’t an exception. When you check out the competition, there are a few things you need to find out.

  • How many customers do they have?
  • Do they market their business aggressively?
  • Can they afford an expensive renovation to stay in line with your car wash?
  • Are they in debt?
  • Can they afford to drop their prices to compete with yours?

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you decide on your location. If your car wash will be successful, it has to be the best in the area. If you are worried that you can’t compete with the competition, scouting new locations might be the better option.

Tip 3: Do Your Research

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There is a lot that goes into starting a business. You will first need to find out the laws in the area where you plan to open the car wash. Every city, town, and the state has different rules; therefore, you need to do your research. The things you should research include:

  • How to apply for a business license
  • Information regarding insurance requirements
  • Local utility usage codes
  • Information regarding local sanitary sewers
  • Utility costs
  • Water usage limits
  • How to obtain a tax ID number
  • How to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

You will need to do a lot of research to understand the laws and codes involved in opening a car wash.

Tip 4: The Planning and Approval Process

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Before you can go any further, you need to go through the planning and approval process. You will need to meet with the city planner with your concept and design. You can’t go into a meeting saying you know how to start your own car wash without any other documentation. When you get a verbal agreement from the city planner, you can set up a formal meeting with the city or town council. During this meeting, you will show them your plans and any other information they will need.

Tip 5: Research Local Car Washes

When your car wash is approved by the city or town council, it is time to start making plans for services, prices, etc. The best way to make the right choices is to research local car washes. There are a few things you should look for when doing your research.

  • Check out different types of car washes to see which works best (automatic, partially automatic, touchless, etc.)
  • Find out if the car washes that offer detailing are successful.
  • Check the prices charged at local car washes.

It would help if you also did research regarding operations, equipment repair costs, and staffing policies.

Tip 6: Get Financing

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Chances are, you don’t have enough money in the bank to cover the cost of starting your own car wash from the ground up. This will require financing.

If you are going to try to get investors, you need to be well prepared. You need to show the investors that you have done the work and the research. They will need a solid revenue model and prove that you need funding to make your car wash the best around. If you go with investors, you will also need a resume that includes business or car wash experience and a solid marketing plan.

If you don’t want investors, you can apply for an SBA 504 loan. You will need the same information for the loan as you will need for investors.

Tip 7: Build Your Car Wash

When you have funding, the building process can begin. When you start the building process, there are a few things your car wash needs to have.

  • A great-looking building to attract the attention of the people driving by.
  • The right layout
  • A full-service menu that can be easily read.

The way you build your car wash will either make or break your business. If you need to know more about what works, use the information you got while checking out the competition.

#8 Market Your Business

Now that your car wash is ready to open, it is time to start advertising. If you don’t have a huge budget for marketing, you can begin to slow with social media. You can create a Facebook page for your business and invite your friends to like and share your page. If you will use social media to advertise, you need to create posts and add photos daily. If you don’t keep up with your page, it won’t be a good marketing tool.

You can also send out flyers to residents in a five-mile radius, and if there is money in the budget, radio commercials are very effective.

As your business takes off, you should put more money into marketing. Billboards and TV commercials will reach thousands of potential customers.

When you start advertising your grand opening, make sure to include specials for grand opening day or for first time customers. Most people are willing to try something new if a deal is involved.

After the grand opening, you can run regular promotions and post the deals on your business’s social media page.

You may think you know how to start your own car wash, but as you know now, there is a lot involved from the planning stage to the grand opening. Each tip listed above is essential, and you can’t skip a step. If you business is going to be successful, you can’t try to cut corners.

You should also understand that you can’t open your car wash overnight. It can take months to get everything in order. It can take over a year before your car wash is open for business. If you are patient and follow the necessary steps, your car wash can be a huge success, and one day, you can begin to open new locations, which will bring in a lot more money.

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