Starting Your Car Wash Business
Are you seriously considering starting a car wash business? Do you need to know what’s the actual process for a starting a car wash business & the steps involved? Talk to the people who know, live & breathe the car washing industry.
Carwash World specialises in all commercial pay-per-use car washes including Automatic Car Washes, Self Serve Bays & Dog Washes. We know what’s important to you as an operator & your customers.
Starting a car wash business requires considerable capital. Before we go further, let’s just make sure that firstly, you have a grasp on what this project is going to cost. A Greenfields car wash is going to require anywhere between $700k – $1.2m for equipment & build alone for a standard configuration.
You’ll need to factor any costs of land on top of these figures, depending on the car wash set up that you opt for. If this is all new to you, check out this blog post: WHAT ARE THE SETUP COSTS >>
If you’ve been doing your research & understand your area, you should be able to start to draft up a projection of the type of configuration you want to build. How does you site look? How many automatic car washes, self serve bays, vacuums, dog washes? The configuration can certainly change but for budgeting & searching for land, you should have some idea at this point. Once you have this concept, you can call us to discuss what size block you’d need to be researching & what parameters you may need to consider.
Finding the right block of land to set up a profitable car wash is a major task & not one that should be rushed. At Carwash World we have a blueprint of things we look for that all work together to create, what our 75 years car washing experience tells us, is the best recipe for success. We’ll even come out & assess a site on your behalf, free of charge. Site selection is your first stepping stone to success & you should engage with professionals to guide you on this path.
A designer who specialises in car wash design is something we recommend. These people are highly skilled in the intricacies of designing a car wash & how to get the best ROI from your layout. Because this is a niche area, this also means the planning & DA process goes a lot more smoothly. You want this process to have minimal delays as holding costs can easily blow out your budget. Having one person who can take you from initial design concept, DA & planning through to the finished product is key. It’s a good idea to decide at this point whether you want a designer who will project manage everything including tendering & the build process or if you’re happy to manage the trades yourself. We have designers who offer both options.
These are your strategic plans that will help you calculate the costs, refine your budget & forecast your expected ROI. Your business plan documents exactly what you plan on doing & how to do it. It’s a vital component to attaining finance, plus it will help you prioritise & project for the future. Carwash World has business plan templates available to support our customers in this planning stage.
You’re investing a lot of money starting a car wash business so we encourage you to spend a considerable amount of time researching suppliers & their equipment (us included).
It’s actually not as simple as simply ‘buying equipment’, you’re essentially buying the distributor & the level of service they can offer.
We’ve compiled a list of things you want to consider when you’re doing your due diligence on car wash equipment, which you can obtain simply by emailing us >>
You’ve now selected your land, finalised your design & have your equipment specifications all confirmed. You’re armed with all the information you’ll need to tender your job to the trades. Rule of thumb for a build is to budget approximately $100 -$200K per bay for the build side of things.
Trades will not only include your builder but also a plumber who will look after all of the underground works (pits, water treatment etc) & connect your site to the water mains as well as the car washing equipment once installed. Same goes for your sparky, they will connect your site to the power grid & facilitate the electricals based on your site plans, as well as connecting power to the car washing equipment post install.
At this point everyone in the equation all works together during the process of the build. Your project manager, site designer, trades & car wash equipment supplier will all be party to the process. Working with people who are familiar with the car wash industry does tend to make this process smoother & quicker. It’s also important to note that once you’re at the point of construction, you will need to be ordering your equipment to allow for any manufacturing lead times.
We’ve written quite a few blog posts on this side of things so I’m not going to go into detail too much. You can find lots of car wash marketing resources here: Marketing Advertising
Long story short, make sure you start drumming up excitement for your business BEFORE you open – you’re looking for community awareness & excitement in the lead up to your opening.
Once your site is built & your trades have done their job, your car wash equipment supplier will then install your equipment. Installation times will vary but generally installation takes 10 – 14 days. Your equipment will be commissioned & tested to ensure it’s running exactly the way we would expect. You then receive ongoing technical & maintenance support from our experienced crew, who are always available when you need them.
On the last few days of the install, we encourage you to have your team on site so that we can train them up in all the basics they need to know. We provide a structured training plan complete with folders & checklists for your staff to follow ensuring smooth day-to-day operations.
You’ve made it. The bulk of the work is done & now it’s time to start getting an ROI on your investment.
Make sure you read this Top 10 Car Wash Business Commandments blog post
These are the basis for a successful car wash business.