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6 Steps to Building a Car Wash

Much like building anything from the ground up, there is a great deal of planning involved and steps to take. As the business owner, you are building a car wash the way you want it to stand out among the nearby competition and create a profit stream. Yet building a car wash takes time, dedication, and a series of important steps to take to see greater success from your business investment.

building a car wash

Step 1: Create a Concept for Building a Car Wash

“If you build it, they will come” is the perfect quote to structure your concept for building a car wash. So whether you had a dream of what you want it to look like or you have drawn it down on paper, you have at least started with the concept look. It is important that your concept is compatible with the type of car wash you want to build. The three most popular types of car washes include

  • Tunnel Car Wash System. Offers the most thorough range of car washing services and perhaps is the most convenient for customers to use. Typically requires a larger investment at the start, it will have a potentially greater return on your investment.
  • In-Bay Automatic Car Wash System. Friction car wash machines and car wash machines that are touchless are available, but these are often created as self-serve car washes. These are the systems you see at convenience stores, car dealerships, etc.
  • Self-Serve Car Wash System. The do-it-yourself option that decreases labor costs exponentially.

Step 2: Find an Architect, a General Contractor & a Civil Engineer

After you have figured out what type of car wash system you want to build, it’s time to look for an architect who can make your dream of building a car wash a reality. If you are having trouble finding the right architect and building firm, there are car wash companies out there who can help you each step of the way, from building the car wash to ordering supplies and equipment for your business.

Once an architect and general contractor is found, they will sketch out the blueprint for the business and begin the building process. Sometimes an architect and a general contractor can be one in the same. However, a civil engineer is needed to review the blueprints and matches them with where the property is to will determine if the soil is stable enough to support the car wash.

Step 3: Begin the Permitting Process & Get Equipment Finalized

The next step is having your general contractor schedule meetings with the city planning and zoning department, city water department, city sewer department, the department of transportation and the local fire department. It is typical to take anywhere from 45 to 60 days for the municipal departments to review over the plans for building a car wash. During this time, it is recommended to contact your car wash manufacturer or distributor to get the right car wash equipment and materials for your business. The distributor should give the general contractor all the necessary files to incorporate into the building plans.

Step 4: Schedule a Preconstruction Meeting

Having a preconstruction meeting is important because your general contractor will get together all subcontractors involved in building a car wash to provide you with a timeline of the construction. Make sure that all information in this meeting is documented and agreed upon by all parties involved.

Step 5: Review Work As It Happens

Once the permit application has been approved, construction of the car wash can commence. Make sure that you are aware of each phase of the construction as it happens. A general contractor can request money for equipment and materials needed and it is up to you as the business owner that all bank drafts submitted by the contractor are satisfactory in building a car wash.

Step 6: Great Things Come To Those Who Wait

Construction always takes time, even with building a car wash. During this time, it is recommended to work on other parts of the business to get it ready for when the construction is done and the business is ready for public use. Here is a list of things to do:

  1. Design the logo, color themes, signage, marketing and promotional items of the business.
  2. Train yourself, the management staff and employees on the maintenance, repair and general maintenance of the car wash.
  3. Join the ICA (International Carwash Association) and subscribe to carwash newsletters and trade journals.
  4. Start ordering supplies necessary for the business.
  5. Plan when the equipment and computer systems will be installed in your business (post-construction of the building).
  6. Plan the grand opening of the business.