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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Car Wash Location

Let’s start with the basics; the Who, What, Where, When & Why. While they are seemingly obvious questions, the answers will lay out the foundation of your new venture.

Every ‘W’ in your business model serves its own unique purpose and all are as important as each other, but location is everything. The ‘Where’ can make or break a company, no matter when or what it is, potentially having the largest impact on all other W’s if not carefully analyzed.


So, you want to build a car wash?

Location is everything. It is the most concrete (literally) decision that you will make throughout this entire journey into the carwash business. Without location properly researched and mapped out, every other aspect is irrelevant.

Location is one of the few things that can truly not be undone once you’ve made a decision, but seems to be somewhat overlooked as an easy change if something happens or fails along the way. Physically uprooting to a new location is possible, yes, but it also remodels your entire business plan.

New location means new goals, new demographics, new traffic, new prices, new laws, new people, new EVERYTHING. Paint can be redone, staff can be replaced, partners come and go, but location is forever.

Determining the perfect location is not something that you can just decide from inspiration or the price of real estate, it must be well thought out carefully, considering a vast number of factors.

Here are 20 Quick Questions to ask yourself about the location of your potential car wash right off the bat:

  1. How many people in the surrounding area, plus or minus 3 miles, are car owners AND over 16?
  2. Is the location easy to get to?
  3. How busy is the street of the location?
  4. Will the carwash be easily accessible to get in and out of?
  5. Is the speed over or under 35mph when passing the carwash?

No one wants to make a hard left or U-turn into busy traffic just for a car wash.

  1. What are the nearby neighborhoods like? Upper, middle, or lower class?

Upper class may have more money to spend, but a denser middle class population could offer a larger customer base.

  1. Where is the closest shopping center?
  2. Where is the closest high school or college?
  3. Where is the nearest hotel?

Rental cars could always use a good wash, especially when used for leisure or family.

  1. Are there any large companies nearby?
  2. What small companies are nearby?
  3. Who, what, and where is/are the nearest carwash/washes?
  4. What is the history of the competition?
  5. What is the history of your specific location?
  6. What is the utility cost of water in the area?
  7. Is the community decreasing or increasing in value?
  8. Are any projects taking place?
  9. Will this carwash be open all four seasons?
  10. If not, how many days out of 365?
  11. Last but obviously not least, what are the zoning regulations in the area?

If zoning, health code, or environmental regulations are in the way, it may be best to keep it that way. Fines, externalities, and/or other associated consequences may not be worth the risk.

The answers to these 20 quick questions will help you determine if the location or locations you have your eyes set on is feasible or not.

You can use your answers to then create a SWOT Analysis for each potential location in order to define the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of building a carwash at said location.

If you don’t like the results or think it may negatively impact your ROI, the next goal is to determine how you can A, change the answer or B, work with it. If neither, then the next potential location in your sight may be plan C.