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The Secrets of Owning A Car Wash

Opening a car wash is the dream of many who want to start on a new investment path and see greater business success. While owning a car wash is very similar to managing other types of industries, there are a number of things that are unique to car washes that you will want to consider in your process. By now you have likely created a business plan, which gives you a great overview of where you want to go when you own a car wash, but we want to discuss more of the small details and little known secrets that go into the process of opening and owning a car wash.

owning a car wash business


Car Wash Location is Everything

The place you choose to build your car wash is incredibly important. The perfect car wash location should have the following important features:

  • Be easily accessible from both directions of travel. You want to make it easy for people to find the entrance to your car wash. Consider how the road is laid out. Will the entrance will come up suddenly on drivers after a hill or will they have to do a U-turn thanks to a median? Also look at the traffic for the road to decide if it will be easy for people to turn in from the opposite direction.
  • Be located on a road that is highly traveled with a speed limit of 40mph or less. This is a bit of a tough requirement, but will make a big difference in your car wash success. You want to find a road that is highly travelled for maximum visibility opportunities. However, the speed limit ideally should be 40mph or less so people are able to clearly read your signage to know what you offer and the pricing.
  • Have enough space for cars to navigate through the wash lanes. It is important that vehicles of all sizes can easily navigate through your car wash lanes and access any extra features, like a vacuum area. You also want to make sure there is plenty of room for cars to line up at your car wash so you don’t turn away customers on a busy day based purely on your car wash layout.

If you find a location that doesn’t meet this requirements, you risk losing some of the success you would see owning a car wash.

Buying Existing Property is Easy Step to Owning A Car Wash

Depending on how much budget you have when you are starting your journey to owning a car wash, the best option may not be to build a new car wash from scratch. Instead, it might be a better idea to speak with a commercial real estate agent to find existing car washes that are for sale. When you buy an existing car wash, you will have the building blocks to work with building a car wash custom for your goals. You can also look at other buildings that you can more affordably transform into a car wash. When looking at commercial properties to purchase, be sure to follow the location rules above.

Remember Zoning if Building A Car Wash

Before purchasing property, you will want to make sure it is zoned for commercial use. If not, you may have to find another location, look into the re-zoning process, or apply for a special use permit. It is also very important to check the local utility usage codes and sanitary sewers to ensure they are able to support a car wash and the recycling technology that will be installed. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of business licenses, insurance, and property tax when owning a car wash.

Car Wash Soap is Most Important

Arguably the most important part of owning a car wash business is the soap you will use. For a bigger initial profit margin, some car wash business owners will try to go for the most affordable soap on the market. This is a big mistake for long term success. The soap you use is like a business card for your car wash. Car owners will look at the shine and finish on their vehicle after taking it through your wash. If their vehicles have soap scum, are spotted with water, or if the shine fades after a couple of hours, they will not go back to your car wash again.

When choosing your car wash chemicals, here are some important questions to ask yourself.

  • What type of car wash do you have? You want the soap to be compatible with your car wash system. For some car washes, liquid soap works better than powder detergent and vice versa.
  • What is your water quality? Do you have hard water, or soft water? Different soaps will behave differently dependent on water quality.
  • Will your soap damage different types of vehicle finishes? Will your wastewater management system experience more deterioration and problems based on the soap you choose? Be sure to consider chemical safety in your selection.
  • What are the rinsing qualities? This is often overlooked and will have a big impact on the final outcome of what the vehicle looks like. If the vehicle doesn’t look excellent, your customers may not return.
  • Do you want to use a two-step acid-alkaline cleaning process or a single step alkaline cleaning process?

Before selecting your soap, it is important to speak with a professional car wash distributor. They will know the type of car wash you plan to install and understand the soap options available for your system. To help you stay in your business expense budget, they will provide a variety of options for a better shine to improve your car wash business reputation.