How to start a successful car wash business

car wash business

How would you like to start a car wash business that will stand out? If you read this guide, from start to finish, you’ll know the ways that you’ll create a successful car wash.

Starting a car wash can be exciting, really less difficult and profitable business for anyone with the passion, patience, and drive.

This business will never go out of fashion so long as people continue to use the vehicle on a daily basis.

At the appropriate location and with innovative ways of attracting customers via marketing and excellent service, you can attract numerous customers who will want their cars and bikes to be washed.

Why start a car wash business

It might interest you to know that:

  • There are more people buying cars and bikes today than ever before and much more still plan to buy.
  • Most car owners have little or no time to wash their cars. The option of using a car wash becomes more convenient because it saves time and still gets what they need a clean car.
  • The skills for washing a car can be learned easily. The car wash is not rocket science that may be difficult to perfect. You’ll need to watch and do it once or twice to get to do it.
  • You don’t need much cash to start the business. This of the cause will depend on the type of the car wash you plan to do.

Hot tip: Like other forms of business, opening a car wash requires good planning, using modern tools and great details to ensure you maximize profit.

Types of car wash

There are several types of the business. Well, you may want to use one or more as part of the business.

Mobile car wash business

This is also known as the mobile auto detailing business, which requires no physical location. As a result reduces the startup cost considerably.

However, you’ll require moving around with your supplies and tools to parking lots, driveways, and garage to do your job and hence this will increase your visibility and also create more market for your business.

The only downside to the mobile car wash business is you’ll have to work in extreme weathers when the time comes since most of the work is outdoors and have to travel with essential tools and cleaning chemicals which will include large quantities of water always.

Steam car wash business

This is the type of car wash that cleans deep especially the car interior cleaning without using chemicals.

In other forms of the car wash, they focus on cleaning the surface, but the steam car wash, on the other hand, goes deep, deep to the microscopic gaps to kill the germs and get rid of the hidden dirt.

It uses a combination of steam power and temperature to clean the dirt and flushes the bacteria of the car away.

Because it does not require the use of chemical and water, you’re both conserving resources and reducing the health risk of exposing your skin to chemicals which may cause allergy or irritation.

Automatic car wash business

It’s a self-service car wash system which does the work even when you sleep.

If your idea of car wash does not involve the use of water bucket, sponge, and bubbles, then the automatic car wash is for you.

The automatic car wash may price may range from a normal car wash to the auto detailing of the car tire.

For the machine to wash the car, you’ll need to drive the car until to get to a point where the car can automatically take over and moves it right across the rollers until it washes it.

Home car wash

This is the basic and the most popular type of car wash. You begin on a small scale by having some little equipment. If you’re starting the car wash without the capital you need, then this is a great place to start.

Ways to start car wash business

No matter which way type of the car wash business you intend to go into, there are two ways to start the business of car wash.

  1. Buy an existing car wash business

An entrepreneur may decide to buy an existing car wash. In an existing car wash, you don’t need to go through the planning, acquiring the instrument and setting up the business.

Once you acquire the business, you continue and may require small improvement.

One thing you have to take note is to weigh the benefits first before buying the business.

Certainly, most of often the benefit will include, getting some of the existing customers, already the business is setup and you may start making a profit almost instantly.

The other side to it is, buying an existing car wash business will be expensive especially if it’s a car wash franchise.

As a result, an entrepreneur must be financially buoyant to invest in buying and must be willing to inject some cash into things like rebranding, bringing in new equipment and so on.

2. Start from scratch

Not everyone can buy a car wash franchise or buy an existing car wash business. Some even with the money still prefer to go through the process from the scratch.

If you want to build the business from scratch, then the steps below will help you.

As a rule of thumb, starting from scratch will require taking consistent steps at a time.

here we go:

1. Get to know the business

In order to know how to start and run the business, you’ll need to study the car wash business.


Car wash requires you to use certain tools for a certain job. For instance, the tool and chemical you’ll use for car interior cleaning will be different than the one you’ll use for the exterior.

Not only that, you can also be able to find out how the business operates and who to target and pricing and so on.

Observe the trend of the industry to better understand the business future prospects.

  • Get more Customers using the internet. You can focus your marketing to a targeted group or the location of your business using the internet.
  • Read publications about the industry.
  • Watch and learn from videos of how cars are washed.
  1. Know your competition

Chances are that there are already existing car wash businesses around you.

Find out about them, explore their weakness and take advantage of it. It could be how they operate, the services they offer, efficiency in service delivery, their pricing and the way they attract customers.

That should give you an idea of the business and also exposes their weakness in other to build on it when starting yours.

When you can evaluate the competition, then create a business model that will stand out and fill the gap for customers.

  1. Write a car wash business plan

Many people have argued that business plan writing is a waste of time. But that’s just an opinion. Without a business plan, no one will be willing to invest in your business, except if you have built and have sold a business worth $300 million.

A business plan is just a guide of what your business will need from the planning up to the time the business start running.

Write the details of what you will invest, earn and spend. These should include renting a place for the business, taxes, employee salary, cost of materials, licenses, insurance, marketing as well as the expected expansion.

  1. Raise capital for your business

No business will see the light of the day without having the funds. Raising capital for your business is the ultimate method to do go about.

This would be easy if the business plan is well prepared. All you’ll do is to find investors or bankers to present your business plan to.

Having investors could be your first point of call. These investors could be your friends, family or a private one.

  1. Find a location

The location of your business cannot be arbitrary; you have to be strategic in locating the car wash.

You’ll need a place with high vehicular traffic and where will be easily accessible to customers.

One very good location for a car wash is the one close to a residential neighborhood or a commercial area. Don’t forget to make you sign very visible.

The exception to these is when you’re into mobile car wash business where you don’t have a specific location. Your location will be your contact or the handbills you’ll give out to prospective clients in when doing the services of other people.

  1. Car wash business name

Business identity is important. Often times, people recognize a business by its name. In fact, you build a brand around a business name. That’s why this method is really important.

Come up with a business name that will make your car wash stand out. The name should be unique and can be remembered easily.

Then begin to build your brand around the name so that your business becomes a household name in the industry.

  1. Get the necessary equipment

Depending on the standard you want your car wash business to be, you’ll need to buy modern and appropriate equipment to give you an edge over others.

You can get car wash equipment prices by making a search online to get an insight on what you need.

But the equipment will definitely depend on the type of the car wash business you intend to start.

Here are some of the equipment you’ll need a base on the type of the car wash business you intend to do.

Mobile car wash business equipment

The equipment may include a vacuum, buffer, towels, window squeegees, bucket, brushes, sponges and cotton cleaning towels.

Steam car wash equipment

HHO Car carbon cleaning mobile steam car wash machine and wet and dry vacuum cleaner/steam car wash.

Automatic car wash equipment

automatic machines for washing cars, Automatic roll over truck bus steam car wash, steam car wash machine for car interior engine  etc.

Home car wash equipment

The home car wash equipment is pretty similar with that of the mobile car wash business and include vacuum, buffer, towels, window squeegees, bucket, brushes, sponges and cotton cleaning towels.

  1. Hire people who can do the job

A vital and very important key to success in any business is getting the right people to be in the right position. Take sufficient time to hire the staff that will run and manage the business.

If you buy an existing car wash or a car wash franchise, then you’ll have the people already, but need to do some restructuring.

  1. Market your car wash

Choose an appropriate and effective means of telling people about your new business.

You can begin by telling them on a door to door basis and using flyers. As the business grows, other forms of marketing can be employed.

Note also that the best form of marketing is one that comes from word of mouth from satisfied customers. So make every effort to satisfy your customers.

  1. Open your car wash

After these, you can now open your doors to business and to your teaming customers. But as a new business, many people will not want to pay for your services.

Why? Not many customers will want you to do the experiment with them.

The best approach is to make the first opening day service free. This will give many customers the benefit of the doubt to try your car wash since it’s free.

  1. Set daily goals

Now that your car wash is opened, begin to set a daily target with regards cash flow and number of cars to be washed.

With due diligence, determination and careful following of the above ten steps you are sure to start and run a successful car wash.

Final thoughts

Car wash business is an exciting business. You’ll need the right equipment, expertise, and determination to be successful.

Because with the right equipment and mindset, you’ll be able to provide an excellent service delivery to the business and customers on a daily basis.



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