Every town, city, county, or country will require car washes to meet the growing numbers of cars being produced and on the roads. The numbers will not get smaller. Your job will be to find the locality that needs one now, or that has one that is up for sale for you to purchase. The opportunity is there. You just have to go out there and find it.
The car wash business is predicated on having the best location. If the location does not meet the criteria of a heavy traffic count moving at moderate speeds, or with interspersed traffic lights that slow the speed down in front of your location, it will not be the right location. The “three rule” fits car washing more than any other type of business. Location, location, and location are the three requirements for the right positioning of a car wash business.
Your first task is to research the demographics. How many people live within a five-mile radius where you want to build or buy your business? Is it industrial, residential or a combination of both? What is the mean income of the people in the area? Is the trend in population indicative of growth or decline? What is the average daily traffic count of cars passing in front of your selection?
Check with the municipality or county administrative offices to learn more about your market area. If data is lacking, for instance, the daily traffic count, then use your investigative skills to find out. Sit in front of the location with a hand held meter and click the number of cars that pass by at different hours and extrapolate the daily and hourly average of passing traffic.
In addition to these demographic factors, your location should have easy ingress and easy egress, without disturbing the existing traffic flow. The size of the location should be as much land as possible to be able to develop both the car wash, and the complementary businesses that will allow for cross marketing from one to the other: e.g. gas, convenience store, oil change, donut shop, etc. Must you have them all? No, but the more you have at your location either under your control or leased out to other business people, the more prosperous and successful your car wash business will be.
You will also need to know if the location is zoned for industrial, commercial, or car wash use. If it is, then you are set. If not, you will need to get a permit for operating a car wash there. This will take time, patience, and knowing the right people. In many cases it’s a matter of finding someone who has influence with the local board who will approve it. A good attorney is essential. Here, it is who you know and not what you know that counts.
You might have to do some difficult selling to get the permit. But it can be achieved even though it might take more time than you planned. Remind the planning board or town council that your carwash will attract new customers to your market area, be a convenience for existing businesses and residents, and serve as an environmental steward to your community.
From my book “Make Your Fortune Washing Cars”