How to write the business plan for a car wash

car wash business plan

If you've long been interested in cars and keeping them in tip-top condition, you may have decided to open your very own car wash business. 

Before diving headfirst into launching your car wash, however, you're gonna need a solid business plan.

To help you through this process, we've written the guide below to offer our top tips to help you write your car wash business plan. 

Why write a business plan for a car wash?

The business plan for a car wash enables an entrepreneur to examine their business in detail, evaluate the amount of funding needed to get it up and running and assess its expected profitability. 

It also serves as a roadmap for the business' first three years of operation. As your car wash business moves through its first throes of operation, you can use the business plan to track whether it's flourishing as it should, by comparing the figures estimated in your initial forecasts. 

A car wash business plan will also be specifically requested by any bank or investor you decide to approach, so drafting one up is a mandatory step when it comes to securing financing. 

So what does a car wash business plan look like? In a simplified way, it consists of two main parts:

  • A financial forecast highlighting the expected financial performance over the next 3 years and the potential for profitability
  • A written part that presents, in detail, your project, the team, your business strategy, and your medium-term objectives.

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Information needed to create a business plan for a car wash

Carrying out market research for a car wash .

Conducting market research for a car wash  will be the very first step of creating your business.

Market research has three objectives:

  • To enable you to verify whether there's an unmet demand in the area you'd like to set up your car wash
  • To help you come up with a strong business concept to meet this demand 
  • To assist you in the collection of data required to estimate your car wash's sales potential 

With the population growing more environmentally conscious, car wash's are evolving - with an increasing number of waterless car washes in the UK.

There is still, however, a strong presence of car washes that use rollers and pressure jets. The challenge for you is to choose a concept that meets the desires of your target customers. 

Thanks to market research, you'll be able to understand not only what your customers need, but also how often they go to a car wash and their favourite type of washing solution. 

For this, you'll have to ask yourself a number of questions:

  • How many times do your customers, on average, wash their car per year?
  • Who prefers which type of wash: roller, hand wash or pressure washer?
  • What is the average budget per customer?

By answering these questions as you go along, you'll be able to make a compelling case that there's space on the market for your car wash. You should also consider analysing trends within the car wash industry to get a grasp on the different types of services you can offer customers. 

Next, you need to check out the competition around you (who they are, what services they offer and how much they're making), and get in touch with car wash owners in the area to get a ballpark figure of the number of customers they welcome each year. 

When it comes to the car wash business, leave no stone unturned. If you want to convince the investor reading your business plan that your car wash is worth pumping money into, your market research needs to be precise and detailed. 

Developing the marketing plan for a car wash

Once the market research has been carried out, it's time to focus on your marketing strategy.

First, take a look at the communication methods used by your competition to attract and retain customers, whether that includes disrupting the local radio's airwaves with a jingle about their services or posting about car wash discounts on their Instagram feed. 

Doing so will give you a better idea of what strategy you can adopt to promote your car wash. Even if your location is your biggest asset, you'll still need to establish a few marketing actions to turn these circumstantial customers into regulars. 

Advertising online or in your local newspaper, creating loyalty cards or coming up with promotional offers are all excellent ways to do so. The most important thing, as far as the car wash business plan is concerned, is that you have a clear idea of how much money you can afford to spend on each action, as well as what you can expect back in terms of sales.

The staffing and equipment needs of a car wash

Last but not least, before writing the business business plan for your car wash you'll need to take note of the staffing requirements, as well as the equipment needed to get it up and running.

Both of these factors will depend on the concept you choose. If you decide to launch an automatic car wash with rollers, for example, you'll be able to operate without paying for on-site employees, but will have significant investments when it comes to equipment and renovation work. 

Adversely, opening a car wash that offers only hand washing will require very little investment but have pretty hefty staffing requirements. 

What is the financial forecast for a car wash?

Establishing the financial forecast is an integral step in the development of your car wash's business plan. 

It is composed of 4 main tables, highlighting different financial aspects of the company:

  • Projected P&L statement
  • Projected balance sheet
  • Projected cash flow statement
  • Initial financing plan

The projected P&L statement

The profit and loss statement, which starts with the turnover, allows you to evaluate the growth, evolution of your car wash's cost structure, and its expected profitability over the coming years. 

car wash business plan Profit & loss statement

The projected balance sheet of your car wash

This table shows the value of the company's assets at a given time, and, in particular, the value of the assets (what the company owns) and liabilities (what the company owes to suppliers, lenders, etc).

car wash business plan projected balance sheet

The projected cash flow statement

With the help of a projected cash flow statement, you will see how much cash is generated by your car wash, where it comes from, and how it is used, whether it's to repay its loans or regularly renew equipment. 

You'll also be able to see if you have enough cash to fulfil these obligations, or even if you might soon have enough cash to expand your business by opening more car washes. 

car wash business plan cash flow statement

The initial financing plan

This section of your car wash's financial forecast gives your bank or investor a quick overview of the resources needed to launch your business and their costs - as well as the personal contribution you plan to make. 

car wash business plan sources and uses

The editorial part of a car wash business plan

Once the financial forecast of your car wash has been set up, you have the opportunity to put these figures and estimations into context by delving into the written part of your car wash business plan. 

The editorial section of your business plan is just as important as the financial forecast because it presents each aspect of the business in detail and proves to investors that you've thought carefully about the risks associated with it. 

It's broken down into 6 sections, which we have summarised below: 

The executive summary

Think of this section as the equivalent of a cover letter for your car wash business plan. The aim here is to introduce your project to investors in as engaging and concise a manner as possible, encouraging them to read on and learn more about your exciting venture. 

This part contains all the administrative information about your company, including the business partner's and their roles, the legal status of the company and its location. 

Products and services 

Whether you've decided to set up an automatic car wash bay or decided to go for hand washing, you'll use this section to explain the services offered by your car wash. 

Market research

It's within this section of your car wash business plan that you'll present the results of the market research we mentioned at the beginning of this article. The objective here is to demonstrate, through knowledge of the national and local market, that there is indeed a viable business opportunity for a new car wash in the area you've chosen.

business plan car wash market research

In this part, you'll reveal three key plans: 

  • Your sales strategy - the prices you'll set 
  • Your marketing strategy - the actions you'll take to attract customers and build customer loyalty 
  • Your risk management strategy - how you'll minimise the risks related to your business

In this section, you will give the reader an idea of the day-to-day operation of your car wash, including your opening hours, members of staff (if any) and the suppliers used, as well as how often you'll renew the stock.

The financial plan

Like we said, numbers need context. In this section, you'll illustrate the various financial tables and the assumptions you've made for them.

What tool should I use to write my car wash business plan?

Writing a business plan for a car wash can get pretty complicated, especially if you've never done it before. There are, however, several options at your disposal to help you draft one up:

Create your car wash business plan using Word or Excel

Using Excel and Word to create your car wash business plan is the cheapest solution, but not the most efficient.

While these software programs can be useful, they require that the user has good computer skills and a solid background in accounting to avoid mistakes. 

Hire a consultant to write your car wash's business plan

Hiring a chartered accountant or consultant to take care of the financial part of your business is a good way to avoid errors. 

However, the fees are generally quite expensive: budget around £1.5k ($2.0k) for a complete business plan, more if you need to make changes after the initial version (which happens frequently after the initial meetings with lenders).

If you decide to hire a consultant or accountant, remember to check what's included in the service - are they developing a complete business plan or just doing the financial forecast? And are you will to pay extra for them to make changes, if necessary?

Use an online business plan software for your car wash's business plan

Another alternative is to use online business plan software . There are several advantages to using specialised software:

  • You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan 
  • You can be inspired by already written business plan templates 
  • You can easily make your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you
  • You get a professional document, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank.

business plan car wash contents page

If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try our software for free by signing up here . 

We hope that this article has helped you to better understand how to write the business plan for a car wash. If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us for any questions related to the creation of a car wash.

Also on The Business Plan Shop

  • Business plan template of a car wash
  • How to optimise profitability for a car wash
  • How to open a car wash
  • Detailled business plan outline

Know someone who needs a business plan for car wash? Share this guide with them!

Guillaume Le Brouster

Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd

Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.

Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.

Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.

Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.

Published on 25 Jan 2021 , last update on 09 Jun 2023 , as per our editorial standards .

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How to create a car wash business plan

  • Annabelle Amery

How to create a car wash business plan

Starting a business , whether it's a small venture or a large enterprise, requires careful planning and strategizing. One essential component of this process is creating a clear business plan that serves as a roadmap for starting your car wash business .

A business plan can help you effectively navigate the challenges of the car wash industry, and can serve as the driving force behind your business. Keep reading to learn more about how to create a strong plan, and put your business in the right lane.

Looking to promote your car wash business online by making a website ? Get started for free with Wix’s website builder .

How to write a car wash business plan in 6 steps

As mentioned above, a well-structured business plan serves as a roadmap, guiding your decisions and strategies to ensure the success and profitability of your venture. Here are the six main parts of a car wash business plan:

Executive summary

Business and domain names

Market analysis and research

Operations plan

Marketing and advertising plan

Financial plan

01. Executive summary

The executive summary is the first part of your car wash business plan, providing an overview of your entire plan in a concise and compelling manner. It should capture the reader's attention and provide a clear understanding of your business idea, goals and strategies.

To write a clear executive summary for your car wash business plan you should start with a compelling introduction that highlights the unique aspects and value proposition of your car wash business. Always provide a brief description of the market opportunity and target audience for your services. Make sure to summarize your marketing strategies, competitive advantages and financial projections. Finally, include key milestones and objectives that you aim to achieve with your car wash business.

02. Business and domain names

Choosing the right business name for your car wash is crucial for building brand awareness and trust among your target audience. Your business plan should outline the process of deciding on a company name and domain name.

To choose the right name for your car wash business:

Brainstorm small business name ideas that reflect the nature of your car wash services, such as cleanliness, efficiency or environmental friendliness.

Use a business name generator tool to generate creative and unique name options.

Consider the availability of domain names that align with your chosen company name.

Check for trademark conflicts and ensure that your chosen name is not already registered by another business in your industry. (And make sure to register your business once you’ve decided on your name and business structure.)

When choosing a domain name:

Keep it short, memorable and easy to spell.

Avoid hyphens or numbers that can confuse potential customers.

Use relevant keywords if possible to improve search engine visibility.

Select a domain extension (.com, .net, .org) that is widely recognized and trusted by customers.

03. Market analysis and research

Market analysis and research in your business plan is crucial for understanding the competitive environment and developing effective marketing strategies. This section should provide an in-depth analysis of your target market, customer demographics, competitors and industry trends.

You can do this by:

Analyzing the competitive landscape by researching existing car wash businesses in your area. Identify their strengths, weaknesses, pricing strategies and customer reviews.

Identifying market trends and opportunities that can help you differentiate your car wash business and attract customers.

Conducting surveys or interviews with potential customers to gather insights into their preferences, expectations and willingness to pay for car wash services.

Then, use the data and information gathered from your marketing analysis to develop a solid marketing strategy that will effectively target and attract your ideal customers.

04. Operations plan

The operations plan is a crucial part of your car wash business plan as it outlines the practical aspects of running your business. This section should cover location selection, premises layout, equipment requirements and staffing needs.

When developing the operations plan make sure to:

Select a suitable location for your car wash business that offers high visibility, easy access and ample parking space.

Choose the layout of your premises to optimize workflow and create a pleasant customer experience.

List the required equipment for your car wash, such as automated washing systems, water treatment systems, vacuum cleaners and payment systems.

Outline the staffing needs for your car wash business, including roles like car wash attendants, cashiers and maintenance personnel. Specify their responsibilities and required qualifications.

05. Marketing and advertising plan

The marketing and advertising plan in your car wash business plan details the strategies and campaigns you will implement to promote your services. This section should include an overview of your target market, branding strategies, online presence, advertising channels and promotional activities.

Start by creating a strong brand identity that reflects the values and unique selling points of your car wash business. As part of this, establish an online presence through a business website , social media profiles and online directories. Consider using a mix of advertising channels like local newspapers, radio ads, online ads and community sponsorships.

You could also think about promotional activities—like loyalty programs and referral incentives—to encourage repeat business. By implementing a well-thought-out marketing and advertising plan, you can effectively reach your target audience and maximize customer acquisition for your car wash business.

Building your brand from the ground up? Use Wix’s logo maker to get the creative juices flowing.

06. Financial plan

The financial section of your business plan provides holistic insight into the financial facets of your venture, including how you plan to raise money for your business , revenue forecasts, operational costs and the timeline for achieving profitability. This section not only establishes the fiscal soundness of your car wash business but also helps prospective investors and lenders assess the projected return on their investment.

steps to developing a business plan

Car wash business plan examples

These draft business plan templates provide a starting point for your own car wash business plan. Customize them to fit your specific goals. Remember to conduct thorough research and analysis to ensure the accuracy of your financial projections and strategies.

Business plan template #1: full-service car wash

Sparkling Suds Car Wash is a full-service car wash facility located in downtown Anytown. Our mission is to provide exceptional car washing services with a focus on customer satisfaction and environmental sustainability. With our state-of-the-art equipment, eco-friendly cleaning products and highly trained staff, we aim to become the go-to destination for car owners who value quality and convenience.

Company name and domain name

The company name chosen for our car wash business is Sparkling Suds Car Wash. The corresponding domain name will be

Target market: Our primary target market includes busy professionals, families and car enthusiasts who seek high-quality car washing services.

Competitive landscape: We have identified three major competitors in our area, each offering different levels of service and pricing.

Market trends: There is a growing demand for eco-friendly car wash services as customers become more conscious of their environmental impact.

Location: We have secured a prime location in downtown Anytown with high visibility and easy access.

Premises layout: The premises will be designed to accommodate multiple vehicles simultaneously, ensuring efficient workflow and minimizing customer wait times.

Equipment: We will invest in state-of-the-art automated washing systems, water treatment systems, vacuum cleaners and payment systems.

Staffing: Our car wash business will require a team of skilled car wash attendants, cashiers and maintenance personnel.

Target market: Our marketing efforts will focus on reaching our target market through online advertising, local community events and partnerships with nearby businesses.

Branding: We will create a strong brand identity that reflects our commitment to quality, convenience and environmental sustainability.

Online presence: We will build a professional website and establish a presence on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.

Advertising channels: Our advertising strategy will include local newspaper ads, radio commercials and online advertisements targeted at our specific demographic.

Financial projections

Startup costs: We estimate the initial investment required for equipment, leasehold improvements, marketing expenses and working capital to be $300,000.

Revenue projections: Based on market research and conservative estimates, we project annual revenue of $500,000 in the first year, with steady growth in subsequent years.

Expenses: We have carefully considered all expenses associated with running the car wash business, including labor costs, utilities, supplies and maintenance.

Business plan template #2: self-service car wash

Bubbles & Jets Car Wash is a self-service car wash facility located in a high-traffic area of Suburbia. Our goal is to provide a convenient and affordable car washing experience for individuals who prefer to wash their own vehicles. With our user-friendly equipment, well-maintained facilities and competitive pricing, we aim to become the preferred choice for self-service car washing in the area.

The chosen company name for our self-service car wash business is Bubbles & Jets Car Wash. The corresponding domain name will be

Target market: Our primary target market includes budget-conscious individuals who enjoy the satisfaction of washing their own vehicles.

Competitive landscape: We have identified two existing self-service car washes in the area, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Market trends: There is a growing trend of people opting for self-service car washes as they value control over the cleaning process and cost savings.

Location: We have secured a strategic location in Suburbia with easy access and ample parking space for customers.

Premises layout: The premises will be designed to accommodate multiple vehicles simultaneously, providing customers with enough space to comfortably clean their cars.

Equipment: We will invest in high-quality self-service car wash equipment, including pressure washers, foam guns, vacuum cleaners and vending machines for cleaning products.

Staffing: Our self-service car wash business will require minimal staffing, primarily for maintenance and customer assistance.

Target market: Our marketing efforts will focus on reaching our target market through local advertising, online directories and word-of-mouth referrals.

Branding: We will create a brand identity that emphasizes convenience, affordability and a clean and well-maintained facility.

Online presence: We will establish a basic website with information about our services, location and operating hours.

Advertising channels: Our advertising strategy will include local newspaper ads, flyers distributed in nearby neighborhoods and online listings in car-related directories.

Startup costs: We estimate the initial investment required for equipment, leasehold improvements, marketing expenses and working capital to be $150,000.

Revenue projections: Based on market research and conservative estimates, we project annual revenue of $200,000 in the first year, with steady growth in subsequent years.

Expenses: We have carefully considered all expenses associated with running the self-service car wash business, including utilities, supplies, maintenance and minimal staffing costs.

Benefits of creating a car wash business plan

Your business plan has both short-term and long-term implications for your business. Among them:

Attracting financing: A well-structured business plan tailored to your car wash venture can pique the interest of potential investors and lenders. By showcasing your understanding of the car wash industry, competitive strengths and growth projections, you increase your chances of securing the funding needed to launch or expand your car wash business.

Resource planning: Crafting a business plan specific to your car wash operations allows you to gain a comprehensive grasp of the resources required for a successful launch and ongoing operations. This encompasses identifying essential equipment, supplies, technology and staffing necessary to efficiently run your car wash establishment.

Goal setting: A thoughtfully outlined car wash business plan empowers you to set achievable objectives and milestones. It provides a roadmap for measurable targets, guiding your progress and channeling your efforts toward attaining sustainable success.

Competitive insights: Infusing thorough market analysis into your car wash business plan equips you to navigate the competitive landscape. By pinpointing competitors' strengths and vulnerabilities, you can devise strategies to differentiate your car wash business and gain a distinct market advantage.

Risk management: Integrating a comprehensive market evaluation and competitive assessment into your business plan enables you to identify potential risks that might impact your car wash enterprise. Developing contingency measures and risk-mitigation tactics within your plan equips you to navigate uncertainties and minimize potential disruptions.

Expansion possibilities: A well-constructed business plan for your car wash enterprise lays the groundwork for future growth and diversification. It provides a platform to assess expansion opportunities, such as adding more locations or introducing novel services, while also offering strategies to capitalize on these prospects.

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Car Wash Business Plan

Start your own car wash business plan

Soapy Rides Business Plan

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

East Meadow long island and its surrounding area is quite affluent, 40% of the residents earn over $70,000 a year. Consequently, they have nice cars and want them to look nice. There are five different car dealerships within a three-mile radius which will require car washing services for the various fleets. Lastly, there are many different local businesses that have company cars and that require clean appearances.  All of these potential customers need a car wash that fits their needs and their budget. We will happily fill that need.

Soapy Rides will be providing customers with three services: exterior car washing, interior cleaning, and detailing. Soapy Rides has no true competitors that are trying to offer a high quality service for a reasonable rate

This area has a number of benefits in terms of the market that it will provide for the business. Over 40% of households in the immediate neighborhood earn over $70,000 annually. Many people in the neighborhood own and/or lease new cars and place great value on their cars and how they look. There are a large number of car dealerships in the area–five within three miles of the proposed location for Soapy Rides.


There is one other hand car wash shop in East Meadow. It is quite new and is trying to compete with automatic car washes by offering low prices. However, it is not targeting the customers who seek quality cleaning.

Soapy Rides will be providing customers with three services: exterior car washing, , interior cleaning, and detailing. Soapy Rides has no true competitors that are trying to offer a high quality service for a reasonable rate.


The business will be initially financed by a personal investment by Mark Deshpande and will finance growth through cash flow. This will mean that the company will grow more slowly than it could, but it will ensure that Mark retains control over the direction of the company. In year three, it is hoped that the company will be able to open a second location. It is envisioned that an outside loan or equity funding will be sought at that time.

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

Mark Deshpande will invest $40,000 dollars to change the the location into a car wash.

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Car Wash Business Plan Template

Car wash business plan.

You’ve come to the right place to create your Car Wash business plan.

We have helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans and many have used them to start or grow their car washes.

Below is a template to help you create each section of your Car Wash business plan.

Executive Summary

Business overview.

Eco-Clean Car Wash is a startup car wash company located in Boston, Massachusetts. The company is founded by Thomas Wright, a former car wash manager who has gained valuable insights in how to run a car wash during his time working at Clean & Dry Car Wash. Now that Thomas has garnered a positive reputation for his exceptional management skills, he is ready to start his new company, Eco-Clean Car Wash. Thomas is confident that his ability to effectively manage staff and operations combined with his winning customer service record will help him successfully open and run a profitable car wash.

Eco-Clean Car Wash will provide a comprehensive array of car wash and car detailing services sure to impress any vehicle owner. Eco-Clean Car Wash will be the ultimate choice in Boston for people looking for an eco-friendly car wash option. The company uses eco-friendly technology to ensure smart water usage, runs on solar power, and uses chemical-free products to clean and detail customers’ automobiles.

Product Offering

The following are the services that Eco-Clean Car Wash will provide:

  • Eco-Express Car Wash
  • Full Service Eco-Clean Car Wash
  • Eco-Car Detailing
  • A La Carte Services (vacuuming, window cleaning…)

Customer Focus

Eco-Clean Car Wash will target all vehicle owners in Boston. The company will target owners of cars, trucks, SUVs, RVs, motorcycles, and vans. Eco-Clean Car Wash will also target those individuals who prefer to do business with eco-friendly companies and are willing to spend more for an eco-friendly car wash. No matter the customer, Eco-Clean Car Wash will deliver the highest quality car care and the best customer service.

Management Team

Eco-Clean Car Wash will be owned and operated by Thomas Wright. Thomas is a former car wash manager for another local car wash. He has gained valuable insights in how to run a car wash business during his time working for Clean & Dry Car Wash. Thomas is a graduate of the University of Boston with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. He will be in charge of the finances, supplier relationships, and eco-initiatives for the company.

Thomas has recruited an experienced car wash attendant, Patrick Collins, to be his co-manager and oversee the maintenance of the equipment and handle the training and management of the car wash attendants. Patrick Collins has been the top performing car wash attendant at Clean & Dry Car Wash for over five years. Thomas relies strongly on Patrick’s diligence, attention to detail, and focus when providing car detailing services, inspecting equipment, and training car wash attendants.

Success Factors

Eco-Clean Car Wash will be able to achieve success by offering the following competitive advantages:

  • The management team, car wash attendants, and car detailers will all provide exceptional service for every customer that comes in for a car wash. The attendants will be trained to employ a high attention to detail to ensure every vehicle is cleaned to perfection.
  • Eco-Clean Car Wash strives to live up to its name. The company uses an eco-conscious approach in every aspect of the business from the chemical-free products and water conservation to the recycling program and incentives for customers and employees who make green choices.
  • Flexible pricing options – customers can choose from multiple packages, monthly memberships, or a la carte pricing for smaller services like vacuum only or window cleaning only.

Financial Highlights

Eco-Clean Car Wash is seeking $350,000 in debt financing to launch its car wash business. The funding will be dedicated towards securing the property and purchasing car wash equipment and supplies. Funding will also be dedicated towards three months of overhead costs to include payroll of the staff, utilities, and marketing expenses. The breakout of the funding is below:

  • Property purchase and build-out: $200,000
  • Car wash equipment and supplies: $40,000
  • Three months of overhead expenses (payroll, utilities): $90,000
  • Marketing costs: $10,000
  • Working capital: $10,000

The following graph below outlines the pro forma financial projections for Eco-Clean Car Wash.

Company Overview

Who is eco-clean car wash.

Eco-Clean Car Wash is a newly established full-service car wash located in Boston, Massachusetts. Eco-Clean will be the most reliable, eco-friendly, and high quality choice for vehicle owners in the Boston area. The company’s eco-friendly approach is built on less water, less energy, and more customer service. Eco-Clean Car Wash will provide a comprehensive array of car wash and car detailing services sure to impress any eco-conscious vehicle owner. The company uses eco-friendly technology to ensure smart water usage, runs on solar power, and uses chemical-free products to clean and detail customers’ automobiles.

The company’s management team is dedicated to training all employees on the best practices for car detailing and customer service to exceed customer expectations. Each car wash attendant and auto detailer is trained to practice attention to detail and thorough cleaning of each car that comes through the car wash.

Eco-Clean Car Wash History

Eco-Clean is owned and operated by Thomas Wright, a former car wash manager who has a Finance degree from the University of Boston. Thomas has worked for a local car wash company and managed a small team of car wash attendants. Thomas’s tenure with the car wash company has given him the skills and knowledge required to venture out on his own and start his own car wash. Thomas has gained a reputation for being an exemplary manager and has a list of car wash attendants who have expressed interest in working for his new company.

Since incorporation, Eco-Clean Car Wash has achieved the following milestones:

  • Registered Eco-Clean Car Wash, LLC to transact business in the state of Massachusetts.
  • Has identified the desired location and vacant property to purchase for the car wash.
  • Reached out to potential suppliers of chemical-free products and eco-friendly car wash equipment to get quotes.
  • Began recruiting a staff of car wash attendants and car detailers to work at Eco-Clean Car Wash.

Eco-Clean Car Wash Services

Industry analysis.

The global car wash industry is an estimated $33B market with North America boasting the most car washes of any region. The United States alone contributes to approximately 43% of the total global market share with over 60,000 car wash locations operated by 16,000 companies with over 163,000 employees across the country. The states with the most car washes are California (2,025) followed by Texas (1,465), Florida (1,289), and New York (901).

The market for car washes is highly fragmented with no major players and no companies with more than 5% market share. The most common types of car washes are self-service bay, detailing services, in-bay automatic wash, hand washing, exterior only, and full service. In-bay automatic car wash stations are the most popular, with 51% of customers preferring this type of car wash.

Car wash operators who use eco-friendly products and run eco-friendly facilities can gain a competitive advantage especially among millennial and Gen Z customers who prefer eco-friendly options and are willing to spend more money on these products and services.

Customer Analysis

Demographic profile of target market.

Eco-Clean Car Wash will target all vehicle owners in Boston. The company will target owners of cars, trucks, SUVs, RVs, motorcycles, and vans. Eco-Clean Car Wash will also target those individuals who prefer to do business with eco-friendly companies and are willing to spend more for an eco-friendly car wash.

The precise demographics for Boston, Massachusetts are:

Customer Segmentation

Eco-Clean will primarily target the following customer profiles:

  • Owners of cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, and RVs
  • Eco-conscious consumers

Competitive Analysis

Direct and indirect competitors.

Eco-Clean Car Wash will face competition from other companies with similar business profiles. A description of each competitor company is below.

Clean & Dry Car Wash

Clean & Dry Car Wash is a full-service car wash located in Boston, Massachusetts. The car wash offers a wide variety of car wash and detailing services including automated, self-service, handwash, and no-water wash options. The company is owned and operated by car enthusiasts who know the importance of car care and are dedicated to providing quality service for their customers. Clean & Dry Car Wash ’s promise is to deliver personalized customer service, exceptional car washes, and low prices.

Classy Bubble Car Wash

Classy Bubble Car Wash is a Boston-based car wash and auto detailing company that provides outstanding service to car owners. Classy Bubble Car Wash makes it easy to get a high quality car wash without the hassle. The company provides comprehensive full-service car wash services for cars, trucks, vans, and any other standard-sized vehicle. The owners of Classy Bubble Car Wash are car detailing professionals so they understand how a thorough detailing job should look. The company has three tiers of car wash packages to choose from – basic, premium, and extra premium. Customers can choose eco-friendly product options like chemical-free soap and waterless washes for an additional fee.

Shine Clean Car Wash

Shine Clean Car Wash is a trusted Boston-based car wash that provides superior service to car owners in Boston and surrounding areas. The company has three locations throughout the city and is able to provide a one-stop shop for anyone looking to get a quality car wash fast. Shine Clean Car Wash provides full-service car wash and auto detailing packages. The company’s car wash attendants are trained in efficiency to provide the quickest service possible and get customers back on the road sooner.

Competitive Advantage

Eco-Clean Car Wash will be able to offer the following advantages over their competition:

  • Flexible pricing options – customers can choose from multiple packages, monthly memberships, or a la carte pricing for smaller services such as vacuuming or window cleaning.

Marketing Plan

Brand & value proposition.

Eco-Clean Car Wash will offer the unique value proposition to its clientele:

  • Eco-Clean Car Wash uses an eco-conscious approach in every aspect of the business from the chemical-free products and water conservation to the recycling program and incentives for customers and employees who make green choices.
  • Flexible pricing options – customers can choose from multiple packages, monthly memberships, or a la carte pricing.

Promotions Strategy

The promotions strategy for Eco-Clean Car Wash is as follows:

Social Media Marketing

The company will invest in professional marketing services provided by a local marketing firm. Social media marketing will be one of the most effective and low-cost strategies for gaining brand awareness and increasing the company’s customer base. The marketing firm will help manage the social media presence by creating and updating various social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Print Advertising

Eco-Clean Car Wash will invest in professionally designed print ads to display in flyers, newspapers, magazines, and direct-mailers.

Broadcast & Streaming Media Advertising

The company will invest in commercials to be played on broadcast networks, podcasts, and streaming services.

Website/SEO Marketing

Eco-Clean Car Wash will work with the same local marketing firm that created their social media strategy to also make the company website. The website will be well organized, informative, and list all the services and pricing options that Eco-Clean is able to provide. The website will also include information on all of the eco-friendly initiatives the company is implementing and ways customers can get involved. The marketing firm will also manage Eco-Clean’s website presence with SEO marketing tactics so that when someone types into the search engine “Boston car wash” or “car wash near me”, Eco-Clean Car Wash will be listed at the top of the search results.

The pricing of Eco-Clean Car Wash will be premium. Customers come to Eco-Clean Wash for high quality eco-friendly washes and superior service. However, customers will also have the opportunity to receive steep discounts for participating in eco-friendly incentives and promotions.

Operations Plan

The following will be the operations plan for Eco-Clean Car Wash.

Operation Functions:

  • Thomas Wright will be the Owner and Co-Manager of Eco-Clean Car Wash. He will oversee all finances, supplier relationships, and eco-initiatives for the company.
  • Patrick Collins – Co-Manager who will be responsible for all car wash equipment inspections, car wash operations, and attendant training/management.

Eco-Clean will outsource many of its business functions including marketing, maintenance, and recruitment. The company will use business management software for customer relationship management (CRM), accounting/bookkeeping, and employee scheduling.


Eco-Clean Car Wash will have the following milestones complete in the next six months.

10/1/2022 – Finalize contract to purchase property.

10/15/2022 – Purchase car wash equipment and supplies.

11/1/2022 – Begin build-out of the car wash facility.

12/15/2022 – Begin recruiting and training car wash attendants.

1/22/2023 – Implement the marketing campaign.

2/1/2023 – Eco-Clean Car Wash opens for business.

Financial Plan

Key revenue & costs.

The revenue drivers for Eco-Clean Car Wash are the car wash fees that will be charged to the customers in exchange for car wash and detailing services.

The cost drivers will be the overhead costs required in order to staff a car wash. The expenses will be the payroll cost, utilities, car wash supplies, and marketing materials.

Funding Requirements and Use of Funds

Key assumptions.

The following outlines the key assumptions required in order to achieve the revenue and cost numbers in the financials and in order to pay off the startup business loan.

  • Number of car washes per month: 2,000
  • Average fees per month: $35,000
  • Commercial property mortgage payment per year: $60,000

Financial Projections

Income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, car wash business plan faqs, what is a car wash business plan.

A car wash business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your car wash business. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing plan and details your financial projections.

You can easily complete your car wash business plan using our Car Wash Business Plan Template here .

What are the Main Types of Car Wash Businesses?

There are a number of different kinds of car wash business , some examples include: Automatic or Tunnel Car Washes, In-bay Automatic Car Washes, Self-service, and Mobile Car Washes.

How Do You Get Funding for Your Car Wash Business Plan?

Car wash businesses are often funded through small business loans. Personal savings, credit card financing and angel investors are also popular forms of funding. This is true for a car detailing business plan or a car washing business plan.

What are the Steps To Start a Car Wash Business?

Starting a car wash business can be an exciting endeavor. Having a clear roadmap of the steps to start a business will help you stay focused on your goals and get started faster.

1. Develop A Car Wash Business Plan - The first step in starting a business is to create a detailed business plan for your car wash  that outlines all aspects of the venture. This should include potential market size and target customers, the services or products you will offer, pricing strategies and a detailed financial forecast.  

2. Choose Your Legal Structure - It's important to select an appropriate legal entity for your car wash business. This could be a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to do research and choose wisely so that your car wash business is in compliance with local laws.

3. Register Your Car Wash Business - Once you have chosen a legal structure, the next step is to register your car wash business with the government or state where you’re operating from. This includes obtaining licenses and permits as required by federal, state, and local laws. 

4. Identify Financing Options - It’s likely that you’ll need some capital to start your car wash business, so take some time to identify what financing options are available such as bank loans, investor funding, grants, or crowdfunding platforms. 

5. Choose a Location - Whether you plan on operating out of a physical location or not, you should always have an idea of where you’ll be based should it become necessary in the future as well as what kind of space would be suitable for your operations. 

6. Hire Employees - There are several ways to find qualified employees including job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed as well as hiring agencies if needed – depending on what type of employees you need it might also be more effective to reach out directly through networking events. 

7. Acquire Necessary Car Wash Equipment & Supplies - In order to start your car wash business, you'll need to purchase all of the necessary equipment and supplies to run a successful operation. 

8. Market & Promote Your Business - Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting and marketing your car wash business. This includes creating a website, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. You should also consider traditional marketing techniques such as radio or print advertising. 

Learn more about how to start a successful car wash business:

  • How to Start a Car Wash Business

Other Helpful Business Plan Templates

Franchise Business Plan Template Car Detailing Business Plan Template

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How to Open a Car Wash Business

Last Updated: October 6, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Angel Ricardo . Angel Ricardo is the owner of Ricardo's Mobile Auto Detail headquartered in Venice, California. With over 10 years of experience in mobile detailing, Angel continues to attend auto detailing trainings to improve his customer service and auto detailing skills. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,017,138 times.

Opening a car wash business can be a fun, interesting, and profitable business for somebody with business smarts and perseverance. With the right location, good marketing, and top-notch service, you can draw in numerous customers who need their cars washed quickly, efficiently, and at a good price. However, opening a car wash business also requires a significant investment, good planning, and attention to detail in order to make your business profitable.

Planning Your Car Wash

Step 1 Visit a few car washes to get a sense of what might work.

  • For example, people use car washes more when the economy is doing well and when motor vehicle sales are up. When people have more money to spend, they are more willing to pay for a car wash. Knowing the car sales statistics in your area could help you predict success for your business.
  • Talk to car wash owners, car wash suppliers, and car wash equipment manufacturers. You want to understand the car wash business from all sides so you know what you are getting into.
  • The International Carwash Association is a good resource to learn about the industry and the current trends. [2] X Research source
  • In addition to doing some in person visits, it might help, at this point, to read some internet trend reports and business periodicals. Find out what the demographics are in your area and read up on how car wash businesses are doing in areas with similar demographics.
  • Read some business publications, too, to find out what the newest materials and equipment are. The car wash industry is developing more energy efficient and environmentally friendly materials, so it's important to stay abreast of new developments.

Step 2 Investigate all of the competition in your area.

  • Take notes as you investigate the car washes. You can go back and review them as you make plans for your car wash.
  • Also pay attention to the other businesses around the car washes. If a car wash has a high volume of customers, what are some of the factors that are contributing to this? Is it located in a busy shopping center or right off the highway?

Step 3 Draw up a detailed business plan.

  • The introduction should include your Executive Summary, table of contents, and a cover page.
  • Your market analysis demonstrates your knowledge of the car wash industry and the results of any market research and analysis that you have done. Who are your customers and what are their purchasing habits? What are the risks, strengths, and weaknesses involved with opening a car wash? What is your projected revenue based on the current market and future market trends?
  • Your company description should include information about your car wash business and why you think it will be successful.
  • The organization and management section should detail the structure of your company, the board of directors, and the qualifications of your management team.
  • The marketing and sales portion should clearly outline your marketing strategy. How will you get customers? What avenues will you use to reach them? What is your overall sales strategy?
  • The product or service section outlines exactly what you will be selling. How does your car wash business fill a void in the market? Why would people want to use your car wash as opposed to other car washes?
  • The equity and funding section details exactly how much money you will need to start your business and what financial resources you already have to invest in the business.
  • The financial information is the most important part of your business plan and should be reviewed by an accountant or financial planner. Include your personal financial information, any existing businesses you have, a list of debts, projected income for 5 years, and certification that your information was reviewed by a 3rd party financial adviser.

Step 4 Find the investment capital to open a car wash.

  • A bank loan requires a loan-to-value ratio of 75%. You will need to come up with 25% of the fair market value and the bank will fund the other 75%. It will be harder for you to secure bank financing if you have never owned a business before.
  • An SBA loan will either be a 7a or a 504. If you get a 7a loan, the SBA will partner with a local investor. Your actual loan will be financed by the local lender. A 504 loan is actually financed by the SBA and has job creation criteria.
  • The start-up costs for a car wash range from $100,000 - $400,000.

Step 5 Choose the location for your car wash business.

  • Your sign is visible to drivers for at least 40 seconds. Ideally, traffic should travel past at no more than 40 miles per hour (64 km/hr) so drivers have time to see your signage and make that split-second decision to have their cars washed.
  • Choose a venue large enough to accommodate the bays, pump rooms, vacuum and drying areas, and the office.
  • Check your city's zoning regulations to be sure you are allowed to open a car wash at your chosen location. If you need a special permit, obtain it before you buy or lease your venue.
  • It is helpful to work with a real estate agent, city planner, lawyer, and/or an accountant to get the best deal on a location.

Opening Your Car Wash

Step 1 Get the necessary permits and licenses.

  • Ask your state business office about the insurance requirements for your car wash business.
  • Once you get all of the necessary permits and licenses, keep track of your renewal dates and make a copy for your business records. You will also need to display your license in your car wash so that customers can see it.

Step 2 Buy equipment.

  • The International Carwash Association has a supplier guide to help you find reputable manufacturers.
  • Look in trade magazines like Auto Laundry News and Modern Car Care to buy your chemicals. It is best to buy from big manufacturers. [7] X Research source
  • Make sure the distributor of your equipment is available to service your equipment when needed. Find out how they handle equipment servicing before you buy from them.

Step 3 Market your business.

  • Social media is an important aspect of marketing these days. Set up a website and establish a presence on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure any of the paper items that you have include links to your website and social media accounts.
  • Use your website to share information about taking care of your car and other relevant tips.
  • Schedule a visit to your local radio station to discuss your new business.
  • Consider starting a loyalty program. This will encourage repeat customers instead of people who use the coupon one time and never return.

Step 4 Hire employees.

  • Invite friends, neighboring businesses, your supplies, and the media
  • Give away free car washes and promotional items.

Running A Profitable Business

Step 1 Add services.

  • Do I have enough space or will I need additional space?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What will be the return on my investment?
  • Will people buy this service?

Step 2 Offer express detailing services.

  • It is important that you complete the detailing portion of your services is completed quickly. The speed and low cost of the service make it attractive to your customers.
  • Make sure that you advertise your detailing services to your customers.
  • Check the prices of similar services at a free-standing detail shop to help you determine your prices. Also, check the prices of other car washes in your area that offer these services so that you can be competitive.

Step 3 Use text messages to contact customers.

  • Choose a keyword (e.g. water, wash, clean) and advertise by saying, "Text water to 12345 to get special discounts, specials, or coupons." You could also say "Text 12345 to get $3 off your next car wash."
  • It only costs one or two pennies to send a text message.
  • Text your customers once a month with a special.

Step 4 Offer monthly or unlimited passes.

  • Consider pricing your passes to cost 2 or 3 times the price of a single wash. If you find that customers are not interested, you may need to adjust your price.
  • You can offer different price points based on the type of car washes you offer. For example, a monthly pass for basic car washes would be less expensive than a monthly pass for premium car washes.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Plan regular specials during off-peak hours to keep customers coming back. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Many of your customers will be local, so be sure to focus your marketing campaigns on your immediate area. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Be kind to others. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Angel Ricardo

To open a car wash business, start by applying for a loan from the Small Business Administration or a bank so you have the $100,000-$400,000 usually required to set up a new car wash. Next, apply for all the permits and licenses you need in your state to start a business. Then, choose a location for your car wash, bearing in mind that it should be easily visible from the road, and in an area with a high level of traffic. Additionally, you'll need to purchase car wash equipment and chemicals, including pressure washers, vacuums, waxes and soaps. For tips on how to write a business plan and how to run a profitable business, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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business plan for car wash

Creating the Ultimate Car Wash Business Plan

business plan for car wash

A business plan seems like a small step in starting car wash businesses , but it is actually a very important one, and it shouldn't be overlooked.

A business plan is essentially a roadmap for your business that will help you stay on track and achieve your goals. Without a strong business structure, it will be very difficult to make your car wash business successful.

But building a car wash business plan can be daunting, and that is why we're here to get you started on the right foot! This article does not offer an exhaustive list of everything you may need to include on your car wash business plan, but will discuss many very important aspects to include so your car wash business can launch well.

The Car Wash Industry is Competitive but Highly Rewarding

The car wash industry is a rapidly growing industry that can prove to be very rewarding to be part of. It is also a competitive one that can be devastating and stressful if you are not well prepared. That is exactly why you will want to create a thorough car wash business plan prior to diving in head first. This document will serve as your guide to success and help keep you on track when challenges inevitably arise in your car wash service.

Sports car

What is a car wash business plan?

A car wash business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operational plans of your car wash business.

It should provide a detailed overview of your business, including information on your target market, pricing strategy, marketing plans, and operational procedures. The goal of your business plan is to help you achieve your desired results by clearly understanding your starting point, and outlining the steps you need to take to get to your business objectives.

Creating a car wash business plan can seem like a overwhelming task, but it will prove to be worth the effort once you get your business running.

Why write a business plan for a car wash?

We understand that some may be eager to get their business up and running as quickly as possible, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to have a plan in place.

Establishing a strong business plan will help you avoid common pitfalls, make better decisions, and set your business up for long-term success.

A well-crafted business plan will also give you a much better chance of securing funding from investors or lenders , as they will be able to see that you have put thought into your venture, and understand the car wash industry.

What does a business plan look like for a car wash?

A car wash business plan can be designed many different ways, but as a general baseline, you can think of it covering two major areas: the financial side and non-financial side.  

The financial side will include many things such as your financial goals (short-term and long-term), sales forecast, balance sheet, and budget and cash flow plan.

The non-financial side will encompass everything else that makes up your business plan including your company overview, target market analysis, marketing strategy, and operational procedures.

While there is no one right way to format your business plan, we recommend using a structure that is easy to follow and understand.

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Market Research... a very good place to start.

An important part of opening a car wash business is to know the existing businesses around you, specifically other car washes. You need to know what they're offering, at what prices, who they're serving, etc.

The only way you will be able narrow down these factors is by investigating how other car washes operate. So be sure to do thorough research on your competitors and use that information wisely.

Great things to look for is whether there is a gap in the market that you could fill, and differentiate yourself with (but ensure there are also customers seeking that gap). Customers may be seeking a car washes with a pet wash or vacuums available, but likely not live music, for instance.

You may find that there are many self service car washes in one area, which may say that the people who live around there might want to spend less money on a car wash, or have more time to dedicate to washing their vehicle.   It may also mean that there may be an opportunity for a different type of car wash business, such as a tunnel or in-bay automatic.

Or perhaps there is one huge full service car wash that dominates the market as they are able to provide the whole package of interior and exterior cleaning and their consumers enjoy that luxury. Full service car washes are much more expensive to launch and operate considering the building size, employees, and equipment needed to run it, but they will charge much more than other options for their work.

Likely some clients are seeking a more affordable alternative car wash in that area, that still provides an exceptional clean. How could you as a potentially smaller car wash operation offer that, and communicate it to your consumers?

By discovering what working (or not) in your area, you can judiciously build your car wash business for success, finding your own foothold in the market.

Business Plan Overview: What to Include

When writing up your car wash business plan, you will want to format it in an easy to read way that outside people can understand. Below are some sections you may want to include.

Company Overview

This is a simple description of your business that could include:

  • The type of car wash business you would like to start
  • Its proposed location
  • What you will offer your customers
  • Target Audience
  • The mission and values of your business
  • How it fits in context of your market and competitors

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a brief overview of your business plan, and is similar to a business overview above.

It could include short summaries of:

  • The main points of your market research
  • Marketing strategy
  • Operational procedures
  • Financial forecast
  • Main business Objectives

It can be helpful to write this section last, as it will be briefly addressing the content in the following sections.

Business Description

In this section, you will want to describe your business in more detail.

This can include:

  • The history of your business (are you a franchisee, opening a new location, or starting this venture from the beginning?)
  • Who is involved
  • What products or services you offer, and related operations
  • Short-term and long-term goals

Car wash pricing menu

Sales Strategy

This section should include a detailed description of how you plan to generate sales to have a profitable business and numerous customers.

This could include:

  • Your pricing strategy
  • Target market
  • Client pain points
  • How your services address them
  • Competitive edges of your services, vs the competition
  • Promotional activities such as providing any car wash discounts.
  • Loyalty programs, or methods to retain repeat customers
  • Supporting solutions, like Mosaic (a cloud-based platform, which you can market directly to customers' phones, where they can buy washes, start the car wash, and earn/redeem free washes for the future)

Marketing Strategy

Greatly related to generating sales, above, your marketing plan will be a guide on how you plan to generate awareness and attract car owners to get their car washed at your business.

You'll need to decide and describe:

  • Where your target market spends time, and their demographic
  • What methods you'll use to reach your target customers
  • What messaging you'll use to attract customers
  • How you will encourage customer loyalty
  • Brand your business
  • Promote your USPs (unique selling propositions) for your car wash business
  • You'll also need to create a budget for your marketing efforts

There are many ways to stand out within the market such as harnessing a great brand and signage at your site ( which is a benefit of using Turtle Wax Pro chemistry ), using social media, local radio stations, or a local newspaper. We have discussed some of these marketing campaigns or strategies in past articles.

Shiny cars lined up

Competitor Analysis

Harness the market research you used before in a competitor analysis to provide further clarity of the competition surrounding your car wash.

You can summarize your market research, or you may wish to conduct a SWOT Analysis looking at main competitors':

  • Opportunities

This process can help solve for your own unique selling features and how you can stand apart and gain and retain customers, while also being aware of successful practices that other car washes are using.

Financial Plan

This is your expected financial performance, and will not be exact but will help in the framework of your business structure. Financials can get complicated but we'll keep it simple in this explanation, and if starting a new business, these numbers may be projected.

These are components you should consider for a successful financial plan:

  • Financial Goals (could be short- and long-term)
  • Projected Profit and Loss Statement
  • Sales Revenues Forecast
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Anticipated Startup Costs (below)

Initial Financials

This part details your current financial status of your business; it'll show a bank or investor what you currently have to open a new car wash, and what you will need as bank financing. Include anticipated initial spending for equipment, marketing, staffing, etc. to get the doors open at your car wash business. Think of this like your start-up cost, which is what you have to get your car wash up and running.

Operational Plan

In this section of your business plan, you will want to describe how your business will operate on a day-to-day basis. This is the backbone of your car wash, and although these aspects can naturally evolve and change, it will be important to have a thorough plan in place for a successful launch for your car wash business.  

This can include a description and activities of your:

  • Equipment and Chemistry (more on this below)

Car wash equipment

Equipment Plan

Of course, you will need the right equipment to open a car wash. Whether taking over an existing car wash, or building from the ground up, you'll want to be sure that you have high-quality equipment that gives exceptional performance.

Equipment will also differ for the situation and type of wash. For example, self service equipment will be different than equipment for an in-bay automatic car wash.

Researching and knowing your equipment needs in advance, including installs, any repairs, maintenance or upgrades you will have to make, can save a new car wash business a lot of headaches down the road, as you avoid unnecessary service interruptions, and can get more cars washed for your target customers.  

With this industry, whether a self service car wash, or automatic car washes, there's a lot of equipment that needs to be continually operational. From vacuum cleaners, a pressure washer, your conveyor system, or even office equipment, you'll want to make sure that your equipment is properly maintained and serviced on a regular basis, and certainly ready to go at your business' launch!

Chemical Plan

A pivotal factor in running a car wash service is having the right chemicals. There are many different types of chemicals on the market and car wash owners will want to be sure to pick the right chemicals and chemical representative to support your business. We obviously consider Turtle Wax Pro to be the best chemistry available , helping car washes provide exceptionally high quality service and results with each customer's vehicle.

While picking the exact chemicals at this stage could be a little early, its a good idea to get acquainted with some market research on the different brands available in car washing.

It also is a great idea to seek out a reputable chemistry rep or distributor to aid you in finding the perfect chemistry for your needs: a solid representative can truly help your car wash be set up for success, and shine! They will conduct tests like cost-per-car analysis, chemical comparisons, and ensure your site is optimized for premium results.

Staffing Plan

You'll need to decide how many employees you will need to properly run your car wash business.

What roles will you need filled, and what qualifications and wage will pair with those roles. You'll also want to consider the type of training you will need to provide for your staff to operate your car wash facilities and provide exceptional customer service. (As an added benefit, Turtle Wax Pro customers get access to an exclusive free training tool called TWPLearn which can help them train new and old staff alike in many industry skills!)

Becoming car wash owners may be a big leap, but a car wash business plan can get businesses started on the right foot, and also help in getting bank loans and other support for local businesses, as a financial institution can see you've done your homework discovering business basics like: a solid business location, discovering potential customers, planning an effective sales strategy, conducting necessary market research and developing excellent marketing campaigns, recognizing anticipated start up costs, anticipating staffing and equipment needs, and generally educating yourself in the car washing industry! It's a good deal of work, but has numerous rewards for the business owner of a budding car wash!

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Opening a car wash business? Contact Turtle Wax Pro

Turtle Wax Pro is a leader in chemical manufacturing, and with over 75 years in the car care industry, we believe we have the best car wash chemistry on the market.

But more than that, we have decades of experience supporting car wash operators and businesses in all aspects of their business! We've been through the wash, so to speak!

We know that strong business relationships are vital within the car wash industry and strive to build them with all of our clients and partners. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your car wash business or business plans, and if Turtle Wax Pro chemistry and marketing solutions are right for you, you can reach out to us at any time.

Related Blog Posts

business plan for car wash

Here at Turtle Wax Pro, we understand the difficulty in succeeding within the car wash industry, and especially in trying to stand out in the market.

The car wash space has many substitutes available to consumers, ranging from self serve to full automated washes. This creates the need for your wash to stand out in the eye of consumers.

Advertising can be a great way to increase business as your potential audience can be attracted and enticed towards your car wash over another!

By targeting consumers with specific and different forms of ads, businesses can attract new customers and grow their business in ways they could not done before.

Advertisements are not only for gaining new customers, they can be essential for building general brand awareness and improving loyalty for your existing users.

In this article, we'll be walking you through why advertising is important, how you can use advertising to strengthen your business, and how you can start creating impactful advertisements.

The Car Wash market is a multi-billion dollar industry.

There are over 25,000 car washes in the United States alone. The industry employs over 150,000 people and generates over $9 billion in annual revenue.

Even now, growth is still occurring at a rapid pace. In fact, the industry is expected to grow by 3% every year.

This growth is driven by the rise in vehicle ownership, increase in per capita income, and the need for car owners to maintain their vehicles.

With the right car wash advertising strategy, businesses can tap into this growing market and improve their bottom line.

business plan for car wash

The Car Wash Market

Despite the large size of the market, the car wash industry is very fragmented.

The top 50 companies account for less than 20% of the total market share. This leaves a large opportunity for small and medium sized businesses to increase their market share.

There are many different types of car washes, from self-service to full-service. There are also a variety of different services that you can offer, from express wash to detailing.

No matter what type of car wash you have, there are plenty of things you can do to increase business and market share.

The Car Wash Industry is a Tough Market

If you run a car wash, you know that competition is fierce.

Many car washes are going out of business because they can’t keep up with the competition and provide quality services at reasonable prices.

So how can you make sure that your car wash stays competitive?

Advertising is a way to help ensure that your wash stays competitive and has a consistent flow of customers.

Advertising allows your car wash business to attract new customers, customers from competing businesses and may even stop current customers from going elsewhere. .

Unfortunately, many local businesses are going out of business because they haven’t been able to keep up with the competition as there likely are many car wash options to choose from in any given area.

Standing out is difficult, but is a must to attract customers.

Quality services and reasonable prices are important for success in owning a car wash.

If you want your car wash to be successful, you need to offer quality services at reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, many car washes are going out of business because they can’t keep up with the competition and provide quality services at reasonable prices.

In a competitive market like the car wash market, there are many substitutions present. That means for customers to choose your wash, you must provide a great wash at a great price.

Advertising a Car Wash

The first step to increasing business is to make sure that customers are aware of your car wash. Advertising can be a great way to do this.

There are many different ways to advertise and utilizing a mix of methods is the best way to ensure results.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

First, businesses should consider what type of ad would be most effective for reaching their market.

The type of car wash will dictate exactly what type of ad to use. For example, a self service car wash may have a different marketing strategy than a full service car wash.

Second, businesses should make sure that their ads are creative and attention-grabbing.

Attractive visuals, key words, free services (or discounted) will all be attention grabbing to your audience.

Finally, businesses should track the results of their car wash advertising campaigns to ensure that they are effective.

Trial and error is sometimes the only way to succeed.

An important thing to remember when it comes to advertising car washes is that not all methods will work for every business. If you want more customers, it is important to experiment with different types of ads and see what works best for your company.

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Car Wash Marketing Ideas

There are a variety of different ways to advertise your car wash.

You can use print ads, radio spots, social media campaigns, and outdoor signage , just to name a few.

By using a variety of car wash marketing techniques , you can reach a wider audience and bring in more customers who will appreciate the convenience and quality of your car wash service.

One way to advertise your car wash is through print ads. You can place ads in newspapers, magazines, or even direct mailers. Make sure to include your car wash’s name, address, and phone number so customers can easily find you.

Distributing flyers in the local area is also a great way to promote your car wash.

You can also include a coupon or special offer in your print ad to entice new business to try out your services. For example, you could offer a discount for first-time customers or a free car wash with the purchase of a detailing package.

Radio Spots

Another way to reach customers is through radio spots. You can buy airtime on local radio stations and create ads that will play during drive time.

Like print ads, make sure to include your car wash’s name, address, and phone number in your radio spot so customers can easily find you. You can also include a sales promotion within it, to cause more listeners to act.

Social Media Campaigns

In today’s world, social media is a powerful marketing tool. You can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to reach customers. Other social media sites such as LinkedIn and TikTok could prove to be useful car wash marketing tools as well.

Social media accounts are crucial for car washes because they provide a way to connect with customers and promote deals or discounts.

When creating social media posts, be sure to use attractive visuals and persuasive copy. You want to grab people’s attention and make them want to learn more about your car wash.

Make sure to include a call-to-action in your posts, such as “Visit our website to learn more” or showcasing particular services that customers will love to have done to their vehicles.

Outdoor Signage

Another way to reach potential customers is through outdoor signage. You can place banners, signs, and flags around your car wash to grab people’s attention.

Make sure your signage is visible and legible from a distance. You want people to be able to see it and read it easily so they know what your business is and what services you offer.

You can also use outdoor signage to promote special services such as your for top of the line package.

Many companies (including Turtle Wax Pro) have outdoor signages that are very appealing to the eye and showcase a premium nature to them, which cause customers to try them out.

By using a variety of advertising techniques, you can reach a wider audience and bring in more customers to your car wash which will aid in succeeding even in the most competitive market.

What do you Write in a Car Wash Advertisement?

Here are a few ideas of what you can include in your car wash ad:

  • Your business name
  • A tagline or slogan
  • Attractive visuals
  • Information about your location
  • Unique Aspects
  • What services you offer
  • Specials or promotions you are running
  • A call to action note that entices consumers

Having a variety of these ideas can help your ad stand out from your competitors and help drive sales.

How to Create a Tagline or Slogan for a Car Wash?

Your tagline or slogan should be easily recognizable, so customers can remember it and associate it with your brand.

It should be reflective of what your company does or what you want your company to be known for. Whether it be affordable rates or the best cleaning job in town.

Also, your tagline or slogan should be reflective of your company’s values. (ex: environmentally focused)

What makes your Business Different?

The aspects that make your car wash different than the one down the road should be included in your advertisements.

You may be a local business, the only one using a specific brand of products, touchless as opposed to using brushes, an established brand, or vastly more experienced.

Small businesses have the opportunity to focus on community service or being more personal with their customers. Thus, many consumers choose to support small businesses over other options.

These are all examples of characteristics that make your car wash business stand out and are potential reasons why customers will choose you over another.

Unique Advertising Ideas for your Car Wash Business

The car wash marketing strategies mentioned before are significant in bringing awareness to your wash. But you might already have the basics covered, or maybe you want to try something different to set your business apart.

If that’s the case, here are some unique advertising ideas for your car wash business:

Sponsor a Local Sports Team or Another Popular Local Attraction

One way to get your car wash’s name out there is by sponsoring a local school sports team or another popular attraction in your area.

This could be anything from Little League to the local school. By having your name on their jerseys or arena, you’ll be getting great exposure to both new customers and existing customers.

Have a Grand Opening Event or Anniversary Event

Another way to advertise your business is by hosting a grand opening event (for a new business) or anniversary event. This is an exciting way to get new customers in the door and try out your car wash for the first time.

At special events, you can offer special pricing, freebies, free food, or other activities to bring in larger crowds. You can also use special events like these as an opportunity to introduce any new services or products you might be offering.

Get Involved in the Community

One way to endear your business to your target audience is by getting involved in the community. This could be anything from sponsoring a charity event to hosting a food drive.

By giving back to the community, you’ll not only be helping others, but you’ll also be gaining some good publicity for your business. This is a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty among possible customers and your customer base.

Offer Free Washes

Not many people can turn down something free. By giving away a free wash for their first wash, you encourage customers to try out your service.

This way they can compare your car wash to the one they typically use, and if your service is of good quality, consumers will continue for paid washes.

Have a Rewards/Loyalty Program

A rewards program is a great way to encourage current customers to continue using your wash. By offering a discount coupon or freebies after a certain number of visits, you’ll be sure to see customers coming back.

Having a loyalty program is also a great way to upsell customers on other services or products you might offer.

You can promote your loyalty club on your business website, on social media, or through in-store signage. This is a great way to increase your number of returning customers and build customer loyalty.

Thinking outside the box can separate you from the rest of the competition, and get your car wash business out in a way no one else can.

business plan for car wash

Working with an experienced company like Transchem and Turtle Wax Pro

Implementing a strong marketing strategy to ultimately increase business for you car wash can be difficult.

Transchem and Turtle Wax Pro are not only car wash suppliers, we are companies dedicated in helping your business succeed.

We understand that just owning a car wash is only a small fraction behind operating a car wash, marketing it is a must.

We have decades of experience helping car washes of all types and sizes, and thus, can provide a superior level of guidance that can help your car wash business gain market share and increase customers.

It's obvious how important advertising is to suceeding in the car wash market. By utilizing some of the advertising ideas mentioned, you can increase brand awareness to your car wash and bring in more traffic.

Advertising is an incredible powerful tool that can skyrocket the success of your business. If you believe that your car wash business could improve it's advertising, don't hesitate to get in contact with us! We at Transchem and Turtle Wax Pro can provide some guidance on how to seperate yourself from the rest of the market.

business plan for car wash

Car wash chemistry is what drives our industry. It's what gets cars cleaned, dry, and beautifully shiny. And it cannot be talked about enough!

But, it can get a little confusing with all the different types of car wash chemicals, so we're here to talk you through the different options and what you should be looking out for when picking chemistry.

What are car wash chemicals

Commercial car wash chemicals are specially formulated cleaners that are designed to remove dirt and stains from a car's surface. This chemistry usually comes in concentrated form, and must be diluted with water before use. There are many different types of car wash chemistry on the market, each designed for a specific purpose. For example, there are degreasers that are designed to break down and remove grease and oil stains, as well as wheel & tire cleaners that are formulated to remove brake dust and grime from your wheels and tires.

Different Types of Car Wash Chemicals

There are many different types of commercial car wash chemicals available on the market, each designed for a specific purpose. This is not an exhaustive list as car wash chemicals can get pretty niche. But these are some of the most popular car wash chemistry and their uses:

Also known as traffic film removers (TFRs), presoaks are designed to loosen and remove heavy build-up on your car's surface.

Presoaks are usually applied at the start of the wash to allow them time to work before the main wash. Presoaks as used as the "heavy lifters" in the wash process and are typically high alkaline (pH 11-14) or low acid (pH 0-3).

Presoaks can differ in pH level and surfactant type, so be sure to ask your car wash chemical supplier which one is best for your needs.

As a general thought, high pH presoaks are better at removing organic materials (like road film, bugs, and sap) while low pH presoaks are better at removing inorganic materials (like brake dust and road salt).

Car Wash Soap, Shampoo, and Detergents

Soap, shampoo or detergent is designed to remove light dirt and dust.

These products are applied to vehicles and then rinsed off to clean off vehicles and get them ready for the next stage.

Soaps can differ in many ways but a popular option for both its cleaning effectiveness and visual prowess are triple foams. Triple foams are designed to create thick suds that both look good and help remove dirt from surfaces, in a layered (or triple) effect.

The best car wash detergent on the market (in our opinion) is from Turtle Wax Pro. We have a variety of detergents that are designed to work in any situation your wash may need.

Finishing Products

After your car has been washed and rinsed, you'll want to apply a finishing product to provide a protective barrier against UV rays and other damage on your car's paint and clear coat.

There are many different types of protection products available, from simple waxes to more complex sealants. We have existing blogs explaining the differences between carnauba wax , ceramic coatings , and sealants .

Another type of finishing product is drying agents .

Drying agents help to remove water from your car's surface by making the surface hydrophobic. This helps cars dry faster and hold onto less water. If you want to learn more about drying agents, check out our guide to drying agents.

Car wheel cleaning

Wheel & Tire Cleaners

As the name suggests, tire and wheel cleaners are designed to clean your wheels and tires.

After wheel cleaners have been applied, it should be rinsed off to avoid damage to your car's paint job.

Tire Dressings

Tire dressings or tire shine products are designed to give your tires a shiny, new look.

Tire dressings and tire cleaners are not essential to the wash process but are an extra step to ensure spectacular results and make your commercial car wash stand out from the rest.

Specialty Chemistry

Specialty chemistry can be chemicals with various desired effects. These products are used for specific instances and are not necessarily needed for every wash. But using specialty chemicals is a great way to set your wash apart from the rest in the car wash industry.

Some examples are:

  • Bug Removers
  • Manual Cleaners
  • Presoak Boosts
  • Rust Inhibitors

Detailing Products

Detailing products are slightly different chemistry used by detailing professionals to achieve specific results on a car's surface, usually through manual applications.

However, some of these products (like glass cleaners and bug removers ) can be used in the regular wash process as well.

Shiny car

Eco Friendly Chemical for Car Wash

There are many different types of commercial car wash chemicals on the market, each designed for a specific purpose. However, not all wash chemistry are created equal. Some of these cleaners can be quite harsh and damaging to your car's paint or even strip the finish off altogether!

One type of chemical that is becoming increasingly popular is eco-friendly or "green" cleaners.

Hyper Concentrates

Hyper concentrate® are products that are designed to be diluted with water when they are in use.

The advantage of hyper concentrates is that they are very economical and can last a long time.

With hyper concentrates, you pay for the actual chemical not a drum mostly made up of water. This means you'll save money on your chemistry, and save money on shipping as you'll need less product.

But the advantages don't stop there, you'll be able to wash more cars with your chemistry, making you do more with less.

If you want to learn more about hyper concentrates, we have a video explaining the process in detail here .

Are car wash chemicals safe?

As with any cleaning product, it is important to read the label and follow the instructions carefully.

Car wash chemicals are safe to be used for their intended purpose, but perhaps not for other uses. They may be toxic, corrosive, or even flammable.

Follow the instructions and directions indicated by the manufacturer. It is also vital to keep safety data sheets, or SDSs, on hand in case of an accident.

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Car Wash Chemistry Ingredients: What to Look Out For

The exact ingredients that make up commercial car wash chemicals differ for an infinite number of reasons.

But there are a few things you will want to prioritize and avoid.

We recommend looking for products that have ingredients that meet environmental regulations and all municipal, provincial/state and federal sewer-use by-laws.

Chemicals to Avoid

  • Ammonium Bifluoride (ABF)
  • Hydrofluoric acid (HF)

What kind of chemistry do Touchless car washes use?

Touchless car washes use chemicals, just like any other wash, but they are typically formulated to work independently without the help of brushes or cloths.

Friction helps products do their job and deal with tough grease and marks, but without that aid, the chemicals themselves must be able to perform by themselves.

If you're running a touchless wash, contact your suppliers to ensure your chemistry is ready to work in a touchless environment.

Chemistry is important, car wash equipment matters too!

The quality of your wash will also depend on the quality of your equipment. Old equipment may not be able to effectively operate and use high quality chemistry. It may even break down more often, causing more downtime for your business.

Subpar machinery may struggle in its important tasks: removing dirt, applying even coats of chemical and having an accurate water pressure.

We'd recommend updating your existing wash equipment if it is getting old, and be sure to purchase the right kind of equipment to match the chemistry you plan to use.

Turtle Wax Pro logo on arch

Chemistry Concerns? Ask Us - Turtle Wax Pro

We have over 75 years of car care, chemistry knowledge, and decades of supporting car wash businesses of all types. Turtle Wax Pro and our parent company, Transchem Group have seen it all.

The chemistry your wash uses must be unique to your situation, your location, your car wash and your desired finished product. An experienced supplier like Turtle Wax Pro, will ensure exceptional results with cutting edge chemistry, while being cost effective, to keep your business washing for years to come.

We also have numerous other product lines such as our full Line of AutoLux products, for more conservative pricing options or private labeling, to truly make your wash unique.

If you have any questions about car wash chemistry in general, or any specific supplier or chemical inquires, contact us anytime . We love to chat about anything in the car wash industry, and that includes chemistry!

business plan for car wash

An important factor for any type of car wash business is equipment. Whether it's big commercial machinery, a pressure washer, or even just drying towels, equipment is what helps us clean and dry cars.

But there is a lot of equipment on the market, most of which is not necessary for every car wash. However, as a car wash business owner, how can you decide on which equipment you need, or which you don't need.

That is exactly why we're here to walk you through car wash equipment, with the goal of leaving you more confident in deciding what equipment you should be purchasing for your car wash.

Clear Tech Reclaim System

Equipment For a Car Wash: What Every Wash Can Use

When you first think about car wash equipment, you may think of conveyor belts, huge dryers, and moving water pressures systems that automatic car washes use. While that is important, it does not stop there, there are other less flashy types of equipment that should be used in a car wash business.

Reverse Osmosis System or Water Softener

This type of system is used to remove impurities from water before it even enters the car wash. This ensures that your car wash equipment doesn't get gunked up with minerals and other particles that can cause damage. Water with lots of minerals, or hard water, can even interfere with the car wash process itself, leaving a poor result. We have a blog detailing all the effects about hard water. In order to get a spot free rinse a reverse osmosis system is required.

Water Reclaim System

A water reclaim system is used to recycle water from the car wash. This helps to cut down on water usage, as well as sewage fees, because less water is being sent down the drain.

These systems turn dirty, used water, into clean water that can be used again. ClearTech specializes in water recycling and you can check them out if you're interested.

Types of car wash equipment for an automatic wash

Some automatic car washes use brushes that will rotate and scrub off dirt, grime, and marks off of vehicles. These brushes are large, and vary in abrasive level. Automatic washes won't always use brushes, but it's a common method for those that do.

A conveyor carries the vehicle through the car wash. Not all automatic washes use a conveyor system.

If they do use one, it is typically for a tunnel car wash, where the vehicle is carried through a long tunnel. With each section being a different stage of the car wash that cleans all those painted surfaces, windows, and wheels of a car.

After a vehicle is washed, it needs to be dried off before the residual water evaporates and leaves water marks. Automatic car washes typically have very large and strong dryers that will quickly and efficiently dry off the vehicle.

High Pressure Water Systems

Automatic car washes have high pressure washers that do an excellent job at quickly and efficiently washing and rinsing vehicles.

These are especially important in touchless car washes , where no friction is used, and will need an precise amount of water pressure to leave a spot free rinse!

Wheel Cleaners

Some automatic car washes have wheel cleaners. These are special machines that will quickly and easily clean the wheels of a vehicle. Situated before the dryers, the wheel cleaner cleans off any residual water and brake dust that may be on the wheels.

Chemical applicators

Automatic car washes typically have chemical applicators that will apply presoaks, soaps, detergents, waxes, and other chemicals to the vehicle during the wash process. Often these applicators can be embedded within arches for additional show.

Types of Equipment for a Self Service Car Wash

Self serve systems.

Self serve washes need much less individual equipment to operate. These types of car washes commonly have an all-in-one system that is multi purpose and has all the features that customers need to wash their vehicles.

These systems can apply presoaks, triple foam detergents, wax, tire cleaner , drying agents and more. This way, you can save room and money, while keeping everything in one area for people to use in washing their cars. They typically have a spray gun or brush that customers use to apply the solutions themselves.

These help the job, like a tire scrubbing brush, or microfiber towels or microfiber cloths. These are pieces that can make the process quicker or easier, but typically aren't necessary to get the job done.

Types of Equipment for a Full Service Car Wash

All in one systems.

Since full service washes also wash cars by hand, it would make sense that they also use a similar type of car wash system as a self service car wash. The employees would use a system that can apply presoaks, soap, wax, and other chemicals to the vehicles, and clean them for customers.

These are small extras such as drying towels, microfiber cloths, and other related tools that help the employees clean and dry cars effectively.

Central Vacuum Systems

A central vacuum system is a very important piece of equipment for full service car washes. This is because it allows the employees to quickly and easily clean the inside of customer's vehicles without having to lug around a heavy and inconvenient vacuum cleaner. Central vacuum systems may be available at automatic and self serve washes but since those business' are catered towards cleaning only the exterior of vehicles, it is more of a priority for full service car washes.

Back of a Truck

Types of Equipment for a Truck Wash

Since trucks are so large in size and sometimes have a challenging shape to clean, there are specially designed equipment to tackle their wash.

These systems are usually sold together in two varieties:

Drive Through Truck Wash

Almost like an in bay automatic wash, but with a twist of tunnel washes, trucks drive through a wash bay where stages of equipment will clean the truck as it drives through.

Roll Over Truck Wash

In this system, trucks go into a wash bay and stop while equipment goes around the truck and washes it. The advantage of this type is that it can clean more effectively for trucks with unique shapes.

How to choose the right car wash equipment for your business

When starting a car wash business, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the right car wash equipment.

There are many factors to consider, including the type of vehicle you will be washing, the climate in your area, and your budget. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters, you will need equipment that can withstand freezing temperatures.

Alternatively, if you plan to wash high-end vehicles, you will need equipment that can provide a gentle clean.

Once you have considered all of these factors, you can begin to narrow down your options and choose the car wash equipment that is right for your business. With the right equipment, you will be able to provide an excellent wash for your customers and build a successful car wash business.


Maintenance and cleaning tips for car wash equipment

As anyone who has ever operated a car wash knows, keeping the equipment clean and well-maintained is essential for proper functioning. Not only does this help to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, but it can also extend the life of the equipment and prevent costly repairs.

Here are some tips for keeping your car wash equipment in top condition:

  • Inspect the equipment regularly for any signs of wear or damage.
  • Make sure all moving parts are properly lubricated.
  • Keep the exterior of the equipment clean and free of debris.
  • Periodically check hoses and other plumbing components for leaks.

By following these simple maintenance tips, whether you have one location or many. you can keep your car wash equipment running smoothly for years to come.

How much should you pay for car wash equipment?

The exact amount you pay for your car wash equipment will dependent on any number amount of factors. But whether you buy the cheapest equipment you can find, or the most state of the art, can impact your car wash business in many ways.

Car wash equipment is expensive and you will need to account for it when deciding to buy or replace your business' equipment. But buying the cheapest equipment on the market can leave you with lackluster results, on top of potentially breaking down sooner.

On the other hand, buying the latest and greatest thing can leave your business in a such a large financial hole, you may not be able to allocate the funds necessary for all the other aspects of your car wash business, such as staffing, training, chemical selection, or marketing.

Be sure to do your research on the specific pieces of equipment you are looking at. We highly recommend Washworld Inc.'s equipment as they are some of the best pieces you can buy but still for a realistic price. You can view their featured products.

business plan for car wash

Still unsure of your equipment choices? Contact Us - Turtle Wax Pro

The world of car wash equipment is vast, and it's tough to confidently know where to turn on your own. That is why you should rely on your car wash supplier for advice, at the end of the day, the equipment has to synergize well with your chemical selection.

Turtle Wax Pro is one of the industry leaders in car care, and have been for over 75 years. We know car wash chemicals and how to best position them for success, and that includes what equipment you should use. You can count on us to help guide you through that process.

business plan for car wash

Running a car wash business can be lucrative, but it's important to find the right car wash supplier in order to make your business successful.

There are many different suppliers out there, so it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you.

Turtle Wax Pro is a great option to help supply your car wash. We offer the highest quality chemistry on the market, have decades of experience of helping wash businesses succeed , and have strong healthy relationships with our customers .

These are all key factors to look for when searching for a supplier and we believe that Turtle Wax Pro and Transchem Group can be the best supplier for you.

If you're in the car wash business, then you know that finding the right supplier is essential. Let's go over some key considerations to look for when choosing a supplier.

To Succeed in the Car Wash Business, You Have to be Unique

The car wash industry is a competitive one, so it's important to find a car wash supplier that can give you an edge over your competition. One way to do this is by choosing a supplier that offers unique products or services.

Car washes with no unique selling proposition are very common. You must find things that separate you from other washes if you want to succeed. The right supplier can offer you competitive prices, quality supplies, equipment, support, advice, site signage, marketing help and more that can give you a leg up in business.

Here's What To Avoid In A Car Wash Supplier

  • Avoid suppliers that just need to make a sale and offer no support after your launch.
  • Be wary of a supplier who can't answer questions. This generally means they won't be helpful if any issues arise in the future.
  • Look out for suppliers without local or regional service teams. Depending on your customer volume you may get stuck in a long line waiting for service or repairs.
  • You should also be careful of suppliers who don't have a good reputation. If other car wash owners haven't heard of them or have had bad experiences, it's best to avoid doing business with them.

Looking for a Reputable Supplier

It's also important to choose a supplier that is reputable, has a long track record of industry wins and wants to be a true partner. Businesses succeed when they have long-term relationships with their suppliers. A reputable supplier will be able to more effectively provide you with the resources and support you need to grow your business.

Watch Testimonials

You can learn a lot about a supplier by reading online reviews, case studies and testimonials from other car wash business owners. Make sure to read both positive and negative reviews in order to get a well-rounded view of the supplier.

You should also take the time to speak with other wash owners who have used the supplier. They will be able to provide you with first-hand information about their customer experience.

"When I built our first car wash in 1991 I was looking for a chemical company that could provide knowledge, dependability, service, value and high quality safe products. The Turtle Wax Pro team and Transchem delivered and for over 30 years has been our chemical suppler of choice, they've never let us down. When it comes to a soap provider you can count on day in and day out I couldn't think of a better company than Turtle Wax Pro and Transchem." - Mike Black, Founder/Owner at Valet Car Washes 

Car being cleaned in a car wash

Consider the Chemistry

The chemicals dictate the final wash product you can offer your customers. The goal of achieving the perfect wash can only be met with high quality chemistry that all works together.

When choosing a car wash supplier, you should consider the quality of the products that they offer. The last thing you want is your customers' cars to be damaged by poor car wash chemicals.

Which Type of Products Does Your Wash Want to Offer?

Every car wash has staple products like presoaks and detergents but car washes can really differentiate themselves by offering unique items like fragrances, ceramics, and tire dressings.

Think about which products in particular you want to offer your customer, that decision may direct you to a particular company that carries specific supplies.

There are so many products to choose from, we recommend getting in contact with a couple of car wash chemical manufacturers before deciding on any products.

Less Is More!

Some companies can have hundreds of SKUs but you'll need to narrow your decision down to between 5 and 15 core chemicals for your wash.

The Turtle Wax Pro lineup offers more than 40 highly diverse chemicals alongside other individual chemical solutions.

This allows us to stay competitive with other industry prices, stock more product, ship faster, provide more in-depth service and streamline our operation to help you clean more cars.

Car and car wash equipment

Consider the Car Wash Equipment

The car wash industry is always changing and car wash equipment is becoming more advanced. You'll want to make sure that the supplier you choose offers the latest and greatest in car wash equipment.

This could include pressure washers, car wash pumps or central vacuum systems for detailing services. This will ensure that your customers are getting the best possible car wash experience.

Having to buy new equipment is expensive and time consuming so it's important to get it right the first time.

Maintenance Matters

Maintenance solutions are also important to consider when choosing a supplier. Make sure your supplier has a good relationship with one or more local distributors in your area to service and repair your equipment on a regular basis.

Consider the Extras

It's also important to find a supplier who offers training on how to use the car wash equipment. This will ensure that your team is able to properly operate the car wash equipment and provide a great experience for your customers.

Turtle Wax Pro offers in-depth training on chemistry, installation, service, business operations and more to our partners (the distributors and operators we work with). This should create reliability for you and your employees when it comes to any problems that could arise.

What about...

Perhaps you want to own a truck wash as well? A truck wash will need different equipment than a standard car wash. How easy is it to receive repair parts? How detailed are the product manuals? How quick is installation?

These are all factors you will want to consider when evaluating the right supplier. It can be challenging to know what is the right equipment and we recommend contacting a supplier (like Turtle Wax Pro) before you decide on anything.

Consider your Customer

Last but not least, you should consider your ideal customer experience when choosing a supplier. What type of experience do you want to offer your customers?

Do you want to offer a luxury wash experience or a more basic wash experience? This will help you determine which car wash supplies, equipment and add-ons you'll need to purchase.

What Does a Premium Industry Supplier Offer Their Car Washes?

  • A wide range of chemistry, services, systems and car wash equipment.
  • Advice on how to best position your wash for success. This involves marketing, best use of the products, and a full dedicated hands-on training session with ongoing learning material.
  • Help you find ways on how to reduce costs and optimize your car wash to save time and produce more sales for your site.
  • Lastly, the relationship they maintain with their partners. A top supplier will offer car washes technical support, answer any questions they have, and keep an open dialogue to continuously improve the products and services they offer.

All of these aspects are what separates the industry leaders from the rest.

Classic car leaving a Fire&Ice Arch

Choosing Turtle Wax Pro as Your Supplier

Turtle Wax Pro is one of the most trusted car care brands in the world with expertise to drive more sales and gain market share around the world.

We strive to be the best supplier possible to all of our partners, operators and distributors. We do this by offering the best chemistry on the market, high quality car wash equipment, and knowledge from our dedicated sales and service teams.

We Know It's Hard

Picking the right supplier can be a tough process but will prove to be very rewarding if done correctly. We hope that we cleared up some questions you had and have given you a bit of direction on how to choose a high quality partner.

If you have any questions about your car wash regarding anything from products to strategy, don't hesitate to contact us . We would be happy to discuss how you can find even more success within the car wash industry.

Do you need a Car wash chemical supplier?

business plan for car wash

  • Business Plans Handbook
  • Business Plans - Volume 01
  • Car Wash Business Plan

Car Wash 220



11535 Cornish Blvd. Detroit, MI 46778

March 15, 1993

The Dirt Buster was designed by entrepreneurs wishing to provide a high quality car wash service in a virtually untapped market. Because new construction is necessary, a large amount of initial capital is required for this venture .


Market/marketing, background and purpose, market analysis, financial data, organization and management, miscellaneous issues, critical risks and problems: description, summary of unique features and benefits, overall strategic direction, available materials, description of business, nature of service.

The Dirt Buster is to be a full-service car wash facility comprised of the following features: a one hundred-twenty foot, fully automatic tunnel; four high pressure wand self-service bays; and six vacuum stations complete with fragrance and carpet shampoo dispensing machines. In an effort to optimize our position as premium car care specialists, we will offer our customers the opportunity to purchase quality car care products in our reception area. The full service operation will offer three basic wash packages: a $7.50 Basic wash, a $9.50 Deluxe wash and a $12.50 Super wash.

All full-service wash packages will include an interior cleaning service, which consists of carpet vacuuming, window and dash cleaning, and a preservation treatment. Our coin-operated, self-service bays will cost $1.50 per 4.5 minute cycle. Additionally, all customers will have access to vacuum islands which will cost $.50 per 4.5 minute cycle. Fragrance and shampoo dispensing machines will also be offered, and will range in price from $1.00 to $2.50 per cycle.

Unique Features of Service

The property on which The Dirt Buster is to be located was the site of a car wash approximately ten years ago. For reasons external to the business itself, the owners decided to terminate operations. The existing tunnel structure is ideally suited to house our tunnel operation. The original tunnel's one hundred-twenty foot length, versus today's standard ninety foot tunnel length, provides a significant service advantage over other car washes in the area. Very simply, the longer the tunnel, the more wash and drip space is available and the better an automobile is cleaned and dried during each cycle. Unfortunately, most car wash operators know it is possible to provide reasonably good service utilizing just ninety feet of tunnel space. This reduces the initial construction costs by approximately 25 percent (based on a tunnel structure of 90' × 25' versus 120' × 25' at construction costs of $100/sq.ft.). The bottom line is that most car wash operators sacrifice service to minimize costs. The Dirt Buster's unique position of not having to sacrifice service to lower costs will allow us to provide superior service at a competitive price.

Our market area is characterized by wide ethnic and economic diversity. To capitalize on these demographic factors and concentrate on the unique demands each group asks of the market, our facility will incorporate both a full-service tunnel operation (for those who wish to allow our service team to clean their car) and a self-service facility (for those who wish to take a more active role in their car's maintenance). This type of car wash operation will be one of only three such facilities in the area. Additionally, we plan to provide an automatic dryer for each self-service bay, which will increase customer satisfaction by eliminating the need to hand dry an automobile after washing. Automatic dryers are a new and effective market innovation which currently exist in only one other car wash operation in our region.

After in-depth analysis of our specific market area, national statistics on the car wash industry, and detailed evaluation of nine car wash operations in the area, we expect to generate sales revenues of $667,508 in the first year of operation. We believe our initial customer base will substantially increase as the community becomes aware of our existence, our reputation for excellent service, and our active involvement in community affairs. We then expect our growth to mirror the community's projected market growth, which is approximately 3.5 percent to 5 percent per year. Because there are no other car wash operations within a four mile radius of our site location, we feel confident our predicted growth will, ataminimum, follow industry trends. Therefore, we expect to have a 100 percent market share of our target market for at least the short term.

Strategic Direction

Stage of business.

A start-up business designed to fill a service void which was created ten years ago after the last full-service tunnel wash facility in this market area terminated its operations. Again, the last full-service tunnel terminated its operations for reasons external to the business itself.

Long Range Direction

We are dedicated to establishing and maintaining the finest car wash operation in the area, specifically known for the quality of service provided and the management's commitment to the betterment of the community.

Market Segment Sought

We are extremely fortunate our service is not limited to a specific segment or group of the market. In fact, The Dirt Buster's sole limiting factor is the small segment of its specific market which is without an automobile. In our market area alone, there are approximately 400,000 automobiles, or .8 automobiles per person.

Benefits of Service to the Market Segment

We will provide the only full service facility within ourmarket area. Additionally, our water reclamation system will provide an environmentally safe means for our customers to clean their automobiles. This differs from residential car washing, where untreated wash water fills storm drains and ultimately empties into our waterways.

Summary of Advertising and Pricing Policies

Our Basic, full-service tunnel wash will cost $7.50. It will entail a full exterior vehicle wash, as well as an interior service to include vacuuming, window cleaning, and dashboard cleaning. Our Deluxe Wash will cost $9.50 and will include all the Basic Wash services as well as an undercarriage wash, a rust inhibitor, and a wheel brightener. The Super Wash will cost $12.50 and will include all Deluxe Wash services as well as a polishing wax and a wax sealant.

We have investigated all available advertising mediums. After in-depth consultations with amyriad of car wash operators in the area, we have decided to utilize the advantages of a variety of mediums. Initially, we will utilize cable television and radio spots, in conjunction with newspaper advertisements, to announce our Grand Opening. We will also use direct mail coupons to increase consumer awareness of our existence. Additionally, we will work cross promotions with businesses in the area as a means to tap the client base they have established. Already, several existing businesses have expressed a desire to do so.

Sales Projections

We expect to wash 63,700 cars in the full-service operation and 29,440 cars in the self-service operation during The Dirt Buster's first year of business.


The principal owners will be the full-time managers. Both individuals have served in the United States Army as commissioned officers since graduation from college 12 and 10 years ago, respectively. They have vast experience in the management of finances, personnel, and equipment. While in the Army, both individuals successfully completed two years of company command, which closely parallels the running of a small business; it requires the managing of all associated personnel, budgetary, and operational situations. In addition, one manager is currently working as the assistant manager for a local car wash. This experience has provided invaluable insight into the operational aspects of managing and maintaining a car wash.


One manager will focus on daily operations, including employee hiring, building maintenance, property maintenance, and equipment maintenance. The other manager will focus on marketing, advertising, and community relations, as well as all fiscal matters, including employee pay and benefits, taxes, payables, and receivables. Other members of the management team will provide support to the owners with regard to their specific areas of expertise.

Financial Features

Car Wash: The Dirt Buster

Capital Needed

The capital needed to underwrite this proposal will be utilized to renovate the existing tunnel structure, construct four self service bays and one equipment room, and institute site improvements, including landscaping, asphalt repair, night light installation, and installing signs. Additionally, the capital would be used to purchase both full-service and self-service equipment, a water reclamation system, administrative equipment and supplies, the chemical inventory, and to provide operating capital to maintain the operation through its first four months.

Financial Arrangements/Exit

Expected annual return for investor.

Given an investment of $683,000, an investor could expect a total return of 20%. This is calculated by dividing net profit by total investment, where net profit does not make a provision for taxes, and includes expense depreciation.

Number of Investors/Minimum Investment

One investor is preferable. However, we have made a conscience decision not to limit the number of investors that may invest in order to retain financial flexibility. Ideally, we would prefer that no investment be less than $50,000, which would purchase a 4 percent equity position. It is our desire that all equity partners be limited partners.

How Investors will Get their Money

Each investor who purchases an equity position will receive their equity share of the net profit at the close of each business year. It is our intention to repurchase all equity stock within seven years, offering a balloon payment.

Car Wash: The Dirt Buster

Our objective is to obtain the financing necessary to bring our concept to fruition. The aforementioned financing package merely outlines one possible financing option. We understand there are a myriad of ways to structure financing, and we welcome the opportunity to explore additional alternatives.

The Dirt Buster concept was born from the frustration we experienced when trying to find a car wash in the vicinity of our homes. Our frustration lead us to investigate the possibility of building a car wash facility. Twenty months of exhaustive research revealed three facts that propelled us forward in our pursuit to build a car wash. First, there is an enormous demand for a car wash in the area. Second, there are no car wash competitors in the area. Third, we were able to negotiate a lease for property ideally suited for a car wash; the traffic count, a key element in predicting a car wash's success, is twice the national average.

Current Conditions

Description of products/services.

The Dirt Buster is designed to be a complete car care facility. The operation is comprised of two complementary systems: a full-service system for those customers who wish to allow our service team to clean their car and a self-service facility for those who wish to take a more active role in their car's maintenance. Both systems will be outfitted with the most technologically advanced equipment available, thereby providing our customers with the best service possible. The Dirt Buster's unique operational concept of combining a full-service tunnel operation with a self-service operation provides our customers with service flexibility unmatched by any other car wash facility within a twenty mile radius. Additionally, within our market area, which is determined by the industry to be a 3.5 mile radius from our site location, we have absolutely no competition.

Unique Aspects of our Strategy

We plan to market our car wash utilizing four primary mediums: Discount coupon mailings to selected ZIP Codes, radio and cable television spots, and cross promotions with local area merchants which will allow us to tap into their firmly established customer bases. Additionally, we will approach apartment and condominium management offices, asking them to include promotional coupons in their monthly newsletters.

Overall Objectives

To develop a highly successful, profitable car wash business which provides our community with a much needed service.

Long-Range Goal

To clear The Dirt Buster of accrued debt and develop it into a $1,000,000 per year operation that is respected as a hallmark of successful customer service.

Specific Objectives


Our first year's objective is to realize a gross profit of $667,508 based upon an expected service volume of 113,748 vehicles. The full-service tunnel operation will account for 85 percent of revenue on 56 percent of the sales. The self-service operation will account for approximately 12 percent of the revenue on 26 percent of the sales. The vacuum operation will account for approximately 3 percent of the revenue on 18 percent of the sales.


Based on one year's revenue of $667,508 and one year's fixed, variable, and depreciation expenses of $504,364, we expect a net profit, before income taxes and interest payment, of $163,144. This computes to a 24 percent return on a $683,000 investment.

Market Standing

There are no car wash facilities within our target market area, which is defined as a 3.5 mile radius from the location. The closest car wash facility to our proposed location is 4.5 miles away. Therefore, we have no direct competition within our target market area.

Product/Service Quality

Providing our customers the very best possible service is our primary objective. We will achieve this by equipping our full- and self-service facilities with the finest equipment available, supporting our superior technological foundation with the region's best service to cost price package, and by insisting upon a highly trained and motivated service staff.

Management Development

Our objective is to cultivate our managers from within the organization. This practice is essential to ensuring that our business philosophy and management style remain consistent. Additionally, by adhering to this objective, we possess a means in which to reward employees who continually perform in an outstanding manner.

Social Responsibility

Our objective is to become an active and solid member of the business community in Hampton County. Additionally, we believe that we should provide an employment opportunity for members of our community.

Overall Market

Nationally, the car wash industry experienced a downturn in sales volume and an upturn in gross profit per car washed in 1990 and 1991. Specifically, between 1990 and 1991, sales volume declined 3.1 percent and gross profit per car increased by 7.9 percent. Thus, on the average, car washes experienced a small increase in gross profit. Industry experts blame the sluggish economy and unusual national weather patterns for the decrease in sales volume and predict volume will rebound to pre-1990 levels as the economy improves.

Specific Market

The location is the most important aspect in predicting a car wash's success. Ideally, a car wash should be situated on a thoroughfare which possesses a heavy volume of traffic, often referred to as "traffic count." The wash location should have readily accessible ingress and egress routes. The target market's population should be at least 30,000 people. A majority of the target market should reside in apartments, townhouses, and/or condominiums.

Our location is easily accessible from two major roads. The population within a three mile radius of our location is 206,909. According to the 1990 survey, our target market is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 3.5 percent per year. Industry studies state a car wash will capture .06 percent to 1.5 percent of the daily traffic which passes its location; thus, the higher the traffic count the better the business's chance of success. Industry studies also reveal the average car wash location's daily traffic count is 24,000 cars. According to the 1990 survey, the daily traffic count in front of the proposed location is 50,000. This translates to between 300 and 750 cars washed per day. It is projected the traffic count in front of the proposed location will grow at an approximate rate of 5 percent per year. This projection bodes exceptionally well for The Dirt Buster.

A recent demographic study predicts a slow, but steady, increase in our target area's population over the next 10 years. Additionally, this study predicts the number of cars registered in our target area will also show a slow, but steady, increase over the next ten years.


Our target market is the most densely populated area in the city and is comprised of a diverse mixture of ethnic and economic groups. This diverse economic and ethnic make-up supports our view that there is a strong demand in our market area for a complete car wash facility that possesses both full-service and self-service facilities. Industry surveys reveal that young people between the ages of 18-25 (11% of the target market), blue collar workers of all ages, and those with little disposable income will patronize a self-service facility. Individuals over 25 (72% of the target market), white collar workers, and those with disposal incomes will patronize full-service facilities.

Buying Habits of Customers

In talking with hundreds of people in our target area over the past eighteen months, we have determined there is an enormous need for a car wash facility in this area. Currently, there is not a car wash facility within a 4.5 mile radius of the proposed location, and our proposal has received enormous support from both civic and government groups in our target market.

Companies in Specific Target Market

There are no car wash facilities within our target market area, which is defined as a 3.5 mile radius from the location. The closest car wash facility is 4.5 miles away. However, there are a number of car wash facilities located in the suburbs, most of which we have made contact with during our investigation into the industry, but who are not competitors due to their distance from our site.

It is virtually impossible to ascertain the industry's sales in the Hampton County and Monroe County areas, as there is no regional association which binds the individual businesses together and maintains such figures. The only way to obtain an active car wash's figures is to ask individual owners. Because this business is a cash business, many operators would not share their revenue figures with us. However, we were fortunate enough to obtain the actual annual financial operating figures from four car wash operations. We were given these figures in confidence and asked not to repeat them. We did, however, use these figures as a gauge to measure the validity of the calculations presented in our pro-forma financial statements. We believe our revenue calculations are extremely conservative, and our expense calculations are as accurately portrayed as possible.

Competitive Factors

Assessment of leading competitors.

In our target market area we have no direct competition. There are cases where car wash owners have built their business in an area which put them into direct competition with another car wash operation. Business logic dictates that unnecessary competition benefits neither operation.

Current Business Focus

The Dirt Buster's focus in this service-dependent business is to provide the highest quality service, at the fairest price, to the largest percentage of the target market population as possible. This will foster a repeat customer base.

Annual Revenues

In a cash business, such as a car wash, it is difficult to obtain accurate annual revenue figures for the industry as a whole, and especially for individual operations. However, a number of the car wash owners in the city shared their general revenue figures with us and four car wash operations we studied in depth gave us detailed monthly and yearly revenue and expense break-outs.

Of the four car wash operations we studied extensively, three are just one-year old and the fourth is thirty-years-old. Two of the operations are exterior wash conveyor system washes, one is a self-service wash, and one of the operations is a full-service conveyor system wash. Additionally, one operation combines an exterior wash conveyor system with a five bay self-service facility. We point out these operational and facility configurations because different operation and configuration arrangements drastically affect revenues. For example, revenue produced by an exterior wash conveyor system will be substantially less than a full-service wash facility, given operations with similar traffic count and population figures. Similarly, car washes which combine conveyor wash operations with a self-service operation will, under normal circumstances, produce more revenue than either the full-service conveyor wash operation or the self-service wash facility by themselves. Therefore, the optimum configuration for revenue maximization is a facility which incorporates both a self-service wash facility and a full-service conveyor wash facility. This is The Dirt Buster's operational concept.

Each car wash facility we studied produced a profit, including the two newer facilities. The full-service facility's annual revenues total $432,000. The self-service facility's annual revenues total $121,000. The exterior wash facility with the self-service facility's annual revenues total $522,000 and the exterior wash facility, which is thirty-years-old and possesses the best demographic figures of the washes we studied, generates $687,486 in annual revenues.

Market Share

Two of the four operations studied possessed a 100 percent market share of their target markets. The other two share their markets equally. However, there is no doubt the close proximity, one mile, of the two washes has adversely affected their profit margins.

All four car wash operations are profitable. However, as could be expected, the oldest car wash enjoys the most lucrative profit picture as it no longer experiences debt retirement concerns. Equipment purchase, construction of building and land, and debt retirement, based upon the averages given, is expected to be approximately 20 percent of gross profit. Fixed and variable expenses, on the average, are approximately 60 percent of gross profit.

Other Factors

In careful examination of the car industry as a whole, the most important factor in an operation's profitability is location. Those that possess superior location produce sound financial pictures 99 percent of the time. Additionally, not enough can be said about a strong clientele base which, because of good service, continues coming back again and again. The chosen location of The Dirt Buster is indeed superior, and our excellent service will guarantee the development of a strong clientele base.

Advantage Over Competitors

To arrive at our price listing for each car wash package, we carefully examined fifteen car wash facilities in the state. We analyzed each facility's wash packages and then compared the price of the package to its service contents to make a qualitative determination on the quality of service provided versus the cost of the service. Unfortunately, what we discovered was that, in most cases, the service provided did not warrant the higher price charged to the customer. The customer was not receiving any significant increase in the service received. Therefore, we carefully constructed our wash packages to ensure that our customers received the best possible service for the price charged.


Our research repeatedly indicated that the wash's performance is directly proportional to the type and make of equipment used. Therefore, in keeping with our business objective of providing the highest quality service possible, we've decided to purchase the most technologically advanced conveyor and self-service equipment available. This technologically advanced equipment will provide us with a qualitative edge over all the car wash facilities within a 20 mile radius of our location.

Advantages of Competitors Over Us

We believe there are only two temporary advantages a competitor could have over The Dirt Buster.

Customer base We will need time to firmly establish a sturdy customer base.

Business experience We lack daily experience in the industry, which our competitors have garnered over time. However, we believe our work at two separate car wash facilities over the last seven months greatly reduces this initial experience advantage.

Description and Assessment of Potential Competitors

We do not believe it likely we will face any competition in the near future. Quite simply, there are only a few pieces of property available which are zoned for and large enough to support a car washing operation in our target market area. The few available are also extremely expensive. Additionally, the majority of the available property we examined during our location search are much too diminutive to host a conveyor system. Thus, any potential competition would be limited to a self-service-only facility which cannot generate sufficient income throughout the business year to render it a profitable venture.

Other Market Features

Impact of the following:

Economic Factors

While the sluggish economy of the last few years has had a slightly negative impact on the car wash industry as a whole, more than half of the car wash owners surveyed by the International Car Wash Association Survey in 1990 and 1991 experienced an increase in levels of profitability. While not completely recession proof, the industry has retained a very strong financial picture through difficult economic times created by the prevailing economic downturn, even managing to increase revenues by 10 percent in each of the last three years.

Governmental Influences

The governmental influence on our business is not extensive. One government mandated facility-design feature is the installation of a water reclamation system. This design feature is one that we would have added to the facility even if not mandated by the county. It greatly reduces our fresh water consumption, which in turn reduces our water bill. In the future, governmental efforts to purify the area's bodies of water may result in legislation eliminating the release of soap, oil, waxes and other contaminants into storm drains by people washing their cars at home. Obviously, legislation of this kind would only enhance our business position.

Social/Demographic Factors

These factors are critical when selecting a car wash location and determining the type of facility to build. Obviously, the larger the population base in the market area, the better the chance of the business succeeding. Industry surveys indicate that the average car wash operation shares a population base in its target market of 118,000 people with four other competitors. We are in the unique position of having a 100 percent market share of the 206,909 people who make up our target market. Research in the industry reveals specific types of car wash facilities appeal to different social groups. Eighteen to twenty-five year olds, regardless of ethnic group, blue collar workers, and minority groups tend to make the most use of self-service facilities. Twenty-six to sixty-five year olds, white collar workers, and mothers with children utilize conveyor facilities. Therefore, the makeup of a target area influences the design of the car wash facility. Our target area is a diverse mix of ethnic and social groups. We feel it is the most advantageous to build a facility which would cater to all groups in our target market. This is our rationale for developing an operation incorporating both a self-service facility and a conveyor facility.

Seasonal Fluctuations

Seasonal fluctuations, as defined by changes in the weather, directly impact a car wash's business volume. Contrary to logic, the winter months are the peak months for full-service volume, while the self-service volume remains constant throughout the year, with a slight decrease occurring in the November to February time frame. It is not uncommon for a car wash to generate enough sales volume from November through February to underwrite its expenses and debt load throughout the remainder of the year.

Marketing Philosophy

Our marketing philosophy is to present our company as an independent, service oriented small business, which is genuinely concerned with providing high-quality service at a reasonable price.

Marketing Strategy

Environmental opportunities.

An issue of great concern in the area is water pollution. Efforts are being coordinated state-wide to stop the dumping of untreated sewage into the Bay. Car washing, in an uncontrolled environment, such as at one's home, directly contributes to the pollution of the bay by allowing soap, waxes, dirt, oil, and grime to flow untreated into the neighborhood storm sewer systems which in turn flows directly into area waterways. The Dirt Buster will utilize only biodegradable chemicals which will be cycled through the purification component of our water reclamation system prior to being released into the county sewer system. Once in the county's system, the water will be sent to the sewage facility for recycling and purification. Additionally, 30 percent less water is required to clean an automobile at a commercial car wash than at an individual's home. This helps conserve a precious, and often scarce, natural resource.

Company Strengths

One obvious strength of our company is market share. Since no competition exists in our target market, we will possess a 100 percent market share the day we open for business. Another strength is the management team. Both owners possess vast experience in budgetary, equipment, events, and personnel management. Finally, the superior quality of our equipment, in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, allows us to provide a superior quality service to our customer at a cost below that of the regional average.

Overall Marketing Strategy

Our marketing strategy is two-fold. First, we must develop a loyal customer base on which to build our business. Second, we must cultivate and expand this customer base to ensure a long lasting and solid relationship with our repeat customers and continued vitality of the business with the addition of new customers.

Image We Want to Portray

The entire foundation of our business rests on our pledge to provide quality service at a reasonable price. We will portray our business in such a manner. Additionally, we are genuinely interested in the positive development and quality of our market area's business community.

Pricing Strategy

List prices.

After careful analysis of this region's car wash operator's pricing practices, we crafted a pricing strategy that we believe more closely aligns service with price. Our system incorporates a three tier pricing scheme. In accordance with our pricing strategy, our Basic Wash will cost $7.50, our Advanced Wash will cost $9.50, and our Deluxe Wash package will cost $12.50. Additionally, we will provide customers the option to build their own wash package from a list of individual service options offered. These options will range in price from $1.00 to $3.00. We plan to charge $1.50 per 4.5 minute cycle in our self-service facility, and $.50 per 4.5 minute cycle for the vacuum service, which is in line with the prices that are currently being charged by the majority of the region's self-service facility operators.

Profit Margins

Calculating profit margin based upon the projected year-end financial figures is relatively clear cut and yields a profit margin of 40 percent. This percentage was determined by calculating the percentage of gross revenue that both expenses and debt retirement figures yielded, and subtracting that figure from 100 percent. [100% - (percentage of gross revenue expense+debt retirement)=profit margin]. For example, based upon industry averages, our variable expenses represent 45 percent of our gross revenue, while fixed expenses represent 20 percent of our gross revenue and debt retirement represents 15 percent of our gross revenue. These figures added together and then subtracted from 100 percent leaves a figure of 20 percent, which represents the overall businesses profit margin. Individually, our full-service package yields a profit margin of 8 percent, our Advanced Wash package yields a profit margin of 34 percent, our Deluxe Wash package yields a profit margin of 45 percent, our self-service wash yields a profit margin of 67 percent, and our vacuum service yields a profit margin of 87 percent.

Discount Prices

As part of our marketing strategy, we will at various times offer discounts on selected wash packages. Discounts will vary from a $1 to $3 reduction of the standard price.

Competitors' Prices

Although we do not have any competitors in our target market to use as a guide for establishing our pricing system, we did evaluate several pricing schemes to assist us in developing one appropriate for The Dirt Buster.


During eighteen months of research and hundreds of conversations with owners of regional car wash operations, two points became very apparent. First, older, established car washes do little to no advertising. Second, new, upstart car washes advertise extensively in an attempt to establish themselves in the community. We found no middle ground in the industry with respect to advertising, and most car wash owners who do advertise believe their best results have come from utilizing direct ZIP Code mailings, local cable TV spots, and cross-promotions done in conjunction with other local businesses.

During our first month of business, we plan to conduct a drawing to giveaway a big screen TV and two plane tickets to the Bahamas. The drawing will take place over the first month we are open for business. To enter, a customer will fill out an entry card with name, address, and make and year of car. The entry form will then be deposited into a central repository until the official drawing on the last day of our first month of operation. Customers need not be present to win; we will notify the winners by mail. The drawing will enable us to build a customer mailing list, to be used in future direct mailing promotions, from the entry cards, and gain initial exposure by bringing customers into the wash.

We plan on advertising our Grand Opening in all advertising mediums, including radio, television, news print, and direct ZIP Code mailings. During our first year of business, we will be actively involved in developing customer awareness of our business through extensive use of the radio, television, promotional giveaways, and direct mailings. We plan to dedicate 7 percent of our monthly gross revenues to advertising and promotions. At the end of each quarter, we will assess the effectiveness of our advertising campaign and make any adjustments necessary to provide us with the most positive community exposure.

Additionally, adjacent to our car wash facility is a 13,000 square foot building. Our plans are to lease the building to a business which operates within our industry, thereby allowing us maximum flexibility in developing cross-promotional plans. Tentative arrangements have been made to lease the property as a detailing shop when The Dirt Buster opens for business.

To build a solid repeat customer base, we will offer bonus services. On a customer's first visit we will provide them with a book to keep track of visits. On a customer's ninth visit to the car wash, he or she will receive a free basic wash. To build return customer traffic, we will also randomly hang scented discount wash coupons on each customer's rearview mirror which are redeemable on the customer's next visit to the car wash. Additionally, as a means to assess adherence to our primary goal of providing exceptional service, we will provide each customer with a postage paid comment card.

Cost of Advertising

Regional cable tv advertisements.

It will cost $1,260 per month to purchase seven daily ads, four before 4 p.m. and three after 4 p.m., 7 days per week on CNN, ESPN, and TNT.

It will cost approximately $1,500 a week for twenty radio spots per radio station. This medium will only be used for the initial advertising campaign as a means to obtain mass market exposure. Cost would not justify extended use.

Direct Mailing

Direct mail will cost $350 per 10,000 pieces sent. It is the most effective means to reach specific target market patrons, as it offers the most bang for the buck.


The cost of cross-promotion is minimal, and it will allow us to tap into an established customer base.

Initial Giveaways

One big screen TV will cost $1,000. Two plane tickets to the Bahamas will cost $500.

Comment Cards

Comment cards will be computer generated at minimal cost.

Fragrance Discount Coupons

The coupons will be computer generated and the scent applied by the car wash. Again, there will be only a minimal cost.

Current Financial Position

In developing our projected financial statements, projected revenues and expenses were calculated, both fixed and variable, by using statistical reference data provided by the industry's national association, the International Car Wash Association (ICA). We coupled the information received from ICA with regionally specific data provided by regional car wash operators and government agencies. In constructing our financial pro forma statements in this manner, we hope to portray as accurately as possible the revenues and expenses we can expect to see. Any errors should be to the high side of expenses and to the low side of revenues; all projections are extremely conservative.

For example, to calculate our projected revenue, we used the industry's capture ratio of the percent of traffic count in any given 24 hour period which a business could expect to utilize its facilities. We then multiplied that figure by the cost of our projected revenue per car, $9. The ICA states that a car wash owner can expect to capture .6 of 1% to 1.5 of 1% of the traffic count on the road on which the car wash is situated. According to government officials, the traffic count passing in front of our site is 55,823 cars a day. Armed with the statistical data needed to project the revenue figures, we examined various car wash operations in the county to gain an appreciation for the validity of the capture ratio. Our investigation showed that, in this region, the capture ratio was an accurate gauge on which to project the business a car wash operation can expect based upon its location.

The car wash industry is cyclical in nature, with the highest point of revenue occurring during the winter months and the low revenue point occurring during the summer months. Our revenue projections reflect that trend. Conservatively, over the course of the first business year, we predicted that, on the average, we will capture .39% of the 50,000 cars that travel pass our location daily. Keep in mind, our projected capture ratio is .21% less than the industry's worst case capture ratio.

To calculate fixed and variable expenses, we used ICA's national statistical information as a guide and spoke with local car wash operators in order to achieve actual monthly expense figures. We then compared these sources of information and developed our own expense analysis ratios. Our fixed expense figures are based upon actual figures gathered from local operators and our variable expenses are based upon a combination of industrial statistical averages and local operator figures. The only expense not strictly in keeping with both national and local operator figures is our advertising expense. We have decided that it is extremely important for us to make our target market realize our presence from day one, so we decided to budget 7.5% of our gross revenue to advertising versus the 4.5% of gross revenue recommended by the ICA.

Start-up Cost

We calculated our total start-up costs to be $683,000. This figure includes $135,000 for operating capital and a contingency fund.

Profit and Loss Statement

Our pro forma profit and loss statement projects the first year's operating profit to be $163,144.

Cash Flow Analysis

Our pro forma statement of cash projects a positive cash flow starting in month one. At the end of the first year of business, we project a closing cash balance of $281,989.

  • Balance Sheet

Our pro forma balance sheet projects our net worth to be $207,745 at the conclusion of the first year of operations.

Cost Control

All fiscal control and accountability will rest with the management, who will be responsible for insuring that daily receipts are properly accounted for, properly documented, and deposited with a financial institution. In conjunction with the CPA, management will prepare the monthly, quarterly, and yearly financial statements.

Break-even Analysis

Break-even Estimates:

Our break-even figure in automobiles washed in the full-service operation is 47,154 and, in the self-service operation, including vacuum figures, it is 36,516. These figures represent a 26 percent reduction in automobile wash volume.

The total gross revenue generated with respect to the break-even analysis is $493,470, with $424,386 coming from the full-service operation, and $69,084 coming from the self-service operation, including vacuum figures.

Financial Ratios

Current ratio.

Current assets and current liabilities are 281,899 to 101,356, respectively. This is a 2.78 to 1 ratio.

Implications of Liquidity Ratios

Liquidity ratios provide insight into a businesse's ability to meet all financial obligations incurred during the course of the business year. Normally, financial ratios are used as analytical tools to compare one business to another within a specific industry. Because the ICA has not established any industry ratios, there are none available to compare to the ratios generated in this business plan. However, according to most business analysts, a good target ratio for most upstart businesses is 2 to 1. Therefore, our liquidity ratio of 2.78 to 1 further supports our financial analysis, which suggests The Dirt Buster will meet all liabilities incurred during our first year of operation.


Our gross profit margin is defined as our gross profit divided by our total assets, where gross profit does not include taxes, interest, or the reintroduction of depreciation. Our figures show a margin of 21 percent (163,144/789,389=21 %) .

For our purposes, return on equity and return on investment are defined without figuring depreciation or taxes into the net profit. Our return on equity, using the formula net profit/total owner's equity, works out to 14 percent (96,336/683,000=14%). Our return on investment, or net profit/total assets, works out to 12 percent (96,336/789,389=12%).

Profitability ratios provide insight into a business's ability to make money. As previously stated, financial ratios are used as analytical tools to compare one business to another within a specific industry. Because the car wash industry has not established any industry ratios, there are none available to compare to the ratios generated in this business plan. The examination of our profitability ratios supports our financial analysis which suggests The Dirt Buster will experience a profit at the conclusion of the first year of operations.

Financial Projections


We assumed that the interest rate applied to the purchase of our assets would be 10 percent. Additionally, we assumed the useful life of the service equipment and office equipment to be ten years and that of the building and grounds to be fifteen years.

Financial Statement Highlights

The financial figures presented in our pro forma statements are extremely encouraging in that a monthly positive cash flow is predicted. This in turn leads to an expected positive net income and an increase in owner's equity at the year's end.

It is important to note that during the preparation of our financial statements, we endeavored to be conservative in our revenue calculations and liberal in our expense calculations. This approach was intentionally adopted to ensure we maintained a cautious, if not slightly pessimistic, approach to the evaluation of The Dirt Buster's liability.

Key Personnel

Executive team.

The executive team consists of the company's two owners, one of which will be located on-site during each normal business day to oversee operations. The managers will divide the duties necessary to maintain the business, which include employee hiring; building, property and equipment maintenance; marketing; advertising; community relations; fiscal matters; employee pay and benefits; taxes; payables; and receivables. Military experience has provided both owners with a vast reservoir of knowledge in the management of personnel, equipment, events, and budgets. While in the military, both were schooled and promoted ahead of their contemporaries and assigned the Army's most challenging jobs. To enhance their professional knowledge of the car wash industry, as well as to gain a greater appreciation for the intricacies of owning and operating a car wash, both are currently working for different car washes in the tri-state area.


Each owner/manager will receive a salary of $2,500 permonth. In the event a net profit is accrued at the conclusion of the fiscal year, it will be equally divided amongst the owners.

Key Managers Needed

Initially, the company will be run solely by its owners. However, during the second year an assistant manager may be hired to assist with the day to day operations and maintenance. Our goal is to develop management from within the company, thereby insuring that positive management policies and practices are continued. Additionally, our policy of hiring from within provides us a means to recognize outstanding work performance and to develop a cohesive management team critical to The Dirt Buster's success.

Other Personnel

Employees hired.

We plan to hire eleven full-time and seven part-time employees. Sixteen of the employees will constitute our operational personnel, while the other two employees will constitute our sales staff. The sales staff will be responsible for operation of the cash register and the accessory sales area.

Skilled Versus Unskilled

No special skills are required of our operations personnel. Sales staff must possess basic mathematical skills, be able to operate a cash register, and diplomatically interact with the general public.

Our operational employees will receive a beginning salary of $5.00 per hour and will be offered an opportunity to increase their hourly pay in $.50 increments. Our sales employees will receive $5.50 per hour initially, with the same opportunity for the incremental $.50 per hour raise. All raises in base salary are dependent upon performance and the company's financial success. Additionally, the employees will, at the conclusion of each business day, receive their fair share of the collected tips.


Staff size is dependent upon time of day, day of the week, and weather conditions. During traditional peak wash periods, twelve operational employees and one sales employee will be scheduled to work. During traditional off-peak times we will schedule eight operational employees and one sales employee. We will remain flexible in our staffing policy in order to best meet customer demands and most efficiently utilize our employees. Our employee handbook will ensure that each employee understands the importance and applicability of a varied and flexible scheduling process. Our plan is to ensure that each employee receives the training necessary to be proficient in their assigned tasks. Our training program will focus on improving the employees' operational knowledge of the business as well as their interpersonal skills. The program is designed to ensure that our employee-customer interactions are as positive as possible.

The Dirt Buster's employees will be given the opportunity to participate in a health insurance program.

Financing/Equity Considerations

4,001 shares of common stock have been issued. The total value of shares of common stockis $4,001. Presently, 100 percent of the common stockis controlled by two people, who therefore control the operational direction of the business. However, limited partners will be considered in exchange for financing.

Financing Arrangement

Collateral for debt issuance.

All equipment will be used as collateral for debt issuances, as well as the lease to the site location. If we are unable to meet our business obligations, the lending institution controlling assets and the land lease could sell the lease to another business group. They would assume operational control of what would, in essence, be a turnkey operation.

Amount of Equity to be Relinquished in Exchange for Funding

We would consider an equity-limited partner in exchange for financing. The amount of equity to be exchanged for financing would be negotiated on an individual basis.

The expected annual return for an investor depends on the type of investment arranged. Expected annual return for debt financing is approximately 15 percent. The expected annual return for equity financing is approximately 18 percent.

Number of Investors Sought

We have not set a limit on the number of investors we will accept. However, for accounting purposes, a minimal number of investors is the most appealing option.

Minimum Investment Required by Each Investor

Again, we will not set a bottom limit on the size of investments. However, our preference is a $50,000 or greater investment.

How Investors Will Get Their Money Out of the Investment

Each investor will receive a yearly return on their investment based upon the investment contract negotiated. It is the intention of the original partners to buy back all outstanding shares of stock within seven years.

Sales Projections Not Attained

Based upon the extremely conservative figures used throughout our financial calculations, it is possible, although improbable, that we will not meet our projected sales goals. To demonstrate this point, we used the bottom end of the capture ratio the industry experts say a business ought to achieve, and reduced that figure by two full percentage points. We then used that number to calculate the project revenue we can expect to generate during our first year of business.

Unforeseen Industry Trends

Presently, the car wash industry is not expected to undergo drastic changes. Future industrial efforts are focused upon improving the quality of existing methods and machinery.

Competitive Price Cutting

Because we have no direct competition, we are semi-insulated from price cutting schemes. However, we realize we do not operate in a vacuum, and pricing schemes offered by area car wash operators do impact us. In light of this, we've developed our pricing scheme by examining eighteen separate car washes in the tri-state area. We then highlighted the best qualities of each package and built our own unique pricing scale, which we believe fairly balances quality and price.

Unforeseen Economic, Political, Social, and Technological Developments

Two critical environmental issues which concern everyone are the cleanliness and conservation of our finite water resources. Unlike waste water generated from residential car washing, which is discharged directly into storm sewers carrying contaminants directly into our local water ways, the wash water generated at The Dirt Buster will be recycled through a reclamation system. This will cleanse the water prior to its being discharged into the community water sewage treatment plant for further purification. Additionally, the chemicals used by the washing process are specifically engineered to be completely biodegradable and environmentally safe. It is also important to note that residential car washing, on the average, uses 200 gallons of water per wash. Self-service car wash customers use approximately 50 gallons per wash, resulting in a 75 percent water savings in comparison to residential automobile washing. Full-service car wash customers use approximately 84 gallons per wash, resulting in a 58 percent water savings in comparison to residential automobile washing.

Cyclical Fluctuations

The car wash industry does experience cyclical fluctuations in business volume. Peak months correspond to winter months and off-peak months correspond to summer months. It is during these known off-peak months that car wash owners carefully manipulate and orchestrate operations to insure peak efficiency is achieved. Also, during the off-peak period variable expenses decrease by approximately 40 percent of gross expenses as they are directly tied to business volume.

Other Risks

Perhaps the most critical risk we face is that of the establishment of a competitive wash in our target market. While it seems unlikely this will happen due to the cost of obtaining the land necessary to build a car wash facility, it is possible. One very real way we foresee competition presenting itself is in the form of an adjunct wash built onto an existing full-service gas station. While these adjunct washes will not compare to our facility in service or quality, they are less expensive and at times more convenient.

An extremely important feature of our business is its location. Without the proper location, the chances of succeeding are drastically reduced, although not impossible. It is interesting to note that, for the last five years, a regional car wash corporation with eight locations in the tri-state area has actively pursued the property owner to sell so they could establish a car wash on it. For personal reasons, the land owner refused to sell. Such a successful company would not have so vigorously pursued the site if they did not feel the land had enormous potential. We share their enthusiasm.

Our operation will incorporate the newest and most technologically advanced wash equipment in the industry. This will enable us to provide our customers with the best possible service at the best possible price. It will also allow us to ensure that the environmental concerns of the community are respected and acted upon. Additionally, we believe the strongest point in our business is our management team. Both owners possess vast knowledge, gained from operational, budgetary, and personnel experience, from which to direct the business and provide for outstanding customer service.

We are determined to establish a business known for its high quality service at a reasonable price. We see ourselves playing an important part in community activities. We will provide employment opportunities for area residents, as well as a much needed service to the community which protects and conserves our finite water resources.

The following materials are available upon request:

  • International Car Wash Association Industry Survey
  • Traffic Volume Survey
  • Market Survey
  • Capture Ratio Calculations
  • Break Even Analysis
  • Organizational Structure and Concept
  • Funding Timeline
  • Start-up Costs
  • Income Statement
  • Cash Projections
  • Owner's Financial Statements
  • Owner's Resumes

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Car Wash Business Plan Template [Updated 2023]


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