Some of the finest features of the car wash industry are:
Many car washes increased in value (hundreds of %) during the 1980’s. The car wash market has come down off its highest prices with many good deals available to the smart buyer.
Prices charged by car washes increase almost every year (keeping up with inflation) while most expenses are rather fixed. Your largest expense, labor, has actually decreased due to equipment automation.
Cash Business – No accounts receivable.
Small inventory – merchandise items (air fresheners, mats, etc.)
Today’s equipment takes very little maintenance.
Super automation – speeds up to 120 cars per hour.
Depreciation – everything including your leasehold can be amortized for depreciation.
Present day computerization makes it possible to run as many as 20 car washes out of a single office and still maintain the highest quality and profit standards.
This is one of the few industries that enjoy “controlled” competition. Many years ago, before municipalities realized car washes could have long lines, car washes were permitted to open in locations that would be totally prohibited today. Thus, it has become very difficult to get permits to open new car washes.
Professional car washes service less than 25% of the motoring public. The average consumer washes their car twice per year. Thus, a huge untapped market is available to professional car washes that have the ability to market and advertise their business.
Car washes are closed when it rains or snows. Closed days are generally used for maintenance and cleaning. Most of the employees are paid hourly and thus do not get paid when the business is closed. Other added profit centers (quick lube, detail center) can help with cash flow, especially on poor weather days.
ADDITIONAL PROFIT CENTERS
Quick Lubes and Detail Centers are excellent businesses that work well in conjunction with car washes. The average quick lube does 40 oil changes per day at an average of about $30 for a basic oil change. With extra services, the average sale could be as high as $65 per car. The average price for a complete detail is about $150.
Most car washes operate between 8 am and 6 pm. Some locations open earlier and/or stay open later. There are a few operations that are open 24 hours. (Mostly located within 5 boroughs) The busiest months are January – March, May. The slowest time of the year is July – September.
TYPES OF CAR WASHES
Express Exterior Car Wash (Customer Stays in Car)
Cleans only the outside of the car. Most of these operations dry the car, while some do not. Exterior base prices are generally between $6.50-$9.00.
Full Service Car Wash (Customer exits their car and enters walkway)
Cleans interior of car including vacuuming floors and seats and windows as well as the exterior of the car. Full service base prices are generally between $10.00-$15.00 with packages as high as $25.00. Packages include extra service items such as triple wax, undercarriage wash and armor all.
Machine operated vs. Hand operated tunnels
Self-serve car washes
Customer pulls into a bay and washes their own car using prep guns and brushes supplied by the car wash. Payment for services is made through a machine in which customer purchases time.
In-Bay Automatic car washes
Customer stays in their car and pulls into a bay after paying for the service through an auto-cashier. Equipment (touchless or friction) then moves around the car that has been placed in park by customer.