Starting a car wash business can be exciting and profitable, but it is a complex industry with lots of expensive equipment and other business aspects to manage.

Financing your business is by far the most challenging part because your plans need to be solid leading up to that step.

We want to go over the basics of how to start a car wash business, focusing on finances and solidifying your business plan.

How To Get Money To Buy A Car Wash

If you are going to buy a previously established car wash, you will probably need an investor or lender to loan you money for the purchase. Some states may offer car wash grants to get you started on the right path.  It is essential to have enough money to cover marketing costs and general monthly expenses for the first year of your business.

First, you will need a solid business plan to show investors that you can pay them back when the business gets going. In this plan, consider your financial needs, such as land purchase requirements, machine leasing, or long-term lines of credit.

For your business plan, write down basic industry feasibility data, your company mission statement and vision, and your marketing strategy. Write down your baseline car wash prices to determine your break-even points, which you will base on utilities and property lease prices.

Analyze the car wash market in your area. What are other car washes doing to be successful? Compare prices, equipment, trends, and themes, and analyze existing demand for your business. Part of owning your own business is knowing what the competition is doing and how you might do it better.

Finally, clearly outline your funding requirements. Explain how much finding you will need over the next five years and what you will use that money for. Be specific about your needs, such as equipment, salaries, or covering bills until your business can pay for them.

Also, describe your future strategic financial plans, such as paying off debt or loans or selling the business.

In short, convince your lender that your business has a solid financial plan and will succeed enough to pay off loans or debt.

An excellent self-service car wash business plan details everything from marketing strategies to financial forecasts. A few graphs or charts might also help to illustrate your plans.

Some banks or firms have teams for car equipment financing, so search for one in your area. You can apply for a small business grant to finance your business. A grant is not the same as a loan: you do not need to repay a loan. Plus, most grants for small businesses occur through the federal government’s Small Business Administration (SBA).

Type of Car Wash

Your business plan should also detail what kind of car wash you are starting up. A hand-wash car wash has vastly different expenses from an automatic car wash, so you need to get specific about those expenses.

Break down what equipment you will need for each type of car wash and see what your total cost is. For example, a hand-held car wash might only take a few hundred dollars to start. A self-service car wash may take up to $200,000 because of the complex equipment and building costs.

With these different car wash types, the cost of starting a car wash business can vary too. For starting a simple business, you might need roughly $50,000, whereas a larger business venture may require up to $3.5 million.

Car Wash Business Ideas

Exploring new opportunities for your business is a great way to hit the ground running and start earning money.  When we say “car wash business ideas,” we mean what you can add to your car wash business to make the customer experience simpler or more appealing.

Some businesses have added food trucks for customers needing a quick bite. Similarly, if you have a lobby where customers wait for their car, consider adding free snacks or a coffee machine. Games for kids and magazines can help entertain guests as well.

Be sure to optimize your Google listing since that is the most likely place for customers to find you. Use Google My Service to add hours, photos, reviews, and other information to sell your business to a curious new customer. 

Don’t stress too hard about a social media strategy, either. Sometimes, the most straightforward content is the best way to interact with customers, such as discounts, salutations, or notices about special events. 

Starting Your Car Wash Business

Once you have the financing necessary to start your business, you still need to take a few extra steps.

Start a limited liability company or LLC, so you will not get held personally liable if someone sues your car wash business.

Next, you will get your car wash business registered for taxes. You will need to apply for an EIN through the IRS website or fax or mail. Depending on the business structure you choose, such as an S corporation, there are different options for how your business will get taxed.

A business bank account and credit card will further protect your business legally. Do not mix your personal and business accounts. Set up accounting for your business to keep track of your profit and expenses.

Obtain the proper licenses and permits to run your business, as well as business insurance. All these steps help protect your business in case of a lawsuit or if your business suffers a loss.

How Profitable Is A Car Wash?

To put it simply, a car wash can be quite profitable in the right area, and with the right management and marketing strategy. Small-scale car washes could see an average profit of $40,000 a year, while luxury car washes can see an average profit of $500,000. 

Final Thoughts

Starting your own car wash business takes a solid plan and a lot of research. Fortunately, the demand for car wash businesses never really changes, and you should be able to set up shop almost anywhere. 

As long as you know your business’s strengths and weaknesses, financial forecasts, and market strategy, you should have no trouble getting financing for your car wash business. For more information on growing your business from the ground up, you can learn how to grow a property management business and how to grow a dropshipping business on our website.   

About the Author, Madison Taylor

Madison Taylor is the Brand Ambassador at ROK Financial. She is responsible for raising brand awareness and business relationships with business owners across the country. Madison loves that she plays a small role in getting Business Back To Business Through Simple Business Financing and looks forward to hearing what you think about the blogs she creates!Madison has been working in the financial space for six years, and loves it! When she is not at work, you will find her at home learning a new recipe to test out on her family or going on new adventures with her friends.