How To Start a Self-Serve Car Wash

Owning and operating a self-serve car wash can be a very profitable business venture. While self-serve car washes are the least expensive type of

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truck inside self-serve car washOwning and operating a self-serve car wash can be a very profitable business venture. While self-serve car washes are the least expensive type of car wash to open and operate, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to think about when planning to open one. Read on for helpful tips and guidelines for how to start a self-serve car wash business.

Expert Guidance

You’ve decided to open a self-serve car wash- congratulations! Before you get overwhelmed with all the details, remember: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Lean on the strength of the experts that know all the ins and outs of building a car wash from the ground up. From site design and equipment installation to training and marketing support, Reliable Plus can help you navigate the entire process.

Picking a Site

There is more to picking a site than just finding available real estate. Traffic patterns and local population factor heavily into what makes a great site for a car wash. When looking at self-serve car washes, you want to find a location near residential areas, apartment complexes, and middle to lower income neighborhoods.

On the site itself, you need to consider the traffic flow in and out of the car wash. Is there enough room to allow for vehicles to stack behind each bay? Are there out-of-the-way areas for vacuums and drying? Don’t underestimate the importance of traffic flow at your car wash.

You also need to work with your local government to stay in compliance with regulations and codes, like set-back requirements, zoning ordinances, permit application requirements, etc.

Site and Building Design

Once you determine where to build your car wash, the next step is putting the plans together for the car wash itself. The layout of the building, where the equipment goes, etc. You will likely want some outside experts to advise you. Reliable Plus has a staff of experts ready to help with the pre-planning, site inspections, and project management, to keep you on track and within budget.

woman at self-serve car washEquipment and Installation

When it comes to picking equipment for your self-serve car wash, make sure you go with reputable, quality brands such as GinSan and National Pride. Installing high quality equipment from day one means fewer repairs, more uptime, and more revenue!

At a minimum, you’ll need to install the following types of equipment when you start a self-service car wash:

  • Pump Room Equipment: Includes your pumping station, pressure relief valves, wiring and electrical panels, water heaters, a weep system for freeze prevention.
  • Bay Equipment: Coin machines, ceiling booms, trigger spray wands, signage, water lines, floor grates, light fixtures etc.
  • Vacuums: Invest in high quality, high suction vacuums for your car wash. Make it easy for your customers to get the clean car they want!
  • Soaps and Cleaning Solutions: Offer your customers quality soaps and cleaning solutions for their use in your car wash.

Optional Equipment

The optional equipment you choose to install helps bring in extra profit because you can charge extra for these services. These bells and whistles are also where you can really set your car wash apart from the competition.

• Pre-soak
• Tire cleaner
• Engine cleaner
• Spot free rinse systems
• Triple foam
• Interior shampoo machines
• Vending machines
• Upgraded soap and cleaning solution options

If you’re looking for a fun, niche addition to your self-serve car wash, consider a pet wash station! Reliable Plus can assist you in selecting the best pet wash station to attract a larger customer base to your business.

Beyond the Installation

You picked the site, you ordered and installed the right equipment – now what? Just because you built it, doesn’t mean they will come to it. And if they come to it once, how do you make sure they keep coming back? Reliable Plus can help you with your marketing, advertising and training, so you can attract and maintain a growing customer base. Remember, just because it’s a self-serve car wash doesn’t mean you can’t offer great deals and specials, have a terrific social media presence, and customer loyalty programs.

Now that you know how to start a self-serve car wash business, contact Reliable Plus! We will be your dedicated car wash partner from idea to launch. We pride ourselves on bringing years of experience and unsurpassed technical knowledge to the success of your wash.

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