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5 Tips For Running A Successful Car Wash Business

Building a successful car wash
The car wash industry has seen incredible growth over the past 3 years, and there are no signs of slowing down any time soon. Rapid growth means more competition and more challenges in every area from real estate to customer acquisition. Here are 5 helpful tips for operators looking to expand and grow a successful car wash enterprise.

1.) Understand Your Competition

The average throughput of car wash tunnels in the United States is pretty low, so the car washes that can really perform well and do a great job still have a big opportunity to increase that… If you’re competing with one of the large private equity investors or brands and they just want to get scale and grow as big as they can, a lot of things fall between the cracks in areas of customer service, throughput management, quality, and attention to detail. It’s not always about who has the deepest pockets, but who can manage the business best.
 

– Bill Martin / Owner & Operator, Metro Express Car Wash

2.) Evaluating and Upgrading Your Sites

You need to be constantly evaluating your sites. Go to your locations, look at the qualities coming out, and make the changes necessary… You have to update all the time and you have to go with modern technology and modern solutions… You open a car wash one day and you have to invest money every day that it’s open to the day you close it. It’s a living, breathing thing that you have to constantly nurture.
 

– Justin Alford / Co-Owner, Benny’s Car Wash

3.) Identify The Right Sites For Expansion

The hardest piece of this industry and in any retail industry is land acquisition and finding the right place to be. Then it’s about figuring out the most efficient way to utilize that in terms of how you’re going to lay out your site. Are you doing a short tunnel or are you doing double tunnels? How many vacuums are you installing? Is it going to be an express exterior, flex serve or full serve? What options are you going to build? Your marketplace really helps dictate what model makes the most sense for you to get a return on investment on that piece of property.
 
– Nathan Bertsch / Managing Partner, Express Carwash

4.) Build Your Infrastructure

You have to build your infrastructure to support your growth…We have a construction team, an install team and a development team. We created an equipment company to build new, innovative equipment, to both differentiate our locations from the competition and allow us to rely heavily on automation…We put all these puzzle pieces in place to help us grow faster than we ever did before.
 
Tom Hoffman Jr. / CEO, Hoffman Car Wash

5.) Select The Right Contractors For The Job

It’s rare that all of your subcontractors have built car washes. A lot of times we’ll take them to one of our projects so that they can see it in real life. We’ll take an electrician who hasn’t even wired a car wash to one of our sites and look inside the motor control center. We’ll consult with the architect to make sure that all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing ends up in the right spots and we’re bringing enough water and electricity into the building. We want them to understand what that scope is and ask questions before we’re breaking ground.
 
– Nathan Bertsch

Contractors don’t always seem to have the appreciation of how much goes in the ground – from the sand settling tanks, all the piping, the electrical chases to the auto cashiers…It’s imperative that you have very accurate drawings and that you stay on top of your subcontractors during the construction process to make sure the quality of the building is going to be what you want at the end of the day.

– Tom Hoffman Jr.

Looking to expand your car wash business or upgrade your existing tunnel? Contact Shane Groff to find out more about innovateIT’s car wash equipment and solutions.

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