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5 Common Mistakes People Make When Starting a Car Wash Business

The car wash industry is booming, with potential new owners wanting to dive into the business and generate a passive income stream. According to the International Carwash Association, 53% of Americans take their cars to a car wash at least once a month, with 13.6 visits annually as the average. 

The industry is worth more than $14.59 billion, with over 60,000 car washes in the United States alone. 

It can be tempting to jump in with both feet and hope to watch the profits roll in, especially with how popular car wash businesses have become. However, there are some pitfalls you should be careful of before investing in this business. Making too many early mistakes when starting a car wash business can contribute to the business’s failure. And while some errors may be an inevitable part of the learning experience, others can easily be avoided. 

Importance of Avoiding Mistakes When Starting a Car Wash Business

The car wash industry is highly competitive, with more and more people starting their own businesses and being their own bosses. After all, owning and operating a car wash is a great way to generate passive income, a goal of many young entrepreneurs. 

Despite the potential success of car washes, these businesses can and do fail. So if you want your business to succeed, investing in the right services and avoiding common mistakes when starting your car wash is essential. 

5 Mistakes Car Wash Owners Make When Starting Their Business

Proper preparation is crucial for business owners to avoid mistakes and increase their car wash’s chances of success.

Below are some of new business owners’ most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Lack of Market Research & Customer Service

Market research is pivotal to planning, starting, and managing a successful car wash business. It helps ensure you know your competition and customer base, including their needs. It allows you to determine how the car wash industry is doing and if more is needed for your specific car wash. 

During market research, you’ll gather important information about your target audience to help you stay competitive in an already competitive field. You’ll get a feel of customer behavior and economic trends that will help improve your business ideas. 

You can also see how many car wash businesses have opened in the last several years, how many have failed, and why. Plus, you can learn new trends within the car wash industry, such as membership options with unlimited washes, that you can implement into your business.

With this information, you can help eliminate risks and learn how to succeed in your local market. 

Equally as important is customer service. For car wash businesses, good customer service could mean increasing processing speeds, adding TVs and refreshments to waiting areas, offering free Wi-Fi, and listening to customer concerns.

However, many businesses leave market research and customer service on the back burner, putting little to no thought into either. Learning about your customers and offering service in ways that make them feel important can make or break your business. After all, customers who feel appreciated and valued are more likely to be loyal in return. 

Customer service extends beyond customer loyalty, though. It also helps retain employees, builds brand loyalty, and assists in recovering customer acquisition costs. 

2. Failure To Develop a Solid Business Plan

Some people jump into the thick of things when starting a car wash business without considering creating a solid business plan. 

After all, crafting a business plan can seem time-consuming, and you probably want to get your car wash business up and running as soon as possible to start generating passive income. 

As a result, you may decide that taking things day by day is much easier. However, the lack of a detailed business plan can lead to confusion, decreased motivation, and the eventual failure of your car wash business.

In contrast, creating a detailed business plan can help you set achievable goals that outline what you want your business to be and, crucially, how to make that happen. Your business plan should include services and amenities your car wash will offer customers, such as unlimited car washes, tire detailing, and more.

Starting a car wash business is more than just purchasing a physical space. You also need to consider factors like location, upfront and overhead costs, staff management, market research, municipal regulations, and more.

3. No Marketing Strategy

Marketing is more than just researching your consumer base and staying current on the latest car wash trends. You must also develop a solid marketing strategy showcasing your strengths as a car wash business. For example, what makes you stand out from your competitors? Are you offering specialized services or discounts that other car washes in your area aren’t?

Marketing strategies can help you stay in sync with your consumers, understand their expectations, and streamline communication efforts. Without a marketing strategy, you’ll have little understanding of your customers and their wants and needs. You may even waste money promoting to the wrong audience or spotlighting the wrong products. This can put you behind your competition in the highly competitive car wash industry. 

4. No Financial Projections & Progressive Monitoring

Neglecting financial projections or progressive monitoring as a car wash business can quickly put you in a financial hole. Spending without a budget opens your business to overspending and increased debt. A company with no financial projections is more likely to fail because they aren’t managing their money well. That’s why it’s vital to develop financial projections from day one. 

Research upfront costs, continuing overhead, and monthly operational costs and factor those into your prices. You should also factor in maintenance for keeping a car wash business up and running, parts that might break down — such as conveyor belts, dryers, and water applicators — and the supplies you’ll need to purchase (and repurchase) to operate your business effectively.

You also want to monitor your finances progressively. You can’t always predict when a sudden expense will come up or how well your car wash will fare. Adjust your finances accordingly by offering new services, packages, and subscriptions. 

5. Investing in Poor Equipment, Chemicals, and Servicing

If a car wash owner invests in poor-quality equipment, they risk the equipment being faulty or damaging customers’ vehicles, which can jeopardize the safety of their staff and consumers. Investing in poor-quality chemicals can also be detrimental, as they might not perform as they should, thus damaging car wash equipment or customers’ vehicles. 

These adverse outcomes can cause reputational harm. If you can’t afford the best equipment upfront, you may want to consider taking out an additional loan or saving more money before starting your business.

Advanced Car Wash Solutions for Smart Business Owners

Planning for and starting a car wash business can be challenging, especially for a first-time business owner. While learning the ins and outs of owning a car wash can seem intimidating, you don’t have to go it alone. 

With National Carwash Solutions by your side, you can get the very best in car wash equipment and services, including chemicals, vacuum systems, tunnel car wash systems, installation, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your car wash business succeed. 

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