Easy Business Ideas: Starting Your First Car Wash

All sorts of business models have a reputation, but nothing comes close to the bad reputation that car washes have. We’ve all been exposed to the negative view people have against car washes in media. People argue that it’s a front for criminal activities or that it’s always a failing business. But that’s never the case.

The car wash industry is a billion-dollar industry that is expected to grow twice its size in the coming years, and most of the owners of these car wash businesses are honorable and well-liked in their neighborhoods. Because if they weren’t, their business would have failed before it even started. However, starting a successful car wash requires you to consider many things. But we will take one step at a time and discuss the pure essentials you need to start your car wash business.

Identify What Car Wash You Want to Start

There are three main forms of car washes: full-service, exterior conveyor, and in-bay. Each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses:

  • A full-service car wash is done everything by hand. This means more employees to pay! However, it’s much cheaper to start when compared to the other forms of a car wash but can be more expensive to maintain in the long run.
  • Exterior conveyor car washes are made for vehicle owners who want their cars squeaky-clean in just a matter of minutes. It uses top-of-the-line conveyor belts to pull vehicles into the cleaning process. It employs minimal employees but is very expensive during start-up because of the machinery required to operate it.
  • In-bay car washes are smaller than exterior conveyors and don’t have the same machinery, but they do a good job nonetheless. It’s usually a mix of both manual and automatic cleaning. It also uses less water than other car wash forms.


Once you’ve chosen what kind of car wash you want to start, it’s time to pick your location! You’d want to have a location that’s away from competitors but also near busy roads. The more likely your shop is seen by the side of the road, the more customers you can have.

Market it!

If you have a good marketing campaign going, then your location won’t matter. You can build a loyal customer base that’ll keep coming back to your wash regardless of your site. First, start with a word-of-mouth marketing campaign.


Word-of-mouth is the oldest form of marketing out there and the most reliable. In this modern age, ensure that your customers talk about your car wash on social media. Hire local influencers for it or give customers a discount if they talk about your car wash on social media.

Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are one of the best marketing campaigns that big-shot car washes do, and you can still do it even if you’re a start-up! You can do this either through loyalty cards or loyalty apps. You can do it either by milestone or redeemable rewards. There are many forms of loyalty programs out there that can fit your budget and plans. Make sure to consult a marketing professional for this.

Signage and Posters

As stated earlier, the more likely your car wash can be seen by customers, the more likely they’ll visit it. So put signage and posters around town to let people know that you’re open. A digital version of this is through online advertisements on Facebook and Google. Local digital advertisements don’t cost that much, so make sure you take advantage of them.

Be Aware of the Environment

Car washes tend to affect the environment more than any other small business out there. So you should be aware of the pollution that comes out of your car wash.

First is the chemicals. Ensure that the chemicals you use are safe for the environment. Your state should have regulations regarding this. Feel free to attend seminars that talk about chemical pollution and the environment.

Moreover, if you want to save even more money and save the environment, consider investing in a water containment mat for car wash and mobile detailing. Entities that help install these mats can help you save money in the long run. Furthermore, this will ensure that your car wash follows state regulations regarding water pollution.

Know that your potential customers in the future will be millennials, and they are very much aware of the current state of the environment.

By following the tips above, your car wash can be equipped for success. Make sure to develop a loyal customer base so they’ll keep visiting your car wash wherever you’re located.