Taking the plunge and starting a business of your own is an exciting time. However, the car wash market is highly competitive, and those who want to make the car wash business model work will need to set themselves apart. From delivering an uncompromised quality of wash with the latest car wash technology, to marketing your business effectively, there are a number of strategies that can improve your chances of success.
PSD Codax delivers industry leading access technology to car wash businesses across the globe. We’re committed to the future of the market, and are always looking for new ways to help car wash owners develop quality, flexible, secure, and profitable businesses.
In this blog, we provide some useful advice for those looking to launch a car wash business.
Do Market Research
When it comes to setting up any business, research is key to success. Take some time to analyse the existing market to understand the car wash business model from all angles, as well as the latest trends and technologies. Visit other car washes within a 5 mile radius – your future competition – and look at how they work, why they work, and what they are charging for the service. Then, it’s time to dive deep. Look at industry publications, talk to equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and even get out on the streets asking potential customers what they would want from a new car wash – including how much they’d expect to pay, and the type of wash preferred.
Establish Why, Who, and How
Before you really get started writing your business plan, you need to figure out the answers to three important questions. Why are you starting this car wash business? Or, more simply, what is the opportunity? Perhaps there is no existing car wash in the area, or perhaps the existing one is behind the times and you see a gap in the market for a high-tech alternative. Next, who are your customers? This question is critical as it will help you establish your niche and target your marketing efforts more precisely. Finally, how are you going to do it? Will you need finance, and, if so, where are you going to get it from? Private investors, small business loans, your own pocket – whatever the case may be, it’s important to iron out these details.
Select Business Model & Services
Figure out what kind of car wash business you want to run. There are several options to choose from. It could be self-service, waterless, cashless, automatic, or a subscription system – the latter of which is a great way to encourage repeat custom. You should also decide exactly which services to offer – whether your car wash is going to be a tunnel conveyor system or in-bay automatic, whether you will offer interior valeting, and so on. You might also want to think through exactly how your business will operate. Are you going to start from scratch and stay independent, or would you be better off leveraging the benefits of the franchise model? You should also take some time to figure out the relevant insurance, permits, and licenses you will need to operate.
Write a Business Plan
With the crucial details decided, it’s time to write your business plan. This should include a summary of the business, your market research, how it will operate, and financial projections. Creating a robust and detailed plan is vital when it comes to applying for finance, but it’s also good for yourself to make sure you have everything figured out before you begin. Don’t rush this step or settle for vagueness. A good plan will set your car wash business up for success, and a bad one may lead to unexpected difficulty in the future.
Pick the Right Location
Location is a key consideration for new car wash businesses, and finding the right one can be a real barrier to entry. The location you choose for your car wash needs to have strong infrastructure with ease of access and sufficient space. It needs to be able to accommodate a range of vehicle sizes and allow them to easily navigate their way through the different lanes and channels. It also needs to have additional space for queuing cars if you have a rush of demand to make sure they don’t block roads and create a hazard. A location near an attraction like a shopping centre or main thoroughfare is generally a good way to target drive-by custom. Finally, you need to make sure the area isn’t already saturated with car washes.
Create Catchy Name & Identity
Location decided, it’s time to bring your car wash to life. Choosing a catchy name and strong brand identity will become critical when it’s time to market your business. A good name will be unique without being difficult to say or spell. It will also be catchy and future proof, allowing your business the potential to expand. For example, a highly specific name like ‘Warwick Washes’ will become restrictive if you want to open a second car wash in Coventry as your business grows.
Name decided, it’s time to talk brand. The right identity for your business will be influenced by various factors, including your target customer and the type of service you offer. Are you going high-end and providing a service with cutting-edge car wash technology, or is ‘cheap and cheerful’ your niche? Understanding what is unique about your business – your USP – will help set you apart from the competition.
Car Wash Branding – The Importance of a Good Car Wash Business Name >
Choose Right Manufacturer
A car wash is only as good as the equipment it uses. When it comes to kitting out your site, it’s important to choose a quality, industry-leading manufacturer to work with. It goes without saying, but high-quality equipment equals a high-quality wash – and providing the right level of service will be fundamental to your success. Working with a manufacturer who can provide expert customer support and advice will also come in handy in the future if anything goes wrong.
At PSD Codax, we’ve been leading the market for over 25 years, supplying forecourt trade businesses with cutting-edge car wash access technology. Our development centre is dedicated to the future, bringing new innovations to the market that improve the profitability and quality of car wash businesses all over the world.
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When it comes to marketing, a combined approach is often the most effective. As well as using traditional print media like flyers, posters, and leaflets, you should also cultivate a strong online presence with an attractive, user-friendly website and social media strategy. As forecourt businesses rely on in-person business, you should also put up bold, eye-catching signage at your site to intrigue passers-by. Installing an outdoor digital menu sign could be a great way to showcase graphics, animations, and video to capture the attention of your customers. Another way to drive custom is to implement an attractive loyalty scheme with tempting discounts for returning customers.
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Hold Grand Opening
Celebrate the opening of your car wash with a grand opening event. This is a great way to raise awareness for the new business and start the right way, by making a splash! It’s wise to soft launch your business first rather than holding the opening event on day 1. This allows you time to work out any potential snags and difficulties so the actual launch day is seamless. Perhaps you hold a charity car wash event to underscore your commitment to the local community and foster brand loyalty. Perhaps you offer some irresistible discounts and wow customers with your quality wash, making sure they’ll return for the full price option in the future. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Once your business is up and running, it’s easy to focus only on day-to-day operations. But don’t be complacent; continuously developing your car wash capabilities and service quality will be a fundamental part of your ongoing success. Keep on top of the latest car wash innovations and have an ear out for upcoming trends. Making sure you keep ahead of the curve will ensure your services are continually high-quality and consistently relevant to your customers. From cashless car washes to leveraging mobile apps, there are trends forever emerging that successful car wash owners should keep on top of. Above all, make sure you’re working with a leading manufacturer who can help you stay up to date and facilitate your continual improvement.
Industry Defining Car Wash Technology
PSD Codax provides forecourt businesses with the world’s leading car wash technologies. Dedicated to the future of the car wash trade, we’re on a mission to make sure your equipment delivers only the finest customer experience.
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Related: How to Start a Car Wash Business – Step by Step Guide
Related: Creating an Effective Leadership Team for Your Car Wash