Car Wash Investor Guide

Site Selection


There is an old saying in the carwash industry that there are three
important factors required for a successful wash: location, location
and location. While that statement may be an exaggeration, it is
certainly true that location is the single most important factor. Even
a well-built, well-equipped, and well-managed wash will not reach its
full income potential if the location is not right.

Unlike customers that use an automatic carwash, self-service carwash
customers usually wash their cars as a planned activity, not
impulsively. High traffic counts or heavy exposure are not mandatory
for a good location.

Self-service customers will generally use the carwash facility closest
to their homes, unless that wash is inferior to others in the
community. Your wash should be located near a dense residential area.
Multiple-family units, such as apartments, condominiums, or
townhouses, are good income producers for your wash.

Commercial back-ups, such as shopping centres and fast food
restaurants, are also good traffic-builders, but they are not
absolutely essential for the success of your business.

It is most desirable to select property that is properly zoned.
However, a minor variance or rezoning change need not discourage you.
Check with your local planning department as to what is involved to
make the change.

Some other negative factors should be avoided, if possible: high speed
traffic (over 60 KPH posted speed) which makes it difficult for
customers to exit your wash; very heavy traffic which backs-up from a
traffic light at a nearby intersection and blocks the entrance to your
wash; an adjacent vacant lot which may be a dumping ground or create
blowing dust problems during windy weather; and unpaved streets or
alleys. Who wants to drive down a dusty road just after washing?

As a general guideline, a population of 1,000 to 1,500 will support
one bay of Self-service carwash. This formula assumes that all
facilities conform with today's carwash standards.


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