How to put up a small car wash business

(First published in the Philippine Online Chronicles)

By Ma. Rachel R. Yapchiongco

A car is a valuable possession and a person who owns one often places great value on his vehicle.  Many car owners take good care of their cars by keeping both interior and exterior components in good condition.  To ensure that the car is in tip top shape, people bring their cars to the repair and service shop for routine maintenance. Car owners also put importance on how their vehicles look from the outside. They bring their cars to the nearby car wash for a good cleaning.  After all, a clean and well maintained car reflects positively on the owner while a dirty and neglected car can have a negative connotation.

Putting up a hand car wash can be a lucrative business for a budding entrepreneur because the number of cars on the road multiplies every year which means an increase in car wash demand.  This type of business needs time, effort and money.  Initial investment may depend on factors such as rental fee of the place, type and size of car wash.  Capital may also depend on whether you own the property lot or not.   Aside from construction expenses, you also need money for administrative and other business expenses.

In any business, it is important to learn how to effectively manage cash flowespecially during lean periods when business is slow. In the car wash business, lean periods are usually experienced during rainy season. Several days of bad weather can negatively affect revenues.  Summer is usually considered a good season because people often bring their cars for a good wash.

Before you decide to put up your own car wash, here are some tips and reminders that can guide you in making a business decision.

1. Make a feasible study.

Before venturing into any business, it is important to make your own feasibility study.  Before proceeding with your research, you should already have an idea where to put your car wash business.  Study various factors that can affect the success or failure rate of the business. Consider factors such as demographics, location, marketing strategies and competitors.

Determine the need in the area.  Find out how many car wash services are there in that location.  Make sure that there are not too many of them within the same vicinity; otherwise it might be hard to get customers.

To learn more about the car wash business, you can also attend seminars about professional car care technology.

2. Find a good location.

Choose a location that is visible and accessible to customers.  It is advisable to set up your car wash near residential areas and high-traffic routes.  If possible, find a location near establishments like supermarkets and fast food restaurants.  Busy areas mean a healthy flow of cars and potential customers.

According to EntrePinoys atbp., around 80% of car wash customers come within a ten mile radius of your area.  Many car owners are not willing to drive too far to get a car wash.  They are most likely to choose the one that is conveniently located near them.

3. Get proper registration requirements and documents.

Register your business at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for single proprietorship and at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for partnership or cooperation.

Apply for a business permit from the city where you will put up the car wash.  Register the business with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to secure TIN (Tax Identification Number).

4. Set-up structure for car wash business.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money for the structure of a small hand car wash.  To save money, you can construct a simple shade structure with strong steel columns for protection against the sun and rain.  This allows customers to easily drive-in and drive-out. The car wash can have cemented or tiled flooring.  It is advisable to build a storage area where you can safely keep your equipment.

5.  Invest on important equipment and basic supplies.

For a small hand car wash that can accommodate around three cars at a time, you can begin by investing in the following things:

  • 2 power sprayers
  • 1 air compressor
  • 1 wet-dry vacuum cleaners
  • 1 polisher
  • 3 drums
  • car shampoo, glass cleaners, interior protectants, interior cleaners, leather cleaners, vinyl cleaners, tire block, finishing wax or sealant, air freshener, etc.
  • drums, buckets, brushes, non-abrasive sponges, chamois, towels, rags
  • benches or chairs (for customers)
  • electric fans (optional)

Read more …

Photo: “Car wash” by , c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

8 Comments on How to put up a small car wash business

  1. Hi, im planning to put up a carwash also before the year ends, I read somewhere that a septic tank must be installed before your business permit gets approved? How true is this?

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

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