Car Wash Industry

Car Wash Industry

Like everything else, the car wash industry has changed dramatically over the years. From the first “sponge and bucket” carwashes to the beginning of the conveyor wash, the industry keeps making it easier and easier for us.

According to industry statistics, the average carwash services 71,000 cars per year, but many do a lot more. 65% of all car washes are at gas stations and convenience stores and 25% of all gas stations and convenience stores have car washes, although most of the are the rollover type. Many oil companies today will not even build a larger convenience store without a car wash.

Here is a great short video on the History Channel about the history of the car wash business.

Car washes are no different than any other business in the sense that there is only two ways to make more money, increase revenues or decrease expenses. Operators usually track the following:

  • Wash Volume – How many cars were washed?
  • Gross Sales –
  • Dollars Per Car – What the average dollar spent per car
  • Mix Of Sales – What percent purchase basic, middle or top option

After they’ve evaluated this information, this is where you decide how to increase revenues or decrease expenses.

It is important for operators to know how many of their customers are recurring customers or “unique” customers to see if they need to increase their marketing efforts or changing their product or pricing structure. Now there is even software to take photos of license plates and enter it into the compute system to know who are repeat customers and who is a new customer.

Depending on which statistic and which source you believe, the majority of your business will come from 5-10 miles of your facility. Car washes are no different than other business establishments. People like a clean environment and a friendly work force.

You have to ask yourself: “Why should someone stop at MY car wash as opposed to any other?” Some will stop just because you are there. Many won’t. We have always been believers of having a “gimmick” or a “hook.” What will be YOUR gimmick or hook? What will grab their attention? If you are in a larger metropolitan area, how will you compete with a well established car wash franchise?

From a nuts and bolts point of view, any borrower or buyer can put a business plan together. Anybody can go out and find traffic count, competition and potential customers. Statistics are readily availably for potential revenues, cost of goods and expenses. But what can YOU do to dominate and not just keep true to a statistic?

Crazy promotions? Spending more money and having a totally unique looking facility? Undercutting your competition on price? What can you do to make them WANT to come to your car wash?

When was the last time you went to a Planet Hollywood or a Hard Rock Cafe? WHY did you go there? Was the food really THAT good? (Having been to many of them, I can tell you the food is no better than any place else) You went there for the atmosphere and that is it. What type of atmosphere could you create at a tunnel wash that would pique someone’s interest? What additional profit centers could you have there for additional sales?

Even the most stable of car wash facilities can improve.  Even the oldest car washes can increase revenues and/or decrease expenses.  We hope to provide ideas to make your business more profitable.

Click CarWash TV to see a video of car washes in the past.

To find out and pre-qualify for car wash financing and what options are available, please send the following information.  You can also email us an Executive Summary of your project to and we will respond to your inquiry.

  1. Previous Year End Business Financials
  2. Current Year-To-Date Business Financials

For more information, contact us at:

(202) 478-0230 Voice
(202) 204-6057 Fax