Car washes can be a very lucrative stream of revenue, especially if you’ve got a great location and manage your business well. Depending on what kind of car wash business you operate, your income may be mostly passive with just light weekly maintenance to do.
Passive income is becoming an increasingly popular concept as many business owners have gone viral online with videos of profits from car washes, laundromats, vending machines and more.
Other types are car washes are much more involved and require a full staff. The tradeoff is these larger businesses have the potential to bring in more revenue.
Pit Crew works closely with self-service, auto-rollover and tunnel car wash businesses. We’ve seen many businesses thrive and are here to help you think about starting your own.
Where to Purchase a Car Wash Facility
Purchasing an existing car wash business might be the easiest way to get into the industry, especially if it is a good location or is already popular in the community. This allows you to also most likely inherit most of your needed equipment, especially with automated car washes.
There are numerous ways to go about searching for car wash businesses that are for sale. Some of them include:
- Browsing online business marketplaces to locate car washes for sale
- Searching services such as Craigslist to find businesses for sale by owner
- Networking with local business organizations to find anyone selling their car wash
- Looking through the classifieds section of your local newspaper
- Partnering with a business broker who can connect you with sellers
How Much Does a Car Wash Business Cost
This varies heavily based on factors such as location, past business success, features, functions and size.
At the lowest end, you may be able to purchase a car wash facility for $100,000 or less. At the high end you could be paying millions of dollars.
Take Virginia for example, the cost of living varies significantly depending on what region of the state you’re in. Coupled with the fact that automatic car washes are exceptionally more expensive, you see huge differences in price.
In rural Southern Virginia, self-service car washes can be purchased for $130,000 – $140,000. Meanwhile full-service car washes in places like Central, Northern or Eastern can vary from $1 million to more than $3 million.
You can afford to purchase a car wash business through several methods. Here are some common ways to finance your new business venture:
- Using personal or family money
- Setting up seller financing
- Teaming up with a business partner
- Allowing employees to purchase stock in the company
- Leasing the business instead of buying
- Taking out a mortgage
What to Know Before Buying a Car Wash Business
Purchasing and running a business is no small task. Each time you consider buying a business, there should be a considerable amount of research done. While buying an existing car wash location may seem easier than building a new one, it could come with surprising challenges.
One of the first things you should look into is why the business is for sale. If the previous owners were struggling to keep profits up, you could meet some of those same hurdles. Depending on the sale you might just be acquiring the property and facility, or you could be purchasing the entire operation complete with employees and existing branding. Each type of sale comes with its own challenges.
You should lay out everything you need to do to get the business up and running. Consider factors such as:
- Overhead Costs
There are many legal aspects to becoming a business owner. If you plan to buy a car wash you must also account for getting a business license, acquiring any needed permits and filling out required paperwork.
The most crucial thing to consider is all of the financial aspects of your decision. You need to weigh how much the business is going to cost versus how much you will be making over the years. This will vary drastically based on what kind of car wash you purchase.
In-bay automatic car washes and self-service car washes do not cost much to operate each year and therefore you get to keep a great deal of your profit. Conveyor and full-service car washes cost more to operate but the revenue is higher.
You should consider other aspects such as if there is any nearby competition, how much the previous owners were profiting from the business and the value of the assets you’re purchasing.
Whichever kind you choose, it’s important that you’ll be able to eventually finish paying off what you spent to purchase it and start making a profit.
Surprise Sludge for New Car Wash Owners
Car wash maintenance isn’t just fixing equipment or restocking soaps. When you’re cleaning cars everyday, the mud and dirt has to go somewhere.
Most car washes have pits at the bottom of the service bay for dirty water to flow into. It’s important that you keep those areas clean and that the previous owners did as well.
As a car wash owner, it’s up to you to ensure your business is compliant with environmental regulations. Each state has their own water drainage regulations that car washes must follow.
Many states will not let a car wash operate without a permit and a process for disposing of their wastewater.
Pit Crew specializes in cleaning out car wash pits and keeping you in line with the rules. When you start your next business venture you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.
Learn more about how you can keep your car wash pits clean.
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