How to run a car wash service

Do you like the idea of being a business owner? Are you still trying to choose the right niche for this new venture? Learning how to run a car wash is one option that gives you control of your time and income. You can step away from the cubicle and enjoy the flexibility of business ownership.

With a little bit of planning and a lot of work, you can start a successful new car wash business. Keep reading for an overview of the steps to take to set up and run a car wash.

Step 1: Choose a location

Your location will be a significant factor that affects whether your car wash is successful or not. First, make sure there’s a demand in the area. You need a location with plenty of traffic and a large enough population. Next, look at other businesses and the overall demographics in the area.

Most car washes have physical locations with drive-thru bays and machinery. So, you’ll need to choose between a self-service, hand-wash system or an automated car wash. Or, you might choose a location-independent car wash business by offering mobile service.

Step 2: Research the competition

Before jumping into any business opportunity, it’s wise to research the competition so you can see what’s already happening in the area. For example, how many car washes are in the neighborhood? How busy are these locations?

Evaluate pricing structures, marketing campaigns, and daily traffic moving through each car wash location. Then, take your car through each of the competitor’s services so you can get a feel for different levels of customer service.

Step 3: Set up the business

There’s a lot that goes into setting up a new business. You need to

  • Choose and register a business name
  • Form a legal entity
  • Apply for an employer identification number (EIN)
  • Open a business bank account
  • Set up a business accounting system
  • Obtain local permits and licenses
  • Find business financing for construction and startup costs
  • Select a business insurance plan

Step 4: Plan construction

You must meet specific city or county requirements before opening a new business. Not only do you need a business license, but you also need to know about insurance requirements, water usage limits, construction approvals, tax rates, and more.

The rules are different in every city. A contractor can assist in the planning, approval, and permit processes before construction.

Step 5: Spread the word

Once you’re ready to open, it’s time to get the word out about your new car wash. One of the most complex parts of starting a new business is bringing in customers. Here are a few ideas to help you launch a marketing campaign.

  • Advertise a free car wash as part of the grand opening week
  • Offer a deal to local businesses and pass out coupons in the community
  • Provide package options to keep customers coming back in the future
  • Hang banners and balloons to capture people’s attention when they’re driving by
  • Offer discounts for word-of-mouth referrals

Part of the marketing process is defining your business’s brand. Use consistent branding across all marketing platforms to make your business recognizable and easy to remember.

Step 6: Automate your system

You’ll need to collect customer information and digital payments — and set up a filing system. Digital forms are great for all types of data-collection, and Jotform offers no-code solutions and mobile-friendly forms for your customers and employees.

For example, this car wash and detail template is available to collect customer information and service requirements. You can also set up an incident report form for people to fill out if their car sustains damage during the car wash.

Jotform is also an excellent resource for recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and managing car wash employees. You can choose from a variety of Jotform employment forms, including job application forms, employee information forms, referral forms, exit interview forms, and more.

Additionally, Jotform offers payment processor integrations so you can collect debit or credit card payments from customers. Add a payment option to your online form so customers can request services and pay at the same time.

Jotform can provide all of the digital forms you need as you set up your business. You can customize premade form templates or create forms from scratch using easy, drag-and-drop form-design tools. Then track and analyze your data in Jotform Tables to measure business success and projected income.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

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