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How to Open a Self Service Car Wash: Complete Guide

How to open a self-service car wash? How does it work? Self serve car wash Is it possible to resort to any franchise chains? How to open an automatic car wash?

Investing in an automatic car wash can be an excellent business opportunity. Although it is difficult to do so with minimum investment. As we will see later.

Self-Service Car Wash: How Does It Work?

Self-service car washes have sprung up like mushrooms in recent years. Even if not all of them have managed to establish themselves on the market. Here is the first sign for our readers.

Even if it seems like an easy business opportunity. It should note that not everyone has gone well. And that also for self-service car washes.

Their operation is very simple. There are stations with automatic lances. Vacuum cleaners, air pumps, and, more generally, any equipment that may be necessary for washing your car.

Tokens are inserted that gives the right to a certain number of seconds. Of the use of the lance that shoots water from. The brush with soap or any other accessories.

Once the token is finished. The dispensing ends and the customer will have to insert. A new token if he has not finished yet.

Both to establish the cost of the tokens and to establish the duration of the same. You can move in absolute autonomy. Even if it would still be the case to go and record. The prices for other similar activities that are not located. At a great distance from our city.

Those who resort to self-service washing are generally very price-sensitive. Unless there are huge advantages in going to one place instead of another. Customers could hardly accept prices much higher than the average.

The price of the tokens is also calibrated concerning the cost of the structure. If the water and electricity used to wash the car increase in price. We will have to behave accordingly, obviously calibrating the prices to still carry at home an income.

The advantage of minimal maintenance

Self-service car wash facilities generally require practically no workforce and very rare maintenance interventions.

Even the owner of the structure will only have to look out a couple of times a day. To check that everything is in order. And to fix the machines that dispense tokens (and remove the receipts – which it is never a good idea to leave for several days inside the cars).

Everything is simpler than the traditional car wash.

The first step: an area of ​​adequate size

The first step in opening a self-service car wash is the area. There will be a need for a rather large open space. Self serve car wash The kind used, for example, for large gas stations.

Typically the areas where self-service car washes are located are slightly outside the city, warehouse/shopping center area, and above all, for cost reasons.

Nothing prevents you from opening yours close to the center. But paying the rent or purchasing the land where having the car wash insists could be decidedly prohibitive.

How much do you spend to open a self-service car wash?

A job that could work practically without any intervention on our part. It seems like a dream to earn from home after investing capital. Those investments guarantee us well-being without excess work.

In reality, here come the sore points, because to open a self-service car wash, also taking into account the costs of the land, you could spend from 120,000 to 150,000 euros for a two-box wash.

Within the prices, we find:

  • the land, which must be accessible from the road and of at least one hectare: even by renting it, the depreciation costs would end up spreading over the following years and therefore should be calculated as an initial investment
  • the necessary expenses for machinery, pumps, lances, and vacuum cleaners
  • the expenses for the adaptation of the systems following the law

You can save money with a self-service car wash franchise

The very interesting alternative is that of the franchised car wash. Several companies offer this type of solution, with very variable prices depending on the type of system you will buy, whether with two boxes, Self serve car wash three boxes, four boxes, or even up to 10 boxes.

The advantage of this solution and price (we are talking on average 20% less than the prices we have communicated above) is in terms of logistics.

The companies that offer self-service franchise car generally washes also take care of the assembly of machinery and, in some cases, of the start-up of the business.

The manager is also trained and given a  business plan as detailed as possible, which will certainly give a big hand to return from the investment in the shortest possible time.

How much does a customer spend on self-service washing on average?

Before venturing into a company that, as we have seen, is extremely expensive even to leave, we must also analyze the average expense to go and wash the car is.

Typically an amount between 2 and 4 euros is spent, depending on the frequency with which the car is washed and depending on the season.

The average driver also washes his car a couple of times a month (and not every week, as we might be led to think).

All this translates into a collection per customer of about 10 euros per month. Make reasonable estimates of the number of customers you will be able to serve, and you should have a relatively accurate calculation of what your business will be earning.

However, the operating costs (water, soap, electricity, plant maintenance: these are all things that have a cost that must be incorporated in our calculations) and the taxation on any gains must still be subtracted from the proceeds.

Making ends meet could be very complicated, although some businesses of this type have managed to thrive in recent years.

The car wash alternative? It costs much less if not automatic

Anyone who should still be interested in the sector and did not have the very important capital required to open a self-service car wash could still start the business with a standard car wash, where to work with employees who will wash cars and hand bikes.

The costs are extremely lower, given that for a franchise business of this type, you spend between 4,000 euros and 12,000 euros, depending on the type of machinery that the companies make available.

The costs are much lower in terms of machinery, but they rise in the long term as we will still have to employ staff, Self serve car wash who will earn salaries, also offering a service that is on average much more expensive than that offered by self-service car washes.

Lately, some activities have also been born that deal with car washing at home or getting the car, or washing it on site.

The costs are almost the same as those we have seen above, and a niche service certainly offered, but with higher profit margins.

Important market shares

Car wash is a market that moves around 200 million euros in an average fiscal year.

They are interesting money movements, even if many operators, large and small, share the cake, a sector with a lot of competition, which often plays very minimal price differences.

To further help you in your choice, we can tell you that:

  • about 60% of customers rely on self-service car washes
  • about 35% rely on old-fashioned car washes
  • the 5% who choose the home-cleaning services

Numbers that we should keep in mind before making our choice.

What are the requirements to open a self-service car wash?

There are no big requirements when it comes to opening a self-service car wash:

  • it would help if you were of age
  • in possession of the moral requirements that require by law for the exercise of a commercial activity
  • open a VAT number
  • own the capital required to start the business

Provided, therefore, that you have the money to open the car wash, there are no particular requirements that separate us from what could be our next business venture.

As for the bureaucratic requirements, we will have to:

  • open the VAT number
  • obtain the technical certification that certifies the correct functioning of the systems
  • The obtain authorization for wastewater discharge
  • obtain certification for noise emissions

Nothing extremely upsetting. The help of a good accountant will be more than enough to overcome. The bureaucratic hindrances and immediately. Or almost immediately begin to operate with our business.

In town or out?

In many Italian cities, self-service washes are also open near the city center.

However, the ideal would be to choose a relatively busy area with good access to the main roads.

It is useless to force its customers to travel miles to save a few euros which will then prompt spent on petrol.

The choice of location, it should be said, is the main factor among those that can determine the success of such an activity.

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