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Buying A Self-Serve Car Wash Business: What Should My Expectations Be?

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Comments & Replies: 2     Views: 1690     Posted By: Peter Siegel MBA  



Topics: Buying A Business     Tags: buying a business



Owning and operating a car is a necessity for most Americans. Some use their vehicles to simply get from point a to point b, others use their cars to transport a large family or product for business, and some own fast, expensive sports cars to bring them joy on a daily basis. Whatever the reason is for owning a motor vehicle of any kind, keeping it looking vibrant and new is surely the best way to prove that you care about your assets. Taking pride in owning and maintaining a 4-wheeled asset is crucial when it comes to representing yourself in a professional manner.

If you are interested in owning a self-serve car wash, you are interested in giving people the opportunity to take care of a possession that may be the most valuable to them. Before purchasing a car wash of any kind, you must understand that the industry of car washing as a whole will provide you with plenty of competition. More importantly, depending on what your interests are, you will identify what kind of car wash you want to run. If you have determined that a self-serve car wash is the best fit for your needs, then you will want to look for a deal that is consistent with 98 percent of other self-serve transactions, and ensure that the car wash includes the real estate, equipment, and assets as well. You can determine the value of the car wash by multiplying the annual gross sales by a factor of anywhere between 3 and 5.

Car washes are almost entirely a cash business, with the average customer spending roughly $1.00-$2.00 for every 4 minutes spent washing their car. When doing your due diligence, you will want to make sure that the seller has kept accurate books for the past 3 years, as cash businesses allow for higher risk for the buyer. Only keeping a few months of business in the books can not only mean that the seller is shady, but that the numbers may not accurately represent the business being brought in year-round. Because the cost of washing your own car isnít very high, one way of maximizing your income without driving up your costs for customers is to have multiple bays. A good rule of thumb is to have 1 bay available for every 1,000 local residents, with the idea that every bay should bring in $250-$450 per week. The amount of money you make will be dependent on the easily-accessible location that you conduct your business in, your high-quality customer service, and your consistent and loyal clientele.


Excellent article regarding car washes. People who use self serve car washes are one of the most reliable customers you can find. It never ceases to amaze me that someone who makes 40 or 50 dollars an hour, will wash their car for an hour or an hour and a half when they can pay 10 to 15 dollars to have someone else do it in half the time. So, people who wash their car are going to wash their car, and unless they move, they will continue to use the same location over and over.

Unlike other business types such as restaurants or dry cleaners, a new competitor could pop up at any time and peoples tastes change as well. However, to see a new self-serve car wash pop up in your area, would be highly unlikely especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The point is, if you can ascertain that the sales figures are correct, you can more safely assume that the sales will continue similarly into the future at a more predictable fashion, as compared to other business types, and that is what makes self-serve car washes more desirable than many other business types.


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Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists

Laundry specialists - founded in 1968 by three laundry professionals, PWS is a family-owned corporation. Through the years it has grown to become the largest vended laundry equipment distributor in the United States. Call Brad Steinberg at 323-721-8832 to sell or buy a coin or card laundromat.


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