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



Posted By: Peter Siegel MBA: BizBen Founder, Lead Advisor.   Before purchasing a car wash (quick serve or full serve) you must understand that the industry as a whole will provide you with plenty of competition. More importantly, depending on what your interests are, you will identify what type of car wash you want. We discuss this all in this Discussion.

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 isn't 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.


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