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Is owning a carwash a good business? Is it easy?

Part II

HFW Portrait low res

by Henry Weinschenk


Months, sometime years, have passed since you first started the project of building a carwash. You have spent a good amount of money on lawyers, architects, engineers, government fees, etc. besides paying for an expensive piece of land.


You are now ready to buy the wash equipment. There are many manufacturers. How do you make sense out of such a great variety? It’s not easy. When all is said and done, the equipment does not look that different, except for some bells and whistles. What’s your next step?


You will be surprised about the price ranges for similar packages of equipment. You may be inclined to go with the most expensive one, assuming that it will be the best, or the one that looks slickest, or the one that is the lowest cost.

The reality is that, these days most equipment performs the job of cleaning cars adequately. What you don’t know is, how will it perform from a maintenance point of view. There is one simple fact, carwash equipment is constantly subject to stress, wear and tear. It just comes with the territory. So, the important questions now are: is it build to last? Is it simple enough that it can be maintained by my own crew? Or, is it so complex that I will depend on outside service people? These are really the most important questions when selecting one manufacturer over another.


Once you have narrowed down your selection, you have another set of questions: who will install the equipment, and who will install all the plumbing and wiring that is required? These last two are not a minor matter. It will take substantial amounts of time and money, especially if you are only provided with minimum information and diagrams.


Finally, the construction starts, the equipment has been ordered and — like all construction jobs — there are delays, unforeseen situations, work change orders, bad weather, etc. But you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Pardon the pun.


As you near completion, you will have to concentrate on hiring the right people. It does not matter if you are building a simple little car wash, that requires few people or a larger one with a lot of services provided by a crew of people. You will need people.


Regardless of, if you plan to run the daily operations or not, you will have to hire a responsible and capable manager. Somebody that can deal with the maintenance of the equipment, the people in the crew, and the most important people of all: your customers. Who are you going to get and where will you find that person? And, once hired, how are you going to compensate and motivate, him or her. You want to make sure you will retain that person for a long time. That is, if that person turns out to be the right person.


You will also have to interview and hire, assistant managers and the rest of the crew. Remember that these people are not just your production workers, they are your ambassadors in front of your customers.


You are still weeks, if not months, away from your opening day, but you need to start planning for it. How will people know that you are open for business?


Stay tuned for Part III.

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