How To Start Your Own Car Washing Service

When done correctly, a car wash can be an extremely lucrative business. Like with many businesses, there are a variety of options for the type of car wash you’d like to operate.

Will this be a small side business or generate the majority of your income? Do you have thousands to invest upfront or will you start small and work your way up?

First, determine your starting point.

If you want to start a car washing service the first step is to decide which type you’d like to start. Your business type can always evolve, but you need to decide what you can handle off the bat.

1 .To help you decide, we’ve narrowed it down to 4 major types of car wash businesses.

2. Hand service car washes – You or an employee wash the car completely by hand using only basic tools.

3. Self-service car wash – You provide all of the equipment and the location and the customer pays a fee to use it.

4. Full Car detailing – You or your team would work to clean the car for the customer. This would often include interior cleaning. Sometimes it’s is at a stagnant location and sometimes this is moveable and you can meet customers at their location.

Automated car washing services – A customer simply drives their vehicle through car washing machinery that you’ve provided at your location and self cleans.

Now that you’ve decided what type of car washing business you’d like to operate, you need to create a business plan and handle the legal aspects of starting a business.

Form a Legal Entity – Once you’ve decided what type of car wash service you’d like to operate, you need to figure out the legal aspects and the first step in this is to create a legal entity. Your state business website will be able to give you detailed information on this as it varies from state to state.

Types of legal entities include:

  • Sole Proprietorship – a type of business that is owned and operated by one person. From a financial standpoint, there is legally no distinction between the owner and their business. The owner is liable for all debts the business owes and vice versa.
  • LLC – the US-specific term for a private limited company. The business owner is not personally responsible for the debts of the business.
    And Corporations – a company, that is usually large and guided by a board of directors vs a single business owner.
  • There are pros and cons of each type and this will depend on which type of car wash you plan to operate. If you plan to start a small hand washing company, a simple LLC will likely do the trick, but if you plan to have a large company with many employees and large machinery, a corporation is likely what will suit you best.

Learn your state’s permit, insurance, and licensing requirements.

  •  What types of insurance do you need?
  • Are there permits to operate a business in your neighborhood?
  • What license will be required if your employees are operating customers’ vehicles?

Create Your Brand – Most new business owners feel that this is something they can handle on their own, but it’s typically best left to a graphic designer.

Your logo and branding are something you want to create once and stick with it as you will have it on your flyers, business cards, and website. Customers will remember your logo and brand colors and associate them with your business.

After you’ve decided on your business logo and brand colors, it’s a great time to purchase some advertising materials such as flags or banners that will grab the attention of your potential new customers driving by.

Good luck!

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