What do you need to start a successful car wash business? It’s way too long a list to cover here, but we will include some major obvious (and not so obvious steps) to reach this goal.

1. Get to know the business. Ideally, work either part or full-time at a professional car wash and learn the ropes. You will not only gain an education about the industry, but you will also be better able to connect with your future employees, who will have a greater respect for someone who has, ‘been there.’

2. Research and find a good location. This is paramount. You can put together a great team, have the nicest, cleanest facility with the greatest equipment, but it’s all for naught if your potential customers can’t find you or have trouble getting into your facility. Like almost any retail outlet, “location, location, location.”

3. Talk to both successful and unsuccessful owners. What went right? What went wrong? What surprised you the most? What was your biggest adjustment? Biggest mistake? Personal revelation? Just asking a few right questions to the right people can result in a huge windfall for you.

4. Investigate competitor’s services. What do they offer to their customers? What do they not offer? What about pricing? If you can, talk to one of their customers, or better yet, become one yourself. If they think you are a customer, you can ask more probing questions without attracting a lot of attention to yourself.

5. Make sure your business plan covers everything. A business plan makes you think deeply about what your venture and goals: you and your business’ future, projected incomes and expenses, expansion, a business plan puts all aspects of your dream in writing. It’s the next commitment.
These are obviously just a few strategies to get your business started. There are innumerable documents, hiring attorneys, funding, all kinds of other issues, and these five are part of a huge picture.

What questions do you have about starting a car wash business? What are your concerns? The biggest mysteries? If you are in the process, what unexpected obstacles have you already overcome?