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Car Wash Franchise


Polishing the truth on the car wash franchise

While some people can stand in their driveway for hours, washing, spraying and scrubbing their cars until they shine; most people can't even stand the thought. And it's thanks to them that car wash franchises have become a successful business venture.


If you're investigating ownership of a car wash franchise, be sure you do your homework into whether or not there is a demand for it. Car washes require a lot of investment and a permanent location. Cost increases because of the amount of equipment needed; those enormous brushes don't come cheap.

When deciding what type of car wash franchise you want to own and operate, ask yourself what you plan to accomplish with your franchise. Do you plan to offer professional detailing? Or lube services? Or just leave vehicles sparkling and spotless?

The southern car wash chain Cactus Car Wash distinguishes itself as a 'high quality' car wash because it offers customers a coffee shop, widescreen televisions and free Internet access. A Cactus Car Wash franchise is pricy, with costs ranging from $1.2 million to $1.6 million (excluding real estate costs).

Of course, there is the more affordable option to franchise a coin-operated self-serve car wash. Super Wash offers automatic brushless washes and is somewhat moderately priced at $391,300 to $1 million.

The total investment, including costs such as the royalty and franchise fees, depend on the individual franchise's corporate policy. This also goes for the terms of the franchise agreement and any availability for in-house financing. The amount of time it takes to set up the franchise depends on whether you use an existing location or if you build a new site, plus the specific brand and size of the franchise.

The pluses of running your own car wash franchise:

  • It's a franchise designed to attract and process a large number of customers quickly and efficiently; no lingering necessary
  • Automatic car washes that allow customers to service their own vehicles saves the franchisee money otherwise spent on labor costs
  • Can easily be co-branded with another franchise, or partner up with a gas station or an auto supply shop
  • Relatively easy to own and operate

And the negatives:

  • It is an expensive investment
  • A lot of equipment is required to build a car wash; keep the large rollers, brushes, tracks and dryers in mind
  • Limited locations; there is rarely a need for two operations in the same area
  • Low brand name recognition with consumers
  • Local government concerns about water waste and pollution