running a car wash business

Our top tips when starting a car wash business

Want to start a carwash business? A carwash investment can be daunting. What should you tackle first? Scout a site location? Buy equipment? Get car wash financing. We’ve got some tips to get you going.

Step 1  – Do your homework

Starting a business is risky. Do the research and prepare a business plan that includes start-up costs and a potential revenue model. Meet with other car wash business owners for advice. They’ve gone through it and may have tips to help make your transition go more smoothly.

Familiarise yourself with the industry

Speak with as many existing vehicle wash operators, car wash structure builders, and the car wash industry association. Visit as many car washes as you can. Establish the most detailed financial understanding as you can of how much it costs to set up a car wash business.

Being the longest established vehicle wash distributor in Australia, we are able to offer information and assistance in the design and equipment supply for your venture. Don’t hesitate to ask us for assistance. Call (02) 9757 4700 for professional advice.


Approach a financial institution with a solid plan in place. Take this information to your accountant or financial adviser to prepare a detailed budget and cash flow analysis for your project.

Step 2 – Location and type of wash facility

The next step is to establish a suitable location and type of wash that would suit your budget and research.  As a general rule hand car washing has far lower set-up costs and far higher labour costs when compared to an automated car washing business.

A good location depends on a variety of factors. Who is your competition? How is the traffic flow? Who are the potential clients? Is the site easily accessible? Does it have multiple access points? Is the site visible from the street? These are all things to consider.

Know the rules. 

What are the zoning rules? Research the areas that are zoned for car washes and find out if any conditions might stand in your way. Verify the zoning with the city and determine land costs.

Go for quality

Your car wash should be designed to draw the attention of the local market and keep them coming back. A quick, comprehensive, clean service means investing in a top-notch car wash equipment like brands such as Ryko, Istobal and MacNeil. Investing in good equipment up front will help you provide a credible, reliable service for a long time to come.

Step 3 – Marketing

Advertise! People won’t come if they don’t know you exist. Use signage, initiate a mail campaign and use your social media to get the word out. Social media is a great way to connect with the community before they’ve even crossed your threshold. Post promotions and offer a great incentive, like a free first carwash. Host a community event, like a BBQ and bring in some family-friendly entertainment to start building a feeling of community.

Browse our library of helpful car wash business marketing tips: 

starting a car wash business

Should you invest in a car wash business?

There’s so many factors to consider when investing in a car wash business. The quiz below should help you ascertain whether it’s right for you.

As an investor you:
  1. Expect to have little personal involvement.
  2. Plan to be a hands-on operator, ready to spend long hours cultivating your business.
  3. Will hire the people you need to get the job done.

The answer is 2. Once your business is up and running, you can delegate tasks to your growing team to help capitalize on your strengths and weaknesses, but be prepared to get your hands dirty during the start-up phase.

A successful carwash requires:
  1. An investment in a solid system and a good relationship with the car wash supplier.
  2. Good marketing and management skills, and an understanding of business principles.
  3. All of the above.

The answer is 3. Good equipment is important, as a strong, durable system ensures maximum efficiency and minimum downtime. But it’s more than ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Strong business sense, marketing skills and a good understanding of management will place you on the road to success. Worried you don’t have what it takes? Don’t be! You’ll learn a lot of lessons along the way.

Once the carwash is up and running you:
  1. Will be dealing with a variety of people, from suppliers to employees, accountants, customers and support personnel.
  2. Can sit back and watch the money roll in.
  3. Don’t have to do anything for at least five years. After all, you’ve invested in good equipment. The investment speaks for itself.

The answer is 1. Good equipment is a great investment that will ensure longevity, but once the carwash is up and running, the work has just begun. Many people will be involved in some aspect of your business, and now’s the time to cement and build relationships.

The potential return on a carwash investment is:
  1.  Horrible. Why invest in such expensive equipment for little to no return?
  2.  Ok. It’s not a money maker, but it’s a nice way to earn a modest living.
  3.  Promising. Depending on the type of car wash you choose, it can add great value, especially if you’re pairing it with another service like a gas bar.

The answer is 3. The average annual car wash revenue for a single in bay automatic is $139,000, and with options to add and expand, the potential is limitless.

We are Australia’s leading suppliers of car wash equipment & supplies

Good Sight are Australia’s leading suppliers of car wash equipment including automatic (rollover) machinestouchless,  conveyor and drive through systems. We can work with you in every stage of starting or improving your car wash business from design to completion and then servicing and maintenance.

We have been offering Australia-wide sales & service since 1968 and were the first suppliers of automatic car wash systems in the country. Since then we have always been able to pride ourselves as offering a highly professional level of service and support to our clients.

We offer a full range of vehicle wash services including car wash installation, upgrades and maintenance for car wash businessespetroleum retailersautomotive dealershipsfleet and rental car businesses.  We can also assist with a range of car wash accessories including coin operated vacuumsvending machines and dog washes.

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