Car Wash Investment Startup Cost

Getting your own business started can be a very exciting process! But it can also come with some stressors, especially when it comes to finding starting capital. Don’t sweat it! In this article, we’ll take a look at just how much money you need to get a car wash started (depending on the scope of your startup), and how to go about applying for a loan.

The amount of money you will need for a car wash startup will vary on the size of your startup, how much equipment you’d like to invest in right away, the location where you’ll be starting your business, and the size of the team you’d like to bring on. 

After conducting some research, I’ve gotten a wide range of answers on how much it costs to invest in a car wash startup. Anywhere from $500 to 3.5 million has been thrown out there. Let’s take a look at exactly why there is such a variance in starting budgets and what you can expect to pay depending on what you’d like your car wash to look like. I promise, you can start a very successful business without shelling out 3M.

The Size of Your Startup

Car Wash Investment Startup Cost

The size of your business is going to be the largest factor in how much money you need to spend to open up. There are many small car wash businesses that get started on their own driveway or in a parking lot with the bare necessities. All you’ll need is water, cleaning supplies, a bucket, and some wash cloths. Getting started on your own driveway or a parking lot means that you won’t have to worry about money for rent. In this case, your starting investment will essentially be $500 or less depending on how much you spend on starting cleaning supplies.

On the other hand, if you would like to rent out a business space in order to set up your car wash, then you will have to have money for rent, this will cost between $2,000 and $10,000 per month depending on the location and size of the property. It’s important for you to decide going into starting your own business how much money you feel comfortable spending – either by taking out a loan or by using personal savings – for an initial investment.

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What Equipment You’d Like to Invest in Right Away

Depending on the scale of the business you’ll be starting you’ll have to invest in the proper equipment accordingly. As we looked at above, if you are starting on a smaller scale and simply getting started on your driveway, then your startup costs for equipment will also be very low. You could probably spend less then $500 and successfully purchase all of the equipment you’ll need for your business. On the other hand, if you are renting out a space and getting started on a large scale, then you will have to invest in the proper equipment as well. 

According to the approximate equipment cost on getting a car wash setup started is between 15K-25K. Not a small number, but if you think about it, this equipment is what is going to help you complete services and will be bringing in your revenue. So, while it is a large number, if your business goes well, it should pay for itself in time. 

Before opening your business, you’ll want to determine what services you want to offer your customers. This decision may be based on which services will bring in the most revenue, which services are the most cost efficient to offer, or which services you are specialized in labor wise. Once you have these services determined, you will have to figure out what equipment is needed to perform those duties. For example, if you want to offer paint services you will of course need paint and brushes. If you are offering seat cleaning, you will of course need to get a steam cleaner and if you will be offering buffing service you’ll need to purchase a car buffer. Make a list and determine from the get go all of the supplies you’ll need to invest in before you open your car wash.

Remember, you can always invest in more equipment and add on services later on once your business starts to take off and bring in a decent revenue. You don’t have to feel pressured to spend thousands of dollars and buy every new car washing product on the market right off the bat.

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The Location Where You Will be Setting Up

Car Wash Investment Startup Cost

Location is everything, and can make or break how well your new business does. If you open up shop in a rarely visited part of town that few people ever get down to, the chances of your business thriving likely aren’t that great. On the flipside, you’d probably get a really great deal rent wise on a space like this. On the other hand, if you were to find a prime real estate space in the heart of town that is a busy spot traffic wise, your new business has a much higher chance of succeeding! Rent however is likely to be double if not triple in this area. 

You’ll have to decide going in what is more important to you. There is always going to be some sort of trade off. Saving money early on in the investment, with the tradeoff being lower revenue and a less profitable business. Or a higher up-front startup cost, with the benefit of being located in a great area with more traffic, and more sales opportunities. You’ll have to decide which makes more sense to you before you decide on a spot.

The Size of the Team You Will be Starting With

Another huge part of getting your car wash started, or any business for that matter, will be bringing on a team of reliable workers who will support you and your business. You have a number of things you’ll have to determine here. One is the number of workers you will bring on. Start with making a list of the roles you will want to fill and how many people you will need to fill each role. We talked about this up above already but if you are getting started with just yourself on your driveway, you may not be bringing on a team at all or just one other individual to help out. But if you are getting started on a bigger scale, you will need between 5-10 workers depending on just how large your business is.

Next, determine the qualifications you’d like your workers to have. If you are fine getting by with hiring workers straight out of high school with little to no previous work experience, then you’ll likely be fine just paying them minimum wage. If, however, you are hoping to hire workers who are specialized in the car industry and have experience under their belt, they are likely to command higher wages due to their experience and labor specialization. These factors will play a huge role in how much of your starting investment will go towards labor.

Brining it All Together

Car Wash Investment Startup Cost

Like we looked at above, the four factors that will play a role in how much money you will need to invest in your car wash startup are the size of your startup, how much equipment you’d like to invest in right away, the location where you’ll be starting your business, and the size of the team you’d like to bring on. You have the option of using savings to invest in your business, or the option of taking out a loan and keeping your savings tucked away. Regardless of which option you go with, be sure to carefully craft out a business plan and budget how much money from your startup investment will go towards each area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it a better option to use up savings or take out a loan for my initial investment?
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Each option has its pros and cons, so while I can’t give you a definitive answer, I can certainly give you plenty to think about. Taking out a loan means that your life savings is safely tucked away, and you have it to fall back on in the case that your new business does not take off immediately. On the downside, you will be going into debt to start your business, and you need to make sure you don’t miss any loan payments. Using savings meanwhile means that you won’t be going into debt to start out your business, but you don’t have any cushion to fall back on if you aren’t making a profit on your business right away. Keep these factors in mind, and make the decision that is best for you.

  1. How do I find the best location to set up my new business?

For starters, do your research online to see what spaces are open, and check out the surrounding businesses. See how busy the existing businesses in the location are, and how busy or slow they are. This will be a good indicator of how well a new business in the area will do. If your town has a downtown area, this is another great place to set up, as these areas are usually the heart of a town and are likely to be busy areas with lots of foot traffic.

To learn more on how to plan your own car wash business click here!

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.