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Thread: Do It Yourself Car Wash

  1. #1
    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Do It Yourself Car Wash

    My family is considering investing in a "Do It Yourself" type car wash business and place it on a parcel of land that is currently owned by us. The location is ideal for such a business because it is in an urban area surrounded by apartments. We dont hope to get rich off this venture but just help pay off the current loan we have on the land and pocket a little extra money.Our goal is to to make a little bit of money without having to spend alot of time doing it.

    Does anyone know of someone or had a similar type business ?? Also any info as to how successful the business was??
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    I had a boss that looked into doing this as a second career. He found that opening a full-service car wash was a $1-1.5M operation when all was said and done (purchasing land, building the car wash, spinning up the biz, etc.)

    Don't know about a do it yourself place. Try http://www.ehow.com/how_15361_open-car-wash.html

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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    George, you might want to talk to some of the folks at Harrols Car Wash System. They are in Indy (west side, off 10th, I believe) and are a distributor of a bunch of different car wash equipment for the "DIY places" you are describing.

    They would be able to give you an idea of what equipment is needed, costs, rent/buy, etc etc.

    Here's there website.
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    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    My dad started a do-it-yourself car wash with a partner about 10 years or so ago... owned it for around 5-6 before selling it.

    It is a CONSTANT headache. Don't get into it thinking you can just set it up and leave it... at least one thing was ALWAYS broken/in need of repair... whether it's the change machine messing up (there's a reason you install two, haha), needing chemicals mixed etc. etc. etc., the good thing is, if you get a handle on it quickly, you can usually just "shut down" the bay that is messing up till you can get it squared away.

    Do you plan to have an "automatic" lane? Those are the real money-makers and almost all car washes, even the "do it yourself" ones, have one nowadays. My father's had one... of course, being the most profitable aspect of the car wash, it was also the aspect that required the most upkeep.

    He was glad when he sold his share...

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    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    Willy Mo

    One good thing is our office is right next to the land we are proposing to put the potential car wash at, so any type problems such as broken change machines etc.. could be fixed reasonably easy. One question though do you have an idea if the business was profitable at all?? Like I said I realize we arent going to get rich off it but we would like to make enough to make it worth our while.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

  7. #6
    Joe Oliver love-child Blimpie's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    I would at least consider adding bays that are oversized to accomodate semis or larger commercial vehicles. Normally, the only place these monsters can get scrubbed down is at truck stop facilities. Unfortunately, the lines at these truck stops are typically very long for the truckers. If you know anything about truckers, they only like to stop when they are forced to do so.

    If you had such a feature at your facility, and could promote the fact at the nearest Interstate exit, then you would be receiving customers around the clock who would even be happy to pay fees in excess to what you charged in your regular sized bays.
    "Booing on opening day is like telling grandma her house smells like old lady."--WOY

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    George, have you considered building one of those "U-Store-It" facilities? In an urban area surrounded by apartments, there might be a need for personal storage space. Plus it seems like the upkeep would be a lot less than on a car wash.
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  9. #8
    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool View Post
    George, have you considered building one of those "U-Store-It" facilities? In an urban area surrounded by apartments, there might be a need for personal storage space. Plus it seems like the upkeep would be a lot less than on a car wash.
    The "U-Store -It" was our first idea but since there already is a huge complex less than a half mile away we have kinda nixed that idea.

    We just are looking for ideas to cover the mortgage on the land that we have bought. We bought the land for a long term investment, it is located on a busy intersection with alot of potential for growth. The mortgage isnt that much to where it is strapping us but we just are kicking around ideas to put some type of money maker on the land with little work involved.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

  10. #9
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    Quote Originally Posted by George Anderson View Post
    The "U-Store -It" was our first idea but since there already is a huge complex less than a half mile away we have kinda nixed that idea.
    It figures.

    I have an entrepreneurial friend who says storage facilities are great low-effort money makers. Looks like someone else already knew that.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    I've never really understood the appeal of paying to do-it-yourself car wash.

    If I'm going to do it myself, then I'm going to do it myself, regardless of whether I have a house, condo, or live in an apartment. Most multi-unit complexes have somewhere designated as a car washing area. I'll use my own hose, bucket, soap & sponge.

    If, on the other hand, I want to pay to have my car washed, then I'm going to take it somewhere to have it done while I look at a newspaper or get some lunch.

    Depending on what's around your land, it sounds like a coffee shop / dry cleaners / laundromat might be something worth looking into.

  12. #11
    Joe Oliver love-child Blimpie's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    I think it is an ease of use thing. When I want to thoroughly wash my vehicles, I use my pressure washer at home. I can never seem to do a quality job with a hose--or at least not in under 1 hour. Granted, not everyone has enough of a need to own their own pressure washer.

    It seems to me that people who use these self-serve joints are wanting to do a better than average job (with p-washer) without spending alot of time or money. Most of the decent full-serve car washes in this area are asking $19-25 to wash a vehicle inside/out.
    "Booing on opening day is like telling grandma her house smells like old lady."--WOY

  13. #12
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    I use these b/c my house doesn't have a driveway. My initial reaction is that depending on where you are located there are probably better ways to utilize land.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

  14. #13
    Joe Oliver love-child Blimpie's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    I use these b/c my house doesn't have a driveway. My initial reaction is that depending on where you are located there are probably better ways to utilize land.
    Pedro on his way to wash his car...

    "Booing on opening day is like telling grandma her house smells like old lady."--WOY

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    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    Quote Originally Posted by 15fan View Post
    a coffee shop
    Yes. Drive-thru Espresso.

    When I first moved out to the Mid-West there were NONE of these around (compared to the billions in the PNW). A few have popped up in SE MI lately and I've thought about opening one myself. Staff it with 1-2 college kids at minimum+tips and this will bring in the $$$.

  16. #15
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: Do It Yourself Car Wash

    Quote Originally Posted by Blimpie View Post
    Pedro on his way to wash his car...

    My house is older than that guy.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun


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