According to Grand View Research (GVR), the demand for car wash services has increased over the past decade.1 According to the GVR report “US Car Wash Service Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Type (Tunnels2Rollover/In bay3self service4) and segment forecasts 2021 – 2028.”
Seven key factors are driving these growth trends in North America and beyond, including:
- More vehicles per household. Three to four vehicles are not uncommon in modern households. “There are also many areas where new housing opportunities are emerging rapidly,” said Lee Norton, CEO of Mark VII Equipment. “That means opportunities for new car washes, even in areas where car washes already exist.”
- Customer request for more comfort. Tight schedules and time pressures have led more and more consumers to use professional car washes instead of cleaning their vehicles at home. “Customers don’t have much time today and don’t want to wait,” says Norton.
- environmental regulations. More municipalities have enacted regulations banning car washing in residential areas, Norton said. This helps expand the customer base for professional car washes.
- Profitable Business Opportunities. The car wash business suits a variety of owners, from a retiree looking to invest their retirement to a private equity group with multiple car washes in their portfolio. “A car wash can provide a significant return on investment,” explains Norton. “While operating profits vary by business model, car wash gross margins are very attractive.”5 A car wash is a relatively easy business to run that can provide a long-term income stream. Car washes also tend to have a high resale value, says Norton. “Once you’ve run a well-run business, it’s usually not difficult to sell a car wash business.”
- More car wash options. If you have a piece of land in the right place, you can get into the car wash business. There are a variety of car wash options that an owner can configure, from in-bay automatics with a soft-touch or touch-free wash (commonly found in convenience stores) to tunnel systems and more. “There are many choices, along with options within options,” says Norton. “It’s important to choose options that are appropriate to the size of property and location you have and that meet the needs of the local community.”6
- New technology. In recent years, there have often been serious ups and downs in the income stream of a car wash, especially in winter. Modern technology can add more stability to the income stream. Consider the subscription model. Similar to a monthly gym membership, the subscription model allows customers to choose a wash schedule, pay a monthly fee, and get unlimited car washes. “This model has grown in popularity over the past 10 years,” confirms Norton. “It’s a win-win because customers can wash their car as often as they want and it offers cost savings to the car wash operator.” As member customers tend to wash their vehicles more frequently, this makes their vehicle easier to clean. “Less contamination means less wear and tear on the car wash,” says Norton.
- Support for car wash owners. Several companies in the car wash industry can supply everything needed to start a car wash business. Not all of these companies are created equal, however. If you’re thinking about opening a car wash, contact two or three companies, visit them face-to-face, and see their technology in action, advises Norton. “In addition to asking questions about the products and training they offer, you should listen to the questions they ask you,” he says. “They should ask you for details about the size of the car wash you are considering, the vision you have for your business, the layout of your lot and more. You want a partner who knows their stuff, is honest with you and isn’t just trying to sell you stuff.”
Mark VII brings years of experience in the car wash industry, supporting customers across North America and around the world. “As a company, we’ve been around for 55 years and we have support engineers across North America,” says Norton. During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there hasn’t been a day in 2020 that Mark VII has closed its factory gates, he adds.7 “We continued to build car washes and provide customer support.”8th
The growth potential in the car wash industry remains strong for the foreseeable future, concludes Norton, who encourages you to contact Mark VII for more information. “This is a fun business and the market opportunity is wide open.”
Lee Norton is CEO of Mark VII Equipment and provides insight into the exciting growth patterns in the car wash industry.