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Mobile car wash business | start-up tips

Should you give it a shot?

Mobile car wash or detailing business may turn into quite a successful start-up, which doesn’t require too many investments to open. The equipment a businessman-to-be has to buy is minimal and pretty much nothing if compared with the machines and tools used at the automobile repair shops and stationary washes. And, just one room at your house and a garage as the storage space will be enough to set up the ‘managing center’ of a mobile car wash.

Besides, this kind of car services becomes more and more popular, as car owners don’t have enough time to stop by the ordinary car washes and stay in line to wait for their turn. Then, they have to stay in cars while the automatic equipment washes their cars. Also, it’s necessary to bring two cars if they want to clean the car’s inside to be able to leave one car at the washing place and get home on another one. So, people start addressing the mobile services more and more frequently.cars in line in front of car wash

It’s quite convenient for busy people to call the mobile car washing services and get the professionals come to their place to wash their vehicles thoroughly. As this type of car wash is not only the most convenient and the least time-consuming, but it’s also much more effective. First of all, the only time people have to spend to get their automobiles crisp and clean is the time required to find a mobile car washing company within their local areas and call it to book the visit. 5 minutes to wash a car? It’s not bad, is it? That is the factor that may make your business the most, as car owners won’t have to waste their precious weekend or after-work time on such routine task as washing the car if they address your services. Secondly, it’s a common knowledge that hand washing is more effective than automatic one. It makes the car much cleaner. Besides, the vehicle’s inside may be cleaned on the spot as well. And, in addition to that, people may order extra services as wax coating, oil change, inside cleaning, etc. You should predict such opportunities and make the most out of them by including those services into your catalog.


So, as flexibility, quickness, unbelievable convenience and high quality of mobile car wash services are winning the competition for their owners on the market of automotive services and becoming more popular (and more profitable) than traditional companies and auto shops. Consider the benefits of the low start-up budget for mobile car wash, lower competition and relative novelty of such services, and you’ll love the idea of opening a mobile car wash even more. And, if you develop a proper strategy, plan your steps and figure out the way to attract clients, you’ll be able to offset the initial costs and start gaining the revenue pretty soon after the official launch of your business.mobile car wash in action

But, you should actually start conducting a certain business activity before you may start earning some money. That’s why we’re going to discuss the steps to open a mobile car wash (detailing) of your own.

How to start a mobile car wash

Step 1. Mobile car wash business plan

As for any start-up, you have to write down a definite plan to be able to develop a step-by-step guide to creating your own little company. This will help you figure out the number and the cost of equipment you’ll have to buy to be able to operate as a mobile car wash and establish your budget, including other expenses (like rent, license and insurance, gas costs, marketing expenses, staff’s wages, etc.).

Now you should also define your operation zone. The most efficient decision for a brand-new mobile car wash services is to operate within your local area in order to limit the transportation expenses. This will also help you reach out to the potential customers more or less personally.

As we’ve already determined, you may totally use a corner at your house to sit down and conduct all the administration activities and a garage to store your supplies. So, you shouldn’t feel the need to rent a separate office for your company. So, that’s where you’re going to cut the costs.business plan chalk board

A detailed business plan should also include the business development perspectives. You may include some additional services to introduce after some time your company operates on the market. Those could be oil change, some mobile mechanic’s services, etc. Stick to the company’s main principle – doing everything at the customer’s place.

This business plan will also help you make the investors (bank or your prospective partners) believe that your deal is worth putting their money into. This brings us to the fact that you’ll have to predict how soon you’ll be able to compensate for the start-up capital, as well as the prospective revenue.

And, it’s always easier to follow a prepared path while starting a new business.

Step 2. Figure out legal matters

Even though a mobile car wash is nothing like a huge company, it might still require its owner to get licensed. In some states you may skip this step if you’re going to operate under your own name. But in general, you’ll have to contact your town or city hall to figure out the documents and fees required to apply for a license. If you’re going to sell some car care products and supplies to your clients (and some of them would love to purchase the cleaners you’ve used to make their vehicles look perfect), you have to apply for the sales permission beforehand.

Don’t forget about purchasing an insurance to get yourself covered and to protect your business in liability cases.

Step 3. Purchase supplies, equipment and hire staff for your mobile car wash

This is the part most of your budget will be spent on. You’ll need a load of basic cleaning supplies like microfiber cloths, sponges, towels, window cleaning sprays or liquids, car interior and carpet cleaners, stain removers, tire washing liquid and car wax to polish the exterior and preserve the vehicle’s color. It’s better to read some professional literature to figure out which cleaners are the best ones to use considering their ingredients. Besides, you’ll have to purchase different brushes for windows, tires and cars’ exterior,  sweeping brooms, a hand vacuum cleaner, a steam cleaner, a pressure washer and a buffer/polisher.  A couple of buckets,hoses and tubing, polishing pads, spray bottles, extension cords will come in handy too. Finally, buy several plastic bins to keep all your supplies in, rubber gloves and some protective clothes for your employers and yourself.

mobile car wash equipment

By the way, you probably won’t be able to run your business and be the person who does all the mobile car washes on his own at the same time. It’s just not quite efficient. That’s why you should either find a business partner or hire a couple of employees, who work in car services. Make sure that those are more or less experienced and trust-worthy people. It’s good to form at least two mobile car washing teams, headed by you and your partner.

Cooperate with local automotive pros

Step 4. Find a business vehicle

You and your mobile car washing team will have to get to the client’s places and bring all your equipment there. That’s why a minivan will be a perfect business car for you. You’ll be able to fit all people of the team and plop the bins with equipment into its roomy trunk. If you don’t have such a vehicle and you can’t afford to buy/rent one at this point, you may ask your partner and/or employers to use their cars to get to the spots and pay for the gas expenses.

Either way, don’t forget to use your vehicles as the marketing means. Make your company’s logo, phone numbers, discount banners and website address appear on your car.mobile car wash van

Step 5. Don’t overlook marketing matters

A new business has to deal with attracting its first clients in conditions of low marketing budget. That’s why you should seek the least expensive promotion opportunities in order to spread the word about your new mobile car wash among the target audience without experiencing significant expenses. For instance, you may use samples of leaflets and business cards given on the Internet. Customize their design and print them out on your own. It will be much cheaper than ordering them from the printing shop.

Ask your friends and family for positive references. Maybe, they may recommend your car washing services to their co-workers and friends. Engage your staff in the promotion activities as well.

Make the full use of the free, but probably the most effective for your type of services online promotion opportunities. Most of customers will look for a mobile car wash online, that’s why you should create your business profiles or post different ads on the job hunting websites (like HireRush.com). Your own business website will be highly beneficial too, but you may do well just with the business profiles I’ve mentioned above and social media activity.

Create your own business profile

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