Franchise Spotlight: Car Cleaning

Some franchise opportunities demand a substantial upfront investment, but a car cleaning franchise can be a lot more flexible.

Running a car wash can offer the opportunity to create just the right size of business you can handle, as well as the chance to be involved in an everyday necessity in most communities.

But, what’s it like being a car wash franchisee? Here’s a rundown of what you need to know:

Facts & stats

  • According to the Car Wash Association, the UK has 38 million vehicles which need washing, generating a £1 billion turnover for every kind of car wash. 
  • The Daily Telegraph report that around 75% of all women, and more than 30% of men, have never resorted to washing their own cars by hand.
  • While around 63% of semi-skilled and manual workers wash their own cars, only 54% of professionals take on this task. (Daily Express)

Overview

A car wash (or auto wash) facility undertakes the task of cleaning the outside of a customer’s car – and sometimes the interior too.

The car-cleaning industry offers both automated and manual options to do this, as well as some self-service options.

Car washing in its various forms has been in existence for as long as there have been cars on the road.

These include straight hand washing, self-service ‘jet wash’ options, ‘rolling’ automatic car wash bays and mobile car washes. In addition, some operators offer chemical car washes which can include waxing and polishing, or even forms of steam cleaning.

Operating a successful car wash franchise depends on choosing a sound, tried-and-tested franchise model. But also crucially involves securing the right location for your target customers and offering the kind of facility and level of service they expect.

This involves considerations such as a reliable and customer-friendly service, a high-quality outcome, and a full range of price options, plus perhaps some extras like a full valeting service.

And to ensure a new enterprise hits the ground running, as a franchisee, it’s also important to know your franchisor is prepared to fully support your business marketing in those important early months. 

Franchise models

There are a number of different car cleaning franchises and will seek to differentiate themselves from their rivals by offering a franchise package which offers something others cannot match.

A typical fixed-location franchise may offer assistance with site setup – perhaps including help with any on-site alterations or building work.

They will provide assistance to set up the car wash and offer operator training too. Such training can also extend to include a knowledge of all commonly used car wash products - what to use and what not to use. 

With a car cleaning franchise being a tried and tested business model, many will also be able to provide a selection of trusted products or a brand at a discounted rate.

In addition, a franchise package is likely to include both strategic management support and guidance on the day to day running of the car wash franchise, as well as comprehensive marketing support.

Another popular variant is investing in a partnership rather than a franchise. In this case you are paid a commission for regular car washing and are also encouraged to offer your own independent ancillary services (such as auto valeting) which you can then keep 100% of the proceeds. 

Mobile franchises emphasise the advantages of investing in the potentially rewarding, ultra-convenient form of a car wash.

Is it for you?

This is a service-with-a-smile industry, so a customer-oriented background will obviously be a help.

As part of a local community, you should have an outgoing personality and enjoy meeting people. Your people skills should also extend to building and leading a team dedicated to forging a high-quality brand reputation.

It perhaps goes without saying you will need to be energetic and self-motivated, but if the role attracts you there’s a great market out there just waiting for you to get involved.



Paulyne Antoniou

About the author

Paulyne has devoted her educational life studying and working with film and media. After gaining a Diploma in Moving Image, Paulyne worked as an editor while simultaneously completing a part-time filmmaking course at the Metropolitan Film School.

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