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How to Start a Carwash: Site design considerations for new owners

What you should consider after securing the right location for your new carwash.


For new investors, and current owners, who are interested in investing in or adding a new carwash facility, the key to success in such an in-demand market is location. However, choosing a good location — keeping in mind important factors such as traffic flow and speed, local demographic and nearby competition — is only a portion of what is needed to run a successful carwash.

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What should you do after the location has been secured? Well, you must evaluate your competitors, especially if they are close by, and implement smart design to ensure lucrative operations for your carwash.

A form of lead generation

The appearance of your carwash must attract customers to your site. Think of your design as a form of lead generation. A potential customer’s decision to visit your wash often starts right before he or she pulls into your location or passes you by.

Furthermore, especially considering competitiveness of this industry, you must entice customers to choose to patronize your wash over the competitor’s location down the road.


Having clear, eye-catching signage can go a long way to encourage customers to visit your location. And, incorporating unique, striking buildings and features, lots of color, appealing/informative negative spaces and vibrant landscape — in addition to quality signage — will make your chances of driving in traffic to your site even better.

Yet just as important, if not more so, is the functionality and ease of your location. Your carwash must be customer-friendly, featuring easy entrances/exits, straightforward navigation throughout the site, spacious queue areas (and any other service areas on-site) and wide, clear turns and lanes.

Moreover, your carwash must be brightly lit and clear. Customers will not frequent a dim, dingy location for multiple reasons. For one, they may equate your unkempt facility to mean your wash will produce a dirty car. Also, a location with poor lighting is often associated with a lack of safety.


Lines of sight

When properly operated, a carwash can provide a positive and, more importantly, distinctive experience for customers. And, this can be achieved by incorporating visual elements, such as signage, attractive landscaping and optimizing negative spaces as mentioned earlier.

While on-site, and particularly in regards to landscaping/negative spaces, lines of sight are crucial. Lively landscaping and foliage can be used to help soften any negative spaces at your location — curbs, medians, islands, etc.— which can often be overlooked during the design process.

Signage, which as discussed earlier is a crucial component for successfully generating traffic to your carwash, can also be used to help auto-navigate customers on-site. For example, you can add directional signs, such as “Enter here” or “Turn here,” as well as indicators to direct customers to pay stations, additional profit centers, exits/entrances, etc.


Additionally, informative and easy-to-understand signage can also help you process more vehicles throughout the day and also reduce safety risks for your customers and your employees. For example, you can incorporate signs like “Switch to neutral,” “Stop here,” “Keep aisles clear,” “Emergency exit” and “Hard hats only” to help patrons and team members alike feel more secure on-site.

Overall, having clear lines of site throughout your location will help boost customer experiences and reduce chances for personal injury or harm.  And, as discussed earlier in this article, customers want to feel safe when visiting your location. So by incorporating safety features and openness on-site, you are securing profit by providing a sense of security for your customers.


Measuring your investment

When it comes to site selection and design, this is no time to penny pinch. A great location and dazzling features will help steer your new carwash in the direction of success.

Measuring the exact return on investment might not be possible. However, rest assured that your customers will appreciate the time and elements you employ in your site design, which will ultimately lead to a thriving customer base. And, more customers equals more profits.

Make sure your site is spacious, inviting, easy to navigate and attention-grabbing. After all, you only get one shot at establishing a good first impression, so make yours count.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing