If CarWash College and SONNY’S Business Development office had an FAQ section, it would start and end with, “Where can I find good carwash sites?”

We recently had a discussion whether site selection is more science or art. Personally, I think it’s both, but I believe that common sense is too often left out of the equation. Since the industry is getting more and more competitive every day, we often see sites being considered that may fit the bill demographically but are lacking in the common sense department.

I was recently asked to review a site in a smaller town (population 20,000) that already had an existing tunnel in the center of town near the main shopping area. The existing tunnel had easy access from both sides of the road, was very visible, and from all appearances, it is a well-run facility.

The site under consideration was at the very edge of the town, a couple of lots away from the interstate on-ramp.

Granted, the incomes were high, the population was growing at a reasonable rate, and the traffic count was good, but in this case, I believe the science to be flawed.

Understanding that my reading audience is very carwash-conscience and that, while we may stop at a carwash just before jumping on the interstate to head to work, vacation, or whatever reason, carwash folks aren’t like the regular motoring public. The regular public doesn’t drag their spouse through every tunnel they can find while on vacation in a different town or turn their rental cars back in in a better condition than when they were picked up either. Weird, aren’t they?

Most folks won’t stop on the “going to” side of the road for a wash on the way to the interstate. They’re usually in a hurry to get where they’re going. This is where common sense is needed over science. While the site looked good on paper, in reality, it was anything but.

Another client asked us to look at two sites in the same development.

Site 1: One acre on an interior lot within a shopping center with no visibility from the main road and only accessible through the shopping center parking lot.  Asking price for Site 1: $400,000.

Site 2: One acre facing the main road, easily accessible through the center’s main entrance and, in all regards, a beautiful carwash property. Asking price for Site 2: $750,000.

While the two properties shared the same demographics and were within spitting distance of each other, they were miles apart as far as successful carwash sites.

Demographics and traffic studies are obviously very important to the site section process and can’t be discounted, but good old common sense still needs to prevail.

You pay for the right site only once; you pay for the wrong site everyday….


Bob Fox has over 30 years industry experience and is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

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