The great saturation debate

The great saturation debate

Is the carwash industry building too many locations?

The builders are going to build, build, build. Now to the tune of 800-plus new locations a year, new carwash builds have been increasing over recent years with no signs of slowing. New builds are expected to remain steady and possibly increase in coming years, especially as more and more convenience stores and fuel stations are looking for a piece of the lucrative, relatively low labor and easily replicated express carwash models with membership.

But some in the carwash industry, including those who have helped build this industry over previous decades, are questioning, “When is enough, enough?”

Chances are strong that those who are noting saturation points across the U.S. started to notice a new carwash location move close to their existing site down the block a few years ago and then another new carwash across the street a few months ago.

Longing for the good old days when operators shared a “gentleman’s agreement” of respecting service areas, these operators and others are having to shift business strategies to keep up, go into wait-and-see mode or sell.

In this month’s cover story, we speak with some industry insiders to gauge where they stand on the topic of market saturation. We think that their insights will surprise many in the market and we would love to continue to get your thoughts on the topic.

If you haven’t followed and listened to our podcast, Wash Talk: The Carwash Podcast, I would highly recommend adding it to your podcast rotation. We continue to receive great feedback on our free podcast from our listeners and we thank everyone who regularly listens and has made it a success. We couldn’t do any of it if not for the listeners and guests.

If you’re a listener and would like to be a guest, please contact me at [email protected] to discuss a topic and next steps. Interested in sounding off about this month’s cover story topic on market saturation or another topic of interest? Let’s discuss.

You can view our podcast interview videos on as well as our YouTube channel and you can listen to the audio on and popular podcast platforms. 

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