5 Hidden Expenses of Car Wash Franchises

July 13, 2022

Are you crafting a plan to invest in a car wash franchise? It may be time to go back to the drawing board. Discover the hidden costs that come with car wash ownership and explore better automotive franchise opportunities.

Car Wash Industry 101
At the end of 2020, there were nearly 62,000 car wash locations in the United States, and car washes in North America generated $17 billion in sales, according to the International Car Wash Association. The number of car owners who take their vehicle to a car wash for cleanup is on the rise. Back in 1994, only 48% of car owners regularly visited a car wash. By the end of 2019, 77% of people regularly outsource car cleaning. Visiting a car wash saves people time and is an environmentally friendly alternative.

Given the numbers, it’s no surprise the franchise industry has many opportunities for people who want to invest in a car wash franchise. Depending on the amount you want to dole out, you can pick a low-cost, self-service concept or an automatic option with all the bells and whistles. There are even mobile car washes, like No-H2O, that don’t use water.

High Price Tag for Car Wash Franchises
If you are leaning towards opening a car wash franchise, you may want to reconsider. While they sound like a safe investment for entrepreneurs with a passion for cars and cleanliness, hidden expenses abound. Take a look at five hidden costs that come with car wash ownership.

  1. High Startup Costs. Getting a start in the car wash market requires a significant investment. Self-serve car washes are simply constructed but they need a generous amount of real estate. The middle-of-the-road cost to open a car wash is about $250,000. On the high end, a car wash franchise can require an investment of up to six million.
  2. Machine Downtime. Automatic car washes provide a better return on investment than the self-service variety. But they have a lot of moving parts, and if one part breaks, it might put your business out of commission until it is repaired.
  3. Weather. Weather plays a major role in profits at car washes. A long string of rainy weather can put a dent in profits. During the winter, customers visit self-service car washes to clean off salt and snow. But they are reluctant to foot the bill for an automatic car wash until winter ends and roads are free of grime. Car wash owners need to be prepared to cope with the impacts of weather to avoid unexpected shortfalls.
  4. Competing in A Crowded Market. The car wash market is thriving. Staying competitive in a crowded market is doable but will require an extensive marketing campaign. Footing the bill to build brand awareness and develop a loyal customer base may result in unanticipated expenditures.
  5. Finding Valuable Employees. High-tech car washes require managing a team of employees. Employee recruitment, especially during a labor shortage, can be costly. Owning a self-service car wash sounds like a hands-off investment that can help generate a passive income. However, self-service car washes require regular maintenance and chemical supplies need to be replenished. You’ll need to find a partner or a trustworthy employee to manage the business.

CCI Offers Affordable Mobile Opportunity
If all of the hidden costs associated with car wash franchises are making you leery, Creative Colors International has a mobile alternative in the automotive franchise industry. CCI is the leader in leather and vinyl refurbishing. Our technicians make repairs to cars, boats, RVs, airplanes, and commercial businesses. We partner with car dealerships to restore the interiors of their used-car fleet to like-new condition. Our owners also provide services to residential customers.

CCI is a low-investment franchise with high growth potential. Our franchisees get access to a thriving business model and the flexibility required to achieve a satisfactory level of work-life balance. It costs between $86,980 to $102,410 to become a CCI business owner. Many of our franchisees begin as owner-operators and scale their business as they build their customer base.

Contact CCI to Get More Details
A mobile restoration franchise is a great way to gain a foothold in the automotive industry. To learn more, visit CCI to request franchise information and speak with one of our franchise business consultants.