7 Steps to Starting a Car Wash

We understand that from the moment you have the idea of entering the car wash business, you need a team that can guide you. Let Simple Wash Solutions help you navigate the process!

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1. Choose Your Team

Choose your equipment supplier, architect, builder, etc. This group will bring valuable experience to your project and every one of them can help save you time and money!  Make a list of all your potential sites; list all of the important attributes, e.g. access, traffic volume, visibility, etc. and then list all of the negatives, e.g. competition, traffic volume, etc.  This is when you can lean on your team, they will have expertise to help you narrow down the sites!

2. Identify 3-4 Sites

You will need to identify more than you want. Some you will not be able to build on, some may be gone by the time you pick them, and some you may not be able to negotiate a good price on; so pick several to get to THE ONE!

3. Determine City Viability

Take your idea to the city planners, show them what you are looking to do, find out if the ‘use’ is allowed, or do you need a special waiver to build a car wash? The city should be able to explain the process and whether or not they will support your project. The first site or two will come off the list.

4. Financing

After you have picked your site, you should be able to put together a rough estimate of costs with all of your team. Go to the bank, talk about SBA financing, conventional, and how much money you will need to put down on the project- how much in reserve the bank is expecting you to have.  You need to know you can get financed before you start spending hard money on a site.  This is money that you will not really be able to transfer to another site so get your financing lined up early!

5. City Approval Process

This process will involve going to planning commission meetings, city council meetings, civil, some architectural drawings, money and lots of time. After your site plan and design are approved you will start construction documents or CD’s.  This step is very important and everything you want to build should be on the drawings.  A lot of coordination between your architect, supplier, engineers and builder will take place so make a good set of drawings.  It will save you a ton in change orders down the road!

6. Construction

Your project is approved! You are ready to pull building permit. If everything went exactly right, you are now ready to close on the land and start construction.  This can be a 4-6 month process- don’t rush it! Choices here are things you will have to live with the life of the building so make sure you do it right.


Pick the right team, find a good location and enjoy being in the car wash industry!