To start a car wash business, first decide if it is a touchless wash, a self-serve wash or a detail wash. Next, create a business plan that includes marketing ideas, start-up costs and how long the business needs to operate before it begins to make a profit. Decide on a location, and hire a contractor to create building plans. Purchase all the needed equipment, which varied depending on the type of car wash. Use local media and signs to advertise.
A touchless car wash requires specific equipment, including a high pressure water system, and is significantly more expensive than a self-serve car wash or a detail business. Self-serve and detail car washes provide a more thorough cleaning for vehicles than a touchless system. However, a touchless system moves a higher volume of vehicles through the wash due to its speed.
A good business plan attracts financing, so thoroughly check numbers and expected expenses to make the plan as detailed as possible. When choosing a location, look for car washes for sale to minimize renovation costs. If none are available, get approval to build a car wash from the city's zoning authority, building department and environmental department. Once approved, contact the appropriate utility companies to estimate fees.