Self Serve Car Washes in the United States


In the 2003 Auto Laundry News Survey it was determined that only 10% of the Coin-op Car Washes had a web site. So if you are doing lots of individual research on car washes that are self serve, do not expect to find a lot of data on the Internet. Owners of coin-op car washes say that only 76% have internet access. The average population is 64% in the US. Not much better, so this low tech sector of the Industry seems to remain un Tech. Only 15% of coin-ops surveyed took credit cards for tokens, machines or even concession machines. Of which 17% only claimed to have concession machines, which most feel are 1/3 of their income if they had them. Only 4% had drinking water fountains. 13% had added an in bay automatic in the last five years. 51% had more than one location.

Today I visited 3 car washes that were coin ops owned by the same person. One had seven bays, another had three bays and one automatic, another had a car wash in front with 4 bays and an automatic and another car wash in the back with 4 more coin-op bays. All had attendants and machines. The survey seemed to follow the study of today. 68% said they were in middle-income areas. Only 7-9% had more than 5 car wash sites from 2000-2003 surveys and generally they were not all in only one city. Those with automatic in bay units found that those inbay units generated a gross of $5,435.00 and The average costs including Equipment was nearly $2,000.00, with the average breakdown time 2 weeks per year. 15 days. Best season was winter for the industry. Spring was also considered very good. Noon to 7 pm were the best hours. Busiest day of week was Saturdays. Only 18% have attendants. 43% had part time attendants and mostly on weekends. Average monthly gross income per bay was $1300.

The units we visited today seem to be inline maybe slightly higher than this of the Auto Laundry News Survey. All surveyed said that 2002 they made less money than previous years, which would make sense due to the lesser amount of personal monies, less money flow in this recession and lower employment figures. Also things, which plague the industry, were droughts and water shortages, restrictions and public perception about water. 20% of all owners of coin-ops are thinking of building another one. 27% said they did have other self serves in their car wash area of marketing.

Average coin-op being built cost $226K in equipment and $300K in land and improvements. This is why we are not interested in talking to poor people who think they want to build a car wash and think they will not have to work once built. We have talked to people wishing to build car washes with $30,000 down payment and think that they can build it for $45,000 I have to tell you judging by what we have learned and this survey you would not even be close.

Even with an SBA loan you need 20% down, so you would need $100K to do the deal if everything went right in most cities of any population base worthy of a good volume business. The Survey had some interesting thoughts, which said the average vacuum coin-op made $.20 per minute and each bay made $.38 per minute. We hoped you enjoyed this review of the survey to get the actual survey go to the Auto Laundry News Magazine web site.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs


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