Is a Hand Car Wash a Good Business Opportunity?

Is a Hand Car Wash a Good Business Opportunity?

Different car wash businesses tailor their services to suit customer preferences. Some people like the self-serve option while others choose speedier automatic services. The hand car wash also has broad customer appeal. This type of car wash is an interesting proposition for entrepreneurs who are seeking an affordable way to enter the lucrative but competitive car wash and auto detailing industry. Could it be the one for you?

What Is a Hand Car Wash?

A hand car wash is the traditional method of cleaning vehicles without the need for high-tech automatic cleaning bays or specialized machinery and equipment. In addition to an exterior wash, this type of business often includes additional services. For example, interior detailing, mobile detailing, sanitization, and paint protection.

If you are thinking about opening such a business, it is also important to question whether this line of work suits your personality. Are you outgoing and confident? Do you like talking to customers? Are you comfortable managing a team as you grow your business? If you would describe yourself as a “people” person, this is a good start. Next, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to help determine whether this is the right business for you.

Advantages of a Hand Car Wash Business

Affordable Business Model

The startup cost to build a car wash is high. It costs much more to install in-bay automatic car washes than it does to start a hand car wash. Therefore, if you don’t want your startup costs to be prohibitive, a hand car wash is a more realistic consideration. However, there is more to it than simply a bucket of water and a cloth. If you want to survive in a competitive market, you will still need to invest in a range of high-quality car detailing equipment. Fortunately, these costs are more manageable in comparison to the costs of the specialized tools, technology and building construction that is needed to set up an automated car wash where estimated costs are $42,000 per bay.

Attention to Detail

A hand car wash is about the personal touch and attention to detail. An express car wash might be super-quick but it simply cannot guarantee a meticulous clean in 5-10 minutes. In contrast, experienced vehicle hand wash professionals bring a showroom shine to customer vehicles using their eye for detail to do an excellent job. Hard-to-reach places like wheel arches can be easily missed in an automatic car wash. Furthermore, a hand car wash uses soft cloths or steam methods instead of automated stiff brushes. This gentler approach is better for exterior paintwork.

Potential to Upgrade a Basic Car Hand Wash with Add-on Services

The basic exterior car wash can be upgraded with add-on services to suit the customer. A flex car wash has a similar concept as it offers additional services like full serve and detail. Or you can offer a specialized service to satisfy current trends. For example, since the COVID-19 outbreak, there is an increased demand for sanitizing interiors to kill harmful germs and bacteria. Cleaning cars with steam is particularly effective at eradicating germs on the frequently touched areas such as door handles and steering wheels.

Car Wash While You Shop

People like to multi-task and save time. The hand car wash business model perfectly suits the “wash while you shop” idea. For example, if you can wash cars in a parking lot near a supermarket or mall, it attracts customers who want to shop while their car is being cleaned. A gas station car wash also has this multi-task appeal, however an automated car wash requires customers to remain in their vehicles. This isn’t necessary with a hand car wash.

The Convenience of Mobile Detailing

You can also easily take a car hand wash to the customer. You are not restricted to using automated equipment at a fixed location. The flexibility of mobile detailing opens up even more opportunities, especially when customers do not have time or the desire to drive to the car wash.


A Hand Car Wash Takes Time

Hand washing services might produce sparkling results but they do lack the speed of an automatic car wash. Busy lifestyles mean that customers often prefer the speed and convenience of an in-bay automatic car wash. Be mindful that if you are restricted to washing only a limited number of cars per day, this can impact profits and affect the growth of your business.

High Water Usage

Traditional hand car washes use a lot of water. Environmental issues are shaping consumer trends and many people seek out socially responsible businesses. If your car wash can pivot to the green sector and become an eco-friendly business, this will improve its appeal and chances of success. Alternatively, you could look out for a green car wash for sale or invest in an existing green business like DetailXPerts and buy a franchise.

Employee Training and Costs

You need reliable staff if you want to grow a successful vehicle hand wash business. This means recruiting and managing your car wash team. You will also need to provide employee training. The payroll becomes part of your outgoings. In contrast, an automatic car wash has a lower demand for staff to clean vehicles.

Is a Hand Car Wash Business Right for You?

If you are ready to bring the personal touch to car detailing and can guarantee exceptional results, a hand car wash business has great potential – even more so now that people have become increasingly concerned with hygiene after the global pandemic. You don’t have to start from scratch. You may want to buy an existing car wash business. There is also the exciting opportunity of buying a DetailXPerts franchise. You can enjoy the detailing business flexibility of choosing the right model and profit centers for you, including a hand car wash offering. You will also be sure of ongoing advice and support as your business grows.

If you enjoy keeping up to date with the latest car industry news, be sure to follow DetailXPerts on LinkedIn for more business-focused topics and discussions.