The Mobile Car Wash Business
My love affair with cars started as a young child playing with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Long story short I love cars, always have and always will.
If there is one business that I want more than anything it’s a car wash.
However, I feel the cost of entry is astronomical for a both full service or an automated car wash.
For that reason I began to look into mobile car washes but the start up costs for a mobile car wash can range from anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000 depending on your location on how extravagant you get.
The average price to start a mobile car wash business is typically in the $9,000 price range.
A $9,000 investment isn’t terrible when you consider that many mobile car wash business owners can earn as much as $75,000 in profits operating the business full time whereas some part time mobile car wash owners can earn a profit of close to $50,000 per year.
Whether full time or part time investing $9,000 to earn an income of between $50,000 and $75,000 is a great proposition.
However, what about those of us who don’t have $5,000 let alone $9,000 to invest in any business but love cars and want to get into the mobile car wash business?
Could it be possible to start a mobile car wash business for a fraction of the cost and earn a profit on par with an average investment of $9,000?
Yes it is!
Added Cost to Clients of a Mobile Car Wash Business
I had one perplexing issue that was driving me insane!
I could market my mobile car wash business, sell my service and book a mobile car wash client but the thought of arriving at a clients home and asking him or her where to run my water hose and where to plug in my equipment bothered me.
A mobile car wash service is a premium service but the thought of a client spending more money that what he or she realized made me question the business in general.
What am I referring to?
“Hi, Mr. Jones. I’m here to to provide an interior/exterior detail and wash of your vehicle for $55. I just need to use your water and electricity to provide my service,” made my skin crawl.
Granted, a person paying a premium price for a mobile car wash may not have an issue with the added cost to their water and electricity bill but I did.
“Mr. Jones, add in the increased expenditure of a higher water and electricity bill to my service and the true cost will be $x,” sounded like the worst sales closing line of all time.
Again, the client may or may not have an issue with it but as I am who I am I did.
“How can I own and operate a mobile car wash business without having my client incur the added costs of electricity and water?” I asked myself over and again.
The answer was clear.
“I would need to have my own water tank and a generator!” I answered myself.
A generator and a water tank was the least of my issues.
Not only would I need the generator and water tank but I would need a vehicle large enough to carry the equipment.
Not having the vehicle meant I would need to have the vehicle which meant more $$$!!!
“What if I didn’t need to rely on water and electricity?” I asked myself.
It was at this point I entered what I thought was the most ludicrous search term of all time.
I opened my browser and entered the search term, “start a mobile car wash with no water.”
Where the people also ask box in Google read, “How do I start a mobile waterless car wash?” question appeared.
“A mobile waterless car wash?! There is no way to wash a car with no water!” I exclaimed to myself.
Yeah there is!
Waterless Car Wash?
“Is it possible to wash a car with no water?” I asked myself and quickly discovered for myself that it is.
Not only is it possible to wash a car with no water but there were many waterless car wash products available!
I was dumbfounded.
A mobile waterless car wash wasn’t even an old idea, it had been around for years.
The more I researched the more intrigued I became.
I not only wanted to try a waterless car wash I needed to try a waterless car wash.
Being the lover of cars that I am there is one manufacturer of car care products that I’ve always used.
The car care manufacturer is “Meguiar’s” so I went out and purchased a bottle of “Meguiars Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax” at a cost of $12.99.
I already had a bag of 16 microfiber towels that I had purchased some time ago and left in my garage.
As I had never used any sort of waterless car wash product before there was no way that I was going to wash my pride and joy as my test vehicle.
For this test I decided to use my 2009 Honda Fit that I refer to as “The Beater.”
When I moved out to Long Island I was racking up the mileage on my car and decided to purchase the Honda Fit to keep the mileage off my car. In only 23 months of owning “The Beater” I’ve racked up a little over 27,000 miles thus far.
I keep up with normal maintenance but I’ve had the car washed a total of 4 times since I purchased it in June of 2018. If there were ever a test subject vehicle “The Beater” would be it.
Before Using The Waterless Wash & Wax
I went through a huge thunder storm the night before that went into the early AM so the car wasn’t as filthy as she would normally.
However from these pictures you can see the dust and build up of dirt.
If I had to do the wash over again for the first time I would have used my leaf blower to try and get off as much dust as possible instead of beating the car with a microfiber towel.
I only did an exterior wash ignoring the wheels, tires and windows. I stopped for a bunch of breaks as I am a smoker and was enjoying a few cold adult beverages during my waterless wash.
With the above being stated it still only took me a little under 40 minutes to wash the exterior of the car.
After Using the Waterless Wash & Wax
I used almost a half of the 26 ounce bottle of Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax and two microfiber towels.
One microfiber towel to apply the solution and the other to dry off the section of the vehicle I was washing. The white microfiber towel was used to dry the vehicle.
I was beyond impressed with the results and began to quickly think of what I would need to operate a full service mobile interior/exterior waterless car wash.
The Advantages of a Mobile Waterless Car Wash Business
- Startup costs – Compared to the cost of starting a standard mobile car wash, the cost to start a mobile waterless car wash in minimal.
- No Water = No Hassle – In my neighborhood there are regulations with regard to when I can water my lawn and use water to wash my fences and my car. Not relying on water means not having the hassle of needing to deal with water regulations.
- No Wasting of Water – A standard garden hose will use around 10 gallons of water per minute. Having a car washed at a automated in bay car wash can use as much as 35 gallons of water. No water means no wasting of water.
- Most people prefer to have the cars washed by hand – I know I do.
- Cater to those who are care about the environment.
Products and Equipment Needed for a Mobile Waterless Car Wash Business
- Waterless car wash & wax solution.
- Interior leather cleaning products.
- Interior cleaning product for dashboard.
- Wheel cleaning product.
- Tire shine product.
- Microfiber towels.
- Paint brush.
- Corded handheld vacuum cleaner than can plug into the cigarette lighter.
- Window cleaner.
In addition to the above you’ll also need:
- Domain name
- Website – Free using WordPress
- Marketing flyers
- A DBA (Doing Business As) name
- Business cards
- Merchant Account – Square
Start Up Costs for a Mobile Waterless Car Wash
As this would be your business you would be free to choose the products that you feel are the best for your business. However, for the purpose of showing potential start up costs with my preferred products please see the below.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax $9.87
Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner $9.99
Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner – $5.99
Rain-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner & Rain Repellant – $5.19
Windex Vinegar Multi-Surface Cleaner – $2.99
50 Pack Micorfiber Towels $19.99
Tuscom 12V Wet Dry Vac Vacuum Cleaner Inflator Portable Turbo Hand Held For Car $20.99
Meguiar’s Ultimate Leather Detailer $11.99
Meguiars Automotive Interior Cleaner Meguiars $4.29
Paint Brish = $8
Logo – Fiverr @$20
Domain name @$15
1,000 business cars @$16
Free Blog/Site – WordPress.com
2,000 flyers @$39
$189.29 plus sales tax
DBA $10 – $100 but I’ll go with the high number $100.
Insurance cost of between $29=$39 per month.
However, even when including sales tax depending on your area you could have everything you need to start a mobile waterless car wash business for a little over $300.
You’ll also need a merchant account. For this I would probably go with Square whose merchant account fees are 2.6% plus $.10 per transaction.
How Much to Charge For Your Mobile Waterless Car Wash Service and How Much Can You Earn?
How much to charge for your mobile waterless car wash service will depend on the area where you live and how much people who offer similar services are charging.
Based on my research in my area, if I were to start a mobile waterless car wash business my fee for the service would be $55 for an interior/exterior wash. I personally wouldn’t service exterior only washes but if I were my price would be $35 per exterior wash.
I would start this business as a side hustle and hopefully grow it into a full time business.
If I were to only offer interior/exterior car washes and could service only 3 customers per day twice per week that would be 6 customers at $55 for $330 in gross revenue for only two days worth of work.
If I could grow the business to where I’m servicing 3 cars per day, 5 days per week that would generate gross revenue of $825 per week.
Minus the cost of merchant account fees, insurance and cost of cleaning products it can still be a lucrative business. However, at this point in time I have no idea as to how much product I would go through on a weekly basis.
For this reason I’ll guesstimate that my profit margin will be approximately 65% meaning my expenses will be 35%.
- Interior/Exterior Wash =$55
- Cost of 35% = $19.25
- Profit margin of 65% = $35.75
15 Customer per week at 3 customers per day, five days per week would equate to $506.25 in net revenue.
Again, the above is a guesstimate on operating expenses which I believe to be on the very high end but regardless this can still become a very lucrative business.
If I were operating this business by myself I feel the most customers I could service per day doing all the work myself would be 5 per day at 5 days per week for net revenue of $893.75 at 50 weeks per year that would generate a little over $44,500 in profit.
$44,500 in profit is comparable to operating a mobile standard mobile car wash on a part time basis at a fraction of the start up costs.
I could also expand the business by hiring independent contractors who could be paid $25 per vehicle which means that I would be earning a net profit of $10.75 per car wash by simply providing the materials and booking the appointments.
Each contractor doing the same work as I would be doing, 5 washes per day, 5 days per week generates an additional $268.75 per week in net revenue for you an income of $625 for the contractor.
Will I Start a Mobile Waterless Car Wash Business?
Unfortunately I won’t be staring my own mobile waterless car wash business.
Living in the Northeast I have no desire to wash cars in below 20 degree weather. In climates that have harsh winters this would be a seasonal business for me such as operating a landscape business or pool cleaning service.
In addition I simply don’t have the time.
However, if you live in an area that has pleasant weather for most of the year this could be a viable business for you.
What Do You Think About a Mobile Waterless Car Wash Business?
Tell me what you think about a mobile waterless car wash business. Is a mobile waterless car wash business seem like a good fit for you? Do you know of anyone who operates a mobile waterless car wash business?