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Choosing & Engaging a Car Wash Advisor

Choosing Your Car Wash Advisor

Looking for good car wash advice? You need an advisor who is knowledgeable, communicates well and works hard for you. A good car wash advisor will help you make more money than you can make on your own.  This section will help you understand how to choose the right car wash advisor for you.                                                                        

Finding the Right Fit

Are you a knowledgeable car wash investor?  Have you already developed, owned, or operated a car wash?  If so, you may want to find a car wash distributor who will simply broker a purchase for you, or you may want to work directly with the manufacturer.  Some manufacturers recognize self-sufficient customers and will arrange for you to buy from them directly. Are you looking for assistance in developing a location as a start-up business or buying an existing car wash as an entry point into the car wash industry? If so, then a car wash consultant or qualified car wash distributor may be the best choice for you.

When you start your search for a car wash advisor, remember that you want to have confidence in and be comfortable with both the individual representative and the company for whom the representative works.

Selecting Your Car Wash Advisor

Investing in a start-up car wash business or jumping into an ongoing entity involves a great deal of trust in the manufacturers of your primary and specialty equipment, your supplier team, your installer and local service provider and the people who help shape your choices.

However, trust should never take the place of careful research and healthy skepticism.

Where Do I Look?

Word of mouth can always be helpful in identifying capable car wash professionals. Ask for recommendations from existing operators who already operate a successful car wash business.

Check on the web or peruse your local Yellow Pages™.  Both can provide you with the names of many or all of the car wash suppliers in your area.  Ensure that you check on their reputation by bouncing their names off your local network of operators.

What Questions Should I Ask?

Once you have identified a list of companies that you might want to work with, you can obtain more information to help you make your choice. A good first step is to contact the owner or general manager of the company.

  • Is the company in the market for new customers?
  • Does the company match your general investment objectives?
  • Does the company specialize in a particular type of car wash segment or a particular customer group? For example, does it focus on retail petroleum car washes or independent express exterior car washes?
  • Does it cater to independent investors or large companies?  In what segments do they have experience and how much in each?  Ask them for references from each segment.
  • Does the company have any special expertise in helping a new investor like you?
  • What car wash business model(s) and car wash products does the company sell or advise on?
  • How long has the company been in business? How many employees does it have? How many customers has it advised on getting into the industry?
  • What services does it provide to customers like you? For example, does the company advise on equipment choice and execute equipment sales only, or does it provide advice, research and site location assistance, training and aftermarket service?  If you engaged them to help you, what are the next steps?  What are the normal steps through the new investor process or cycle?  What can they do for you?   How much time does it take?  What is the complete list of products and services that they offer?  How do they go about customizing a package of products and services to meet your needs?
  • Visit their office and their warehouse.  Ask them if they stock replacement parts, chemicals and supplies.  Ask to tour the warehouse and verify their answers.
  • Ask them about their aftermarket service programs.  Find out how many trucks they have on the road and how long it will take them to get to your site if you experience down time.  Ask them to show you one of their trucks.  Inspect it for organization and replacement parts.
  • Does the company offer any educational seminars and hands-on training for its customers? 
  • How does the company charge for its services? What commission rates or fees would a customer expect to pay should you decided to work with them?
  • Has the company been subject to any lawsuits or legal claims in the past few years?
  • Is the company properly licensed and insured?

If you are like most customers, you will find that you deal with, and rely heavily on, a single individual with the company. For that reason, it is very important that you know as much as you can about the person's:

  • Skills, experience, and educational qualifications.  Focus on experience.  Ask for the size of their customer base and how many projects they have successfully started up.
  • Knowledge and expertise in projects like yours.  Ask for references.
  • Ability and desire to provide the type of services you expect.
  • Contacts within the local and national supplier community.  Ask them who they typically recommend to join your supplier team and why.  Find out if they offer only a specific product line or if they have the ability to offer you choices.

You want to find someone who deserves your confidence and your trust.  If the person never has time to meet with you, is unwilling to discuss their qualifications or history, or is not keenly interested in your project, you should probably look elsewhere.

Engaging Your Car Wash Advisor

To establish your car wash business strategy, you and your advisor must think carefully about your answers to feasibility considerations and how they complement the various car wash opportunities. You must ensure that your car wash business knowledge is as broad and deep as possible, and you must carefully review your investment objectives as you develop your business plan. With those things in mind, you will be able to begin the process of selecting the right car wash to meet your goals.

Applying answers from the feasibility considerations helps you begin the process of choosing the right car wash business model for you.  When it comes to owning a business, it is critical to understand and accept your strengths and weaknesses and articulate and acknowledge your wants.  Then devise a strategy that addresses them to properly position you for a satisfying car wash experience. 

Following is a simple matrix that outlines various aspects of car wash ownership that need to be considered prior to locking in on a given business model. 

The following tables provide a simplistic look at the various car wash models.  Now you must begin the work of truly understanding the business and choose if it is right for you and what segment best matches your personal profile.

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