Starting a mobile car wash business can be a great way to make money while also providing a valuable service to your community. However, there are a few things you need to know in order to get started on the right foot.
Here are the steps you can take to get started on building your very own mobile car wash business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Mobile Car Wash Business
1. Choose Your Type of Mobile Car Wash Business
The first step in launching a mobile car wash business is to identify the type of mobile car wash business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
Commercial vehicle mobile car wash business: You will visit businesses that have a fleet of vehicles and offer to wash their vehicles on-site.
Residential mobile car wash business: You will visit the homes of your customers to wash their vehicles.
2. Name Your Mobile Car Wash Business
Give your mobile car wash business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your mobile car wash business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your mobile car wash business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that customers will be motivated to use your services.
3. Determine Your Mobile Car Wash Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a mobile car wash business including:
- Charging by the car: You will charge a set fee for each car you wash.
- Charging by the hour: You will charge an hourly rate for your mobile car wash services.
- Package deals: You will offer discounts for customers who purchase multiple mobile car wash services at once or on a schedule.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your mobile car wash business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your mobile car wash business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common mobile car wash business structures.
5. Write a Mobile Car Wash Business Plan
All mobile car wash business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
Read our article about how to write a mobile car wash business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your mobile car wash business.
For example, if you will be washing vehicles in a public space, you may need to obtain a permit from the city or local government.
You must also register your mobile car wash business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper mobile car wash business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your mobile car wash business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your mobile car wash business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your mobile car wash business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a mobile car wash business to help you determine if funding is needed.
Read our article about how to fund your mobile car wash business.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your mobile car wash business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in a point-of-sale (POS) system to streamline transactions with customers. A POS system can track inventory, process payments, and generate reports.
If you have employees working for you, you may need time clock software to track employee hours and payroll software to pay them. Finally, if you plan to do any marketing for your mobile car wash business, you will need customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage your contacts and marketing campaigns.
Read our article about the technology and software you need to run a mobile car wash business.
9. Market Your Mobile Car Wash Business to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the mobile car wash industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Mobile car wash businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Developing a database of potential customers (i.e. purchasing lists of car owners in your target market area)
- Sending out postcards or other direct mailings to people in your target market area
- Distributing flyers in high foot traffic areas
- Creating an email marketing campaign
- Engaging in search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure your website appears as the top result in relevant searches
Read our article about how to market your mobile car wash business for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your mobile car wash business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your mobile car wash business to learn more.
Starting a Mobile Car Wash Business FAQs
Mobile car wash businesses offer many benefits compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. They’re less expensive to start up, and they have lower overhead costs. They’re also more convenient for customers since the mobile service comes to the car’s location instead of the car owner making the trip to the car wash location.
Here are some tips for starting a mobile car wash business:
- Invest in the right equipment and supplies.
- Find the right location.
- Create a marketing strategy.
- Train your employees.
- Get the necessary permits and licenses.
- Manage your finances.
- Stay organized.
- Keep your car wash clean.
- Promote your business.
- Get new clients and grow your business.
A simple checklist to use when starting a mobile car wash business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Mobile Car Wash Firm: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Mobile Car Wash Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Mobile Car Wash Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Mobile Car Wash Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Mobile Car Wash Business to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
To start a mobile car wash business, you will need to invest in the right equipment and supplies, find the right location, create a marketing strategy, and train your employees. You may also need to get a business license from your city or county government. Once you have all of the necessary supplies and permits, you can begin actively marketing your business to potential clients. Remember to focus on providing high-quality service so that you can grow your business and get new clients.