Car Washes

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 16,700 car washes in the US provide washing, waxing, detailing, hand washing, and self-service washing of cars, trucks, vans, and trailers. Companies may also perform scheduled and preventative maintenance or body repair. Operations generally involve three types of car washes: conveyer car washes, in-bay automatic car washes, and self-service car washes. The industry includes regional chains, franchises, and independent operators.

Capital Investment

Automated car washes are capital-intensive and require a sizable investment in equipment.

Express Washes Explode

The number of express wash facilities has grown dramatically, driven by vehicle owners looking for faster, less expensive options and car wash owners looking for more economical alternatives.

Industry size & Structure

The average car wash operates out of a single location, employs 11-12 workers, and generates just over $807,000 annually.

    • The car wash industry consists of about 14,300 firms that operate 16,700 establishments, employ over 164,600 workers and generate $11.5 billion annually.
    • The industry is extremely fragmented; the top 50 companies account for 20% of industry revenue.
    • Large companies include Wash Depot, Mister Car Wash, and Autobell Car Wash. Most of the largest chains have less than 100 locations.
    • The industry includes regional chains, franchises, and independent operators.
                            Industry Forecast
                            Car Washes Industry Growth
                            Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                            Recent Developments

                            Feb 21, 2023 - Growth Ahead for US Car Wash Market
                            • The US car wash services market is projected to increase to $27.8 billion by 2033 at a CAGR of 5.5%, according to a new report by Future Market Insights. The estimated US car wash services market in 2023 is $16.3 billion. The market increased at a 3.2% CAGR between 2018 and 2022, reaching $15.2 billion in 2022. The cashless payment segment of the car wash market is projected to dominate with a CAGR of 8.6% in the forecast period. The roll-over/in-bay segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5% by 2023. The report found that loyalty programs are becoming popular in the industry to reward regular customers with discounts and promotions. The future of the car wash industry is also expected to be eco-friendly, given climate change and water shortages.
                            • Nearly 60% of owners reported hiring or trying to hire staff in January 2023, up two points from the previous month, according to the monthly jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). Of those companies hiring or trying to hire, 91% of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. About 24% of owners reported labor quality as their top business operating problem, and 10% reported labor costs as a top concern. According to NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg, “The labor shortage continues to be a major concern for small businesses in the New Year as nearly all owners trying to hire are reporting no or few qualified applicants. Small businesses’ sales opportunities are limited because of the staffing shortage but owners continue to make changes in business operations to compensate.”
                            • High-top service vans represent a growing opportunity for car washes, Car Wash Magazine reports. The increase in popularity of taller vans in the logistics field has increased the demand for the capability to wash them in the mainstream car wash industry, says ISTOBAL Vehicle Wash & Care’s Kyle Styer. In general, the wash process for extended-height vehicles is similar to a standard car wash process, though the automated equipment has been extended to be able to handle the extra height and more water and airflow is needed, he explains. Sites with extended height equipment for high-top vehicles need staff trained to explain capabilities clearly to clients. “Either as an add-on operation or standalone, a 24/7, unattended, LPR (license plate recognition) interface capable, with touchless or friction capability and a 9-foot, 6-inch clearance fills this huge gap in the fleet and retail market,” says Styer.
                            • The car care products market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 2% from 2022 to 2027, according to a forecast reported in WashTrends Magazine. The car care products market, valued at $4.4 billion in 2022, is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2027. The interior segment is expected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. The cleaning and caring segment by product type is expected to hold the largest market share in 2021, as higher consumer awareness of the longevity of their cars is driving demand for car cleaning and detailing work. North America is expected to be the biggest market globally, with the US being the biggest market in the region. Car owners in the US have a relatively higher preference for car wash and auto detailing services, which accounts for the higher demand and consumption of car care products.
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