Car Washes

Industry Profile Report

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

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, 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

                            Coronavirus Update

                            May 14, 2022 - High Gas Prices Cause Drivers to Skip Car Washes
                            • Inflation and record high gas prices are causing drivers to skip the car wash. Car Wash Forum, an online community for the car wash industry, in March asked members how they expected rising fuel prices to affect their business. The general consensus was summed up by a well-known member Randy who replied “With regular gasoline at $4.79 and diesel at $5.69 we are already seeing a decline in the car wash business. I think it’s going to get worse once the motoring public gets their credit card bills and sees how much they are spending on gasoline.” Historically, when gas prices spiked, people drove less which made for less car washing,” recalled another member. Overall, respondents expect the impact of skyrocketing gas prices to have a negative effect on their business.
                            • An contactless payment system that uses license plate recognition (LPR) technology, a smart phone and a mobile app enables drivers to purchase car washes with their mobile wallets without having to leave their vehicle, according to a May report in on ICS’s WashNow! mobile app. The new service doesn’t require a windshield tag and has the carwash industry’s highest accuracy of 97+%, according to ICS. The app also rewards frequent customers with promotions to encourage more frequent trips through the car wash. The mobile app is available on the app store and can be customized to support the car wash brand.
                            • An online poll of operators in early April 2022 by found that 74% (31 votes) plan to purchase or sell a carwash in 2022. 17% (7 votes) did not plan to buy or sell, and 10% (4 votes) had no immediate plans but were open to conversations about buying or selling a carwash.
                            • Car wash operators are increasing wages to attract enough workers. Some carwashes report that starting wages have risen to more than $17 per hour, according to Professional Carwashing & Detailing. The US average hourly wage for nonsupervisory car wash workers was up 15.1% in March 2022 compared to pre-pandemic level in March 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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