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Old 13th September 2020, 15:45   #16
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Originally Posted by comfortablynumb View Post
Instead of spending on a hydraulic lift initially, maybe he could start with a concrete or metal ramp, with a pit under it. This will also reduce the electricity bill.
I saw this when getting my car washed at a popular car wash place in Hassan after my car was driven in bad slush and a wash was must as the wheels were screeching too and trust me, this one did a wonderful job.

Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business-img_20200806_173535.jpg

One may not be able to pin point exact locations to spray but this fellow did the job very diligently covering every area under the chasis, wheel hub areas and also the inside of the bumper.
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Old 14th September 2020, 06:57   #17
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Not sure if you have already got this advice, but this is coming from an ex colleague who was exactly in your friends position. He lost his job and started a car wash business. But the smart thing he did (in my opinion and in his own analysis) was to not go for physical premises but rather a home service model. Itís been 2 years now and he is very happy with his decision. He has 2 teams of 2 members each who operate on different parts of the city. He gets daily jobs either through urban clap or through referrals and repeat clients. He also said not to venture into very high end detailing work right away which entails more capex on equipment but rather keep it simple and price in the affordable range.
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Old 14th September 2020, 10:35   #18
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

This is purely regarding the method of wash. I believe you could use a waterless wash concentrate like Optimum No Rinse or ProKlear (Not associated with either but these are the brands I've used). For anything less than muck from off roading, this will work perfectly. You'll need 2.5-5 ml of concentrate mixed with 0.5-1 L of water (Or more based on the size of the car) for one car and a bunch of good quality microfibre towels.

This method has the following benefits :
  1. The obvious water saving - In the case of mobile car wash, the car owner and the housing society will thank you!
  2. Good quality and easier wash since the solution agitates dirt, bird droppings and tree sap - Less chance of any swirl marks.
  3. Creates less of a mess - Can be helpful if you plan to do the interiors without moving the vehicle and because housing societies will expect you to clean up sometimes.
  4. Gives a light hydrophobic effect and hence, water beading.

If you plan to allocate two members per car, then you can wrap up a large car in around 40 minutes. Can purchase an electric sprayer if you want to reduce fatigue (Shouldn't be any issue if you're doing only a few cars a day).

I personally know that Glosswerkz here in Bombay promotes waterless washing.
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Old 14th September 2020, 11:20   #19
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

My 2 cents -
1. Look at the legalities of opening in private car wash. With the scarcity of water in Delhi and more so a residential area like Rohini one should get this point cleared with the local authorities.
I believe most private washing centers are not having any permit or license to operate it in a commercial way.

2. With the pandemic are people looking for a car wash facility or washing it on their own? Probably a question to be asked within your friend and family circle itself.

Wishing them all the good luck in starting their venture.
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Old 14th September 2020, 11:28   #20
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

I am sorry to hear about your friends job loss. At the same time I salute and appreciate his guts, instead of mulling over the situation, he took a bold step to start a new business. My 2 cents below
  • If he is married, then ask him to make his wife as 51% owner. There are many government incentives for women entrepreneurs. If not married then his mother can be a partner.
  • Fix a budget and never at any cost go beyond that pre-fixed budget. Not 1% not 10%. Chalta hein attitude will not work.
  • Market research (obviously).
  • Explore option of working at a established car wash for at least 3-4 months for gaining knowledge of in and out operations. Even if it is un-paid internship.
  • Explore low cost franchise models. A big no to corporate giants like 3M.
  • Location is important. I know few carwash places which do a decent job, but their location has no proper roads. In rainy season their location and nearby gets all slushy. It's counter productive.
  • Do not depend on brokers and dealers who assure great location at cheap coat. These dealers and brokers will show litigation lands and will trap people. Always insist on talking to original owner who has at least electricity bill on his/her name.
  • Customer waiting area is important. During busy weekends, customers may not want to wait for more than 30-40 minutes.
  • Always follow token system. Install a token machine, it hardly costs anything.
  • Customer waiting area should be filled with additional information about services you offer and TV should be running in background highlighting the benefits. Not everyone is aware of waxing, detailing and other services. This is in-direct up-selling.
  • CCTV is important. Monitor your employees online when you are not physically available at the location.
  • Charges should be displayed everywhere, so that the customer doesn't have to enquire everytime. Clear classification of vehicles is required like Alto, Kwid are small category, Sedan include Verna and Ciaz etc. Each category should have pricing details clearly mentioned.
  • Adopt strict no tips policy. No "Sir chai ka paisa dedo". Train you employees accordingly.
  • Wow your customers with small freebies. Everyone loves freebies. Custom made keychains, anti slip mats, small santizers etc. For repeat customers offer better freebies like free car wash for every 4th or 5th wash.
  • Set aside budget for marketing. Nothing fancy, just plampets in surrounding areas is more than enough.
  • KYC - Know Your Customer. Make relationships, increase networks, create FB page or Insta page and post updates, offers etc.
  • Invest less initially, later it can be upgraded.
  • Use latest technology like steam washing or waterless washing techniques.
  • Train your staff on customer service. Many YouTube videos available online.
  • Maintain consistency, all workers should have uniform or aprons.
  • Cashless transactions are important, use every possible transactions like PhonePay, Google Pay, Patym, BHIM, Card Swipe machine etc. I don't want to waste time searching for money or waiting for change.
  • Always maintain cleanliness. This will reflect your work done on customer vehicles. I had seen so many car washes which have dirt lying around, garbage from customer vehicles thrown everywhere.
  • Offer free pick-up and drop services, if the customer opts for additional services like waxing, detailing etc.
  • Always offer discounts on bundled services. Example - Wash + Interior Cleaning should be 20% cheaper. Wash + Interior Cleaning + Waxing + Ceramic should be atleast 30% cheaper.
  • Tie up with local garages nearby. I had seen my authorised service centre people using local car wash services as they are busy or their equipment is broken and needs repair.
  • Offer yearly or half-yearly packages. With additional coupons.
  • Don't forget important services like interior sanitization. Many authorised service centres are charging around 650-1000/- bucks for such services.
  • Keep your employees happy, they will keep your customers happier.
  • Do not over price or under price. Hit the sweet spot where you can make enough money. Prices can always be revised. Offer budget services like only body washing for 200/- bucks. It will be a huge crowd puller.
  • Sell products like shampoos, wax, polish, microfiber cloths, perfumes, etc. Margins will be good.

Best of luck. Please do pray his success stories and updates.

Last edited by ramnaresh_2000 : 14th September 2020 at 11:37.
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:17   #21
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

I believe that most points have been covered in this thread.
I would like to consolidate and add my 2 cents.

Specific to Carwash
1. Doorstep service is preferable way to start.
2. Ramp instead of lift for physical premises. Apart from being economical option, loft with central beam is not suitable for RWD and AWD.
3. Pick and drop facility for customers if doorstep service is not.
4. A USP to differentiate you from others in the business.

General Business Advice
1. Plan your finances. Apart from initial setup costs, keep aside 3-4 months' running expenses. Try to avail cash credit from bank against Fixed Deposit.
2. Persenal involvement will be needed, but it should not hamper overall management of business. For a business owner in service industry, they should know everything but do only what can't be done by employees.
3. Customer feedback should be taken seriously. Client interaction should be done by owner/manager.

All the best in your/friend's endeavors.
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:26   #22
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Blessing in disguise !

Kudos to your friend who is thinking of starting new business. All the best to him. From your text, looks like he is already planned many things and almost ready to start. He has done good study as well where to start. I am sure soon he will get success.
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Old 14th September 2020, 13:14   #23
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

I am no expert in this area but I always thought car wash services are the least organized businesses. I hate to give my car for a wash (unless it is for that annual maintenance). I have had problems waiting for almost 2 hours at some instances and still could not get a wash done.

1. Prior appointments and token system would be a great way to help customers reduce their wait time
2. Other services like polishing, interior and air (nitrogen) along with a good wash
3. Tie up with a good service center for volumes (economically)
4. Basic waiting area maybe with a few newspapers/magazines thrown in
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Old 14th September 2020, 13:27   #24
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Most of the comments I notice is about wait time. I will advice on an assembly line style of operations. Where one person does the washing , next one drying and next one finishing touches. This way at least 3-4 cars will be moving and they will have a sense of progress.

This is a common and efficient way of hand washing cars in UK, at least.

I will suggest skipping the lift and will rather suggest having a pit/ditch/hole. Cars can drive over it with tires on either side of the pit and someone can get down and wash the undercarriage. Seen similar designs at wheel alignment centers.

I find the ramps a bit riskier and can result in damages. Will it be customer driving up the ramp, or your friend? What if there is a mistake?
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Old 14th September 2020, 14:16   #25
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

My two cents:

  1. More margin (hence profit) can be made in interior dry clean than exterior wash. I live in Noida, and hardly any customer wants to pay more than 500 buck for exterior wash of a big SUV, irrespective of whatever cleaning chemical is used (starting from detergent powder in neighborhood urban villages to supposed to be 3M Car shampoo in good workshops). Only limitation is people don dry clean interiors often, but during COVID some kind of 'deep cleaning, sanitize" kind of catch phrase should be able to get customers.

  2. Door step cleaning service has its own troubles. Many housing societies has strict laws on using water outside home and make trouble regarding the left over water and dirt. Generally these are managed by bribing the security guards (in some cases the RWA office itself!) but will be a constant nagging factor. Better would be a pick and drop facility (or pick and self collect, because after deep cleaning, owners might not be willing to allow another person drive the vehicle). Pick and drop saves the owner's waiting time and investment in the washing facility such as AC waiting area etc, however trust is a key factor, because many would not allow their vehicles to be taken away by unknown persons. If they have drivers, then its ok.

  3. Considering the current COVID situation, dry or semi-dry cleaning (stem wash) is best option. Bosch and Karcher has steam vacuum machines, which can be taken in a small van (in case of doorstep cleaning ) or installed in a small room (however have to obtain ETP license in this case) and neatly clean a sufficiently dirty car (without solid mud or deep under body crusts) quickly and better than a conventional wet wash.

  4. Another thing is to ensure steady supply of reliable workers because these kind of people leave job fast and many times steal goods from car or store. So replacement of workers will be a regular feature

Last edited by Eddy : 14th September 2020 at 15:04. Reason: Spacing for better readability
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Old 14th September 2020, 14:46   #26
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

What I would expect are below.

A decent space to sit down and watch the car getting serviced.
A neat and clean toilet is a must.
Serve something to eat. A puff, cake and a drink from a local bakery shouldn't cost more than 50/-. It will be a good gesture to the customer.
Have some auto magazines in the lounge, especially latest month copies.
Price doesn't matter, customer service does. At any cost keep up customer service. You should be the face, even if your worker has done a mistake
If a mistake has happened, compliment the customer in writing by reducing the cost or offer a substantial think like a free wash at his convenience next time.
Treat the alto with the same respect that you would treat an Audi.
Keep up timelines. Delay might have a cascading effect on the owner.

To make a difference, explore uncharted waters.

There is no car spa working night shift. Try it. There may be a market where the owner drops off the car at 10:00 pm after w day's usage and he might want the car to be ready to be driven at say 9am in the morning.
Offer pickup and drop service even for simple car washing.
Demonstrate what detailing is. Give a live demo on a small patch on the owner's car. Seeing is believing.
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Old 14th September 2020, 15:14   #27
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Originally Posted by DeepeshKarnik View Post
As a novice team, we seek your thoughts and MORE importantly, what to be taken care of when putting everything together ?
My best wishes to your friend that he quickly resumes a good career or profession in these trying times. However, over the last decade I have seen a friend dramatically fail in this very business, mainly because of labour issues and ability to recoup dues from frequent (but influential) customers. Of course there have been other operational issues, but this isn't a very prim line of business to be in, in NCR. Although my friend came from a robust financial background, he has lost his confidence, is frequently depressed, has screwed all chances of going back to his IT career (he spent 10+ years in US at some point) and his business is utterly F&^%3D!

My advice to your friend would be to try and get back into his regular profession as a priority, even if on a part-time basis or lower pay, and then try this thing out as a side-gig.
He has already lost his job, and the intent behind my advice is to prevent him from further losing his life savings and his sanity. Good luck to him.

Last edited by roy_libran : 14th September 2020 at 15:23.
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Old 14th September 2020, 16:04   #28
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

I will be the third person on this thread to repeat that one should start a business in an area where he/she has domain experience. One should know the game he is going to play.

Strong advice will be deepen the skills which he accquired in the last job and look for something in the same area.

OT: I know it is a blasphemy on the forum but car wash can end up like a discretionary thing in the Carona induced hard times.
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Old 14th September 2020, 16:23   #29
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

During the lockdown, a pair of 40-something entrepreneurs started a Car Wash close to my home in Kollam, Kerala. Their USP? - the lowest pricing you'll come across.

For Rs. 250, the car gets a healthy exterior wash and interior vaccum cleaning. They also offer detailing services. They don't have a hydraulic system but can still reach reach the underbody well with the water system they have.

There is no office but a shed that has been constructed to provide shade. Chairs have been kept for customers to sit while their cars are being washed. It's a simple set up and people are flocking here to get their cars washed!
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Old 14th September 2020, 16:26   #30
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Really sad to hear about your friend's job loss.

Has he calculated how many cars he would need to wash to break even? On daily/monthly basis? Any idea of the miminum spend he expects from each customer? That would help put the plan in perspective. A lot of times, we may think or assume a business to be "printing" money, but the reality is totally different. I would urge him to prepare a project report and put the numbers on a paper before he commits on anything.

There are a lot of car washes around my place from the bare basic to really pricey ones. And though most of them have a queue on weekends, they are deserted during the weekdays.

In the queues I used to see a lot of cabs, who would probably not want to spend more than 300 bucks.
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