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Old 12th September 2020, 01:50   #1
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Default Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Hello Bhpians,

I hope yourselves and dear ones are healthy amidst these crazy times ! I am posting a query on behalf of a friend, who has immense respect for our forum and just like myself, treats teambhp as the automobile bible. He hasn't been able to crack the membership pre-requisites but that doesn't deter him from following the forum and its members.

Here is what he has to say:

" Recently, I have lost my job; after a decade of faithful association with the organization. So, I've finally decided to start my own CAR WASH !

I stay in Sec - 16, Rohini and people who live nearby, know that the ONLY car wash with a hydraulic lift and a good team was shut down a few months ago (referring to Kali Mata Mandir Petrol Pump). The next nearest such car wash facility is in Shahbad Dairy; a long drive for the people from the nearby sectors.

The High Level Plan: Find a commercial plot(process completed), install a hydraulic lift, get the equipment installed along with a water recycler plant and get started ourselves with a few other guys we've already shortlisted. Two people do the wet work, 3 guys on the interiors and myself and my brother maneuver the vehicles and undertake the final polishing (because we absolutely hate it when the polish shines more than it should or leaves a residue or the "oh-so-quick" polishing guy misses places like the corners of the AC vent flaps etc.). We are not under-estimating the complexity of executing our plan, but don't see any reason why it would be very complex either.

As a novice team, we seek your thoughts and MORE importantly, what to be taken care of when putting everything together ? In terms of the legal obligations, what sort of documentation would be actually required?"

Last edited by GTO : 13th September 2020 at 07:08. Reason: Strictly no SMS language please
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Old 12th September 2020, 03:26   #2
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Default re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Hey Deepesh,

Here I am, at 3am. Writing up my thesis for my masters degree and I casually scroll through the forum and run in to your thread.

Firstly, I'm sorry about your friend losing his job. This pandemic has wrecked havoc on most of us. It must have been hard loosing a job during these tough times. I appreciate the courage your friend has.

Here’s my experience and advice. I personally always hated to go to a car wash. I have two reasons:

1. There is no proper designated waiting area. A wash and dry generally takes 30 minutes maybe. Where am i supposed to sit during that period? I'm certainly not standing under the hot sun and sweating. I've seen a couple of car washes with a waiting room, but they are very shady as in poorly maintained. I personally would like a waiting area that gives me a view of my car being washed, preferably an air-conditioned room. However, that depends on much your friend is planning on investing. Maybe even add a small fridge with refreshments and news papers or magazines to read.

2. There is just no damn order followed. While in Hyderabad, i used to use car wash services. Every single time i go, there is one or two cars in line. Car wash folks don't take appointments (at least the ones i have been did not). That is very annoying because I'm not waiting an hour to get my car washed. Maybe i would have waited for 30 odd minutes if they had a decent waiting area, which many don't. Once i actually waited, it was my turn next and this car comes out of the blue and gets his car washed before me. When asked, he told me they had an appointment. Which is non sense because the car guy was clearly a friend of the owner of the car wash. My advice would be is to keep it professional, be realistic on waiting times and take appointments.

Other Advises:

1. I cannot stress this enough, be CONSISTENT with the service you provide to the customer. Discipline is key.

2. Maybe provide pick up and drop facility limited to your locality.

3. How about steam wash instead of the regular car wash that uses a lot of water? A year ago, i received a pamphlet in my letterbox of a company that provided steam wash for cars. It said they use 90% less water, so it is obviously Eco-friendly. Importantly, they come home and do the car wash. One of friend used their service and was impressed. This model saves you a tonne of money as you don't need a big space and worry about a lot of documentation. You only need space to park your van. One con is i doubt if a steam wash can remove the dirt of a car that has just done off-roading. Those cars need a pressure wash. Steam wash is more for daily driven cars on city roads. But, these cars form the majority, don't they? Once when i was at a car wash, a resident that lived next to the car wash was shouting at the car wash owner for using up all the ground water. Not sure how logical this is. Maybe he has no recycle plant. Water is obviously an important consideration.

4. How about franchising? Recently 'Thedetailingmafia' opened shop in Vizag. They have franchises all across India. They got some very good reviews here. Few of friends loved the service. It is more up-market than general car washes. They also have ceramic coatings and stuff. They use steam wash as well. I'm not in anyway financially associated with them. The reason i give this advice is because it's a plug and play model. Since, you're new to this business, they will help you out with the entire machinery, training, outlet design, services, know-how etc. Maybe they also help regarding the legal work and documentation required. I'm not sure how much their franchise fee is. You can contact them from their website. There is an 'Apply for franchise' option. Even if you don't want to franchise, at least have a chat with them. You'll get an overall idea on much investment is needed, what documentation is required, what machinery is needed etc.

https://thedetailingmafia.com/

There probably are other such car wash companies that give out franchises. I know of this because as i said, they opened close to my house. Do your research. A common observation is, the fancier the place looks, the more people pay. You can charge a fixed and a higher price.

All the best to your buddy!

Cheers!

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 12th September 2020 at 07:52. Reason: loosing > losing
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Old 13th September 2020, 07:07   #3
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

My advice to all entrepreneurs:

- First work in an existing business (same industry) and learn the ropes, opportunities, nuisances etc. I gave this advice to someone who wanted to start a car dealership; he worked in the sales team and said those 2 years were his "MBA in running a car dealership". Your friend should work in a car wash business first, even if it's a little far away.

- He should offer detailing (way more $$$) which is quite a complimentary service to car washing. There are several franchise opportunities too, including from 3M, Carzspa and others.

Last edited by GTO : 13th September 2020 at 07:09.
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:06   #4
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

All the best to your friend! I don't have any advice to offer, and this is really OT - but the moment I read the thread title I couldn't help but think of "Walter White"
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:13   #5
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Had been through this once. Tried to start a franchise model for a known car detailing company in Bangalore. The capital expenditure was coming to around 35L. I thought this was ridiculously high and dropped the idea.

The franchise annual royalty fees also is quite high. 6-7L quoted for me + material cost So don't think this route is as profitable, one may think it is.

Most 3M care care centers in Bangalore have either shut down or changed hands. I heard for 3M car care franchise you need capital upwards of 1 crore.

Your friend should go down his path only if he has access to cheap real estate in a car dense area. Also he should be a perfectionist and has eye for details.

Last edited by poloman : 13th September 2020 at 08:18.
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:14   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zhopudey View Post
All the best to your friend! I don't have any advice to offer, and this is really OT - but the moment I read the thread title I couldn't help but think of "Walter White"

That's some thought you cooked. (Pun intended).

Even I have thought of starting a car wash /detailing and as per my opinion going the franchise way is much easier as you get the training, expertise and guidance but then you have to pay good amount of money. Brand recognition is added advantage too. Starting on your own would require knowing nuances and working in some setup for sometime will definitely help.
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:44   #7
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Adding another dimension to the car wash business.

I recently came to know of a guy(team of 3), who’ll visit your home for car wash and polishing.
They have an E-rickshaw to carry their stuff(water pump. vacuum cleaner & other car cleaning stuff like shampoo, wax etc)

This way, they save on
1- real estate(which would be costly in Delhi)
2- water (carrying your hoses and pump and use customers water)
3- electricity( carry extension cables and use customers power for your industrial vaccum).

Customers
1- need not go anywhere, watch your car being cleaned in your home’s comfort.

Food for thought.
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Old 13th September 2020, 10:23   #8
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Quote:
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 ?
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. When business picks up, he can get the lift, or use the money to buy another ramp .

Something like this.

Name:  IMG_20200913_101640.jpg
Views: 15345
Size:  55.4 KB

Good luck to your friend!

Last edited by comfortablynumb : 13th September 2020 at 10:51.
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Old 13th September 2020, 10:28   #9
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhopudey View Post
All the best to your friend! I don't have any advice to offer, and this is really OT - but the moment I read the thread title I couldn't help but think of "Walter White"
Quote:
Originally Posted by raaj.bhalla View Post
That's some thought you cooked. (Pun intended).
Nice ones

Something that I have thought long and hard about too.
The best way forward would be to learn from an already established place and develop on top of that. I shall share a video below too which might help.

But he best idea would be doorstep service.
  • Get an old Maruti Omni
  • Buy a bunch of detailing and washing equipment
  • Create a Instagram or Facebook page and share via friends and family.
  • Incentives like coupons and discounts on social media will definitely boost your customer numbers
[/quote]

These guys are among the best in the business.
And that’s how he started off!
A mobile van!


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Old 13th September 2020, 11:13   #10
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Quote:
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 ? In terms of the legal obligations, what sort of documentation would be actually required?"
First of all, I'm sorry your friend lost a job, but great things come out of adversity. So don't give up hope.

In any business, its the willingness of the owner to get dirty working that matters. So if he's not willing to wash cars himself, please don't make him start this business. He can have staff to do most of the work, but he should definitely know the ins and out.

Before going all out, it would make sense to start washing cars in the locality, apartment complex. Gauge the response of people. All you need is 2 buckets, enough microfibre cloths and cleaning supplies. See how this goes. Once he can sustain this with maybe 2 staff, think of opening a fixed location.

Customer service is the key. If you can manage that, you will get good and repeat business.

Keep a pressure washer, but focus should be on using as little water as you can. Only the mucky cars need the pressure washer, all others can be washed using hand. Do have a vacuum cleaner too for basic interior clean up. And most importantly, don't be afraid to price your services at a premium. If you are offering more than the outgoing guy / better service, people will definitely pay.

Wishing your friend all the very best in this new venture.

In terms of legalities, you need a minimum of a firm (either a proprietorship or a partnership or a pvt. ltd company) and shop license. You can register this on your residential address. Get a bank account and some form of payment gateway - paytm, google pay etc, linked to that.

Last edited by blackwasp : 13th September 2020 at 11:14.
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Old 13th September 2020, 11:32   #11
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhopudey View Post
All the best to your friend! I don't have any advice to offer, and this is really OT - but the moment I read the thread title I couldn't help but think of "Walter White"
For the uninitiated, like me, who is "Walter White" and how is the name related to the thread title?
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Old 13th September 2020, 13:21   #12
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Quote:
Originally Posted by AltoLXI View Post
For the uninitiated, like me, who is "Walter White" and how is the name related to the thread title?
He is the lead character in the tv series "Breaking Bad". He has to open a car wash business for "reasons".
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Old 13th September 2020, 14:37   #13
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepeshKarnik View Post
Here is what he has to say:

" Recently, I have lost my job; after a decade of faithful association with the organization. So, I've finally decided to start my own CAR WASH !
All Tbhp members here have given valuable feedback.
I just have one thing to add. This type of business, whether small or big, can only survive with good relationship with customers. It's not like a shop in a mall or a local shop in a commercial area, which makes enough money and the shop owners are not bothered for customers, as they know that new and old customers are bound to come again and again.
In my area, there are three good centres and each one has it's own customer base, as they have built that relationship and trust.
So your friend will have to build customer relations from day 1, to keep attracting old customers, who in turn will bring more customers.
All the best.

Last edited by ruzbehxyz : 13th September 2020 at 14:40.
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Old 13th September 2020, 14:37   #14
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

Starting a new business from scratch. Hmmm. From the first post I get the sense that your friend and you have not run a business before. Check question -- Do you have business experience in the immediate family? If you are from a service family then running a business is usually 10X tougher than what you think it is.

I am not providing you advice on do this or do that. Ultimately it is your friend's call. But these are the questions he must honestly ask & introspect on without getting attached to the project. As an ex-businessman and one who is actively invested in a few even today my words of offer are as follows:-

-- Is your product (goods or service) something the customer badly wants or is it a nice to have. Is it something he can postpone to tomorrow or next week or next month.

-- Does your product have some sought after technology or process that others cannot replicate with ease at a significantly lower cost.

-- Does your customer care enough for the quality to pay you that premium you think you deserve. Remember India is, by and large, a "minimum $ for minimum passable quality" market.

-- What is your ARPU -Average Revenue Per Unit and how many units are needed to be sold to break even on cash. How does that compare with your market size assumptions.

-- Assumptions?? Has the friend gone and visited the competition to see how many units they sell in a day, at what price, with what service package.

-- Are you starting with the lowest practical capital outlay or are you going for the full monty investment straight away. Your money? - or is it some investors money.

-- Rent? or is it your land. If your land is this really the best financial use of it.

-- Any work experience in this field of car wash cum detailing? Or do you hope to learn to fly as you go along.

-- Do you have the cash reserves to pay 75% of the monthly outflow of expenditure for the first 12 months at least.

I believe a lot more homework is in order. Your friend may wish to examine other alternatives too. All the very best.
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Old 13th September 2020, 15:26   #15
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Default Re: Friend lost his job, wants to start a car wash business

The first rule of any business venture is to talk to your customers. As I understand, your customer base is those who live locally, and at least talk to a dozen people. Ask them what they expect and want from the service. Maybe they want disinfection, interior cleaning, minor touch ups etc.

Don't invest much initially. Keep the variable costs reasonable and the fixed costs low, employ painters and tinkerers and cleaners fired from their jobs etc.

Just a suggestion: often customer needs differ widely from what we expect and hence businesses suffer. A car wash shop in our area gets many agricultural and commercial vehicles because not washing them using a pressure washer leads to rust etc. That's their main business, although their initial start was as service center. But there aren't many customers who service cars locally, hence they pivoted to washing trucks and Boleros and tractors.
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