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English Español The best ways to expand your current car wash business

Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis, discusses the different options that car wash operators have to increase and expand their business.

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Author: Jo Thornley

A car wash facility is an important aspect of car care in any community. But as an existing owner, expanding your offer is usually the best way to increase your profits. Some improvements can be achieved by small and less-expensive, incremental extensions, but others may require a higher level of investment to ensure you get to reap the rewards as soon as possible. Here’s a look at some options:

Adjust your business operation

If you are fortunate enough to be operating at full stretch and turning away customers, you may be able to expand simply by hiring more staff. This can be the case, for example, if you already offer an in-demand hand wash service and/or a premium valeting option. Ideally, such a move could be planned in advance to give you a little time to train up your new staff.

It’s also essential to do your homework early to clarify just how much your revenue will increase as a result. Hiring new staff should never be undertaken as a gamble, because any negative performance could impact on the more stable parts of your business and could leave you with additional employer liabilities.

Another way to expand is simply to extend your opening hours to increase your throughput of business. Depending on how many extra hours you plan, it’s often possible to do this without hiring new staff. Clearly, you still need to research the new-business implications, but such a move might suit someone who sees hiring extra staff as an unwanted risk.

Adding amenities

You may be facing stiff competition from local rivals and wish to differentiate your offer to support and drive up your regular clientele. If so, you may want to look at refurbishing your waiting areas to a higher standard, and perhaps adding TVs, background music, or even offering free Wi-Fi and/or games machines.

Whatever you choose to do, you should create an upgrade strategy which targets the type of customer you wish to encourage. Plan carefully and be aware that, in a worst-case scenario, making customers too comfortable without an obvious purpose might just clog up your waiting area, causing extra problems rather than increasing your customer turnover.

Invest in equipment

A technology upgrade will clearly attract positive attention, but will require you to be proactive in marketing the advantages and extra options your new car wash equipment will bring. In some areas, you may want to look at extending and/or redesigning your wash tunnel areas to accommodate certain types of trucks or light-commercial vehicles.

Becoming truck-friendly will certainly bring in new business – just be sure you understand the additional requirements of the market, and the impact on your resources.

Partnering with a different brand

Your strategy here will be a blend of what is available locally, and what will be welcomed by your potential customers as a good consumer fit. Examples might include anything from discount schemes with local garages, to a deal with a classic car club, or inviting a food truck to open up on your site.

Adding additional services

You might wish to offer oil-change facilities, which would, for example, benefit from your existing waste-disposal arrangements. Or you might think about washing pets, which would likewise exploit your wash and waste expertise. However, catering for having animals on your premises would likely involve some extra homework as regards new liabilities and regulatory compliance.

Thinking of comfort and convenience, you might also consider offering hot drinks, small snacks, and perhaps some car-care retail items which would be appreciated by your existing customers and potential new recruits. Once again, your pre-planning should identify what impact you wish this to have on your customer numbers, as well as considering any further staff and training needs.

Purchasing an additional business

Duplicating your present set up elsewhere in your region has a number of advantages. For example, you understand the business model, may benefit from word-of-mouth recommendations, have already established business contacts, and more. In addition, buying another car wash business (UK) will give you access to a new, ready made customer base right from the outset.

Opening another branch will be a more expensive undertaking than simply upgrading your existing business. Nevertheless, the rewards could also be on an entirely different scale.


By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned creates and develops partnerships between, and and likeminded companies.