Self-service car washes are sometimes referred to as coin-operated, wand-type, or “do-it-yourself” car washes. Coin-operation is a misnomer, since self-service car washes may be initiated by: coins, bills, tokens, credit card and/or remote control. Self-service car washes are facilities in which vehicles park in the bay and the customer exits to wash their vehicle.
Self-service Car Wash Investment
Self-service car washes are also referred to as entry level businesses into the car wash industry. They operate full-time to maximize income, while requiring minimal managerial and employee involvement. Self-service car washes may be constructed with a relatively low investment, on less expensive property and operate while unattended.
Many other advantages of self-service car washes:
· Offer an excellent return on the investment,
· Payment is received prior to services rendered,
· Equipment operation and maintenance are simple,
· Customers provide labor to wash vehicles and
· Inventory in minimal.
Self-service car washes are “destination businesses”. Meaning self-service car washes are the intended destination for service and less likely impulse purchases. This type of business relies more on relative distance from customer’s residence and other intended destinations (bank, grocery store and/or pharmacy). “Destination businesses” require lower by-pass traffic counts thus the site may be less expensive and facility requirements less stringent. Property, development and other site improvements may be equal to or less than building and equipment costs. Many more locations present opportunities for profitable facilities by lowering overall development cost.
Self-service car washes typically operate 24-hour per day and 7-days per week. Income is derived is with minimal involvement and most self-service car washes are open for business while unattended.
Janitorial and light maintenance should be performed daily. Most facilities require one to three hours to complete daily tasks. Related businesses may be pursued while capitalizing on income from your self-service car wash.
Other related businesses popular with CustomKraft self-service operators included:
· Roll-over automatics are car washes where cars enter in the bay and the wash equipment travels back and forth to wash and rinse the vehicle.
· Tunnel car washes are facilities in which vehicles enter the bay via a conveyor and are pulled through wash and rinse mechanisms.
· Self-storage warehouses permit customers to rent space to store possessions.
· Coin-operated laundries are businesses in which articles of clothing may be laundered and dried by the customer with coin-operated machines.
The cost of self-service equipment is largely determined by number of functions and selected features (equipment costs range from $12,000 to $30,000 per bay). More income may be derived from car washes by offering more features. The building construction cost is also variable due to materials, techniques and regional requirements (building costs range from $12,000 to $50,000 per bay).
According to industry surveys, typical existing car wash revenues in the United States are approximately $1,500 per self-service bay per month. Sites with higher traffic and better demographics (see Site Analysis Worksheet) may yield higher revenue. Variable or utility and supply expenses will equate to about 30% of gross receipts. Typical results are not guarantees of income and actual results may vary.
Return on Investment
Typical 6-bay car wash:
Estimated equipment cost $120,000
Estimated building cost $180,000
Property and improvements $150,000
Total construction costs $450,000
Anticipated Monthly Gross Revenue $1,500 X 6 = $9,000
Monthly Expenses of 30% $<$2,700>
Monthly Payment for $450,000 Facility* $<$4,250>
Net Monthly Revenue $2,050
Rate of Return is 15% without improved adjustment for depreciation.
*Assuming fifteen year 7.75% financing for $450,000 (total project).
Self-service car washes are businesses in which payment is received before services are rendered. Customer satisfaction is measured with convenience, aesthetics and reliability.
Simple Operation and Maintenance
Operating a CustomKraft self-service car
wash is the equivalent to a very well-paid janitorial position. Primary
operator duties include washing the bays and debris clean-up.
CustomKraft self-service car washes deliver a high level of customer satisfaction. Customers provide their own labor to wash, rinse and vacuum their vehicle. The best sites offer customers convenience and value. By providing functions and features not available otherwise, self-service car wash owners promote vehicle interior and exterior detailing thus increased use and improved revenue.
Once a decision is reached to purchase a self-service car wash, the next phase is to decided on a supplier. A quality distributor will facilitate a successful business. CustomKraft documentation and training programs insure a long-term partnership and satisfaction.
Purchasing CustomKraft Self-service Equipment
Factors to consider when purchasing CustomKraft self-service car wash equipment are 1) quality of components, 2) ease and need of maintenance, 3) simplicity of design, 4) company support and 5) price. If all equipment were built with the same components and design, it would be easy. Many consider self-service equipment as, “just a pump and motor”. However, it is not that simple. Minor differences in equipment make significant differences in required maintenance and equipment longevity.
In the absence of experience, select equipment with components designed to function at higher capacities. The selection of quality components is based on aesthetic quality, durability and lowest real cost.
Aesthetic quality of components will
improve the overall appearance of the finished product and generally reflect
the grade of the component. The best components have substantial
construction and a sturdy appearance. In
addition, better component materials will have good chemical
Durability is longevity or the ability
of the component to survive. An example would be pumps
Real cost of a component is more difficult to determine. The real cost is equal to purchase price x requirement of repair or replacement. The cost of repair or replacement is significant, due to lost production and operation time. Therefore, solid components are desirable to lower the real cost.
Ease and Need of Maintenance
CustomKraft equipment operates for long
periods without maintenance while optimizing versatility, performance and
machine life. CustomKraft equipment requires less maintenance and has
easy accessibility for maintenance or component replacement. Component
arrangement allows access
Simplicity of Design
Simplicity of design may be categorized
by the ability to understand operation and the overall
The finest equipment manufactured will need maintenance and replacement components. Company support may be measured by equipment warranties, certifications, system documentation and training furnished. The distributor network and proximity to the site will determine response time for service.
Warranties are offered for items that will not fail during the specified period. Manufacturer’s issue warranties for in respect to quality of components used in fabrication. Longer warranties commonly indicate a high quality component.
CustomKraft equipment carries Edison Testing Laboratory (ETL) and Canadian Edison Testing Laboratory (CETL) markings and listings to assure proper application of components. All-inclusive manuals for parts and troubleshooting permit customers to self-educate and perform service for the equipment. CustomKraft also provides training seminars and electronic materials (CD’s). Our local distributor will provide an important lifeline to insure a profitable facility.
Usually the predominant factor in
choosing equipment is actually the least important. Project costs
A precursory inspection of self-service equipment reveals similar pumps, motors and stainless steel frames. With closer examination, major differences are found in models, support components and certifications. Better components require less maintenance plus have increased warranties and efficiencies.
is the point-of-sale and is contacted by every customer. It is
essential to present a clean, high-quality and aesthetically pleasing bay
meter. Quality of the mechanism is determined by appearance, ease of
operation, security and dependability. Well-defined instructions
permit smooth operation of the system with
Notable options include:
CustomKraft manufactures primarily with CAT PUMPS triplex ceramic plunger pumps. High-pressure pumps are considered the heart of self-service car wash equipment. There are only a few pump brands used throughout the industry. Pump selection is typically based on familiarity or standardizing with existing systems. Ceramic plunger pumps and the reduction of components have contributed to quieter operation, increased reliability and easier serviceability. Some pump models produce higher pressure and/or volume capabilities. When making a pump model selection, consider component availability, capabilities and warranty. The most popular models are 5CP2120W and the 310 models.
Baldor electric motors which drive bay pumps are the largest energy consumers on CustomKraft’s self-service pump module. Motor efficiency is established by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Standard (Standard E) motor efficiency is set at 86.5%, while super efficient (Super E) models improve the efficiency to 90.5%. Baldor motors have better customer support to answer inquiries and conduct warranty exchanges.
Standard E Super E
also influence efficiency of the motor to pump operation. The
CustomKraft timing belt drive is 99% efficient, requires no tension
adjustment and has an anticipated life expectancy of 10 years.
direct drive system is 99.9% efficient, requires no tension adjustments or
maintenance. However, this system drives the pump at full revolutions
per minute (RPM) of the motor, causing higher crankshaft and bearing wear,
shortening pump life. The most common drive is a single “Vee” belt.
Although stainless steel frames and tanks seem rather straight forward and ubiquitous throughout the various self-service brands, minor differences play an important role in durability and reliability. CustomKraft increases the metal thickness or gauge used to reduce equipment vibration and durability in shipment. By decreasing vibrations, the mounted components will have a longer service life. Component fasteners must be strong enough to withstand years of use. Plastic chemical tanks develop cracks and leaks, requiring repair or replacement, so CustomKraft uses only stainless steel and gravity feed on all systems.
There are several automatic
proportioning valves and
fluid level controls available. CustomKraft
equipment designs use gravity feed on
all cycles, eliminating the need for check valves or failure points.
Ideally, chemicals are proportioned into stainless reservoirs to be
distributed to the pumps. Component material and chemical compatibility is
influential in choosing proportioning valves, since the valves come into
direct contact with water
CustomKraft’s high volume level control
is designed to operate for one billion cycles. This exceeds
CustomKraft builds with both
electric motor starters to
CustomKraft utilizes stainless steel solenoids for durability and chemical compatibility. Brass, plastic or blended solenoid bodies are available but have restricted application. Brass will crack and chip around the orifice seat, while plastics tend to be less tolerant to heat and have poor thread memory (tensioned threads will loosen over an extended period, causing leaks). CustomKraft’s stainless solenoids are designed for maximum versatility and permanence.
The seal material is just as important
as the body. Common seal materials are Buna, Viton®, PTFE
CustomKraft solenoids are sealed with
Viton®, it is a fluoroelastomer and offers
Bay components are contacted by the customer and will influence the satisfaction of operation. CustomKraft has applied stainless steel whenever possible for clean, aesthetic durability. The overhead boom, wand holster and wand flex for smoother customer feel and decrease component damage. Bay signage is colorful, simple and concise. To help with ease of operation the bay signs is color coordinated with the bay meters; to facilitate cycle selection.
CustomKraft inlet manifolds
supply water into the chemical reservoirs and
High-pressure delivery lines to the
overhead bay booms are thermal plastic hose. Thermal plastic
Regularly overlooked components are the
low-voltage controls. CustomKraft’s improved safety and
simplicity are achieved by using components with increased quality. Fused
transformers will protect expensive components from over-amperages and
possible damage. Digital bay timer with last minute alert improves customer
satisfaction. Pulse weep systems reduce water expense by reducing water
usage during freezing conditions. Lighted DIN connectors for all solenoid
coils will simplify
Although component selection seems
tedious, it will influence the durability and reliability of the
CustomKraft has developed the simplest, most reliable equipment for self-service car washes.