Guide to Launching a Car Wash Business

Updated on 23 May 2022

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Guide to Launching a Car Wash Business

Car washes are a well-established business concept in South Africa with one located at almost every city or town’s main road. For entrepreneurs with an interest in this business and with access to a favourable location, a solid understanding of the industry can help you find success.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about starting a car wash business and how to grow it into a commercially viable enterprise.

Industry Overview

South Africa is a car-driving nation. Driving is the most common form of commuting, and around a third of South African households own cars. This presents many opportunities for businesses providing wash and valet services.

Like the shisanyama, car washes are an especially popular business idea in most South African townships. While the car wash business is seen to have low barrier to entry it does require some capital investment.

Car Wash Trends

There are additional opportunities for businesses to take their car wash services mobile. Customers can now get their car washed at their place of work, for example, in an office park parking lot or even at home. This affords customers more convenience than ever before.

Car Wash Industry Challenges and Opportunities

Because of the popularity of car wash businesses, you can expect healthy competition for customers from both small and large establishments. This is why it’s important that you market your business. Some ideas are to advertise your services at schools, local businesses, or the local market, and offer to wash cars at events.

Entrepreneurs may also struggle to secure a space large enough to accommodate their business or may find the cost of renting a large space prohibitive.

The importance of mentorship for SMEs

Laws and Regulations

There are a number of regulations that those looking to enter the industry should be aware of. If car washing is commercial, the operator must have a permit in order to run the car wash business.

If you own the space you will have to get permission from the council, or if you are leasing, from the land owner.

Car washes have to comply with their city’s by-laws to operate legally. Operators have to ensure that soap and chemicals used for washing vehicles are discharged to the sewer system instead of the stormwater system where it can contaminate rivers. They also have to comply with good water conservation practices.

Car wash businesses also have to adhere to other industry-related health and safety regulations. This includes excessive noise or the dumping of waste material on his or her business premises.

Starting Your Business

The location of your business is one of the most important considerations before you start. You want to ensure that you have an easily accessible location with plenty of road traffic. Other possible locations are shopping centres, malls, office parks and shisanyamas.

Aside from the cost of the venue, your biggest expense will be equipment. Some setup costs to consider include your location costs, high-pressure cleaners, vacuum cleaners, dryers, washers, water hoses, soap, polishes and wash cloths.

Lastly, it’s important to run your car wash as a professional enterprise. Register your business with the CIPC and open a business bank account. To keep track of finances, business owners can set up accounting software for their new car wash business.

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