Image of a sponge on the hood of a car with soap bubles around the vehicle

Car-washing businesses have transformed from mundane service providers into booming enterprises, expanding rapidly due to private equity and innovative business models.

Similar to the rise of coffee giant Starbucks, car washes are leaving their mark on the US economic landscape through accelerated growth and substantial investment influx. This article explains the evolution of the car wash industry, its current trends, and prospects.

The Intense Expansion

Car wash companies are spreading like wildfire across the US. Streetsboro in Ohio serves as a prime example, where the rapid growth of such businesses compelled the town to impose a temporary halt on their expansion.

The industry has managed to attract substantial investment despite the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the tail end of 2023, approximately 50 groups invested over $ 750 million in consolidating or expanding their car wash operations, marking the industry's potential for high returns.

Car Wash Technology Transformed

The car wash industry has progressed from labor-intensive operations to incorporating technologically advanced systems. Check out some factors regarding this change.

  • This progression encompasses current tech advances and the American cultural attachment to cars.
  • Modern car wash services employ tech-driven procedures to quicken the washing process and reduce labor costs.
  • The shift to subscription-based models offers a stable income source, mitigating weather-based financial risks.
  • The 2017 tax reforms also significantly encouraged industry growth by allowing total depreciation on new equipment.

Because of all these factors, the car wash industry has proven profitable. Continue reading to learn more.

The Road To Profitability

According to Emil Khodorkovsky of real estate firm Forbix, the car wash sector offers an enticing investment opportunity. Below are a couple of reasons why.

  • Locations can make up to 80% of their revenue from subscriptions alone, maintaining a 50% margin before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Subscription models boost usage and revenue and provide significant growth opportunities, potentially increasing annual car washes in the US from 2 billion to 3 billion.

The expansion of the car wash industry shows its promising future outlook. It's clear that car wash businesses are not just about soap and water but also about savvy business models and strategic investments.