Site Selection: One Chance to Get It Right

August 03, 2022

Once your site is open, you’re going to find things you wish you had done differently. You’ll likely decide to make some changes along the way. But the one thing you don’t get a do-over on is your location. That’s why it’s critical to get it right. 

Of course, you need to consider the cost of any location you are looking to buy and if it’s big enough for the type of wash that you will build. But beyond that, there are a number of factors you need to consider when deciding if a specific site will be successful.

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Site Selection Myth Busters

There’s no shortage of advice when it comes to site section. Unfortunately, some of the most commonly held beliefs about what makes a good site are unfounded.

Myth 1: Don’t Consider a Site Unless the Daily Car Count is Over 30,000

You might be surprised to learn that car count has almost zero predictive value on the performance of a site. It doesn’t matter if 30,000, or 35,000 or 40,000 vehicles go by a site daily. You have to combine that number with several other factors to determine if that number is good or bad for any given location.

Myth 2: The Site Must Be Surrounded by a Growing Residential Population

Many operators won’t even consider a stable population, let alone a declining one. However, Suds Creative™ has found that the status of the population only predicts about 20% of a site’s performance overall.

Myth 3: The Site Must Have No Other Car Washes Nearby

Suds has seen operators turn away from a site just because it’s .75 miles away from another car wash. But it’s not about proximity or even the quantity of competitors. Quality is much more important. The competitor’s business model is also important – an express exterior and an inbay automatic will largely serve different customers.

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What REALLY Matters

There are many factors that, when examined together, can accurately predict the success of a car wash site. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Proximity to Retail – We’re not just talking about any retail here. We’re talking about proximity to high-frequency retail. These are places where drivers are going several times a week, such as grocery stores.
  • Traffic – While simply counting cars won’t tell you a lot,there is data behind the traffic that passes a site than can be predictive. You want to be where people are going, not necessarily where they live. You want to be on the list of places they stop when they are running errands or commuting home at night.
  • Driver Demographics – Again, we’re not necessarily concerned with whether the residential population is increasing or decreasing. Rather we need to look at the demographics related to the traffic we are seeing. What is the age of these drivers? What is their income? These can help predict if these drivers are likely to use your wash and what pricing strategies may or may not work.
  • Visibility – It’s not enough to just have a location that is front and center on a busy road. The type of road can also make a difference. If it’s a limited-access highway with a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, you’ll need large, flashy signs to catch people’s attention. You will likely be more successful on a road that has a 25 or 35-mile-per-hour speed limit.
  • Ingress/Egress – How easy it is to enter and exit your property is also critical. If a road has a median that prevents an easy turn onto the site, that can be a problem. Likewise, if there is heavy traffic preventing a smooth and safe exit, thatcan also be an issue.

Suds Creative’s SiteSelect

Site_Select.jpgFortunately, you don’t have to figure this all out yourself. SiteSelect by Suds Creative is the car wash industry’s most accurate and powerful tool for determining the performance of prospective wash sites.

Location analysis tools are hardly new, but they were made to only be good enough to get the bank on board. These tools are primarily driven by assumptions and designed to provide assurance rather than accuracy.

SiteSelect makes no assumptions. It uses over 300,000 industry-specific data points to help investors and operators understand and evaluate the growth potential of car wash sites. It blends SUDS.ai machine-learning tools with a proprietary qualitative assessment to provide a robust snapshot of potential site performance. You will receive a five-to-six-page report that will tell you how many members you can expect and how much revenue the site should produce under solid operation.

With SiteSelect, Suds can predict a site’s performance to within 80%. The other 20% is determined by operator know-how and engagement. SiteSelect only shows you what’s possible, not what’s required. What’s required? A well-trained team that puts out a great product and takes amazing care of people. The best location in the world is only as good as the operator.

Get It Right

You only get one chance to select the right car wash site. SiteSelect can help ensure you make the right choice.

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