While owning a car wash can be a great investment, it comes with risks just like any other business venture. And one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is also one of the biggest risks you’ll take: your car wash’s physical location.
Once that shovel hits the dirt, it’s too late to be wrong. That’s why many new investors turn to site selection tools to help them make this critical decision. So how do you select the right tool?
Car wash site selection tools use data to determine the best location to build your car wash. They consider data points like traffic patterns, daily car counts and residential population. Some of those models were created to help car wash investors obtain bank financing, so they are driven by assumptions and designed to provide assurance rather than accuracy. They often don’t show the whole picture of a site’s potential performance.
More sophisticated tools consider factors that have the most influence on a car wash site’s performance, including:
Those factors are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to site selection. As a new car wash owner, you’ll also want to consider things like parking and waiting areas, zoning and permits, drainage and environmental impacts – even future development. Choosing a site selection tool that can leverage data and indicate likely profitability can make decision-making easier and less stressful.
SiteSelect®, a location analysis and forecasting tool by DRB® and SUDS®, goes a few steps further. Beyond traffic patterns, population trends, customer behavior and demographics, SiteSelect adds consumer behavior and competitive intelligence to the mix.
While most site selection tools focus on the quantity of people driving by your wash, SiteSelect leverages insights into the lifestyles and patterns of these potential customers. Data such as whether drivers are coming home or going to work or other businesses they’ve just visited can help us understand what motivates drivers to make the decision to pull into your car wash, allowing you to tailor messaging and marketing efforts.
Competitive intelligence explores what your prospective competitors are doing to be successful, as well as get an understanding of how much your potential market overlaps. By analyzing the strength of nearby competition and the driving behaviors of potential consumers, car wash owners can gain an advantage and attract more traffic to their site.
SiteSelect also leverages more than 1,500 mobile GPS points to help investors and operators understand and evaluate the growth potential of sites they’re considering.
Perhaps not mentioned as often as it should be, choosing the perfect real estate for your car wash is only the first step in assembling your car wash business. Successful car washes are designed so they are as user-friendly and efficient as possible on the land they occupy.
That design is about more than car wash equipment and car wash construction. Lanes, menus and pay stations can significantly impact the purchase decision, explains Scott Ginter, SUDS creative director. “The stacking lanes are where customers start thinking about the type of wash they want while waiting at the pay station.”
To influence consumer decisions, car wash entrepreneurs should embrace methods used in storytelling. “Concise and aspirational messages can engage customers emotionally and lead to quick decision-making,” explains Ginter, adding that avoiding information overload on car wash menus and providing visual shortcuts helps consumers not only make a choice but feel good about it.
Sometimes car wash building design is less about creating something new than it is about upgrading something old. Your perfect car wash location may turn out to be an existing car wash on a great plot of land.
Choosing that location and upgrading the existing car wash’s building, along with applying new branding, will show customers that there’s something new and worthwhile for them to explore. Give your property “curb appeal.” Give it a fresh coat of paint, plant attractive landscaping and choose signage that’s fun, clear and draws drivers in.
After all, when customers feel good about your business – when you connect with them on a personal level – they’ll want to return more often.
Want to learn more about choosing the best location for your car wash? Check out How to Choose the Best Car Wash Location.
For more insights on investing in the car wash industry, download our ebook “The Car Wash Journey: A New Investor’s Guide to Point-of-Sale, Optimization and Business Success.”