Buying an Existing Car Wash – My answer to Adam’s Email Question

Adam,

Thanks for buying my book. If there is one area of the book I need to upgrade it is about buying an existing wash. I am working on it for the next edition. The reality is that you should use many of the same criteria I discuss in my book as far as location, equipment, etc.. 

There are a few things that might make me buy a car wash that does not meet most of the criteria I discuss. Mainly does the business/property cash flow significantly after you pay the mortgage, expenses, etc.. And, does it cash flow enough to put up with some of the hassles that come along with owning a car wash? That is a personal determination. You will need to get tax returns for last three years to determine if you can make money at it or not. You can also try to ascertain if the property might be worth more down the road as something else and have the revenues from the wash that at least pay for that future pay-off from a better use (from a growing area or from hearing of big box stores locating nearby). The reality is that I get many emails and calls about buying existing washes and they usually either meet the requirements of a good location, modern facility, modern equipment, etc.. or they do not . You can always check out the economics of the deal once you decide if it was built properly in the first place as far as location and all the other stuff I discuss in my book. Keep in mind you might need to budget for new equipment, new lighting, etc.. to upgrade wash and work these numbers into the economics. You can’t however change a bad location, or fierce competition, or other factors that will make it a long row to hoe! When these opportunities do not meet the criteria I discuss I always bring up the old saying in the car wash business “you can’t polish a turd, no matter how hard you try”! 

Happy Car Washing!

Buzzie

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