How and Why I Got Started In The Car Wash Business

At the International Car Wash Convention dinner that Bill Pitzer owner of Auto Care Forum held in Las Vegas, I was asked by a long time full service car wash business owner why I got into the car wash business. There was a short pause and then I answered “because I thought it would be easy”. The few owners who were sitting near by busted out laughing. They knew that’s a common response among car wash owners, especially among self-serve car wash owners. The reality is that I had always had an interest in owning two businesses. A car wash business and a hot dog shop! The hot dog shop is still to come as a retirement hobby on some east coast boardwalk. The car wash business started becoming more interesting to me after I read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad, talks a lot about earning passive income. This is income from business ventures that are “set it and forget it” type of businesses. Much like real estate investing, I believed that if I built a great wash, in a great location, that it would be generate good income with little work. The reality is that it does generate good income, but the work load is a bit more than I expected. With this is said, I always joke to my friends that I work 365 days a year, 2 hours a day. This is pretty accurate, except for what I call special projects and major equipment repairs.  Now, getting back to how and why I started in the car wash business. Back in 2002, I wrote a car wash business plan, put together a dynamite bank package, started meeting with car wash equipment distributors and thought that I would jump into the business with both feet. After creating a construction and equipment budget that totaled over $1m, I started getting cold feet. I already had a great location picked out! It was an empty lot located directly across the street from a new corporate McDonalds that I could get for around $100k and that was only about five miles from my home. I had sticker shock even though I knew that I could get the project financed through the many contacts I had from my equipment finance company. As the project was getting pushed on the back burner, two friends of mine (who were brothers) took an interest in the project and asked if I minded if they could start the business on their own which I gladly relinquished to them. After a few months of fielding questions from the brothers, I decided I was back in. These guys viewed the project more as an investment than a business opportunity. None of us knew, but we would all soon realize that the business required more than money collection each week. The project taught us how to develop commercial real estate and we went on to build a second wash in another part of town. One last note, my brother Mark died in September 2002 after being diagnosed with peritoneal cancer about three months earlier. Nothing in your life will move you to massive action than the loss of a close friend, brother, or sibling. Mark was all three. You wake up in the morning and realize that the cliche’s “life is short” is very true and you make sure that the things you want to do in life get moved to the front burner. I truly believe that if I hadn’t lost my brother who was my best friend that I wouldn’t have moved forward into the car wash business.


Main add value’s from this blog:

Gain some insight into why I decided to move forward into the car wash business.

Sometimes a major milestone in your life will cause you to move forward with massive action.


Scott Glover is the author of Car Wash Business 101, a book written for people who are interested in getting into the car wash business. He has also built two self serve car washes with in-bay automatics, and bought a third wash.

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