How to Start a Mobile Car Wash Business in 2023

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to start a mobile car wash business

You have decided to start a mobile car washing business, congratulations! But starting a business isn’t easy and there’s more to running your own mobile car washing service than you might think.

You need to have the right equipment, skills, and knowledge of the industry. But once you understand the process and develop your business plan, you can become profitable within months.

In this ultimate guide on how to start a mobile car wash business, you’ll find precisely what it takes and why owning your car wash doesn’t have to be intimidating.


Steps to Take When Starting Your Own Mobile Car Wash Setup

1. Research your Business Market


Running a car wash delivery service can be a tough road. If you want to travel down the rabbit hole to start a mobile detailing business, you must do intensive research beforehand.

  • New Technology

Equip yourself with the knowledge of all the latest technology, service know-how, and equipment that you might need before entering the car washing industry. You can even look into a car wash delivery franchise and see if it is better than starting from scratch.

  • Target Customers

Find out what types of customers are availing mobile car clean service and how often they do it. You can even use social media accounts to check and investigate.

  • Market Competition

And of course, look at other businesses that are already operating in the area and see what they do. Determine if opening a portable car wash business in the area will be profitable or not.

2. Write your Business Plan


From your research, create a detailed mobile car wash business plan that outlines everything from business goals to what kind of customers you want to attract.

Look at how other competitors have managed their businesses and see which ones work or failed in their car cleaning mobile service venture.

If those marketing strategies worked for the big businesses, maybe you can use them as inspiration. There is no harm in following their steps but make sure to add a new flavor to make yours interesting and enticing.

Keep in mind that a well-written business plan will help you understand how much time it will take to build up a client base, earn your profit, and keep customers coming back for more services.

3. Get the Required Legal Permissions for the Business


Although it may sound complicated, licenses and permits are significant in creating a legal business.

If you are going to run a mobile car washer service, then you will need to get all of the required legal permissions from the government that allows you to set up your business.

You can do this by registering your business with the relevant authorities, getting your tax ID, setting up your business, and, of course, paying taxes on time. You should also secure the necessary insurance policies to protect your business from anything unexpected.

Be sure to check both federal and state laws that apply to your store niche. After all, being well informed is better.

If you are not sure about this, contact the relevant authorities in your state and ask them what requirements you need to set up a car wash mobile detailing business.

4. Look for the Right Location


First of all, you must scout a place to be your office, especially if you will be bringing in a team for your business. For less expense, you can also set up your business at home as long as you have a nice space and access to everything that you will need.

With that in mind, you can even start a mobile detailing business just with your vehicle and your trusted pieces of equipment.

5. Buy or Lease your Equipment.


Once you have obtained all the necessary licenses and found your perfect base of operations, then it is time to buy or lease your mobile car wash equipment.

You can either buy new equipment for your mobile car wash business or lease them. Take advantage of stores selling equipment packages on sale so you can get discounts.

Create a shopping equipment list for your washing services equipment and detailing tools that you will be needing such as office supplies, cleaners vacuum, pressure washer, and more.

  • Tip: It is better if you get some extra supplies to serve as backup equipment to avoid running out of tools. Keep your receipt for bookkeeping

6. Build your Team


For a business that requires a lot of managing, knowledge, and applying elbow grease, a team of professionals will be a huge help. They can help in taking care of various tasks related to running the company smoothly with minimal hiccups.

7. Market your Mobile Carwash Startup.


Work on your branding and store presence to attract potential customers and enthuse them to use your car wash delivery service.

You can start by writing blogs and posting content on social media sites. Use everything you can to spread the word. Even your research from competitor stores can be used as a reference for your marketing strategies.

8. Provide Exceptional Customer Service.


Once you have gathered some customers, you must always provide exceptional customer service so that customers come back again and again.

Customer satisfaction is key when running a business, especially in the car wash industry.

Here are some tips to earn your customer’s loyalty:

  • Offers good customer service before, during, and after each service;
  • Provide updates to the customer during the service;
  • Have an honest policy on returns/refunds;
  • Make sure that all staff members are knowledgeable about the job they do

9. Plan for Equipment Maintenance.


Just because your business is up and running doesn’t mean that you should no longer be vigilant.

To keep your mobile car wash running smoothly, you must schedule regular check-ups of all business equipment to ensure everything is functioning properly and maintenance of every piece of equipment used in the service.

Regular maintenance can help in prolonging your equipment’s life and ensuring that it will serve its job excellently.

10. Count your Profits and Grow your Business!


Before starting any kind of new venture, give time to take a look back at what your store did, what milestone was achieved, and the problems that your business encountered.

You need to know how much money you earned and keep track of the data to know when it’s time to add new equipment, hire more employees, or expand your business.

This way, you will be able to increase your profits over time and grow your business significantly.


How Profitable is Owning a Car Wash?

Depending on your pricing margin, fixed expenses, and how many customers can you accommodate or take in, a car washing business is pretty profitable even for aspiring beginners.

On average, basic service for one car wash is charged $7, you should count the total fixed cost for one service like that as about $4. Now, you can multiply the number of cars and calculate the costs of the business. 

What Equipment is Needed for a Mobile Car Wash?

You may need the following basic tools and equipment for your business:

– Office Supplies

– Heavy-duty vehicle for transport

– Different types of Cleaners (Material specific cleaners)

– Brushes with different bristles

– Car Steamer

– Buffers

– Polishers

– Deodorizing Equipment

– Hoses and Nozzles

– Pressure Washer

– Vacuum

– Complete toolbox kit

– Microfiber Towels, Sponges, and Buckets

– Others

You can research more about the products and equipment that suit you and your services best.

What’s the Start Up Cost for a Mobile Car Wash Business?

An initial investment of $5,000 to $25,000 may be needed to start a mobile car wash business. This may include the cost of equipment & supplies, licenses and permits, insurance, marketing costs, and others.

Tip: You can cut down on the expenses if you create a friendly business relationship with your suppliers.


Many people like getting their cars cleaned because who doesn’t want their vehicles looking great. So what if we can bring the car wash service right to their doorstep?

People will surely take advantage of this service when they need their cars cleaned quickly and efficiently.

Do not be afraid to venture into a new business. Grab this opportunity to learn how to start a mobile car wash business.

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