Car Wash Development Mistakes to Avoid

This year the Tommy Car Wash Systems family of companies celebrates fifty years of car wash operations and development. In that time we’ve seen tremendous change sweep across the industry, and inspired much of that change ourselves.

We’ve also seen how car wash development projects can struggle or fail and where the most common errors can be avoided, if you know what to watch out for.

Error 1. Building Too Close to Residential Property 

Car washes should not be built bordering residential developments or housing of any kind. If a wash is proposed for a site within close earshot of housing it is exceedingly common for residents to raise strong objections to the project, hindering or even shutting down the approval process.

And, if the project is approved and the wash is constructed, the residents may still raise constant objections and noise complaints, adding unnecessary stress and friction to what should be an exciting and valuable community service.

Error 2. Choosing a Site without Sufficient Infrastructure

Depending on the size of the car wash planned, anticipated wash counts, and the efficiency of the system, a car wash may use and dispense tens to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year.

This level of consumption and discharge demands sufficient infrastructure to be developed if it isn’t already in place. Be sure to carefully investigate the plumbing attached to your site and order a water pressure test as part of your due diligence.

Error 3. Failure to Consider Community Trends

Making the right long-term location decision requires more than a simple short term cost / benefit analysis, and failure to consider a community’s changing dynamics can lead to regrets down the line. Different areas are constantly evolving and changing, with populations, economies, and attitudes in flux. Fortunately, there are ways to anticipate these changes early in your search.

If the demographics in an area reveal a shrinking population (more individuals moving away), or one that is aging too rapidly without replacement , it can evidence a potentially dangerous long term reality for your wash, and the area as a whole.

Error 4. Zoning and Land-Use Issues

Each community has different zoning and land use rules, which are a perennial source of friction during the development process. Acquire a letter of conditions to gain an early understanding of the municipality’s expectations for the building and research the process to petition for a zoning change if necessary.

Even minor rules or requirements can lead to drastic, expensive changes in your designs if not baked in to the process early on. These rules may cover:

  • Fire Suppression
  • Grading Requirements
  • Lighting
  •  Curb Cuts (Driveways)
  • Retaining Walls
  • Landscaping
  • and much more.

Error 5. Signage Rules

Most urban areas tightly regulate the amount, size, positioning, and illumination of signage on each lot, and these requirements vary widely from area to area. Your rules may only involve the main street side signage, or they may extend to include channel letters on your building, external posters, banners, and even temporary sandwich board signs.

About Tommy Car Wash Systems

Leaders in car wash innovation and development, Tommy Car Wash Systems produces high quality round stainless steel arches, equipment, control systems, and detergents along with proprietary building designs. Entrepreneurs interested in high capacity, performance-driven car washing are invited to explore the Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise, a fast-growing international express car wash venture coming soon to a city near you.

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