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Is A Car Wash A Profitable Business To Start?

car wash business in Kenya
Image Courtesy: Nowshera

Did you know that over 7500 new vehicles are introduced on Kenyan roads every month? Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that a total of 90,664 new cars were bought in Kenya in 2013 alone!

In fact, you don’t need to be a statistician to see just how fast the number of local car owners is growing – it’s obvious, everyone is driving nowadays and therein lies a potential business idea that you might want to invest in (the car wash business). But just how profitable is it?

How To Start A Car Wash Business

Step 1: Identify A Yard and Buy or Lease It

The ideal location for a car wash is an area where the prevailing living standards enable residents to own and maintain personal cars. For ease of access and maximum exposure go for a yard that is situated on a busy road ideally on levelled terrain. Avoid areas with physical obstructions like trees, ditches or electric poles. If possible, focus on areas near shopping malls, churches and other public facilities.

Step 2: Rehabilitate The Land

You can’t start a car wash in a bush or in the middle of some shady looking joint and expect it to perform well. You have to rehabilitate the site to make it conducive and secure for car owners. Start by removing any barriers, then fence it, level up the ground, dig trenches and so on. If money allows it, convert the ground into concrete. Then put a “Car Wash Coming Soon” banner somewhere and move to step 3.

Step 3: Apply For License

The most basic form of licensing required to start a car wash in Kenya is the single business permit which is issued by the county government. Price for this may vary from one county to another with Nairobi and Mombasa being the most expensive spots in the country. Other than that, if you’re planning to start a really big car wash you may want to get clearance from NEMA.

Step 4: Get Equipped

You will need a source of water; this can be piped or acquired from a natural source and stored in a 1000+ litres water storage tank. You can also acquire a car washing machine (petrol-powered), a vacuum cleaner and detergents. For a really small start, you can start with a few buckets and cotton hand towels and buy the sophisticated machines later as your business expands.

With those 4 steps completed, you’re ready to start.

How Much To Invest (Approx.)

Yard rent: Ksh15,000

Rehabilitation: Ksh10,000

Licenses: Ksh20,000

Equipment: Ksh50,000

Marketing: Ksh5,000

Total: Ksh100,000

Just How Profitable Is A Car Wash?

On average a small car wash business that has just started can handle 15 cars per day (weekends are peak days). The average price of cleaning a car is Ksh200. In addition you can offer services like carpet cleaning, night parking and restaurant to bolster your margins. Overall, a well run car wash business in Kenya can rake in Ksh130,000 per month with a net profit margin of 40%.

Summary

Car wash business is a safe bet especially for anyone who is in employment (or another business field) looking to explore a new arena. Its risk potential is quite low and there is massive potential for it to grow given the fast rising number of car ownership in the region. However, just as with any other business it requires a great deal of patience, strategy and timely judgement.

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