How to Start a Car Wash Business in Australia in 2023

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How to Start a Car Wash Business in Australia in 2023 2

Australia’s love for cars is no secret. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of 2021, there were approximately 20.1 million registered motor vehicles in Australia. That’s a rather significant number given our population, currently 26.35 million at the time of publishing this post.

The large number of cars within Australia presents a business opportunity for entrepreneurs in the automotive industry, especially in car wash and detailing services.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to start a car wash business in Australia.

1. Undertake Market Research

Before launching any business, it’s essential to conduct thorough market research.

Understand the demand for car wash services in your area.

Analyse your competition – what services they provide, their pricing, and customer satisfaction levels.

Identify gaps in the market you could fill, particularly location gaps that a new car wash business could fill.

2. Carry out Business Planning

Once you have a grasp of the market dynamics, start developing your Business Plan. This should detail your business concept, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and long-term goals.

The Business Plan will serve as your roadmap and is especially important if you’re looking to secure funding from investors or financial institutions.

3. Research Regulations and Licensing (and comply)

To run a car wash business in Australia, you need to comply with local regulations. These typically include environmental laws to control water usage and prevent chemical pollution from your car wash runoff.

As a business with a likely impact on the environment, you will want to consider Business Strategy and the Environmental, so check out our post on that topic for more information. Also check out our post on What is Business Strategy?

Contact your local council or the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) for precise information about the necessary permits and licences. Don’t forget to check Local Council requirements, State Government requirements and Commonwealth requirements within Australia.

4. Register your Business and obtain a Business Name

Once you’ve decided to go ahead, you will need to register your business and obtain a business name, both through ASIC.

Blaze Business & Legal are happy to advise you if you’re not sure of the correct structure for your business, so feel free to contact us. If you intend to run a car wash, you will need to take into account likely risks, more so than if you were running, say, an online clothing store.

We’ve written a step-by-step article here on How to start a Business, which may be of use. And here are our thoughts on whether you need an Accountant or a Lawyer to structure a business.

5. Secure a Location and sign a Lease

The success of a car wash business heavily depends on location.

Look for a place with high visibility and easy access, ideally near high-traffic areas like shopping centres or busy streets. Ensure the site has sufficient space for your operations and customer parking, and is simple to enter and leave in your car.

Unless you are in a position to purchase the land and buildings outright, you will likely need to enter into a lease. Pay particular attention to the terms you negotiate, especially given the high use of water and power on the site.

We always recommend that you get our legal advice on the terms of the lease, and assistance in negotiating a better deal for you – particularly given the lease is likely to be longer than 3 years.

6. Acquire Equipment and Supplies

The equipment you will need depends on the type of car wash service you plan to offer – automatic, self-serve, or hand wash. This is a critical decision you will need to make when considering how to set up a car wash business in Australia.

Standard equipment includes pressure washers, vacuum cleaners, blowers, brushes, and a range of cleaning products.

Opt for eco-friendly products to reduce your environmental impact and potentially attract environmentally-conscious customers.

7. Take out Insurances

Given the nature of the business, it’s important to have the right insurance cover in place.

This can protect you from financial risks associated with property damage, employee injuries, environmental penalties, customer complaints, and so on. Consult with an insurance broker to get a policy tailored to your needs.

8. Hire Employees

If you’re operating a larger-scale or full-service car wash, you’ll need to hire staff.

Look for employees who are hard-working, trustworthy, and have excellent customer service skills. Make sure to provide appropriate training to ensure high-quality service delivery. And always make sure you put in place a decent Employment Agreement that complies with the relevant laws and has been drafted by a Lawyer.

9. Market your Business

You’ve set up your business, now you need to attract customers.

Start by creating a compelling brand – think of a catchy name, design a logo, and develop a unique selling proposition. Don’t forget to trademark your logo.

Leverage both online and offline marketing strategies. Create a website and be active on social media. Run promotional offers to encourage first-time customers.

And make sure you set up your Google Business Profile for the relevant area.

10. Focus on Quality and Customer Service

To retain customers and foster loyalty, offer high-quality services and superior customer service.

Always strive for excellence and continuously seek feedback to improve your services.

11. Consider Business Growth and Scaling

Once you’ve established your business and built a solid customer base, consider ways to grow.

This could be through offering additional services like detailing, implementing a loyalty program, or even opening more locations.

You will need to make sure you have developed a Business Strategy to see you through this next phase of growth, so check out our post for more information.

Additional Reading

Want more information? Check out this article on How to Start a Business in Australia.

And if you’re thinking about buying a business rather than starting from scratch, this article on buying a business may be of use.

Conclusion

Starting a car wash business in Australia is very doable, provided it is approached with meticulous planning, continuous dedication, and a customer-centric mindset.

From a customer-facing perspective, it’s not just about washing cars, but creating a memorable experience that keeps customers coming back.

But don’t forget all the work you need to do on the backend, including business planning, marketing, registering your business, finding the right land, negotiating a lease, employing staff, and complying with all laws and regulations.

FAQs

1. How much does it cost to start a car wash business in Australia?

The cost of starting a car wash business in Australia varies greatly depending on factors like location, size, type of service (automatic, self-serve, or hand wash), and equipment. A small-scale setup can start from around $50,000, while larger, fully automated car wash systems can go up to $500,000 or more.

2. How long does it take to start a car wash business?

The time it takes to start a car wash business can vary, depending on factors like securing the right location, negotiating the lease, getting the necessary permits and licences, setting up your business, taking out insurances, and installing the equipment. On average, you should expect the process to take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, assuming there is no delay in obtaining financing.

3. Is a car wash business profitable in Australia?

A car wash business could be profitable in Australia, given the country’s high number of registered vehicles and the demand for car wash services. However, like any business, profitability depends on factors like the business location, quality of service, competition, and effective management.

Keep in mind that, as inflation rises, many households may see car washes as a luxury service, and they may reduce obtaining this service in priority in their budgets.

4. Do I need any special qualifications or licenses to start a car wash business?

While you do not need a specific qualification to start a car wash business, you should have a basic understanding of business management, customer service, and car wash operations. Regarding licences, you will need to check with your Local Council or the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) for specific licensing and permit requirements.

5. How can I attract customers to my car wash business?

Attracting customers to your car wash business involves effective marketing and providing excellent service. This could include creating a compelling brand, having an online presence, offering promotional deals, and providing exceptional customer service. Additionally, providing eco-friendly car wash options can also attract environmentally-conscious customers.

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About the Author

Rachelle Hare

Rachelle Hare

Rachelle Hare is a highly experienced Construction Lawyer and Contract Lawyer, with over 23 years of experience in Tier 1 and Tier 2 Construction Firms, Top Tier Private Practice and Government.

With 23+ years of experience as a Senior Lawyer, Strategic Contracting Adviser and Management Consultant in Construction Law, Contracts, Major Projects, Commercial Advisory, Compliance, Procurement, Contract Management and Risk Management, Rachelle has the rare skills to offer you seamless business advice and legal advice to help support your organisation.


As well as a Lawyer and Business Adviser, Rachelle has also acted as a Strategic Procurement Adviser, Compliance Manager, Strategic Risk Adviser and Commercial Manager.

Rachelle owns
Blaze Business & Legal, a combined Commercial Law Firm and Business Advisory Firm located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Blaze Business & Legal assists a broad range of clients in the Construction Industry and related industries, and advises owners, contractors, subcontractors, NFPs and other organisations on a broad range of Construction Law, Commercial Law, Business Advisory and Management Consulting issues in Brisbane, Queensland and around Australia.

Rachelle also owns Blaze Professional Learning, where she offers practical contracting skills, hands-on experience in drafting and working with contracts, and industry insights to help Professionals upskill and advance their careers with real-world skills.

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