Although it may not seem like it, car washes are some of the most profitable small businesses to own and operate. The high gross margins from automated car washing services as well as detailing services allows these businesses to remain profitable and cash flow positive at all times. Additionally, car wash businesses have substantial access to capital given the fact that the largest component of owning and operating a car wash is the acquisition of real estate. Almost all financial institutions are willing to provide the necessary capital in order to launch a new car washing business especially given that the other major component of these organizations is they are automated car washing equipment. These businesses typically enjoy gross margins of 90% with profit margins easily reaching 40% on a yearly basis.
One of the weaknesses associated with the car washes that these businesses are expensive to operate. The cost associated with maintaining a piece of real estate coupled with high utility costs makes this somewhat of a difficult business to operate. However, the gross margins generated from automated car washing services coupled with detailing services ensures that this risk is kept somewhat to a minimum. In any given market there are typically a number of companies operate in a similar capacity.
As it relates to opportunities, car washes typically are able to expand by simply increasing their menu of services or establishing additional locations. Many car wash owners can also expand their operations by acquiring existing businesses that provide identical services.
For threats, these businesses face very little ongoing issues beyond competitive threats. Even during times of economic recession, most car washes are able to remain profitable given the low-cost nature of the services being rendered. The only other threat that is faced by these businesses is a substantial increase in energy prices as this often translates into higher utility costs.