February 24, 2012

Keys To Great Site Location

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When building a new car wash perhaps the biggest question is location.  No decision has more permanence. Here are some tips collected from industry veterans when it comes to choosing a location:

Be Patient

When it comes time to start looking for a location, entrepreneurial energy and emotion are usually running pretty high. You can picture your beautiful car wash with long lines of cars glistening in the pollen dusted sun and you are eager to make that a reality. However, finding the best location can often take months or even years. Make sure you try to approach the search process with as much patience and objectivity as possible.

More Than Just Traffic

Most people usually refer to traffic count as the best indicator of potential activity, but there’s more. You also have to check average speed of cars as they pass by, whether there are any traffic lights nearby, how easy it is to make a left into the lot and how visible the car wash will be from the street.

Know The Neighborhood

One of the least tangible parts of choosing a location is the dynamic of the neighborhood. How much shopping is there? What kind of shopping is it? Are people there on their way to work, or going home? Is it an area where families are shopping or is it commuters. What is the mix of shopping? Retail, food service, malls, movie theaters, office building, etc. Make sure you spend plenty of time at all different hours shopping and spending time in that neighborhood.

Know the Competition

You probably know right away where the nearest competition is. However, it is also important to go deeper. Speak to the customers that go to that competitor. Why do they choose that wash. If there was one closer to home would they go? How loyal are they? Is it a price sensitive market? Does the competition have plans for growth? Never assume any of this. Do your homework  and talk to as many people in the know as possible. This includes equipment distributors, chemical sales people and car wash owners outside that local market.

How Far Do You Want To Drive?

For first timer owners this is very important. Nothing can be as draining as making long car trips just to check something out on a Saturday morning. So know yourself and if you are not the type that enjoys long drives, stay closer to home. It will make life as a new car wash owner that much simpler.


Once you choose a location you are tied to that municipality’s zoning. If you have multiple options as far as location, you should consider the zoning of each location. Zoning can make a big difference in your ability to get things done on your building, make changes and most importantly market through signage.  Site A might be a better location, but if your sign can’t be bigger than a post-it note and you can’t hang banners then that better location might not be THAT much better than site B.


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