At Tommy Car Wash Systems, we believe that there exists a significant demand for high-quality automatic car washes that is being left unfilled. Small self-service car washes and in-bay automatics fail to provide a high level of consistent quality. However, when customers experience a dual belt conveyor or a high-end tunnel wash, they recognize the difference and are enthusiastic with their feedback.

But starting a car wash (or any small business) can be a challenge. The amount of planning and preparation that goes into the process is staggering and even if everything goes well, it can take time before a facility’s customer base and profitability rise to the point where long-term success is possible.

Aspiring entrepreneurs do well to seek professional assistance and take their time as they develop a car wash business plan that provides them the best possible chance of long term success.

What should it look like?

A professional business plan uses a standardized format, often as a Word document, that should be followed closely. The total length of the plan can run from 30 to over 100 pages according to the SBA. We’ve included a link to an outline of sections to include and what to put in them.

Why do you need it?

It would be a mistake to think that a business plan is only a tool to help generate funding through small business loans. While a detailed business plan is a vital part of obtaining financing, the process of creating the plan helps the entrepreneur do much more than just sell the startup. Writing the plan will force you to examine your strengths, explain why your wash will be successful, expose possible threats to that success, and determine how you will eventually evaluate the wash’s progress after you open. It will detail your goals in terms of return on your investment, how large a staff are you planning to hire, what your pricing and expenses will look like, and what estimated revenue can be expected. Mostly, a complete business plan will give you confidence in your plan and give investors confidence in you.

What value does it bring?

Establishing a business plan with realistic goals beforehand and backing up your goals with data, statistics, and expert opinions shows you are serious about the idea, that you’ve thought through the details, and that you are willing to let others (including franchise partners, bank officers, local civil servants, and investors) look at those details and make suggestions or objections based on their expertise. If your plan is incomplete or flawed, it’s much less likely that your car wash will be successful. The same deep thinking, research, and comprehensive planning that will help impress investors and city planners will also help you prepare for success and deal with challenges even before they occur.

So how do you write the plan?

There are a number of sections that should be covered and owners should be willing to go into detail, defending their prospective business and proving point-by-point that the idea has the ability to make profit while providing value to the customers, local community, industry, and investors with whom it will interact. Be professional and factual, covering each outlined section in detail.

Pay special attention to the first section of your document, the Executive Summary. It is the first part of the business plan and the reader’s first introduction to your business. The SBA recommends writing it last because after you have completed the exercise of detailing your entire plan, you will be in a better position to accurately summarize it. It should be simple and powerful, completely encapsulating your idea and plans. Then, the Mission Statement briefly explains the thrust of your business. It could be two words, two sentences, or a paragraph, but it should be as direct and focused as possible and it should leave the reader with a clear picture of your goals.

What resources are available?

There are many online templates for creating small business plans which can be helpful for general style, information, and structure questions. You can also hire proofreaders to check for errors that can harm your credibility when the plan is reviewed by a bank or other investors. But the single most important resource for the car wash entrepreneur is outside experts and consultants willing to provide perspective, information, research, and expertise.

At Tommy Car Wash Systems, our team has decades of experience helping individuals launch local car washes, with resources available to help entrepreneurs choose locations, project income, control expense, and sell the idea to both financiers and city councils. We’ve been through the process and are always willing to help partners and clients achieve success.

For more information on preparing a car wash small business plan or starting a car wash in your local area, check out the related posts in this blog or contact the Tommy Car Wash Team at You can view our different car wash platforms and site models or browse our online equipment, parts, and detergents store.

Tommy Car Wash Systems .