How To Start Car-Wash Business

Car wash business used to be seen as “garage boys” business, simply because it was restricted to motorparks where buses, used for transportation, were cleaned up after daily operation. But early 2000, finesse started coming into the car-wash business by enlightened operators.

Private car owners, who did not have the leisure of taking care of their vehicles then, had to go to these motor parks to wash them.

Advancement in car wash business, nowadays, is as a result of more enlightened people coming into it, thereby fine-tunning the crude ways of doing the business.

A retired banker, Mr. Durotoye Adeyemi, was lured into the business by the fascinating touches of the operator of a car-wash outfit in Lagos, where he cleaned his car always, which complelled him to ask useful questions on how to go about the business. He retired in 2005 and in 2006 started running Duro Steam, an outfit that specialises in car engine wash and flushing of radiator.

Aside having the financial wherewithal to start the business, Mr. Adeyemi also has passion for car care. He said in this country where some roads were bad, vehicles needed to be maintained and kept clean always, especially the engine.

Unlike Mr. Adeyemi who started off on his own, Mr. Taiwo Hassan, owner of Momoore Car Care Centre, who is just three months into the business, though believes in self-dependence, but did not have the means to start up.

Mr. Hassan, until recently, worked with a multinational company, Unilever, before deciding to be self-employed. He found solace in a brother of his, who loaned him the capital to start up the business. But his interest in car care dates back to the time he washed his father’s car.

It was a different stroke entirely for Mr. Ewuola Bamise who started washing vehicle for a fee as early as 1981 because of his poor background.

“I started washing vehicles after my primary school education to fend for myself throughout my secondary school education. Some of the teachers in my school then knew me because I washed their cars at break time,” he narrated.

Unlike other trades or craft that require a long period of apprenticeship, the art of car-washing does not require much time to learn. While both Adeyemi and Hassan agreed that it does not require more than a month to learn it, Bamise said an apprentice must undergo, at least, six months training.

Saturday Tribune gathered that the level of practising the business depended on the financial strenght of the operator. There are those that can be referred to as pedestrian operators; some wash vehicle body alone, some specialise in car engine wash while some combine washing of vehicle body and engine.

Both Bamise and Uche John, undergraduates who sustain their education with the business, can be described as pedestrian operators. They rely on equipment such as buckets, brush, towel, detergent and a dependable water source for their business. They also wash vehicle body alone.

While Duro Steam owned by Adeyemi wash car engine and flush radiator with the aid of steam machine, Momoore Car Care Centre, owned by Hassan, washes both vehicle body and engine.

Whatever level of operation, it was gathered that car wash is a worthwhile venture which no operator has ever regretted going into. Bamise, who washes a car for N300 and does body waxing and polishing for N500, said on a good business day, he can wash at least, 15 vehicles.

Mr. Adeyemi, who specialises in washing of engine, said 20 to 30 customers might patronise him on a ‘good day’ while corporate organisations also patronise Duro Steam for flushing of radiators.

Mr. Hassan, who is just three months into the business, said it is possible to make N7,000 and upward on a good business day.

All the operators agreed that the success of the business depends largely on inter-personal relationship with clients and the choice of location.

According to Bamise, who is the Chief Whip of the Car Wash Association of Nigeria, Oyo State Chapter, “the first thing that anybody, who is interested in this business should consider, is a good location. I mean a very busy road where there is heavy traffic.”

In addition to a busy location, Adeyemi said he was reaping from his specialisation in steam engine wash while an operator should take cognisance of close relationship with customers.

Car-wash business, like any other, has its own constraints and hazards. For those that operate steam wash, flunctuation in the price of fuel (petrol or diesel) to power generators used in running the machine is a major constraint especially during shortage in supply of petroleum products.

Another is the fear of being electrocuted by the heavy current of electricity that flows through the washing pipe and hose from the steam water machine.

But the greatest threat to this business, as gathered by Saturday Tribune, is the alleged occasional harassment by staff of governmental ministries and agencies, especially on issues that border on the environment.

Some operators of the business alleged multiple collection of fees by different agencies of the government. “Officers from the Town Planning Department and Estate Department of the same local government will come to collect fees from you on the same business outfit. For how long do we pay these unaccredited fees?” queried one of the operators.

Investigation by Saturday Tribune also revealed that the Car Wash Association of Nigeria in Oyo State has been having a running battle with various administrations in the state over complaint of impacting negatively on the environment.

While government berates the damaging effect of running water from car wash centres on roads, operators blame government for not providing necessary enablement such as building concrete setbacks on road sides with adequate drainage facilities for car washers to operate. “If they do this, we shall be contended with whatever fees they asked us to pay,” said one of the operators.

A source of the state Ministry of Environment and Water Resources said the alleged harassment was the statutory duty of the ministry to keep the car wash operators away from damaging roads and creating erosion on road sides.

Business Outlay

• Get a good location.

• Construct one or two ram on which vehicles are washed.

• Secure a dependable source of water supply. Sink a well, borehole or buy water from tankers.

• Buy smaller tools like buckets, brush, towel, detergent, wax and polish.

• A generator that can power the size of engine operated. A 7.5 KVA that can power a one-horsepower engine will cost N60,000 plus

• A steam engine. The cost ranges from N200,000 to N500,000 for a fairly used, depending on size and up to N1 million and above for a brand new one.

To your success.

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