Are you an entrepreneur thinking about building a car wash in Alberta? While typical car washes make great investments (annual car wash revenues exceed $24 billion), most car washes are designed for basic, domestic vehicles (cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, minivans, etc.). Because regular car washes aren’t large enough to accommodate heavy duty vehicles like semi-trucks, trailers, RVs, tankers, school buses, mining vehicles, and municipal equipment, heavy duty truck washes make profitable niche investments, especially in Alberta where the haulage and industrial industries make up a substantial portion of the economy. Between the oil and gas industry, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and RV vacation destinations like Jasper, Banff, and Waterton National Parks, heavy duty vehicles are plentiful in Alberta – and these vehicles continually gather dirt and mud. In particular, professional fleets must clean their vehicles regularly to maintain their longevity and protect their investments.
If you’re still in the brainstorming stage, research is key to figuring out if a heavy duty truck wash is the right investment for you. The best way to determine the feasibility of your potential truck wash is to start building a business plan. Start with a SWOT analysis to learn about the truck wash industry and to assess the pros and cons – this will aid you in nailing down how you’ll differentiate yourself in the market and help you to anticipate obstacles which is an integral component of your business plan. At this point, you’ll need to decide if you want to operate under a franchise or independently. Because truck washes are more of a niche industry, the franchise options are narrower than for a car wash business. However, franchises offer the opportunity to invest in an established business model with chosen equipment suppliers and financing plans.
Next up is choosing your location. For a truck wash, you’ll need at least two acres of land, you’ll need adequate site utilities, and you’ll need to consider the population, competition, traffic counts, zoning, and access of your potential site. To help you choose your location, you’ll want to perform a market analysis to explore the competition, market size, customer segments, buying patterns, and the economic environment. By including your builder early on, you can avoid choosing a poor location that may cost more than you anticipated to build on. At Cormode & Dickson, our team of truck wash professionals can give you invaluable insight in selecting a site and building your business plan. Together, we can not only select the perfect location, but we can also outline the design and construction to ensure cost certainty for your business plan.
If you’re going the independent route, another important consideration is choosing your equipment. The equipment you choose will not only affect costs, but it will also affect quality. Ideally, you want a truck wash machine that is cost effective, environmentally friendly, and low maintenance. Most of your customers will likely be professionals who don’t want the hassle of a do-it-yourself wash bay, they’ll want to pull in with a filthy vehicle and pull out with a spotless one, so an automatic wash is the best way to go.
The remaining sections of your business plan include organization and management and cost projections. Reach out to other businesses and utilize the knowledge and expertise of the Canadian Carwash Association and the International Carwash Association to determine cost projections. Your business plan should form the road map to your success, at Cormode & Dickson, we’re here to help you develop a feasible business plan. Contact us today to talk about your truck wash project.