Friday, March 18, 2011

Tommy Car Wash Blog

Tommy Car Wash Blog

Perks of Ordering Car Wash Parts Online: Free Shipping & More!


As a car wash owner, you’re always on the lookout for ways to decrease expenses and boost revenue. Purchasing replacement car wash parts, equipment and supplies can eat into your car wash business’ revenue if you’re not careful, and ordering the correct supplies from sales representatives can be a hassle. At Tommy Car Wash, we understand the challenges car wash owners face when it comes to obtaining the right parts and supplies, and we’ve worked hard to make sure our car wash parts ordering process is as simple – and cost-effective – as possible. To this end, we’ve developed a streamlined online parts and supplies ordering system through our website at Through our online store, car wash owners can purchase car wash detergents, parts, equipment and a wide range of both Tommy Car Wash and A.V.W. replacement parts. Car wash owners will find our online parts store fast, easy to use, accurate and – most importantly – a great way to save money!

buy car wash parts online

Tommy's online store makes car wash supply ordering simple.

Why order car wash parts from Tommy online?

Free shipping on orders under $10,000. Shipping costs for heavy items such ascar wash detergents, soaps and replacement equipment can add up quickly, but we’ve eliminated these costs by offering free shipping for most car wash part orders placed online. To qualify for free shipping, orders of car wash detergents and liquid chemicals must meet a $900 minimum. Parts orders have no minimum to qualify.

Get the right part the first time. When placing car wash part and supply orders over the phone to customer service representatives, some details can get lost in translation. Part numbers can get jumbled, and car wash owners typically have to order based on catalog part descriptions, which can lead to incorrect orders. Ordering car wash parts online through our online parts store leaves a much smaller margin for error. By including detailed photos and descriptions of each part, online ordering also allows you to see exactly what you’re ordering to make sure it’s the correct part.

Multiple payment options. Just because you’re placing an order online doesn’t mean you’re required to use a company credit card. Tommy’s online store offers multiple payment options during checkout, including credit card, wire transfer and check payment, giving your car wash business more financial flexibility. We can even setup a direct debit from your checking account which is helpful for residual orders like car wash chemicals.

Bulk car wash part purchase discounts. As an OEM car wash equipment supplier, we offer bulk discounts on many parts and supplies, and these discounts are available through online ordering as well as through phone orders. Any available bulk discounts are automatically applied to your total during checkout when purchasing supplies through Tommy’s online store.

Faster order processing. Car wash part and supply orders placed online through the Tommy Car Wash store are immediately put into our system for instant processing, while orders placed over the phone may not be processed until later in the day or the next morning. Additionally, orders placed through our online store are processed directly by us, allowing you to receive your order more quickly while continuing to get full support and installation service from our local distributors.

If you have questions about ordering online, give us a call at 616-494-0771, or start browsing our online car wash supply store today!

Soo-Soft® Car Wash Water Softeners for Greener Operations and Better Water


Water softening is one of the most critical processes to a car wash business, yet for most car washes, it’s an extremely expensive and environmentally hazardous process. Processing such large volumes of water using traditional salt-based water softening systems requires the use of several large salt tanks, which take up valuable space, electricity and softening materials such as salt brine and resin beads. Traditional salt-based water softening systems used in most car washes use large volumes of salt brine, the costs of which can add up over time. The large quantities of used salt brine and resin beads must be disposed of as well; brine typically ends up in rivers and eventually the ocean, which is very toxic to the environment.

salt-based water softening systems

Traditional salt-based water softening systems.

Aside from the environmental and financial problems associated with salt-based water softeners, they’re simply not very effective. Water softening salt tanks with brand new resin beads typically only remove 75% of hard calcium deposits in the water, and less and less calcium is removed as the tanks are used, until the beads must be replaced. This is a big problem for car washes, which have countless nozzles, tubes, hoses and brushes through which water is being run. Ineffective water softening quickly leads to a buildup of hard calcium deposits (aka “lime scaling”), clogging hoses and nozzles while causing brushes and water to be more abrasive and less effective at cleaning.

As a solution to all of these issues, Tommy Car Wash relies on a revolutionary new digital, non-salt based water softening product by Soo-Soft®. The Soo-Soft® car wash water softening system operates in a completely different way than salt-based water softeners, offering 100% environmentally friendly and 100% effective water softening processes.

How it Works

Traditional salt-based car wash water softening tanks work by removing hard calcium deposits in the water. These large “hard calcium crystals” are what quickly build up to form lime scale. Rather than removing calcium from the water, Soo-Soft®’s car wash water softening system works by breaking down hard calcium crystals to a much finer, softer molecular structure.

car wash water softening system

The Soo-Soft car wash water softening digital display and coil.

This is done by an electrical coil which is wrapped around the water pipe at the base of the water supply. The coil is regulated by a digital monitor, which sends a complex serious of electrical signals into the water through the coil, changing the physical chemistry – or molecular structure – of the mineral deposits within the water. Hard calcium crystals are quickly broken up into a very fine powder composed of fine, soft aroganite clusters rather than large, hard crystals. The soft calcium clusters not only cease to cause lime scaling, but they improve the water’s ability to be a carrier for minerals and the formation of detergent soap suds. Water which has been “physically softened” by Soo-Soft® water softening systems offer increased cleaning power, cleaning cars up to 60% better; this allows car washes to use less water and less detergent, all without the costs of salt tanks and resin beads.

Because Soo-Soft® car wash water softening systems do not add or use any chemicals to the water to soften it, the process is extremely safe for the environment. In commercial car wash applications, Soo-Soft® water softening systems can soften 150 gallons per minute through a two inch pipe, or 300 gallons per minute through a three inch pipe.

This water softening system may be installed in new car wash facilities, or it can be used to replace existing salt-based water softening systems. For more information about using the Soo-Soft® water softener in your car wash, contact one of our Tommy sales reps.

Buddy Bear Car Wash Now Open Cicero Ave. Chicago


We recently completed an exciting new Tommy Wash project on Cicero Avenue in Chicago, near the Midway airport. The new wash, “Buddy Bear Car Wash”, is a rennovation project done by owner Phil Degerato, who converted the facility from a dilapitated wash to a beautiful redone fully automated express wash with auto tellers and self loading transporter belt.

Just take a look at Buddy Bear Car Wash before construction:

old car wash business

Old Buddy Bear car wash before new construction.

and after!

Totally Tommy Express Car Wash

Newly constructed Totally Tommy express car wash

This 120′ Tommy equipment package features a standard $3.99 express wash with a host of a la carte wash items, including a tire gloss system and a free self-service exterior vacuum. Other features include:

Tommy’s transporter dual belt conveyor system.

Self loading entrance.

DRB XPT auto teller system.

Tommy’s patented stainless steel round applicator arches.

Entrance display lights.

car wash dual conveyor belt

Dual conveyor belt is standard in Tommy's Express Car Wash

car wash tunnel entrance

Tunnel entrance, complete with lights and automated door.

car wash tunnel

Inside the car wash tunnel.

car wash foaming arches

Tommy's patented round application arches.

As you can see, Buddy Bear’s new car wash facility offers state of the art features for an exceptional wash and a fun, visually appealing service.

To learn more about converting and rennovating a car wash using Tommy’s Express car wash design and processes call us today or if you would like to tour this facility contact a Tommy sales rep to schedule 616-494-0771

Car Wash industries next big development


I wanted to personally chime in here with some new insight. I have never before been so excited about the state of our industry and state of our company. We are cresting on a wave of game changing technology that will forever change the car wash industry. I am writing this from 30,000 ft on southwest airlines on my iPad, pretty cool, but not as cool as what’s going to happen in Carwashing in the next 5 years. The foundations have been laid for nationwide success of thousands of people that are going to ride a five year wave from mom and pop Carwashing to 50 store chains in every market. Lower development costs, lower operating costs, more revenue generating services, and duplicatable success stories already making it happen. now is the time to go big or go home. The markets are now more wide open than I have ever seen, and virtually every market in the country is craving high end washes. Yes there are areas that are over saturated, but in my travels I see 5 to 1, markets that have no good car washes, at least not ones doing it right. I honestly believe more money will be made in the car wash business in the next 5 years than ever before, the best part is were already seeing it start. Look forward to several very good years to come.

On the road for 2 weeks, Ill try to tweet daily on the latest happenings.
Ryan Essenburg

How to Start a Car Wash Business: The Basics


We talk a lot about the nitty-gritty details of how to run a car wash business, but what about starting a business from scratch?

As a car wash equipment manufacturer which has been helping investors start their new car wash businesses for over 40 years, we know what a daunting and potentially confusing process it can be. Should you start with financing, or begin by assessing your market? How soon should you begin marketing? How do you pick the best location for your car wash?

While we certainly can’t cover everything you need to know in a single post, we’d like to take a moment to address what we feel are the 10 most important steps in starting your own car wash business.

1) Find a location. The ideal location for a new car wash business is in the middle of a high traffic area, 25,000 cars per day or more, with little or no nearby competition. (Preferably nothing within at least 1 mile) Of course, you will need to do somedemographic research on the surrounding area to determine if the population is large enough to support your business; which we can assist you with. We typically look for 10,000 people in a 1 mile radius for a Totally Tommy, and at least 5,000 people in a 1 mile radius for a Mini. Review the competition and think about what their actions will be when you open. Will they be able to do a multi-million dollar rennovation? Are they debt free and they will simply wash cars for free for a year while you pay heavily in interest? Remember: car washes are an impulse purchase, so your wash needs to be placed in a highly visible, high traffic area that has a lot of rooftops nearby.

2) Do the paperwork. Find out what local city or county department handles business licenses and request an application. While you can do this online, it’s best to go visit this office in person to find out if there are any other requirements for opening a business, what kind of insurance you will need, and what local building and utility usage codes are.

3) Planning and Approval process. You will need to get with the local township and setup a meeting with the city planner. You can start by showing them a rendering of your concept and get a verbal, “yup, that will probably fly” or “not going to work.” Once you get past the verbal they will setup a formal meeting where you will need to present your plans and have it voted on at a city council meeting. Presenting a facility like a Totally Tommy, tailored to the look of the area will get their attention and blow them away. Cities want to see that your doing things top notch and unique. They hate the traditional car wash dark and dirty so coming in with a Totally Tommy will get their mouth watering.

4) Research car washes. Tour as many successful car wash businesses as possible to see what makes them tick. At least 30 sites would be the right number. Find out how fully automatic car washes, partially automatic, tunnel and express washes differ from one another. Understand what kind of revenue stream different washes require to turn a profit, and compare that information to your chosen location’s population demographics.

5) Choose whether your car wash business will operate independently or as a franchise, LLC, or S-corp. Franchises offer attractive options, but of coarse you have to pay the residual. Going on your own can be just as costly because you don’t have the premanition that the experienced veteran operators have. If you do plan to start in the car wash business on your own, decide who will run your business. If you plan on hiring an operator, make sure he/she is well invested in the business. Plan your exit strategy upfront! Know your plan on how and when you will exit the business.

6) Make a business plan! Your car wash business plan should focus on both long term and short term aspects of running your business, from costs and planning for building to long-term revenue management and marketing strategies. The more detailed, thorough and researched your plan is, the better it will look to investors or the bank. Get them to say “wow” you are thorough. If you need advice on this step (it’s always good to have input from experienced business owners or consultants), our team here at Tommy would be happy to offer free car wash business consulting. Another great tool to take advantage of before going to the bank is a 3rd party professional proforma. There are expert organizations that do nothing but estimate your numbers. You can have them do a proforma for you which will be looked at strongly by the bank.

7) Get financing. This is likely the most challenging step, and your success will largely depend on how well you’ve researched and prepared your business plan. A solid revenue model will go a long way in persuading investors to put up the capital for your new car wash business venture. When you ask for financing, make sure you give yourself enough room to invest in a high quality car wash facility and equipment, as well as enough room to market your new business properly. Be sure you have solid experience on your resume even if it was just working at a car wash. Today banks will rarely loan to anyone that hasn’t already owned one so having some experience as a car wash manager is very helpful.

8 ) Build your new car wash right, the first time. As we said before, car washes are an impulse buy, and your car wash’s building is its biggest asset. Scrimping on building costs by building an ordinary ho-hum car wash with standard services won’t bring a flood of customers the way a glossy state-of-the-art wash with full a la carte services will. Consider the investment in the Tommy Tower you see on the Totally Tommy building. The tower itself for the contractor to build cost somewhere in the range of $80,000 – $90,000. How much do you think putting that tall red tower up there will increase your sales? Let’s say it draws in just .001% more traffic (which it typically will). That’s roughly $55,000 PER YEAR in additional Gross Profits if you had 30,000 cars per day out front and a profit of $5 / car. Understand those investments and where to put investment, and where not to put investment. The cool part is in the Totally Tommy, we’ve already figured it out for you. You MUST get a copy of our construction secrets manual. It will save you thousands in potential mistakes, or lost revenues if you don’t.

9) Market your new business. The importance of a well-planned marketing strategy can’t be underestimated. You can’t sit back and expect customers to know about you; you need to make the community aware of your presence by getting the word out in print, radio and possibly TV. Consider using guerilla marketing strategies through social media campaigns, and plan promotions at key times throughout the year. If you build it AND market it, they will come. Figure a $15,000 budget for opening marketing. Billboards, mailings to 5 mile radius, promotional washes, and radio commercials. For the first you could spend as much as $1 / car in additional marketing, then throttle back to $.10 / car in the future.

10) Pray for Sunshine!

Car Wash Triple Presoak Arch Applicators: Increasing Presoak Equipment Efficiency


As most car wash owners know, a quality presoak is one of the most important parts of a great wash. But when it comes to presoak equipment, not all presoak applicators are made equal. Presoak applications may be an opportunity for added revenue (cta applications), but they’re also an opportunity for the car wash to use up more costly water, chemical and energy resources. When done well, the presoak stage can make for impressive wash results while reducing application costs

At Tommy Car Wash, we understand that energy and resource efficiency are critical to a car wash’s ability to turn a profit, which is why all our car wash equipment is designed not only for maximum quality, but for maximum efficiency as well.

The patented Tommy Triple Presoak Arch was designed with both higher quality product and better efficiency in mind. Let’s take a look at a few of the Triple Presoak Arch’s key features…

1) Targeted, efficient application of presoak chemicals. As its name indicates, Tommy’s Triple Presoak Arch is composed of three same-sized arches arranged closely together. These arches make it possible for the wash to target key cleaning areas with highly controlled precision, rather than simply covering the entire car with the same chemical concentration and pressure.

The first arch is equipped with front arms for full front bumper and windshield coverage. This ring sprays a high concentration of presoak chemicals for only two seconds to cover these areas with the strong dilution even as much as 40:1 in bug season.

The second presoak foaming arch provides complete car body coverage with a lower chemical solution. This ensures that only the necessary amount of chemicals are applied to each area; a high chemical concentration is not wasted on the car body, which is easier to clean.

The third arch uses the same chemical concentration and pressure as the first, covering the back window and lower backend area with the necessary chemical concentration to break backend roadfilm / hydrocarbons.

2) Tire wheel presoak applicator. Another feature which makes Tommy’s Triple Presoak Arches unique is its integrated dual tire and wheel presoak applicator. The Triple Arches’ built-in tire & wheel applicator is timed to spray a high presoak application on the wheels. The shape of the nozzles is designed for both maximum coverage and maximum chemical/water efficiency. Typically the fist application is used for every wheel at a lower dilution, then the 2nd application is used for the top wash packages or upsale item at a higher dilution. Some people choose to use the first applicator for wheels and the 2nd for the tires. Feel free to select between foaming and non-foaming CTA’s when ordering. Standard the triple presoak arch comes with non-foaming applicators which keeps the wheel cleaner warmer. Heat on wheel cleaning is very important and can reduce the amount of chemical needed.

3) Bright, colorful signage and LED lighting. For a lot of car wash customers, it’s all about the experience. Tommy’s Presoak Arches make the car wash a more fun environment by adding color and lights to the tunnel’s outer rings. Presoak arches may be ordered with pre-installed signage and attached LED colored lighting, an energy efficient way to brighten up the car wash tunnel and make it a more exciting user experience that can transform the customers emotions.

We challenge you to find car wash presoak equipment with better efficiency, quality and precision.

While the Triple Presoak Arch is standard for full Tommy Car Wash equipment packages, they may also be purchased and installed individually to retrofit an existing car wash site. Sold individually, these patented arches are a great, cost-effective way to improve an older wash’s efficiency and quality.

To learn more about Tommy’s Triple Presoak Arches, contact one of our customer service reps, or watch the video below for a full product tour.

Internet Marketing for Car Washes: The Importance of Getting Found Online


Most local service businesses, such as drive through car washes, are veterans of traditional media marketing. Print ads, coupons, radio ads and billboards; these have been the stock in trade for car wash owners’ marketing campaigns for many years. The internet is quickly changing how business is done, however, and while traditional media marketing holds some of its value, in today’s changing business environment, it’s often simply not enough.

At Tommy Car Wash, we’ve seen how savvy businesses in unlikely industries are leveraging “inbound” internet marketing techniques to boost brand awareness and to drive sales. Since we always aspire to be on the cutting edge of the car wash industry – both in equipment technology and marketing – we knew it was time for us to launch our own internet marketing campaign. And we’ve seen the results.

Let’s look at a few simple, cost-effective internet marketing strategies that car washes can use to drive sales – often at a fraction of the cost of more traditional marketing.

1) Google AdWords

As a business owner, you’ve likely heard of Google AdWords, but how – and why – does it actually work? When you buy adspace in Google’s search results, you’re purchasing a spot within Google’s designated “sponsored ad” section in search results pages. For example, try Googling “tommy car wash”. You will most likely see two similar results at the top of the page; one is in pink, with the tiny letters “Ad” at the upper righthand side. The second listing is our organic, or unpaid listing.

You can purchase a sponsored listing for any term. This means you’re not limited to “getting found” in search engines only for specific terms. During the holidays, for example, car wash owners could advertise car wash gift cards for terms like “christmas present gift card ideas”. Google AdWords allows advertisers to target specific geographical locations as well, ensuring your audience is qualified.

Google ads can be purchased at cost-per-impression (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC). If the ads are targeted and written efficiently, these ads can provide a valuable source of traffic and brand awareness for any local car wash.

2) Local Directory Listings

Local business directories like Yelp, Superpages and Google Places have created a space for small local businesses to “get found” without having to spend the resources that are often necessary to get to the top of Google’s results. With a little bit of savvy, car washes can create and optimize their listings in local directories like Yelp and Google places to ensure their car wash’s info is visible to potential customers. Many local directories also offer paid premium listings.

Having prominent listings in directories like Yelp and Google Places is becoming particularly important for smart phone users. Many of these directories have smartphone apps, so a prominent listing in Yelp online will also be prominent to smart phone users who are on the move – i.e. drivers looking for a nearby car wash!

3) Facebook PPC

Whether you personally are “on Facebook” or not, the truth is that over 112,000,000 consumers are actively using Facebook in the US alone – that’s well over a third of the country’s total population. Facebook’s advertising platform is a great opportunity for small, local businesses to get the targeted exposure they need, at a fraction of the cost of traditional billboard or radio advertising. When run alongside a regularly updated Facebook business page (a free service), Facebook ads can help car wash owners create buzz around their services in targeted communities. Once the ads are up and running, making daily budget changes and tracking ad performance is simple.

These strategies are just a handful of ways your car wash business can use the internet to get the word out and drive sales to your doorstep. As we leverage these (and other) internet marketing strategies to increase our business here at Tommy Car Wash, we’re looking at ways to help car wash owners do the same. We encourage car wash owners and marketers to educate themselves on the latest internet marketing strategies by taking free online courses such as Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University certification program. And be sure to stay tuned to the Tommy’s Best Ideas blog, as we explore ways to help car wash owners market more efficiently.

Incorporating Dealership Car Washes for Added Profit


Until recently, dealership car washes have been an afterthought, a small value-added service which generates little, no or negative profit for the overall dealership or car mega center.

For us here at Tommy, manufacturing car washes with little hope of ever making sizable profit for its owners is simply unacceptable. Developing comprehensive building and marketing strategies which will help car wash owners succeed is a key part of what we do, which is why we’ve taken the initiative to create an entirely new model of dealership car washing.

According to recent car wash consumer surveys, the following trends indicate strong moneymaking potential for smart dealerships.

- Decrease in at-home car washing; more and more consumers are visiting professional car washes rather than doing the job at home.

- Quality of the wash job has become the most important factor when it comes to customer satisfaction.

- Thanks to more efficient car wash equipment, car wash process speeds are lowered to 3-5 minutes for exterior car washes and 10-15 minutes for full exterior and interior cleanings.

So how can car dealerships leverage these new trends to their advantage with Tommy’s on-site car washes?

First of all, dealerships considering adding car washes to their site need to adopt a new perspective on how their car wash will work with the rest of the dealership facility. When we work with dealerships to develop on-site car washes, we focus on incorporating the car wash into a key element of the facility’s overall revenue generation, not as a loss-leading side project. High end dealerships such as Lexus dealerships in particular will find enormous opportunities for increased revenue by integrating high end car washes into their facilities.

To accomplish this, we focus on the following factors:

1) Higher quality expectations. Many standard freestanding car washes provide high end wash quality – clean, shiny and dry – and dealership customers will expect even more out of dealership car washes. Building planning needs to begin with these heightened expectations.

2) Higher operation costs. Recent hikes in utility costs and minimum wage have brought average wash costs to an average of $2 per car, for thorough washes. Basic breakdown of costs is as follows:

- $0.65 – chemicals (including add-ons such as Rain X)

- $0.40 – electricity costs

- $0.20 – water

- $0.15 – natural gas

- $0.70 – labor

3) Best use of land. Allowing prime real estate on or next to dealerships to sit idle – or, worse, draw in profit losses – is something most car dealerships can’t afford. Rather than filling empty land with profit-eating sub-standard car wash facilities which aren’t open to the public, dealerships should consider making their on-site car wash a key part of profit generation.

We’ve developed two different car wash models ideal for dealerships of different sizes. The express tunnel car wash model is a freestanding facility capable of processing 2,000 cars each day, perfect for dealerships located in high traffic areas. The “Totally Tommy Flex Serve” car wash model takes dealership car washes to the next level, offering both interior and exterior cleaning on a belt conveyor system. Customers walk next to their car as its interior is cleaned on the conveyor belt assembly lined, putting on a fun, professional show for customers and increasing the likelihood of repeat car wash business.

interior exterior car wash

Totally Tommy Flex Serve Car Wash model

Dealerships who use this new model to develop on-site car washes will not only benefit from ready access to low cost, value-added car washes for car sales customers, but they also provide an opportunity to add $1,000,000 in yearly revenue. By incorporating washes into the total car dealership experience, customers may be persuaded to revisit the site weekly or bi-monthly, enticed by the high level of quality their dealership wash provides.

We’re currently working with several large dealership facilities to design full-package auto dealership, service and wash facilities. These exciting new plans will allow dealerships to leverage their integrated car washes to showcase new cars and to up-sell services while customers are at the wash. These integrated washes will offer a fascinating experience for kids and families.

Totally Tommy Flex Serve Car Wash detail center

With the help of innovative new dealerships, Tommy is helping to breed a new dealership model: the car mega center. By combining first class car wash and detail facility with dealership sales and service centers, dealerships can not only create the ultimate car care experience, but also add key revenue streams. Investment costs for dealership car washes running around $1,700,000 for express models and $2,200,000-$2,400,000 for Flex Serve washes.

For more information about incorporating a car wash into your dealership facility,contact one of our customer service representatives.

Holiday Car Wash Gift Card Sales Make Record Sales $55,000 on Black Friday Alone


Well, the numbers are in from our latest holiday promotion, and it looks like it’s going to be a busy winter! Christmas comes early when you promote prepaid wash book sales. Sales of our Car Wash Gift Cards, or Wash Books we call them, broke record highs across the board last month. Let’s take a look at a few key highlights from the campaign.

Our Wash Book is typically a Buy 5 Get 1 Free pre-paid gift card which can be redeemed for six washes. We typically sell this base wash books for $30 however discounted over the holidays. Not only does this provide an incentive for customers to buy more washes, but it also helps to facilitate long-term repeat business and collects the money right away.

Our annual Christmas promotion took this offer up a step by knocking this price down to $25 from November 15th to December 31st. At $4.16 per regularly wash (typically $6), customers are happy with the savings, and we were happy with the boost in sales.

The biggest part of our Holiday Car Wash Book promotion, however, was concentrated on Black Friday. By putting steep, time sensitive discounts and hardcore promotions into place, we turned Black Friday into Green Friday with record braking sales of the Holiday Wash Cards. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, we offered a $20/Book of 6 ”early bird special” from 4AM to noon. At $20 for six washes, customers only paid $3.33 for a basic wash regularly priced at $6 but we we’re able to flood Christmas stockings with thousands of car washes.

Running the Holiday Wash Book sale alone wouldn’t have been enough if we hadn’t also invested in a few targeted ads. Several days before Black Friday, we ran ads in local newspapers and radio stations. Our selling point: Holiday Wash Book is a practical giftyour friends and family will actually use, and it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Looking at the resulting sales figures, this message must have resonated with local residents!

These were our staggering Wash Book sales numbers from our three facilities for Black Friday alone:

Location 1 – $19,000

Location 2 – $19,500

Location 3 – $17,000

amazing!!! Over 6 times what we sold last year!

At Tommy’s we find pride in the intangible benefits we can bring car wash operators like marketing advice and business development. Tommy Car Wash’s customers receive what we call the Lit 5 Pack Operations Manual, the 5th and final manual we provide at no extra cost to new Tommy wash customers. This 1″ thick book is packed with daily checklists, handbooks, and marketing and promotional ideas similar to our Holiday Wash Book promotion. After four decades of manufacturing and operating car washes, we understand what make a car wash successful and we’re here to assist our customers with creating success stories for years to come.

Car Wash Pricing and Gross Margins: $1 Can Make a Big Difference


At Tommy Car Wash, one of the most common questions we receive from clients is “how should I price my car washes?” Since this is such a common question, we’d like to address it here in our blog.

There are a lot of variables to consider when establishing pricing for your car wash, so there’s no single simple answer to this question. We’ve narrowed our answer down to address a few most important points.

Price for your market. Location, location, location. It’s a critical factor when choosing where to build your car wash, and it’s just as critical when setting your pricing per car. If your car wash is located in a high income suburb or an area where cost of living is high, it might make sense to set your base price as high as $10 per car, with $7 extra for Rain X. If your car wash is built in a less well-off neighborhood, you’ll want to make sure your pricing is low enough to entice customers without eating into your profit margin too much. The best thing to do is to prowl the area to get a feel for how other products and services are priced, then set your car wash prices accordingly.

Find your base cost per car wash. It’s a basic but often overlooked step: crunch the numbers to determine exactly how much it costs for you to wash each car. This price should factor in everything, including utilities, chemicals and labor. Keep in mind that average wash prices for larger facilities may be slightly higher. With the rising cost of utilities, chemicals and minimum wage, this cost could be rising, so it’s a good idea to re-evaluate this cost analysis each year. During a car wash conference call last year, we learned that average car wash pricing per wash comes to about $2.75 per basic car wash package. Our numbers at Tommy were right in line with this.

Evaluate your gross margin and increase pricing accordingly. At a hypothetical cost of $2.75 per wash, let’s say Joe Smith car wash owner sets his base car wash price at $3 in an attempt to attract a higher number of customers. That’s a pitiful $0.25 in gross margin per car – hardly enough income to keep your car wash in business! By increasing his base price by only $1, Joe Smith could increase his profit margin to $1.25, a 500% gross profit increase, and $4 is not a high enough price to drive customers away. When you take the time to lay the numbers out, it seems like a no brainer!

Don’t overestimate your car wash’s ability to upsell. Sure, the idea of setting your pricing low is to attract a high volume of customers and upsell them on a la carte items and wash upgrades. But keep in mind that most car washes see 30-50% of their customer base purchasing the basic wash only, and a profit margin of a mere quarter for 30-50% of all washes is just not enough. Do your business a favor and make sure your base price is high enough for you to turn a decent profit so that during down times your car wash will remain afloat.

Keep in mind that our advice in this post is only meant to be a set of suggestions – not a definitive guide. The most authoritative source on how best to price your individual car wash is the market expert him or herself – you. Of course, if you’d like a pricing consultation for your car wash specifically, our sales reps would be happy to consult with you.


  1. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Car Wash | Carwash | Car Cleaning

  2. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!