Wednesday, 10 June 2020 20:59

How To Start Car Wash Business In Nigeria

Written by Hafiz Mukhtar
How To Start Car Wash Business In Nigeria Photo by Adrian Dascal on Unsplash.

 Introduction

Starting a car wash business in Nigeria is a very good idea. There are millions of cars on Nigerian roads, most if not all of them need cleaning, and the majority of car owners are working-class citizens who barely have time to wash their cars, which is where the car wash business comes in.

Table of Contents

Why You Should Start A Car Wash Business In Nigeria

How It Works

How a Car Pressure Washer Works 

Factors Affecting a Car Wash Business

What to Buy (List of items)

List of Services by a Car Wash Business

Marketing

Branding

Market Analysis

Profit and Earnings

Cost of Washing Cars at a Car Wash in Nigeria

Management of a Car Wash

Future Projections

 

Introduction

The car wash business is done by washing the cars with hand and car soap, accompanied by a bucket and a water spraying machine, and a clean rag. So basically, this is a guide to a hand car wash business, and not an automated car wash known sometimes as the drive-through car wash. Nigeria is yet to perfect the drive-through car wash, besides, it is extremely expensive, the capital to start it is in the millions of Naira.

We are focusing on the manual car wash type, where the most important equipment are the car pressure washer, buckets, clean rags/towels, car soaps, an expert car washer, space for the business, and a good amount of water.

With about 400,000 to a Million Naira, you should be able to start the business. The factor that significantly affectsthe startup cost is usually space, for buying or renting. The result of investing in the car wash business in Nigeria can result in about 200,000 Naira worth of profit monthly, this is a rough estimate, for some, it usually is much much more.

This business is most prevalent in the two cities of the federation, there is a high rate of car wash business in Lagos and in Abuja, most probably because of the great number of high-income earners who can afford cars and because you need commute to work every day in Lagos and Abuja.  

Obviously, there are a lot of other tools and equipment that go into the business, each with their uses, which is discussed in detail in this article.

Why You Should Start A Car Wash Business In Nigeria

One of the traits of a good profitable business is that it should be a long-lasting one, i.e. it should be economically sustainable. We are talking decades and decades of uninterrupted income flow, and luckily, the car wash business is just the type of business that can last for so long, because the use and ownership of cars is not slowing down. Everybody wants to own one. Secondly, as a small business, it doesn’t require a huge amount of capital to start.

Moving on, the car wash business is an evergreen business, meaning it is for all seasons. It doesn’t matter what part of the year it is, whether rainy or dry season, there is always a need for car washing, to either wash off mud or dust. Also, transportation is one of humanity’s most fundamental basic needs, and car transport is the most popular form of transportation. So the car washing business is always in business.

And just in case we miraculously all switch to electric cars, the business will still survive, because, ELECTRIC CARS NEED WASHING TOO.

Although, despite the constant inflow of cash in this business, finding a good location where there is lots of traffic is ideal, otherwise, the business may fail or function at a low capacity.

Rounding up the advantages, you have; a low startup cost, a need for it through all seasons, and the majority of car owners are the busy working-class population.

How It Works

The car wash business has three (3) phases.

  1. A customer drives in a dirty car.
  2. You wash their car as per their instructions.

That’s it. . . Superficially.

The car is foamed and washed using a bucket and sponge (with car soap) and rinsed using the car pressure washer. It may be sprayed with the car pressure machine before starting the wash, to reduce sticky dirt and mud, etc. Some car pressure washers have nozzles made specifically to apply the foam on the car for washing, then a different nozzle head is used to rinse.

Once done, it is cleaned carefully using a microfiber towel.  

Based on the customer’s preference, they could decide they want only an exterior cleaning of their car, or an interior cleaning only, or both exterior and interior, their choice. Other services provided by the hand car wash include car detailing and car engine wash or degreasing.

A typical car wash is done in about 20 to 30 minutes. Customers usually wait for it to be finished on benches provided by the car wash business. Sometimes they go away for some time and come back later.

You have to be creative in your business and indulge the customer, for instance, with snacks and soft drinks while they wait. Provide benches and open a small kiosk loaded with snacks to sell to the waiting customers, it serves as another source of revenue. Alternatively, you can invite another small business owner that sell snacks, and collaborate with them, that works too.

How A Car Pressure Machine Works

The car pressure washer has three (3) main features;

  • The power supply
  • Water inlet
  • And the nozzles

Power Supply – Car pressure washers are operated by electric power. Some of them have a wire that you can plug into a socket to power it. However, the most common ones we use are the Gasoline Car Pressure Washers, they are powered by a petrol power generator that is attached to them. You turn it on like a regular gen, by pulling a cord to ‘start’ it.

Water inlet – Every car pressure washer has a water inlet where the water is supplied into the washer and sprayed out through the nozzle.

The Nozzles – There are different types of nozzles for different purposes, some are when you need a high pressure to wash off dirt on the car, and some for spraying detergent, and some for rinsing the car. Most models come with at least 3 different nozzle types. Make sure you read the manual to know exactly which nozzle to use for what.

Also, watch out for the psi on the machine, psi is a measure of pressure by the amount of force it exacts on a particular surface area. A normal psi for washing cars should be somewhere between 2000psi or less. A high pressure force can damage the paint of a vehicle.

Factors Affecting a Car Wash Business

Location

Location is of utmost importance in the car wash business. The roadside is the best place anyone could think of. Find a place with a lot of traffic, that is along a major road, preferably near a residential area where many drivers are bound to pass through when going to work.

The car wash could be located on or near major intersections. In most northern states where there is an abundance of space, you will find a car wash near roundabouts and in corners near turns or junctions.

Places where you don’t set up a car wash are deep into residential areas, where only neighbors are aware of the business.  Other than that, anywhere busy where people often drive past is a great location. Near markets and offices, center of town, major roads (not highways), next to big parking lots such as a mall or similar, and so on.

Source Of Water

Before picking a location, make sure it has a water source nearby. Areas with available tap water are somewhat good to go, but in most cases, you must fetch for it.

Sources of water include; the state provided tap water, borehole, and a dug up well. Note, whatever the choice of the water source, you must have a water storage tank, it is more efficient to store the water to be used regularly than to have to pump it directly every time you need to wash a car.

Without water the car wash business is null, it cannot be done. And a regular supply of it is needed. In the case of the water storage tanks, they need to be at least two small ones or one 3000Liter tank, the water will last longer for use.

Electric Power

Power is needed to run the car pressure machine for washing the cars. As for the borehole machine, it also needs power to pump the water into the tanks.

Best option is to get a generator. The rating of the generator should be a bit more than that of the pump. For instance, if the pump (usually SUMO, it is the most common brand) has a wattage rating of 1.2KW, the Gen. should be about 1.5 – 2.0KV. Consult the person installing the borehole about the wattage/power input of the pump so that you will know what generator will be suitable to power it.

However, if you dug up a well, a regular water pump engine is used, the type used by farmers and agriculturists to provide water for crops. It is a gasoline generator. You just pull the cord to start it and it pumps water from the well and into the water tank. In that case, a generator is only required for the car pressure washer (if the washer is not gasoline-powered).

Again, the generator wattage should be a bit more than the car pressure machine's own wattage. If you have more than one car pressure washer, and a SUMO water pump, make sure the generator has the suitable power output to take on both machines before purchase.

Supplement the power supply with the public distributed power. The bills should cost less than generator fuel.

Business License To Operate

Like all businesses, you must register the car wash business to be fully legitimate in Nigeria. Register it as a small business with the CAC. Besides the normal business registration that businesses have to do, there may be a need for a special license to operate in certain areas.

Lagos government recently gave the order for any Car Wash business in Lagos to obtain a license before starting business operations. This order applies to both new and old car washing businesses. Ask questions, do a little research, and find out what laws apply to your locality before starting.  

Staff And Staff Management

This business is for the skilled and average skilled labourer. You will need an experienced car washer to get the most out of it. At least one among your staff should be the experienced one. That brings us to the number of people you need to hire.

The appropriate number of staff depends on the size of the car wash, for a car wash that would be able to contain four to five cars (which is a minimum average) you should have at least 2 working staff. One of them should be well experienced, either from working from a different car wash or has expertise and training on car washing and detailing. The others can learn from him.

Managing the staff is a whole task of its own;

  • You will need to make sure they come to work early, most customers bring in their cars before leaving for work.
  • Make sure they are nice to the customers, their nicety is everything to this business.
  • Let everyone know their duty and do so efficiently.

Accountability

Next up is the issue of the collection of money. The staff are responsible. Many a car wash just let whoever washes the car to collect money from a customer directly, later on they get their percentages or ‘cut’ from the overall revenue. You can assign them to collect, it is much easier that way, but of course, they will submit to a manager or a senior staff responsible at their earliest convenience. To keep everything accountable, you will need a system of keeping records. Get a hardcover book that you will use to record all the car types of the incoming and outgoing vehicles, and the time of their arrival/departure. And also, the name of the person who washed the car.

Depending on your agreement, you can pay your staff a monthly salary, or if you decide to pay your staff by number of cars washed, then you will be able to tell from the book how many cars each person washed and if there was assistance when washing a particular car, so that you can pay accordingly.

Furthermore, the business needs such a record to help you calculate your earnings and revenue, business decisions rely on that calculation.

Table 1. An example of how to keep records.

 

You need to safeguard your finances, and this way, your customers as well as staff will be happy. You may adjust and tweak the record book as much as is needed to fit your business needs, but try not to make it bulky, you want your staff to be snappy about everything and not get stuck filling a record book while a customer is waiting.

Space

The space requirement for a car wash is about 6 x 25m2, for an average of 4-5 cars. The length 25 meters, can fit four cars at a time perfectly, with enough space to maneuver around the cars for washing. The remaining space (about 6 x 4 meter squares), can be used as a kiosk, for snacks and drinks and so forth, for the customers to indulge in while waiting for their cars to be washed.

How to acquire space for car wash is not very complicated either. As discussed, the roadside is the ideal location for a car wash in Nigeria. Depending on how you plan or imagine the car wash to be, a high-end car wash can be completely indoors like one of those fancy garages, with wide spaces leading inwards about two car lengths deep, and actual garage doors at the front, it is like the lube-bay you see in filling stations but with much wider and bigger space. A medium small-sized car wash business could be at an open space by the roadside, with a cemented floor.

A fancy garage. Photo by Pietro Tebaldi on Unsplash.

One of those fancy garage look like this. Photo by Pietro Tebaldi on Unsplash.

You can find suitable lands or spaces on property websites that have put up a car wash for sale or rent. You can also remodel an unused space or large public property situated near major roads. Websites such as Jiji.ng and nigeripropertycentre.com have a section where you can look up properties, and they have lots of car wash for sale, with restaurants alongside them in fact. A property agent can also help you find space for your car wash business.

Branding, Be Creative In Your Approach

Branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.

A definition according to entrepreneur.com. So your logo, motto or slogan, and colours you use to identify your business are your brand. Branding will set you apart and give you an edge from the competition.

You have to be creative in your approach when running a business, in this case, having branded t-shirts and big signboards are one of the ways you can go about it. Think up ways your car wash business can expand, ways you can improve the image of the business in the eyes of the customer. They have to be specific and unique to you and your situation, that is why you have to be the one to think them up. Remember, be creative about it.

What You Need

The list of things you will need to start this business are stated below. The table is divided into three (3) parts, namely, the primary items, the secondary items, and the heavy items. They are separated by either their importance, cost, or size.

This list sums up the capital cost of starting a car wash business in Nigeria and the cost of all the smaller consumable items (such as car soap and car polish). For the price of water source, pick only one option to get your estimate. The options include a borehole and a well, we picked borehole when adding up the sum total from the table below.

 

 

Items

Quantity

Note

Price (Naira)

Primary

Car pressure washer

2

 

150,000

Hose

10m

 

15,000

Sign board

2

 

20,000

Water storage tank

1 x 1500L

 

35,000

Generator

1

Power should be higher than machinery in use.

55,000

 

 

 

 

 

Secondary

Bucket

6

 

4,200

Brush

6

 

3,600

Sponge

6

 

6,200

Microfiber washcloth and towels

6

 

36,000

Car vacuum

2

 

12,400

Car wash liquid

 

Enough to last you at least a month.

28,500

Detailing products and other products

 

Such as paint sealant, sandpaper, polishers and waxes, degreaser, glass cleaner, clay bar, etc.

40,000

 

 

 

 

 

Heavy

Space

6x20m2

Annual rent.

800,000

Cement floor

6x20m2

Cementing of the place.

60,000

Tap water bill

 

Monthly.

10,000

‘Well water’ option

 

Includes digging of well, and water pump engine.

77,600

‘Borehole + Overhead water tank’ option

 

Price depends on your location, could go up as high as a million.

350,000

 

TOTAL =

 

Estimate based on borehole as water source.  

N1,615,900

 

List Of Services By A Car Wash Business

There are numerous services you can get at a car wash, the most common is the regular car wash, but there is a car wash service known as car detailing, it is a more precise and intricate cleaning of the vehicle and its parts. Car detailing in Nigeria is usually provided only by the top car wash businesses in the area.

Services you can provide are limited to your resources and imagination. The more services you can render, the more money in your bank account.  

Here’s a list of services provided by a car wash business, relevant to Nigeria.

  1. Basic car washing
  2. Snow foam washing
  3. Car detailing
  4. Engine degrease wash
  5. Under chassis wash
  6. Interior foam
  7. Interior shine
  8. Vacuuming interior
  9. Seat washing
  10. Leather seat treatment
  11. Dashboard shine
  12. Boot cleaning and vacuuming
  13. Head lamp polish
  14. Scratch removal
  15. Car waxing
  16. Odour removal
  17. Tire shine
  18. Ceramic waxing
  19. And other special services
  20. Mobile car wash service.

NB: You can google any of these services mentioned above, to know more about them.

You can also offer Premium services for an upgraded price, it could be a combination of any of the services you already provide in one wash, for instance, regular pay can get a customer a basic wash, whereas a premium pay can get a customer both exterior and interior wash and an engine decrease, etc. You can categorize different levels of washing such as Gold, Silver, Bronze, diamond, and so forth. There is a saying in Hausa “iya kudin ka iya shagalin ka”, meaning, the more money you pay the more you will enjoy. It satisfactorily explains such a business model.  

All of this might seem overwhelming especially for someone who is just starting out, you should know it is not necessary to render all the services, note however, the least services you can provide are exterior and interior wash. The waxing, detailing and polishing can come much later.

Marketing

Marketing for a car wash business in Nigeria is pretty easy, aside from branding, which as you will recall is a major part of the business, you can get a BIG signboard among other things.

Make A Big And Bold Signboard

It should clearly say Car Wash in bold written text, along with whatever name you wish to call your brand. It is advisable to have a separate sign to list your services with the brand name and design and everything else, and have a bigger one that just reads CAR WASH.

The bigger sign should be at least 3 meters off the ground, and it should be at least a meter long by half a meter wide. That is, the size should be 100x50cm (at least). Because car drivers are travelling at a relatively high speed (60km/h) compared to our natural walking speed (6km/h), they will drive past signs within seconds, but the bigger the sign the more chances a driver will see it from afar before he approaches, meaning they will have more time to read it and to make sense of what the signboard says.

Branding

Use of customized branded t-shirts, caps and uniforms for the car wash business.

Customer Experience

Next up you should put a lot of concern on how your customers are treated, customer experience is important to your marketing, good customer experience is what will keep bringing them back.

It is also a good idea to stay in contact with others in the automotive industry, such as mechanics, panel beaters, car painters and so on. It will add value to your customers if they could rely on you to help them with their other automotive needs.

List Your Business On Google Maps

People often search for ‘car wash near me’ on google, and you absolutely do not want to miss out on that opportunity. List your business name on google maps and make sure you identify it as a car wash, because everybody within your vicinity that searched for a ‘car wash near me’ will come upon your business address.

HINT! When adding the name of your business on Google maps, always add the phrase ‘Car Wash’ at the end of the name so that people will find you easily. For example, if the name of the business is AutoClean, when you are writing the name on Google maps write ‘AutoClean Car Wash’.

Open Social Media Pages

If you want those super-loyal customers, you have to have a following on social media. It is also a great place to get new customers, people can find out about your car wash business on social media.

Open the social media accounts and grow your social following using conventional methods. Use it to inform your loyal customers about special discounts and other promotional activities right there on your page. Facebook is a fine place to start, most car owners are on Facebook. Then Instagram, it is the most popular social media network right now.

Car wash that provides special services are usually the ones that do very well on social media, so if you are going to provide special services like car detailing of luxury cars, then being on social media will boost your business reputation.

Marketing For Car Wash Business In Nigeria Summary

Marketing is all about promoting your business to the world, with these five things mentioned above, you are ready to take on a car wash business in Nigeria, in summary, they are; Branding, getting listed on google maps, signboard, social media, and customer experience. And of course, your creative input will be invaluable also, since you alone know what you want best.

Market Analysis

Profits And Earnings

A medium-sized car wash business, that could contain 4-5 cars has the potential to generate about 200,000 – 400,000 in profits each month. For a small town. More than 20 cars can pass through the car wash daily, depending on the day of the week sometimes.

Cost Of Washing Cars At A Car Wash In Nigeria

Each car is washed for about ₦500-N1000 for a regular wash, special services incur higher charges. Commission for staff who washed a car is about ₦200-₦300, unless you pay them a fixed monthly allowance.

Potential Customers

The potential customers for this business are all car owners and drivers. Mostly, those who can’t find the time to wash their cars. There could be any number of them in any given area depending on the working population of that area and cars needed for commuting. That is why the business does better in cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and in medium-sized towns such as Bauchi, where commuting to work is a must-do.

Depending on the population of that city or town, potential cars needing washing could number in the hundreds each day on average.

Competition

Despite the high number of vehicles, there are not enough car washes to satisfy them all. The proof is that at each car wash, one has to wait before they get to their car.

Washing of a car doesn’t usually kick off immediately upon its arrival, you have to wait. That goes to show just how much competition has affected the car wash business, not much. Competition is scarce even in city centers, the demand is surely higher than what this service can supply.

Management

The management of the car wash business consists of the day-to-day activities that involve running the car wash business. It isn’t much, but each task is vital and has a role in the overall mechanism of running the business.

It is necessary to have a manager, someone whose role is to manage the daily activities of the business, he should take care of things and resolve issues as they happen, and see to the collection of money and other tasks. The manager could be the most senior staff at the car wash, someone who washes the cars and at the same time manage the car wash business, or you could hire an independent manager whose sole responsibility is to manage the business. But to do that, you will have to consider the increased costs because of his salary.

Opening Hours

You should be open for business as early as 6:30 in the morning. Workers rise early to go to work, no time is too early for them, or you.

Car wash business should be open from then till late evening around 7:00 PM. Many cars are brought around late afternoon to be washed against the following day, while some motorists take their cars for a wash anytime they are free. So basically, it is a dawn till dusk enterprise.

Staff Feeding & Transport

If your staff live a bit far from the shop, you need to factor in their transport fare, nothing expensive, it could even be added as part of their salary/allowance, depending on how you arranged it. And then there is feeding, once a day, you have to be the one to provide them money to buy food, that could also be arranged to be a part of their salary, so that they buy what they want during their break.

The price of transport and feeding depends on where you are in Nigeria, in Northern Nigeria places are cheap to travel by bike, they cost about ₦100- ₦150 per person for each day, for both to and fro, and the cost of a meal is about ₦150- ₦200 per person.

Repairs and Maintenance

The car wash business has two tools and machinery that will require some repairs and maintenance, they are the car pressure washer and the generator. The car pressure washer, is usually built to withstand quite a lot of hard work, so you shouldn’t have problems with it, just follow what the manual says, it will leave clues as to what and what not to do to it.

The generator, however, needs servicing every once in a while. The moving and grinding parts wear over time, it needs a constant change of lubricant and replacing of parts. Replace the necessary parts and maintain your generator as best you can for it to last.

It is advisable to have a backup generator, you can get one later on when the business has caught on, you have to maintain them both because they equally serve your business.

Cleaning and Sanitization

This business is a cleaning business, so it is only natural your surroundings should be kept clean. Customers will appreciate the effort. Taking your car to be washed at a muddy place surrounded by pungent gutters is counter-productive. Anyone would prefer a cleaner place.

Work on constructing a water-way before you finish setting up the car wash, i.e. where the used water will pass-through when you are washing the cars. It is an environmental hazard to leave the dirty water to create a pool, and it is not good for business.

Use The Proper Car Soaps And Equipment

In the car wash business knowing the right tools and when to use them is a must, car wash soaps and car wash waxes have to be applied in the right proportions, and they must be used for their intended purposes, for instance, a seat shampoo must be used for seats and a dashboard polish must be used for polishing the dashboard. Using a different product can damage the car interiors and paint.  

There are different towels for different purposes, some are used for washing while others are used to rub the car clean, they must be used for their intended purposes too, that way, they will last longer. Also take note of the nozzles in the sprayer, there are different types made for specific purposes, using the right one will ensure the cars you wash look stunning and perfectly clean.

You should treat the other equipment and tools in your business with the same care, only use them for what they are designed for and keep them clean and dry when not in use.

Future Projections

For a car wash business in Nigeria, one of the ways its potentials for growth is by spreading as other branches are opened. The business can be opened in different locations around the same state or even across the country, kind of like a franchise. Another growth potential it has is that it could transform into a Professional Car Wash, providing top quality services and using state-of-the-art car wash tools.

Despite the fact that the drive-through car wash is not yet very popular, it is possible that in the near future it will be part of the growing trend in the car wash market, whereby you can upgrade your car wash if that is the case.

Conclusion

Starting a car wash business in Nigeria is a most suitable endeavor for those with enough cash to start it, it is easy, doesn’t involve much hassle to start, and depending on how creative you approach it, you could save on startup costs. It is quite profitable.

If you wish to start the car wash business in Nigeria, it is safe to say we have outlined everything you need to know about starting the car wash business in this write-up. You may get additional information from a few YouTube car washing tutorials, product reviews, and people with firsthand experience in the business.

 

Summary Table

Startup cost

₦400,000 – ₦100,000,000

Earning and Profits

₦200,000 – ₦400,000 monthly

Business hours

12 hours

Price of car wash

₦500 – ₦1000

Space

6 x 25m2 minimum, outdoors

Location

Urban areas and towns

 

 

Read 667 times Last modified on Sunday, 20 September 2020 14:37

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