Site Selection: A Critical First Step in Building a Car Wash

 Unless you already own the property, the Site Selection phase can often be the most challenging part of the development process. The three keys to success in this phase are engaging the right real estate broker, understanding the zoning of the property, and developing site analytics for financial feasibility of your project. 

Real Estate

Souring an area for potential development will be a time consuming process, there’s no way around it. That’s why most clients engage a real estate broker to guide them to development opportunities that meet their specific needs. 


Do you know the current zoning of the sites you’re considering? If not, ask the listing agent. Property is typically given a type of zoning that establishes what types of uses are allowed – and the process to change a property’s zoning from residential to commercial  is both difficult and costly. 

Site Analytics

Site analytics provide you with a basic understanding of the demographics of the surrounding area, traffic and traffic patterns around the property, and income projections and more. Essentially, who would your clientele be? And what do the characteristics of the area tell you about the potential customers who live within a few miles of your proposed site?

Try to look at every potential location through the eyes of your consumer. Drive around in the surrounding community and observe other businesses and residential areas. What do the houses look like? What type of cars are parked on the street? Are there other washes near by? 

 All in all, the timing for this first project phase is generally six months or less. Fees are commission based, and various consultants could become involved. For instance, a real estate broker to help navigate potential sites and later a project architect to consult on feasibility. 

 Building a car wash is an involved process, and there isn’t room for error when so much time and money has been invested… but if the location is right and business is run professionally, the payoff can be huge.