If you are looking for a business to start, you should probably need to look at the car wash business. The car wash sector in South Sudan is underdeveloped and more informal. Cars have been washed by the riverside and roadside under no facility or sewage/drainage system. There is a rising need for proper car wash facility and drainage system particularly in Juba, the capital city, and other states capitals.
In 2015, South Sudan import expenditure hit $426M US Dollars, making it 185thof 221 importers in the world. $17.2M constitute spending on cars only preceded by planes, helicopters and spacecraft which constitute $20.4M. Top on the list is import of raw sugar which constitutes $39.8M (Observatory of Economic Complexity, 2015).
South Sudan spending on cars alone is slightly higher than its export of $12.1M of oil seed flower, other oily seeds, scrap iron, telephones and recreational boats all combined together.
Photo: Cars being wash in the streets of Juba
8 Steps to set up your own car wash business
- Exploration | Research
Before putting your money into this business, it always important to do your homework first – that is, research. Peruse through the performance of the industry or car wash sector to acquaint yourself. When conducting your research, take the following into consideration:
- Envision: try to get a feeling of what you want your car wash to look like;
- Have a good understanding of the industry, its latest trends and technologies;
- Decide on the type of car wash you want to open: whether self-service, automatic, hand-wash/manual, waterless, full detail or any other;
- Investigate the competition/competitors in your area. Do not ignore competition; know what services your competitors offer. What are their prices? How do they market their business? How often are customers using the services?
- Know your customers. Try to analyze which kind of customers you want to target. Are they in a specific location i.e. business park, shopping center, offices, long distance truck drivers, office or off highway? What types of services or detailing are suitable for them?
- Observe other businesses around the car washes. If a car wash has a high volume of customers, what are some of the factors that are contributing to this? Is it located in a busy shopping center or right off the highway?
- Liaise or find out from relevant authority that issues business licenses, tax certificate or Tax Identification Number (TIN) and other requirements. Check out from Juba City Council or any authority in your area concerned with zoning regulations, sanitary sewers, etc.
Photo: Motorbikes being wash at the seasonal streams
- Selecting a location
In this kind of business, the selection of a suitable location to install a car wash facility is paramount. In fact, you may need to find a suitable location first before embarking on writing a business plan. Choosing a right location will far much determine the ultimate success of your business. A successful location should be near a shopping center, in a high traffic, residential area, be easily and visibly accessible from the road, allow for expansions and business growth, and have enough space for cars to line up.
Select a location that is wide enough to accommodate the bays, pump rooms, vacuum and drying areas, and office as well as rest room for the customers as they wait their cars being washed.
- Writing a business plan
Writing down a business plan will help you be more specific and clear about your business idea. A business plan is a document that thoroughly explains a business idea and how it will be carried out. Writing a business plan will save you time and money. A well-thought business plan will help you get financing to start your car wash. It shows investors that you have carefully thought through what you intend to do to make your business profitable.
Be realistic and precise with your business plan on paper as much as you can envision it, because it’s your operation guide. Some of the things to be in your business plan are; (1) company description – a detailed description of your Vision, Mission and Business Objective; (2) opportunity analysis and research –industry, environmental and competitive analysis; (3) Marketing Strategy and Plan – services, pricing, promotion and price; (4) management and operation – management team, facilities, quality assurance; (5) financial analysis and projection – sources (equity or bank loan) and use of capital, cash flow projection, risks and assumptions; (6) funding request and exit strategy – amount and type of funds requested, exit plan, milestones; and (7) appendices.
- Acquiring materials
Find out on the materials and equipment you may need to set your new car wash. These may involve getting high quality car wash facility and equipment with great return potential as well as environmentally efficient and friendly energy. These materials and equipment include washing pressure water, conveyors, self-service equipment, mobile wash systems; and chemicals: cleaning solutions, wax, spot free rinses, protectants, presoaks etc.; blowers, vacuums, brushes, towels, compressors, pumps and water. If possible, acquire your materials and equipment from one trusted supplier.
Photo credit: South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network (SSWEN)
- Building a team
A car wash business is very technical and customer-focused. You must be careful in selecting the kind of employees and talents you want to exist in your business. You need someone with background knowledge, skills and experience in car washing, excellent communication (verbally and non-verbally) skills, and client oriented (some customers can be so demanding that they want their cars washed first). List the job qualifications and the skills you want/expect and observe them during interview.
- Offering other Services (mainly in the case of express detailing)
There are many things that can determine the success of your new car wash and one of these things is offering express detailing services. Express detailing services are services such as wax, sealant and carpet shampoo that can be done in 30 minutes or less and are done to maintain the appearance of your customer’s car. It’s convenient for your customers to have their cars washed and detailed at one location than a free-standing detail shop. Your detailing service can be a side thing or part of the package; you may need to charge relatively low for it.
- Hosting other business
Since your interest is after convenient car wash facility, it’s important to host other business at your site. If your space may allow businesses such as restaurants, mini supermarket, coffee lounge, cybercafé, saloon, etc, this can make your car wash site lively and attractive to many potential customers. For instance, having a convenient waiting room well maintained with good receptions, and cold drinks and a DSTV for customers to relax and watch football as their cars are being washed can win over many customers and referrals.
- Running and growing your business
The car wash business is very competitive, and you need to be up the game through effective customer services, innovative service delivery and flexible – flexibility in terms of being able to adopt new technology and trend changes.
BONUS: What will determine your Success?
Advertise: do frequent advertisement of your detailing services, give away free car washes and promotional items, go live on radio to talk about business and different packages you have, have a feedback/suggestion box for your customers to comment about the kind of service they received.
Team: Ensure that your teams on the ground are motivated because they deal directly with your customers. Remember, happy employees, better services to customers – hence happy customers.