Whether you have just left education or you enjoy being outdoors or working on cars, starting a car washing business may be a viable option. There is a consistent demand in the UK for car cleaning, and whether you are going into specialist detailing, valeting or simply car washing, you are sure to be able to pick up customers relatively easily. That’s not to say that starting a car washing business is extremely simple. There are some things that you will need to know and some tasks you need to complete to set your business up correctly.

Read on to find the step-by-step guide to beginning your new venture.

Step 1 - A Blank Page

Starting a car washing business from scratch is a great idea, but it will need to be planned out correctly. You will need structure for your business, and if you have no previous experience in business, you might be staring at a blank page, not knowing where to start. Don’t worry, however, there are plenty of ways you can begin, perhaps by having a consultation with experts in setting up companies, such as Your Company Formations or looking for resources on the internet.

Market Research

Perhaps the best way to begin filling that blank page is by doing some market research. Take a thorough look at other services offered locally, as well as asking around your local area if there is anything they’d like to see from a new car washing business in the area. Social media can be useful here, especially local community groups - you can ask people what services they want and how much they currently pay - some community groups allow you to post links to questionnaires so that you can gain vital insight into your customer base.

In addition to this, you might want to check online reviews of your competitors; they often show you more insight into how successful the business is that on a company website. Take a look at what they do well, and not so well, and check out whether you can find a gap in the market that isn’t currently being served.

Business Plan

Now, it’s time to start planning out your business. You should consider your business objectives, include insight into your target markets, and set out your services, pricing, marketing and financial plans. It is wise to consider at this point setting short and long goals. This can help you keep motivated. However, you should recognise that a business plan is a working document and should be updated regularly as things will change within your business.

Step 2 - Legalities

There are some legal requirements you will need to meet when starting a car washing business. If you have never done this before, the experts at Your Company Formations could assist with taking your business from an idea to reality. The below steps are all things you may need to think about when ensuring your business is legitimately run.

Business Structure

Your business structure may differ depending on various factors, including whether you have other people working with you. The first and most obvious choice for a business run by a single person is a sole trader. You will have to register with HMRC to fulfil your tax obligations.

However, if there is more than one person involved in setting up the business. You may prefer a partnership. It is vital that you consider whether you are likely to turn over enough to need to set up a limited company whether you are working on your own or with others.


Insurance matters, and getting the right coverage can help to prevent you having big problems later on. You will be working on people’s pride and joy vehicles and some of them may be very expensive. If things go wrong, your reputation and bank balance could suffer if you’re not insured. Consider what sort of policy you REALLY need, not just now, but in the future. You may need to cover public liability , employee liability and of course, you will need to insure your business premises if static, or your vehicle, if mobile.

Step 3 - Location and Equipment

One big decision to make when starting a car washing business is whether to go mobile, or rent/buy premises for your business, and have customers come to you. There are various pros and cons of both. Mobile allows you to visit workplaces and provide a service to businesses in the local area, for example. Static allows you to benefit from passing trade. If you go static, make sure your car washing business is visible from the main road, and that you have sufficient water and drainage solutions to prevent runoff into the road.


If you want to do a great job, starting a car washing business with the right equipment matters. You may need to acquire pressure washers, cleaning solutions, vacuums and the like, depending on the services you’re offering. Consider whether to rent or buy equipment; if you have little budget, you may consider renting a better option for the short term. This will allow you to get high-quality equipment without breaking the bank. Or, you could seek out second hand equipment that is in good condition.

Step 4 - Marketing and Branding

Make sure your brand identity is solid. When starting a car washing business that covers a specific area, consider using the area within your business name. This could help you attract more traffic in search results. Make sure to set up a website - it doesn’t need to be more than one page - which shows your pricing, opening hours etc. People will trust a business more if it has an online presence. Once you have created a clear brand, use it across social media and other marketing materials to ensure people grow trust in your business.

Local Marketing

Just as important as your online marketing, offline connections matter. Consider asking dealerships in the local area to have you come in and clean their vehicles, or ask repair shops to display your posters in their reception. Door drop leaflets are also a great way to get business in the local area.

Step 5 - Customer Experience

Quality matters; there is no doubt. Your customers will return if you do a good job, and this goes beyond the job you do on their vehicle. Make it easy to use your services, be contactable and be clear on how to book vehicles with you. Keep your pricing transparent, and your customer service knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. If you are struggling to return messages quickly when working within the business, consider having a virtual assistant or telephone answering service that can help avoid missed calls.

Customer Feedback

Just as you will have completed research into what customers think of your competitors, you will need to gain insight into what they think of you. Sign up for online review websites, and encourage customers to provide feedback to you regularly. This can help you tweak your business offering to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Step 6 - Keep Going

Once you’ve moved past the planning stage of starting a car washing business, and launched for real, it’s important to review all parts of your business plan, and see what you could do next. You could explore opportunities to add other services, such as pain correction, chip repair or vinyl wrapping, or you could expand the areas you work in.

One thing that will help you is the evolving technology. If you keep in the know about new care washing systems, as well as AI booking systems, mobile apps and payment portals, you’ll make it ever easier for your new clients to use your services, and ever harder to leave.

To sum up, while starting a car washing business isn’t just as simple as turning up with a brush and sponge, done right, it could return a good income and allow you to reap the rewards. If you’re interested in setting up a new business, but don’t know how to go about it, experts at Your Company Formations would be happy to help.

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