October 26, 2021
A common sentiment among those new to the car wash industry is that they never realized how much went into washing cars. When you pass by a wash or even drive through, you don’t think about all of the components that make it work: pay stations, tunnel equipment, chemistry, a strong team, etc.
This can quickly turn opening a car wash from an exciting business venture to a daunting challenge. But don’t be discouraged. The car wash industry is an engaged community with a wealth of resources to help you as you get started and all through your car washing career.
Industry or trade associations are usually non-profit organizations that bring together operators and suppliers in a certain industry. Members have access to conferences, educational materials, research and additional resources. An industry association also usually serves as a spokesperson and advocate of the industry to the media, investors, governmental agencies and more.
There are many industry associations in which car wash operators can participate:
- International Carwash Association® (ICA)
- Southwest Carwash Association
- Western Carwash Association
- Southeastern Carwash Association
- New England Carwash Association
- Mid-Atlantic Carwash Association
- Midwest Carwash Association
- Heartland Car Wash Association
- Carwash Association of Pennsylvania
- Connecticut Carwash Association
- New York State Car Wash Association
- Canadian Carwash Association
Industry Trade Shows and Events
Trade shows are an excellent way to get information and meet potential vendors, distributors and active car washers who can help you as you start your journey.
Most of these events are hosted by the car wash associations. It should be no surprise that the ICA hosts the largest one: The annual Car Wash Show™. This is a must-attend trade show that attracted more than 8,000 car wash professionals in 2019. The ICA also hosts shows in Australia, China and Europe.
Many regional associations also hold their own trade shows, as well as roadshows, car wash tours, seminars and more. A number of industry suppliers hold events as well.
Publications and Blogs
Many industry associations also have publications and blogs with informative articles, research, videos and more on everything related to car washing. Additionally, there are some independent organizations and vendors that write on the industry.
For instance, DRB® has a Learning Library that contains blog articles, webinar replays, videos and more. We also share recent articles and other resources in a monthly newsletter called The Soapbox. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any content.
Some other industry publications/blogs to check out include:
Additionally, there are a number of car wash social media groups and online forums where operators share their ideas, struggles and humor. These forums are a place to ask questions and to make connections.
Carwash Consultants & Distributors
There are many businesses whose sole job is to help car wash operators. There are consulting agencies that you can engage with to help you with market research, site selection, site planning, business planning and more.
Distributors are another great source of information. They sell, install and service car wash equipment, giving them a wealth of industry knowledge that they can share with you.
The common thread between most of these sources is that they connect operators. Networking is important in any industry, but car washers seem to take it to another level. They have soap running through their veins, and they are more than willing to share information.
Use the previous resources to build a strong network of fellow car washers who will make themselves available for advice and comradery. They may also invite you for a site visit, which can be an invaluable experience as you get started.
The learning curve when entering the car wash industry can certainly be steep, but as you can see, there are plenty of places to turn to get the information you need. The key is to stay curious and never be afraid to ask questions.