The increase in the number of cars on Kenyan roads has created a demand for car wash businesses across the country. Hence, let us look in depth at how to start and run a profitable car wash business in Kenya.

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Will do a cost breakdown of what you exactly need by the end of this write-up.

Benefits of Starting a car wash business in Kenya

  1. Ready market

The car wash business has a ready market from car users and owners. As long as you are strategically located and offering good services, you will not struggle to find customers.

  • Low capital requirements

Starting a standard car wash does not need a huge capital outlay compared with other businesses such as buying and selling cars.

For a start, you can only get the basics and then advance with time.

  • High profitability

The car wash business has above-average returns due to low operating costs and high rates. This makes the business lucrative even without a huge capital outlay.

Factors to consider when starting a car wash business in Kenya

There are various factors to consider when starting this business in Kenya. Some of these include;

1. Availability of water

The car wash business is dependent on water. Hence, this should be the first item to take care of. Water should not only be adequate but also reliable.

Hence, ensure to set up the business in a water-sufficient area. To manage water downtime, consider investing in a tank that has adequate capacity to meet your needs.

The main sources of water include connection with the local water company, boreholes, or tapping and storing the rainwater.

2.  Location

The business should be in a location that is safe, convenient, and easily accessible. This is why most car wash businesses are located along major roads and also in residential areas.

This happens to allow car owners to access them easily and safely. If you put your business in an area that is not accessible, it will be difficult to attract customers.

The location should also be near offices or homes as this is where most customers are.

3.  Security

Customers will not use your car wash services if the business is not safe. Cars and car parts theft are high in the country and hence most car owners prefer to get car wash services where safety and security are guaranteed.

One of the ways to enhance security is by having surveillance equipment, employing guards, and ensuring your employees are professional.

4. Business permits

To operate and run a car wash in Kenya, you require a business permit from the local county authority. Hence, compliance is mandatory to avoid legal challenges such as business closure.

If you are not clear about the permits, seek guidance from the local government offices or other compliance professionals.

How to start and run a profitable car wash business in Kenya

Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how to start and run a profitable car wash business in Kenya.

1.  Conduct market research

To start a car wash, you require a good understanding of the business. This you get through making inquiries to both customers and competitors.

Market research is a key step that allows you to determine key factors such as where to set up the business and pricing.

Some of the other factors to identify during the research include the necessary tools that you require to do this job, the various legal documents needed, and customer preferences.

2.  Set up the business

Once you gather the necessary information from the research, you should proceed to set up the business. If you don’t own the land at the location of choice, consider leasing or renting. This process requires you to ensure you have an agreement to safeguard against disagreements.  

With the space ready, the next step involves setting up other supporting infrastructures such as connections to bother power and water. You will also need to apply for permits to facilitate commencing of work.

Staff recruitment and training is also a key part of this stage.

3.  Marketing

Marketing is an integral part of business as it helps create awareness among potential customers. Through marketing, you can articulate the services on offer and the prices applicable.

Marketing is done through various channels such as online platforms, word of mouth, or posters. The channel to use is dependent on the availability of resources. If limited, use the available free channels such as social media platforms.

Car wash business equipment

There are several pieces of equipment that you require to run a car wash. Some of these include;

  • Washing detergents
  • Water pressure pump machine
  • Customized attires

Cost breakdown when starting a car wash

This breakdown you are renting a space in a busy town. Hence, let’s get to the individual element costing

  • Rent for the 1 month – 30,000 shillings
  • Pressure washing machine –40,000 shillings
  • Water tank- 40,000 shillings
  • Water connection- 15,000 shillings
  • Detergents – 10,000 shillings
  • CCTV installation- 30,000 shillings
  • Business permit – 15,000 shillings

From the breakdown, the total cost averages 180,000 shillings to start a standard car wash business. However, this could rise if you want to put up additional structures or buy other special equipment.

Challenges of Running a car wash business in Kenya

Just like every business, car wash has its challenges in the country. some of these include;

1.  Competition

The need for wash services has seen investors rush in to offer services. This has resulted to increase in competition and hence lower prices and reduced profits.

To stand out from the competition, you should invest in innovation and value addition.

2.  Lack of reliable water supply

Kenya is a water-scarce country and this affects the car wash business too. Lack of water means sourcing from private suppliers which increases operating costs.

Alternatively, you can invest in a borehole but this requires additional resources to achieve.

3.  Low availability of suitable space

Getting a suitable space to set up the business is a challenge either in terms of cost or availability. A car wash business is best when set up in a busy location such as along major roads.

This type of land is hard to come by due to competition from other businesses.

Is a car wash business profitable in Kenya?

If you get it right by conducting adequate research, setting up your business in the right location, and having excellent services, then this business is profitable.

Due to low operating costs, car wash business could return profits of up to 40% of the investment capital per month.

As an example, if you invest 100K to set up your business, you can make returns of up to 40K monthly.


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