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13 Must-Know Detailing & Car Wash Industry Statistics

1. The car wash industry is growing at a rate of 3% year over year

According to MarketWatch research, automated car washes will likely grow at a rate of 3 percent year after year by 2023, partly due to consumers are becoming more tech savvy and a mature American market. Growth could be limited due to awareness, so having a solid marketing strategy is key in a slow growth industry.

(Source: MarketWatch)

2. Large car wash chains represent less than 20% of the market

In the US, the 50 largest car wash companies have less than 20% market share, which means there’s room for local players. Favorable locations by smaller chains is a key component to their ability to compete.

(Source: First Research)

3. The number of consumers that prefer to have their car washed by a professional has increased by over 47% since 1994

74% of consumers were willing to pay to have their car washed in a recent ICA study, increasing 47 percent since 1994. This signals increased opportunities for car wash owners and detailers as consumers leave washing from their own driveway in the past.

(Source: ICA)

4. While convyer-based wash bays and in-bay washes use quite a bit of water, up to 50% is reclaimed

The ICA found that conveyer-based washes use 30 gallons per vehicle on average, while in-bay automatics use 44.8 gallons per vehicle. With the growing environmental regulations, water reclaimation in certain states may be worth the cost for saving money and for marketing purposes.

(Source: ICA)

5. Car detailing prices range widely, from $50-$350 or more

Typically, price corresponds to quality of work and number of services provided. The good news is  because of this there are several markets to enter based on your experience and preferences, from basic car washing to high end luxury detailing.

(Source: CarsDirect)

6. 35% of consumers are willing to pay considerably higher for eco-friendly services

If you are in a market with tons of millennials or Gen-Z potential customers, offering eco-friendly or waterless detailing services may be the way to go. Studies have shown that these consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly services, including detailing. Check out my list of 15 Eco-friendly Auto Detailing Products if you are considering adding green products to your arsenal.

(Source: CGS)

7. On-demand mobile detailing apps are on the rise

Companies like Washos and Spiffy are continuing to add locations, and the mobile app market for mobile detailing is skyrocketing. L.A. based Washos has reported 25 percent month over month growth over the course of three months, with competitors posting similar growth rates.

(Source: Washos)

8. The average revenue per car hovers at over $11 for traditional car washes

If you’ve been to an automatic car wash lately, chances are you’ve paid somewhere close to 11 bucks (at least I have). The profit on that 11 dollars is usually somewhere around 7 dollars depending on the business, so it really comes down to your competition, location, and customer loyalty that determines how much you can make per year.

(Source: PSD)

9. Nearly 1/4 of car wash owners expect to launch or purchase a second car wash within a year

This signals continued growth in the industry, despite the car wash market being pretty mature. While few large car wash franchises exist relatively speaking, this number could grow in the coming years.

10. Winter is the busiest month for car washes

While you may think those warm summer or spring days are the busiest times for most car washes, the most popular time for traditional car washes is in the winter. With road salt being a driving factor, marketing and advertising campaigns during the winter driving season may not be such a bad idea.

(Source: Brandon Gaille)

11. The base pay for auto detailers is $45,000 annually in the United States

This number is an average, and dependent on location and the types of services offered. Auto detailers in states like California can expect to earn as much as $50-$60k annually, and can vary widely depending on the services offered, clientele, and business model.

(Source: Glassdoor)

12. Most Americans wash their vehicle 13 times per year on average

According to studies, around 66 percent of Americans wash their vehicle somewhere between 1-2 times per month. Making a car that hasn’t been washed in a month look really clean is much easier as a detailer, and may be easier to upsell interior detailing services while you’re at it (as opposed to more frequent washers).

(Source: ICA)

13. The Asia Pacific region is leading the way in terms of growth

According to MarketWatch, the Asia Pacific regions in countries like China, India and Thailand are still experiencing a big automotive boom due to increased disposable income. This represents a significant opportunity for both franchise owners and detailing product suppliers to enter this market.

(Source: MarketWatch)

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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