Your executive summary is the first part of your business plan, but you usually write it last because it’s a summary of all the important parts.
The purpose of your Executive Summary is to quickly grab the reader’s attention. Tell them about your car wash business and where it’s located. For example, are you just starting out, do you want to grow your car wash, or do you run a chain of car washes?
Next, give a quick summary of each part of your plan. For instance, you could briefly describe the car wash business. Detail your direct competitors. Describe your ideal customers. Briefly describe your marketing plan. Find the key players on your team. And tell us how you plan to handle your money.
In your business analysis, you will talk about what kind of car wash you own.
For example, you might run one of these common types:
- Most car washes are automatic or tunnel washes, in which a conveyor belt moves the car through a series of cleaning mechanisms. Workers then usually dry the car by hand. Most of the time, these places also do car detailing.
- In-bay automatic car washes let you drive your car into a bay, where a machine and a dryer move back and forth over it. This is often the case at gas stations and car washes that can stand on their own.
- Self-service, where the customer does the washing by hand with tools like pressurized jet washing.
- The water tanks and pressure washers for mobile car washes are usually mounted on trailers, trucks, or vans. Detailing is often an extra service or something that comes with mobile car wash businesses.
In the section of your business plan called “Company Analysis,” you need to explain what kind of car wash you run and give some background information about the business.
Questions like these should be answered:
- When and why did you start your own business?
- What are the most important steps you’ve taken so far? For example, reaching your sales goals could be a milestone.
- Your legal structure. Do you run your business as an S-Corporation? An LLC? A business with just one person? Tell us about your legal structure.
In your industry analysis, you need to give an overview of the car wash business.
Even though this seems useless, it can be used in more than one way.
First of all, learning about the business of washing cars makes you smarter. It helps you understand the market better.
Second, market research can help your strategy, especially if it shows you what the market trends are. For instance, if there was a trend toward eco-friendly car washes, it would be helpful to make sure your plan includes these options.
A third reason to do market research is to show your readers that you know a lot about your field. You do that by doing the research and putting it in your plan.
In the section of your car wash business plan called “Industry Analysis,” you should answer the following questions:
- How much do they make at the car wash?
- How big is your business segment (e.g., traditional, mobile, or just car detailing)?
- Is the stock market going up or down?
- Who are your biggest competitors on the market?
- Who are the main sellers in the market?
- What are the changes in the field?
- How quickly do experts think the industry will grow in the next 5–10 years?
- What matters is how big the market is. That is, how big is the possible market for your car wash? You can figure out a number like this by figuring out how big the market is in the whole country and then using that number to figure out how many people live in your area.
In the “Customer Analysis” section of your business plan, you must describe the customers you serve or expect to serve.
College students, sports fans, soccer moms, techies, teens, baby boomers, and so on are all different types of customers.
As you may have guessed, the type of car wash you run will depend a lot on the customer segment(s) you choose. Obviously, baby boomers would want a different atmosphere (if they wanted a traditional car wash), different prices and products, and they would react differently to marketing campaigns than teens.
Try to figure out who your best customers are based on how they look and what they think. Talk about the ages, genders, locations, and levels of income of the people you want to serve. Since most car washes mostly serve people who live in the same city or town, it’s easy to find this kind of demographic information on government websites.
Psychographic profiles explain what your ideal customers want and need. If you can understand and define these needs well, it will be easier to get customers and keep them coming back.
In your competitive analysis, you should list both direct and indirect competitors for your business and then focus on the direct ones.
There is direct competition between car washes.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to choose from (or not choose from, in the case of doing their own car washes). This includes things people can buy locally to wash and clean their own cars and make them look nicer.
You need to make a list of the other car washes that are in direct competition with you. Most likely, the car washes closest to you will be your closest competitors.
Give an overview of each of these competitors’ businesses and a list of their strengths and weaknesses. You won’t know everything about your competitors unless you’ve worked at one of their companies. But you should be able to find out important information about them, like:
- Who are the clients they work with?
- What kind of services do they give?
- What are the prices (high, low, etc.)?
- What are they really good at?
- Why do they mess up?
Try to answer the last two questions from the customer’s point of view. Don’t be afraid to stand outside of your competitors’ stores and ask customers who are leaving what they like and don’t like about them.
In the last part of your competitive analysis, you should list the ways you are better than your competitors. For instance:
- If you wash cars, will you do a good job?
- Will you sell things to use to clean cars?
- Will your car wash offer services that your competitors don’t?
- Will you make it easier or faster for your customers to get your services?
- Will you be nicer to your customers?
- Will you make better prices?
In this part of your plan, you should think about how you will do better than your competitors and write those ideas down.
Usually, a marketing plan includes four parts: the product, the price, the place, and the promotion. In your car wash business plan’s marketing plan, you should include the following:
Product: In the section about the product, you should say again what kind of car wash you talked about in your Company Analysis. Then, describe in detail what you’ll be selling. For instance, do you offer car detailing, mobile services, etc., in addition to regular car washes?
Price: Write down what you’ll be charging and how it compares to what your competitors are charging. In your marketing plan, you list the items on your menu and how much they cost in the “Product” and “Price” sections.
Location: Here is where your car wash is. Write down where you are and how it will affect your success. For example, is your car wash close to a gym, a busy office building, etc.? Talk about how people could keep coming to your location. Also, if you own or want to own a mobile car wash, explain how that will help you reach more people in more places.
Promotions: The last part of your car wash marketing plan is about promotions. Here, you’ll list how you’ll get people to your location (s). Here are a few ways you could promote your business:
- If your car wash has a regular parking lot, make it look nicer to attract people walking by.
- Marketing with social media
- Putting ads in local newspapers and magazines
- Trying to reach out to local bloggers and websites
- Local radio advertising
- Places near you that have banner ads
You wrote about your goals in other parts of your business plan. In your operations plan, you talk about how you will reach these goals. Your operations plan should have two different parts.
Everyday short-term processes include everything you need to do to run your car wash, like helping customers, getting supplies, keeping the equipment clean, etc.
Long-term goals are the things you want to accomplish in the future. These dates could be when you hope to have served your 1,000th customer or made X dollars in sales. It could also be when you plan to hire your Xth employee or open a new store.
To show that your car wash can work as a business, you need a strong management team. Showcase the backgrounds of your key players, focusing on the skills and experiences that show they can help a company grow.
You and/or the people on your team should have experience working in the car wash business. If so, talk about your skills and experience. But you should also talk about any experience you have that you think will help your business succeed. If your team is missing something, you may want to form an advisory board. The same way that a mentor would help your business, a two-to-eight-person advisory board would do the same. They would help answer questions and give suggestions about how to plan. If you need to, look for advisory board members who have worked in car washes or who have successfully run retail and small businesses.
Your 5-year financial plan should start with a monthly or quarterly breakdown for the first year, then switch to an annual breakdown for the next four years. Your financial statements include your income statement, your balance sheet, and your cash flow statement.
A more common name for an income statement is a P&L, which stands for “Profit and Loss.” It shows how much money you made and then subtracts how much you spent to show if you made a profit.
To make your income statement, you need to make some assumptions. For example, how many people will you serve every day: 100 or 200? And will sales grow each year by 2% or 10%? As you might expect, the assumptions you choose will have a big impact on the financial forecasts for your business. Try to find out as much as you can about your assumptions to see if they are true.
Balance Sheet:Balance sheets show a lot of information, but the most important things to know are your assets and your debts. For instance, you won’t make money right away if you spend $100,000 to build a car wash. Instead, it is an asset you can use to make money for years to come. Also, a $100,000 check from a bank doesn’t have to be paid back right away. You will have to pay that back slowly instead.
Cash Flow Statement: Your cash flow statement will help you figure out how much money you need to start or grow your business and make sure that you never run out of cash. Most business owners and entrepreneurs don’t realize that you can make money and still go bankrupt if you run out of money. For example, let’s say a local business came to you with a huge $50,000 contract to wash the cars of all its employees. To do this would cost you $25,000. Well, in most cases, you would need to pay that $25,000 now for things like supplies, salaries, etc. But let’s say that it took 180 days for the company to pay you. You could run out of money during that time.
Make sure you include some of the most important costs of starting or growing a car wash in your Income Statement and Balance Sheet:
- Location build-out, which includes construction, design costs, etc.
- Things like dryers, vacuums, and conveyor tunnels cost money.
- Chemicals and cleaning supplies
- Payroll or salaries that are given to workers
- Businesses need insurance.
- Charges and permits
- Legal expenses