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Population Minimum for Express

scarrylarry

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Hi All, I was wanting to know if there are population minimums for an express exterior car wash to be viable. Thoughts or experiences?
 

br549ms

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Unless you can truly expect to wash more that 150 to 200 cars per day, its not worth it. A good location with well kept IBA or the "in bay express" no attendant models will cost much less to construct and operate. I see some of them offering the same services as exterior express washes such as "Free Vacs" and "Free Carpet Mat Cleaners". The key is how many cars do you actually expect to wash per day and during Peak times. You can usually take the projected numbers a equipment distributor will generate for you and cut that in half.

Do a search for Exterior Express BEQ, lots of good info in historical threads
 

br549ms

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Try this thread Roberts numbers are right on "Tunnel from ground up."
 

Greg Pack

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Is the population base in question big enough to support a walmart? If no walmart in the immediate area I'd be very careful.

You're looking at roughly 1.5-2.0 million plus cost of property for current projects
 
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OurTown

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Is the population base in question big enough to support a walmart? If no walmart in the immediate area I'd be very careful.

You're looking at roughly 1.5-2.0 million plus cost of property for current projects
Are you thinking if they are willing to come to Walmart they might be willing to wash at an express exterior? I have seen many Walmarts seemingly in the middle of nowhere. One I can think of has a town population of 270 and the entire county has a population of only 14K.
 

soapy

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I have attended a few of the ICA and WCA workshops on population figures for express washes. They usually state between 25 to 35 thousand people per express wash. In my area the cost to build is 2.5 million to 3.5 million plus land.
 

Greg Pack

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Are you thinking if they are willing to come to Walmart they might be willing to wash at an express exterior? I have seen many Walmarts seemingly in the middle of nowhere. One I can think of has a town population of 270 and the entire county has a population of only 14K.
No, I'm just saying that the absence of a walmart in the market would probably disqualify the location in my mind as being too small.
 

br549ms

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The Walmart locations do seem to pay off more often, where traffic is much higher than surrounding retail area and they tend to do the research for market availability very well. Many car washes are doing very well near their stores. I agree around 20k is a minimum, but remember minimum size customer base usually means minimum returns on investment. You can make it work, but ..... Also any competition would reduce you market share and in a small market that includes SS and IBAs. However I disagree with build pricing, you can get away with 1.5MM plus cost of land, less than that if you can contract some of it yourself. Debt service is a killer in a small market where revenue may take a while to build.
 

OurTown

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I agree with Greg that if there isn't a nearby Walmart that it would be a bad location but if there IS one it is not necessarily a good location for an EE. It just might be the first of many filters.
 

jfmoran

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Hi All, I was wanting to know if there are population minimums for an express exterior car wash to be viable. Thoughts or experiences?
There is more to this question than what you are asking. Density of population within 1, 3 and 5 mile radius, competition with 1, 3 and 5 mile radius, Rooftops, proximity of destination shopping, restaurants, traffic count in front of property, ease of ingress and egress, etc... Population alone is not enough info and having a Walmart nearby may or may not be a good indicator.
 

OurTown

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There is more to this question than what you are asking. Density of population within 1, 3 and 5 mile radius, competition with 1, 3 and 5 mile radius, Rooftops, proximity of destination shopping, restaurants, traffic count in front of property, ease of ingress and egress, etc... Population alone is not enough info and having a Walmart nearby may or may not be a good indicator.

Household income plays in too.
 

Greg Pack

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There is more to this question than what you are asking. Density of population within 1, 3 and 5 mile radius, competition with 1, 3 and 5 mile radius, Rooftops, proximity of destination shopping, restaurants, traffic count in front of property, ease of ingress and egress, etc... Population alone is not enough info and having a Walmart nearby may or may not be a good indicator.
The ideal location is dense and high traffic. But this thread is about smaller markets. There are some operators I know that could comment a lot more intelligently on the subject than I can, but there are a few sub 10K population washes I am familiar with in smaller markets. They try keep total project cost down (below $2,000,000) and build smaller facilities. Many of these are content with 4-6K monthly car counts, especially as ticket averages have been increasing over the past couple of years. They're not big hitters, but they cash flow nicely enough that the operators are building more of them as the prime sites have already been taken in the metro areas. They're giving the same or better ROI than SS/IBA and have several advantages over that model.
 
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