As many people in Kenya are venturing into entrepreneurship, the one business that has caught the attention of young people is the car wash business. The car wash business is one of the most thriving businesses in Kenya. Walk or drive into any of the estates in Nairobi or in major roads and highways, you will not miss seeing a car wash within a 1km radius.
Right from the low-income areas of the city to the opulent suburbs, car wash businesses of different magnitudes have thrived into existence to meet the needs of the high number of vehicles being imported into the country.
What could be the contributing factor towards the success of a car wash business? Is it a viable business that any aspiring entrepreneur can consider or is the field already crowded?
We take a look at 3 reasons why this business is thriving and what you can do to start it:
Low Startup Costs
Generally, setting up a car wash business is not an expensive undertaking. We have different sizes or car wash setups from the heavy machinery reliance ones where a car drives through an automatic rollover washing machine to the basic ones that use small and portable car machines.
But if you want to start small and upgrade gradually, then choosing to start at a small-scale level is the best option. And this is partially what has contributed to the success of this business.
The major costs of starting will include a pressure washing machine, vacuum cleaner, water tanks, buckets, brushes, detergents and access to water.
Unless you have your own land, you will have to pay for monthly land rates to the city council or the private landowner. Additional costs will include city council licenses and permits which normally do not cost much, and thereafter hire a team of at least 3 people. The average startup costs for a basic car wash is around Kshs 50,000 ($500).
Booming Road Transport Business
The Kenya public transport system is largely dominated by road transport. Kenya road sub-sector accounts for over 80% of the country’s total passenger traffic and 76% of the freight. The road transport is dominated by buses, minibuses, and Lorries which are involved in the transportation of luggage and passengers.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), over 213,715.0 vehicles were registered in 2016 while the number of Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licenses issued increasing by 9.3 per cent from 30,506 in 2015 to 33,349 in 2016.
Most if not all of these vehicles visit the car wash by the close of business on a daily basis. An average price that a car wash will charge will range from as low as Kshs 200 ($2) for a saloon car to Kshs 4000 ($40) for a bus or a lorry.
The high volume of vehicles provides a ready market for a car wash business to thrive.
The location of a car wash is important to its success. And most of the car wash businesses are set up in high traffic areas. These areas include residential areas, shopping centers, garages, entertainment areas like bars and restaurants, car bazaars, malls and other places car owners and drivers mostly frequent.
Then most people would leave their cars to be washed as they indulge in shopping and other social activities. In some cases, you will find up to 5 car wash businesses bordering each other side by side as they fulfil the high demands. Therefore location remains one of the major contributing factors to the success of the car wash businesses in Kenya.
If you ever wanted to start a car wash business in Kenya, consider the above three points as part of your research findings.