Eagle Express Car Wash Systems

724 W. Main St., New Albany, IN 47150
800-457-2507 - 812-948-1200


Investor F.A.Q.

Eagle Express Car Wash Systems

Serving the car wash industry for over 40 years

Frequently Asked Questions

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Table of Contents:

  1. Why should I invest in a car wash?

  2. What is the typical investment for land, property, and equipment?

  3. How much cash do I need to invest?

  4. How much revenue can a carwash generate?

  5. How do I know what to look for in finding property for a location?

  6. How much property do I need?

  7. What are the seasonal trends of the car wash industry?

  8. How much of my time will it take to operate the wash?

  9. Friction Automatics vs. Touchfree Automatics

  10. Why should I put doors on my automatic bay?

  11. How long does the equipment last?

  12. Why Mark VII?

  13. Why work with Eagle Express?

Q: Why should I invest in a car wash?

A: There are many reasons:

Very low labor costs - part-time attendant only
Low direct operating costs. The direct costs (utilities, chemicals and maintenance) average less than 25% of the gross income of modern self-service washes.
All cash business - no accounts receivable
The customer provides the labor
Low inventory
24-hour operation
Flexible pricing for special promotions
Steady business through all seasons in all climates
Broadly based market
Minimal fixed costs (bookkeeping, insurance, etc.)
Relatively low initial investment
Relatively high rate of return on investment
True appreciation on investment
Excellent tax incentives - faster depreciation

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Q: What is the typical investment for land, property, and equipment?

A: This is a difficult question to answer because one of the key elements to a successful car wash is the location and the cost of that property. Our clients have achieved their desired results on property that has ranged from $200K to $450K however the price of the property needs to be matched to the demographics, traffic count, and earning potential. Construction and land improvements fall into a similar category depending on the type, style and size of the building and the choice of surface treatment meaning concrete or asphalt. As a starting point, consider a basic building budget of $25K per self-service bay, $45K per automatic bay, $45K for the equipment room, and $50K for the land improvements. Equipment varies in price as well depending on the features selected, but as a rule of thumb, equipment for each self-service bay will average $28K and automatics will average $140K. These averages include typical ancillary equipment such as floor heat, vacuums, water treatment, overhead doors, etc. Given these ranges, a typical new construction car wash with 4 self-service bays and 2 automatic bays will fall in the range of $800K to $1.2M. Eagle Express can assist you in the evaluation of a particular site and determine its earning potential.

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Q: How much cash do I need to invest?

A: Financing options will generally require a 20% investment on your part. There are leasing options available that, if qualified, can fund 100% of the equipment and installation.

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Q: How much revenue can a carwash generate?

A: Based on National Car Wash averages compiled from the 2003 survey, a single automatic bay will generate $10,500 in monthly gross revenue. Adding a second automatic will generate an additional 60% of the first or $6,300. Self-service bays produce an average of $1,300 per month per bay and vacuums bring in around $219 each.

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Q: How do I know what to look for in finding property for a location?

A: Location is the single most important factor. Even a well-built, well-equipped and well-managed wash will not reach its full income potential if the location is not right. There are many factors to consider when you are evaluating a property that you may now have or one that you are considering to purchase.

Self-service car wash customers usually wash as a result of a planned activity - not impulsively. Thus, high traffic counts or heavy exposure are not necessarily mandatory for a good location. Self-service customers will generally use the wash facility closest to their homes, unless that wash is inferior to others in the community. Therefore, your wash should be located near a dense residential area. The majority of customers come from single-family homes, though areas with numerous multiple-family units are also excellent for self-service facilities. Good commercial backups, such as shopping centers and fast food restaurants, can also help generate good traffic—but they are not absolutely essential for your success. If you are planning a combined self-service and automatic facility, the exposure of a higher traffic count is important in generating more automatic wash business.

As a general guideline, 1,500 people within the general vicinity are required to support one bay of a self-service car wash. One automatic in-bay system can be supported by as few as 5,000 to 7,500 people within a 3-mile radius. You must evaluate the existing washes in the area in which you are planning to locate your wash. If the existing washes are up-to-date and clean, careful consideration must be given as to whether there is enough consumer demand for an additional wash. Make certain the property you are intending to use is properly zoned. A variance or rezoning battle may discourage even the most determined investor.

Some other negative factors should be avoided, if possible:

High speed traffic which makes it difficult for customers to exit or enter the wash (over 40 MPH)
Very heavy traffic which backs up from a traffic light at a nearby intersection and blocks the entrance to your wash
Obstacles such as medians preventing turns in all directions in and out of the wash
An adjacent vacant lot which may be a dumping ground or create blowing dust problems during windy weather
Unpaved streets or alleys
Competing car wash less than two miles away


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Q: How much property do I need?

A: Typical car wash lots are ½ to 1 acre. The following are recommended lot sizes, based on the number of bays the wash is to have. These sizes are not necessarily the smallest. Many washes have been built on lots smaller than these. These dimensions do not include any consideration for set-back requirements.

4-bays: 150' x 90'
5-bays: 150' x 106'a
6-bays: 150' x 122'
7-bays: 150' x 138'
8-bays: 150' x 154'
9-bays: 150' x 170'
10-bays: 150' x 186'

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Q: What are the seasonal trends of the car wash industry?

A: Business typically is at its best from December through June. July and August will see a 25% decrease and September will start gradual increases until you’re back to the busy winter.

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Q: How much of my time will it take to operate the wash?

A: A car wash is considered an absentee investment. With that said, there are still daily functions that must occur. Some investors enjoy the daily duties; others have part-time attendants that provide the function. In either case the bays need to be cleaned at least two times a day, the lot needs to be kept clean and trash cans emptied. There are routine equipment checks to be performed and monthly maintenance schedules.

Eagle can help you plan the level of your involvement that is best suited for your situation. There is one task that you will be forced to perform on a routine basis – that’s collecting and counting your profits.

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Q: Friction Automatics vs. Touchfree Automatics

A: Eagle Express offers both choices. Simply put, Touchfree does not touch the vehicle and therefore, no liability claims. Friction units now utilize soft foam to wipe away dirt from the car surface without damage but there is still the occasional broken antenna or mirror. Friction systems have the ability to wipe away all film from the vehicle surface. Touchfree uses stronger chemicals to break down the surface dirt. Both systems will satisfy your customer’s needs so the choice really comes down to your personal preference. Many of our clients are putting in one of each to satisfy everyone.

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Q: Why should I put doors on my automatic bay?

A: During the winter months, doors on your automatic bays create a better cleaning environment. Without doors, ice can build up on the equipment and bay interior and cause serious problems. Doors also reduce your operating expenses in both heat and water.

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Q: How long does the equipment last?

A: Self-service equipment can typically last for 20 years with routine maintenance and repairs. Automatic units can last up to 10 years but are generally replaced in 5 to 7 years to keep up with new technology developments, features, and increased efficiencies.

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Q: Why Mark VII?

A: Mark VII is an industry leader introducing many car wash innovations. They offer a complete range of products to satisfy every situation. Wash quality, operating costs, reliability, merchandising, and speed are the keys to their success. The efficient use of wash water allows a vehicle to be washed with as little as 20 gallons and a premium wash uses approximately 40 gallons. Compared to the competition that uses 90 to 110 gallons, Mark VII equipment can save you tens of thousands of dollars in annual operating expenses.

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Q: Why work with Eagle Express?

A: Eagle Express has been involved in the car wash industry since 1967 and car washing is our only business. Our goal is to partner with owner/investors and petroleum marketers, helping them make the right decisions to create true profit centers.

We have the knowledge and experience to work with you on every step from site selection to building design, installation and service. Our company President also invests in car washes. He has real world knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Because of our experience, we have chosen to represent Mark VII Equipment. Their equipment has become known in the industry as one of the most reliable and environmentally friendly systems on the market. Years of development have gone into making the equipment efficient in the use of water, electricity, and wash solutions. Efficiencies that add additional profits with reduced operating costs.

If creating profits, reducing liability risks, and investing in a system and company that minimizes down time are a concern of yours, then it might make sense to have further discussions.

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