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Car Care as a profitable business model

The niche car care sector is developing from garage and repair shops to wellequipped and managed car wash service hubs. Alongside the Clean India Technology Week 2016, Clean India Journal organized an engaging open forum discussion on “Car Care as a profitable business model” to address the issues pertaining to the business. The panelists were Bomi Zarolia, Vice President, International Business-Cleaning Systems Inc, USA; Anil Sethi, MD-Manmachine Works Pvt. Ltd; Karan Sethi, Director-Manmachine Works Pvt. Ltd; Arun Thapar, CMD-Inventa Cleantec Pvt. Ltd; and Karan Thapar, Director-Inventa Cleantec Pvt Ltd.

THERE ARE basically two options – Stationary and Mobile Car Wash. “Stationary model is always the first choice if location permits. It may be costlier at the beginning but brings more ROI in the long run. Nowadays, there is a growing clientele wanting to get the job done at their doorsteps. This is where the demand for mobile car wash comes in,” explained Arun Thapar.

“One can have a right mix of both to cater to the large volumes coming in at the stationary facility and a clientele that can’t come to the facility. They can be serviced at home but of course there is a premium attached to it,” added Karan Thapar.

In a word of caution about mobile car wash, Bomi Zarolia said “Considering the liability law, in a mobile system, the effluent is going to be a dry waste at the site. So as a responsible businessman, we must think about whose liability is to take care of the effluent waste to protect our environment.”

“It is always advised to adopt a cross merchandising model and tie up with other business operators in other domain than car servicing by giving a discounted offer to their customers for car detailing services,” he added.

“Car detailing depends on two parameters: chemicals and training. The precise use of chemical and time of application is most important to get efficient results. For e.g., while doing a ceramic coating, the difference will be much noticeable with the right settling time. So procedural aspects in detailing business affect the quality. It also helps build the company’s rapport in the market,” said Karan Sethi.

“In case of mobile washing, one must choose biodegradable chemicals. Another thing that suits best this model is steam jet as it requires very less amount of water. As far as machines are concerned, one needs to have a steam jet machine, vacuum cleaner, upholstery equipment and an under body wash machine. Installing a single phase generator can save the power, essential for mobile generator,” opined Anil Sethi.

Undoubtedly, it’s a profitable business provided the service standards are maintained. Customer feedback helps improve the service quality. “In fact, social media can extensively be used to show the quality of service by putting the pictures of car before and after the job,” added Karan Sethi.

“However, the cost of mobility in a mobile car wash system must be taking into account. A mobile wash is labour and time intensive exercise. Comparatively, a stationary facility can tend to be more profitable,” Bomi added.

Speaking about automated carwash system, Karan Thapar said, “It is a volume driven concept and if the volume of car wash is not more than 500 per month, it does not make sense to invest in automated care wash facility. Having said that the fixed expenses make this concept viable and one needs to have volume coming in. Also a partner or supplier drawback can severely hit the business.”

Automated car washing is an art and just pressing one button would not do the entire job. “Programming is important in automatic units. It should be coupled with other manual procedures too,” said Arun Thapar.

Quoting a case, Anil Sethi said, “In the year 2000, about 50 investors got automated carwash, but they failed to understand the dynamics of the systematic procedures, capacity of a machine and market condition in India. If one puts a dirty car in the automated car wash system, it will not give satisfactory results. It has to be given a prewash first and then automated wash. Thus, the condition of a car coming to a facility is also a decisive factor to choose the method of washing in sequence.”

Nowadays, people understand the systematic procedural aspects of using automated as well as manual systems as standalone or in coupled format. So in coming years, there would be more automated car wash facilities across India.

All the developed countries are the major markets for car wash, and this segment has caught the attention of independent rich and affluent investors across the globe. “A clean dry and shining car adds much value to the customers’ eyes and that’s what makes it an instant cash-based and quick ROI business model. If managed properly, the running cost can be merely 20-25% on an average,” concluded Bomi.

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