How to Start a Successful Car Wash Business in Kenya

How to Start a Successful Car Wash Business in Kenya

If you are looking to start a car wash business in Kenya, we prepared this guide just for you.

Here you will find all the information you need to succeed. There are hundreds, if not thousands of car washes in Kenya today and the industry is constantly growing every year, so it’s a great business idea if you are looking to start something new.

You can start a car wash with very little investment so it can work out even if you are looking to start a business on a shoestring.

Also, if you are looking for other businesses you can start with little capital, don’t hesitate to check out this amazing guide;


The first thing you need to consider when starting a car wash business in Kenya is whether this business is right for you and your personality.

Do you have what it takes? Are there any other businesses that would be better suited to your personality or skills?

Car washes require people with good customer service skills, so if you think of yourself as more of an introvert than an extrovert, this business might not be right for you.

If you are already in Kenya and thinking about starting a car wash, there is no reason to delay your plan – get started today!

Now, we will be revealing the exact steps you need to take when starting a car wash business.

But before that, let’s briefly answer one question that is probably throwing you into a dilemma right now;

Is A Car Wash Business in Kenya Really Profitable?

Yes, a car wash business can be profitable.

But it depends on whether you follow the right strategy or not…

The first thing you need to consider when starting any business is your profit margins. After all, if it’s unprofitable there’s no sense to start anything at all – you just lose money.

There are three main factors that determine the profitability of any business:

  1. Your Product/Service
  2. Your Overheads
  3. Your prices

Now let’s take a look at these factors ones by one, in more detail:

Your product or service

in this case, the service is washing cars so basically when you are starting out it’ll be just you washing cars. You can grow your business by hiring more employees and purchase equipment to help you expand your service as a car wash.

At the end of this guide, we will reveal some tips you can use to make your service more attractive to customers.


As soon as your financial resources are limited starting out, it’s important not to spend too much of those on setting up the business.

In this case, overheads refer to all the expenses that are essential for your business to operate but aren’t directly related to providing the service.

Here is a list of overheads you might incur when starting a car wash business in Kenya;

  • Lease or rent – if you have chosen a location for your car wash business, remember not to overspend on renting it as this will eat up all your profits.
  • Equipment – the equipment is what will help you offer your service but for now it’s best to choose something affordable and grow later on when you have more capital to invest in the business.  And of course, don’t forget to include this expense into your costs as soon as possible or else it’ll eat up your profits.
  • Insurance – this is something you will need to consider as soon as you buy equipment and hire employees. This will help your business avoid any unnecessary costs should anything happen to it or your employees and decrease your financial risks even more than they already are.
  • Salary/wages – obviously, the larger your team gets the larger your salary will be so it’s best not to spend too much on wages upfront – you can start on your own or with just one employee.


This refers to how much money you are going to charge from your clients for washing their vehicles.  This is a very important factor that will determine whether or not you will be able to make any money.  

That’s why you must set your prices carefully and target the right customers.

But assuming that the people who are interested in getting their vehicles washed up are mostly working-class, low-income earners then it’s best to keep your prices affordable for everyone.

This way you’ll target all the customers that are interested in washing their cars, including those who can’t afford to pay more for this service.  

You can decide how much you should charge for different vehicles after doing market research and knowing how your competitors price their services.

Offering several different types of services will also help increase your profits as you’ll be able to charge more for certain things like waxing or underbody cleaning.

Having said that, let’s quickly jump into the eight steps you need to take in order to start a car wash business:

Steps to Starting a Car Wash Business in Kenya

Step 1: Research the Market

The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the local auto care market.  

To do that you can go and visit the nearest car wash businesses, speak to their owners or managers and ask about their prices.  You will also learn a lot this way about:

  • What type of equipment do they use
  • How they operate
  • What their most popular services are and the average price for each of them
  • Whether there’s anything they’re doing wrong that you can improve on
  • The most popular car brands in your location and what type of detailing packages will appeal to owners of these cars

Step 2: Find a Good Location for Your Car Wash Business

Choosing the right location for your car wash business is crucial because it will affect your profits and how much money you’ll need to invest in this business.

There are several things to consider when searching for a good location:

  • How many people live and work in the area – obviously, if few people live and work in the area then there will be fewer people visiting your car wash, which would decrease the number of potential customers you’ll have.
  • How many other businesses are located in this area – if there aren’t too many other businesses around it might mean fewer people come to the area so it’s best to look for a location that’s close to a high-density area.
  • The average income level of people living in this area – obviously, if most residents live in poverty then they’re less likely to visit your business because they simply can’t afford it and will have to look for other ways to get their cars washed up.
  • How easy is it to access the location of your business – of course, no one’s going to drive long distances just to get their cars washed up so you need a location that’s easily accessible for customers.
  • How busy the area is during peak hours – this refers to how many people visit your car wash during its opening hours so it’s best if you pick a location that will be crowded during peak hours.
  • How much the rent is – the car wash business requires a lot of equipment and machinery and needs to generate enough income to pay for it all, which means you need an accessible location that’s not too far away from people while still being easily accessible and having lots of potential customers who can pay for your services.

It’s also best not to pick a location that’s too busy with limited space because even though you’ll get lots of customers it will be hard for them to find parking or simply turn into your car wash since there are other cars blocking the way so choose an area where people can drive around easily.

You should also try to avoid locations that are too isolated or in places where it’s hard to get customers because you’ll have to invest a lot of money into marketing your business, which can be risky since if you don’t get enough customers it’ll be tough for you to pay back the loan.

Step 3: Look for Car Wash Equipment

The next thing you should do is look for the right equipment you’ll need to start a car wash business in Kenya.  You can start with the main ones like a vacuum cleaner since this will be used on vehicles that have been through the automated car wash system and your employees can use it to remove excess water from inside of vehicles.

After that, purchase a pressure washer to remove any excess dirt from the exterior of vehicles and a brush washer that can be attached to a pressure washer because this will allow you to clean the tires, windows and other hard-to-reach areas.

You’ll also need a few different types of brushes for various parts of vehicles as well as plastic spatulas, soft sponges and squeegees.  

There are various products that will turn your pressure washer into a powerful tool for cleaning vehicles but you’ll need to study the market in order to buy these since they’re not necessary for all businesses.

So, in a nutshell, here is everything you’ll need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Pressure washer
  • Brush washer
  • Water tank
  • Plastic spatulas, soft sponges and squeegees

Of course, you don’t have to buy all of this equipment at once or in bulk and you can start by purchasing just a few items and then add more equipment over time.

You should also decide how much employees will be paid (if you will have any) before ordering equipment because that will affect your overall budget.

Step 4: Find a Catchy Name for Your Business

Now you need to think of a catchy name for your car wash business.  And, once you’ve picked a name, make sure that it’s short and easy to remember because customers are more likely to ask for help if they can’t remember the name of your business.

The name should also include words that describe the services offered by your business or that are related to cars since people will see your name on various advertisements, social media posts and on the gates of your car wash.

You can also use words like “valet”, “detailing” or “express” if you’re offering quick car washes for busy customers who only have a few minutes to spare.

Step 5: Market Your Car Wash Business

One of the most important steps of starting any business is to get the word out there that it exists, so you should try to get your name on as many online directories and review websites as possible.

You can also advertise using social media posts, billboards or flyers posted around your neighbourhood. However, make sure that you’re not just promoting your car wash business but also sharing useful information about taking care of cars, how to maintain their exterior and interior, etc.

You also have to be well-prepared to answer questions about your car wash business because you never know when a customer will want to learn more about the services offered or why they should trust you over other businesses in your area.

So, generally, here are some tips that will help your market your car wash business in Kenya;

  • Advertise on online directories, review websites and social media
  • Post flyers around your neighbourhood
  • Use word of mouth
  • Politely ask your customers to refer other people if they like your services
  • Prepare answers to common questions about your car wash business

Step 6: Decide on a Pricing Strategy

After you’ve completed the previous steps, it’s time to decide on a pricing strategy for your car wash business.

First of all, you should offer special deals and discounts that will be available only for a limited amount of time because this will help motivate customers to pay your services a visit during specific periods.

In addition to that, you should always offer packages that include more services than just car washes because these are likely to cost more and therefore bring in bigger profits.  This might include tire changing, body painting, graffiti, pressure pump and puncture repair.

On the other hand, you should also focus on the quality of your car wash instead of how many services you offer and make sure that customers know exactly what they’re paying for before saying yes.

Therefore, here is a quick overview of possible pricing strategies:

  • You can decide on your prices depending on the type of the vehicle, that is, in terms of body size. For instance, lorries and trucks should cost more than personal cars.
  • Special deals and discounts available only for a limited amount of time
  • Packages that include more services than just car washes
  • Focus on quality instead of quantity

Also, don’t forget to factor in your employees’ salary when determining the price of each car wash because this will affect your overall profit margin.  For example, if one car wash costs KES 500 and you pay your employee KES 200 per car, then it makes sense

Step 7: Acquire a Car Wash Business License

In order to start up your business, you need to acquire a license from the relevant authority.  

As for finding out whether or not you need a license, the rules vary depending on your county so it’s best to check with your local government.

The cost of the license might also vary depending on where you will be operating. For instance, you might pay more in Nairobi than in, say Kitale or some rural area.

Step 8: Decide Whether You Would Like to Work Alone or Hire Employees

This is a very important decision since it can have a significant impact on how much work you have to do and how much money your business makes.

For example, if you want to work alone then you’ll have to invest some extra time into taking care of the exterior of vehicles by yourself which will also reduce the time that can be spent on other tasks associated with running a car wash business.

However, another option is hiring employees so that they can work on washing the vehicles while you focus more of your time on other tasks.  

A good choice might be to hire university or college students who will need money for school supplies or activities like music lessons and this will allow them to earn some extra cash while giving you more time to focus on other aspects associated with running your business.

However, if you decide to work alone, don’t forget that you’ll have to clean every vehicle yourself which will reduce the time available for other tasks like managing accounts or marketing the business.

Step 9: Start Washing!

Now that you’ve got all the necessary paperwork, licenses and equipment, it’s time to start washing vehicles!   Make sure that you’re equipped with everything that will be needed for this job such as cleaning tools and soap.  

Also, make sure to inform customers about any special offers available so they’ll come back once these discounts expire.   

Here are some tips to keep in mind while running your car wash business:

  • Always offer quality services no matter how busy you get
  • Make sure to advertise your business by handing out flyers and contacting local businesses
  • Keep your prices reasonable so that more customers come back for additional services every week
  • Be cordial with your customers and treat them as you would like to be treated 

All in all, running a car wash business is not an easy task and it takes time and effort before you see some noticeable results.

However, if you follow these steps and keep your focus on the important aspects of running your business, then there will be nothing stopping you from success!

Conclusion: What You Should Do Now

The most important thing you can do now is to take action.  

Don’t put this amazing guide on the back burner and forget about it.  Act now, while your motivation is high, by taking these simple steps:

  • Make a specific plan for today with well-defined tasks that will bring you closer to your goal of starting your own car wash business.
  • Spend some time doing research to understand how you can make your services better and beat the competition.
  • Find one local resource/contact that can help you get started such as someone who is selling necessary equipment.

By taking action now, you’ll begin creating new habits for success and before long you will see the first results of your new car wash business.

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