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Winter Vehicle Washing...?
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Thread: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

  1. #1

    Question Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    I have been working as a full time handyman for some time and at last Spring I purchased a Simoniz 2900psi cold water gas pw unit as simply an addition to my toolkit initially... but a valuable money making sideline in reality, to the point that it is taking over my working week and improving my cashflow. I have been cleaning decking and concrete/masonry and find I get a real sattisfaction from cleaning and a buzz from how excited people are at the results they see. I am now thinking about how to expand this line of work (which I really enjoy) into more of a year-round activity and something I can develop into my primary business...

    So, I've been trying to think about something I can do in winter time - a service which would not require 'huge' investment in further equipment and which I think/hope would be in demand here in Nova Scotia. (winters here are part snowy, part slushy due to the maritime influence o nthe climate, usually consistantly cold but not extreme lows)

    People here are always complaining about and worrying (justifiably) about the effect that road salt has on their vehicles during winter time. Oobviously getting the garden hose out at home and pouring cold water on the problem each week is not viable or sensible, coin-op spray washes are expenisive and require drivers to get out in the cold and wet, most people know that full-on car washes are just nasty to paintwork... maybe I could help here? I was thinking that a medium sized investment in a hot-water washer (you don't need/want high PSI for vehicles, especially when sluicing off winter grit and thick grime, right?) and a water tank (to increase mobility, I currently rely on on-site residential supplies) would set me up? Additional items would obviously be clothing, salt (perversely) for the ground around the cleaning area and a few other seasonal upgrades...

    I would then either try to stake out this rig with appropriate signage and pricing at key traffic locations (arranging rental spots from commercial property owners?) or alternatively/as an additional income stream I could try to arrange regular appointments with businesses to do a number of employees vehicles in one go as a true mobile 'Salt-Off' service, the more employees who pool together obviously the cheaper the rate per vehicle...

    I have a massive list of considerations, pros and cons (mostly concerning water and low temperatures, you get the idea...) that I have come up with myself... rather than boring you with all of those I'd just like to see what those of you with more experience come up with right off the bat, so I can cross-check what you highlight against my lists. What are your thoughts about this sort of operation, concerns? Do you think it could be viable?

    Thank you all sincerely for your help, I feel bad straight out asking for advice with my second post but (as I have a real wish to get into this line of business) I hope I can redeem myself by contributing plenty in the future.

  • #2

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    The salt attacks the undercarriage, right? A local company had a pad set with rotating nozzles that washed the weed seeds and such off wild land fire trucks. They reclaimed the water. The USFS paid big bucks to have the trucks washed. There was a company called "Mud Cat" that had a pw set up, kind of like an upside down Whirl A Way.
    Douglas Hicks
    General Fire Equipment Co of Eastern Oregon, Inc
    Member NFPA, NFSA, NAFED
    Founding member, past pres, past secretary Oregon Fire Equipment Distributors
    Board of Directors, The Grease Police

  • #3

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    Sounds interesting Douglas, I'll investigate, thanks for the reply. I was certainly planing on getting right down and trying to clean half-way-under the car from each side (or as much as possible) as all the slush and salt buildup under there is definitely not good news...

    Edit, just found this: http://www.epowerwash.com/wp/archives/225

  • #4

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    I just don't see the profitability of the work you are mentioning. A coin op carwash is what... $5? Are you going to sell it cheaper than that or going to push the "you don't have to go out and get wet, we will do it for you" jargon. Even that way I can't see you get too many people that would pay too much more for just a simple car wash. If you did full detailing then that would be a different story but then again in the winter time a lot of people don't get their vehicles detailed. I just don't see the profitability of going all over town wasting gas and time for 5-10$. Of course if you get a bunch of them in one place it is better but realistically how many will you be able to do that with unless you go to dealerships and in my experience they want to pay like 1-2$ a car.

    I would try to go after something else... maybe fleet of trucks or heavy equipment or offer for you to put de-icing solution on commercial sidewalks or ice dam removal etc.
    Florin Nutu
    ALL WASHED UP EXTERIOR CLEANING LLC
    206-380-4555

    Seattle Roof Cleaning and Pressure Washing
    email--- allwashedupexterior@gmail.com

  • #5

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    Quote Originally Posted by FLORIN View Post
    the "you don't have to go out and get wet, we will do it for you" jargon.
    It's more like fact actually. So you'd rather spend $5 and:
    1. Remember to put your rubber boots / waterproof shoes in the car before leaving for work.
    2. Go out of your way on the way home (in the dark, if after 4pm) to the nearest coin-op (few and far between in this area).
    3. Change into your rubber boots inside the car / risk rubbing your work clothes on the salt and grime if trying to do a half-in-half-out operation
    4. Stand around in the freezing cold and wind (we have lots of that) in 2 inches of slush, mud and (commonly) ice being blasted with freezing spray.
    5. Clean only the sides and top sheet metal of your car (are you going to kneel down?!)
    6. Reverse the footwear change and stow your wet, filthy boots somewhere in your vehicle (remembering of course to take them out at home.

    OR, pay $5 to:
    1. Go straight to work as usual, sit in your office, do your work, drink your coffee and go straight home as usual.
    (The only difference being the car you go home in is shining from a HOT pressure washing and is free of salt on all the visible sheet metal AND the underside mechanical parts).

    I appreciate your feedback. Just saying...

  • #6

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    So you would like to wash cars that are for personal use, not fleets of vehicles am I correct?

    I am interested to know if you plan on detailing the interiors as well?

    Also beware that this would likely need to be a high volume deal to make money..

    I am curious as to how the economy is in Nova Scotia? It is my understanding that not too far from you in Newfoundland many have to go out to Alberta's Oil Sands for work. The reason that I ask is if the economy is not terribly good, is this an "extra" that people would realistically pay a decent price for?
    Soleil Shepherd
    Spray Wave Mobile Pressure Wash Inc.
    Winnnipeg, Manitoba
    204-509-4976
    Exterior Building Cleaning Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
    Pressure Washing Winnipeg Canada

  • #7

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    Fleets of vehicles are not that common here I don't think (not many big operations) but everyone has a car, or 2 or 3... so yes, personal vehicles. The idea is speed, efficiency and affordability for the customer - no messing around with interior detailing (I hate that on my own vehicles, never mind other peoples) or any true 'detailing' for that matter. A quick hot wash service to remove salt is the targeting, because as I said initially - that is something that people are really concerned about.

    No, average income here is not high - but you'd be amazed how much people are willing to spend on their vehicles. A nice car, or several cars parked outside some tumbled down shack is not an uncommon site. I guess my aim is to provide a BETTER alternative to something that people already try to do all winter (remove road salt) but do it in a more efficient way, more thoroughly and at little extra cost to what they may have done previously.

    No one has given me any input on the major machinery (washers, tanks) etc? Does anyone have thoughts on what sort of washer I'd need to consider, what temperature water, etc, etc...? I'm pretty new to this so I appreciate even basic pointers on how one of you more experienced operators would go about setting something like this up (whether or not you think it would be viable/worth setting up at all is a bit of a different issue). Thanks.

  • #8

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    How cold does it get there in the winter? If it goes below freezing whatever you buy will need to be winterized and blown out as well as anti-freezed every night.
    Soleil Shepherd
    Spray Wave Mobile Pressure Wash Inc.
    Winnnipeg, Manitoba
    204-509-4976
    Exterior Building Cleaning Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
    Pressure Washing Winnipeg Canada

  • #9

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    Not sure if you are getting my point. At 5 dollars a car you need to wash 30 cars just to make $150 bucks. I pay my HELPER that much a day. He doesn't have to pay the gas, licenses, taxes, insurance, machine and vehicle depreciation etc. As a business owner as you do.That is 30 cars that you will have to drive all around town doing cause I just can't see you being able to get that many cars in one day right next to each other. So for every one pf those 5 bucks you have to setup, wash, breakdown, sit around for the owner to count their change to pay you(and if you plan on billing them, then that's another thing you have to factor in on what you will make in the end due to extra time billing.)

    I just think there is other services that you can provide even in the winter that will pay a lot better.
    Florin Nutu
    ALL WASHED UP EXTERIOR CLEANING LLC
    206-380-4555

    Seattle Roof Cleaning and Pressure Washing
    email--- allwashedupexterior@gmail.com

  • #10

    Default Re: Winter Vehicle Washing...?

    Any Fleet Washers out there....

    Doug Rucker-Owner/Operator
    Certified NCE Instructor
    We own and operate a School for Pressure Washing, Roof Cleaning, and Soft Washing http://www.pressurecleaningschool.com
    Check out our ONLINE PRESSURE WASHING SCHOOL with over 160 videos https://www.pressurecleaningschool.c...ashing-school/
    Free FREE Events www.uamccevents.com

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