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How to set up a carwash

By Mari-An C. Santos |

Pinoys love their cars and will spare no expense to dress them up. No wonder car washes have become hot businesses. Here’s how to put up one.

[related|post]With the high volume of vehicles on the streets nowadays, it’s no surprise that carwashes seem to have sprung up everywhere. There are simple sidewalk operations and neighborhood stops, as well as wash-and-clean services in gas stations and elaborate shops where your car is carefully tucked away in a garage. Whatever the set-up is, car washes capitalize on a desire common to all owners: to keep their vehicles looking clean, shiny and new all the time.     

The Basics
Like any other business, you need to pay attention to the basics before you set up shop. Secure permits from the necessary agencies: barangay or city hall, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).


Once you got these covered, then you should learn the trade. “There’s a science to washing a car,” shares Archie Ocampo, proprietor of ATO8 Auto Detailing and Car Wash in Quezon City. “I learned from the training provided by one of my suppliers, [which I got] after purchasing supplies from them.” A major tip: use shampoos specially designed for cars because “household detergents may cause damage to the paint, since it may be too harsh for a car,” Ocampo says.



As Joselito Tenerife, operations manager of Carwash Kiosk in Baguio City, puts it: “you need to take time, kailangan pag-aralan mo ‘yung negosyo.” Both businesses offer the following services: car washing, engine wash, and detailing for exteriors, interiors, and engines. “I even do muffler and mag wheels polishing. Detailing service is more of restoration of the vehicle, back to its showroom or show-car condition,” Ocampo explains. According to Tenerife, however, “very few car owners bring in their cars for frequent auto detailing.”  


In the beginning, Ocampo had just two people on his staff, and personally took in cars to wash and detail. Now, he has seven on his payroll. Carwash Kiosk only has four bays since it’s a roadside operation, says Tenerife. As such, they just need four people who take turns using the equipment.  

Tools and Supplies
Ocampo admits that he spent approximately P 50,000 for tools and supplies alone. Here are the materials that you ought to have in your shop:



Power sprayer or pressure washer. Even the most basic model of a power sprayer or pressure washer possesses almost 40 times the water-flow capacity of a typical garden hose, so there’s just no comparison when it comes to cleaning wheels and eliminating salt stains and deep-seated dirt from your vehicle. This gadget achieves this by shooting a stream of water on the car to loosen soil, grime, mud, bugs and other kinds of filthy buildup that could cause problems for your car.


Air compressor. This machine takes in air at atmospheric pressure and then delivers it at higher levels. The resulting compressed air can help car washers shake off loose dirt from vehicles and remove water after washing.


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