Green Car Wash - Investment Opportunity Within Reach
By Robert Roman
A green car wash — also referred to as a sustainable car wash — uses minimal water, energy, and chemical while still providing top-notch car wash services.
One form of green car wash is the waterless type.
Shown in Figure 1, Eco Green Auto Clean is a waterless car wash and detail business located just south of San Francisco in Redwood City, CA. Eco Green promises to wash cars with only one cup of water. The site serves as the company’s store and showroom.
Eco Green Auto Clean Inc. is a company that manufacturers its own 100 percent plant-derived premium eco car-care products in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Products are distributed via warehouses in San Francisco and Amsterdam to over 50 countries.
According to founder and CEO Anton Van Happen, use of the company’s products saves between 50 and 70 gallons of water per wash when compared to conventional car washing methods and produces a car with a showroom shine.
HOW IT WORKS
How does waterless car wash work? Waterless car wash products can contain a complex mixture of cleaning elements along with glazing ingredients. With proper application, the product lifts dirt from the vehicle by emulsification.
The product surrounds dirt molecules, lifting them from the paint surface, before you start to wipe. At the same time, the application process initiates the cross chain polymer linking process that results in an extremely shiny, highly protective glaze finish. All this happens very rapidly due to the balance of ingredients within the product itself.
What’s in it? According to SDSs, the ingredients in Freedom Auto Wash are a non-ionic surfactant and a preservative often found in “natural” cosmetics and skincare protects to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
Besides its store in Redwood City, Eco Green has launched a campaign, onecuponecar.com, with the goal to save 2 billion gallons of water per year.
The campaign also includes entrepreneurs. For example, when I searched the web for green car washes in Tampa, FL, I found contact information for a local waterless car wash and mobile detailing business featuring the Eco Green products.
Figure 2 – Pronto Wash, Citrus Park Mall
While searching, I also found ProntoWash™. Shown in Figure 2, Pronto has a physical location at the Citrus Park Mall in Tampa where it provides a full range of waterless car washing and detailing services.
Pronto also has an Eco Mobile AutoSpa. This is an on-site car wash service that allows the company, through a specifically designed vehicle, to cover several locations such as office buildings, residential buildings, shopping malls, universities, schools, clubs, and many other places where cars can be washed.
Figure 3 – CitySleekers
I also found CitySleekers™ (www.thecitysleekers.com) a startup in St. Petersburg, FL that has created a mobile car wash company that uses eco-friendly products.
According to CEO Nick Price, for pricing starting at $25, CitySleekers comes to customers via phone app and by “bicycle” to provide a mean, green, waterless clean car wash using only three to six ounces of water.
While searching, I also found a variety of non-eco mobile detailers that provided hand washing as well as companies like National Detail Pros and CarDetailing.com that are scheduling platforms for both consumers and professional service providers in the mobile auto detailing industry.
Scheduling companies connect ready-to-schedule buyers with local A+ rated detailing professionals via online and 800 numbers and can service clients in a matter of hours including car wash services.
Arguably, the waterless car wash concept along with the Internet, websites, smartphones, and apps may have opened a Pandora’s Box. For example, based on one cup of water per wash, Eco Green’s goal to save 2 billion gallons of water per year would equal 32 billion eco washes. If the typical commercial wash used 37.5 gallons of fresh water, this savings would equal over 53 million washes.
This is a lofty goal for sure but one that is looking more appealing especially in places such as California that has multiple restrictions on water use, including banning washing cars with hoses that don’t shut off and restricting lawn-watering within two days of rainfall.
In fact, the state has launched a website that lets residents squeal on water wasters, from neighbors with leaky sprinklers to driveway washers to waiters who serve water without being asked.
AROUND THE WORLD
Unlike Eco Green, which is primarily a product company, ProntoWash is a car wash business first. In June 2002, the first ProntoWash franchise opened for business in Brazil. Today, its Argentina subsidiary in Buenos Aires is the corporate headquarters and innovation and training center.
ProntoWash has over 350 operations between corporate-owned units and franchises in 27 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central America, South America, and the United States. Reportedly, it is also coming to Japan and Kuwait.
Figure 4 — Freestanding facility
In Argentina, ProntoWash’s green and sustainable washes are present in the parking lots of shopping malls and supermarkets as well as hospitals, airports, casinos, hotels, etc.
In fact, competitive success in the franchise market around the world allowed ProntoWash to become a case study of the Harvard Business School, called “Washing Their Cars to Tango.”
One thing these green or sustainable car washes have in common is they are not capital intensive. For example, ProntoWash was started with a $200,000 loan.
My estimate to place a free standing facility, like the one shown in Figure 4, in the typical mall parking lot is $100,000 to $150,000, which is well within the reach of mom and pop investors.
Bob Roman is president of RJR Enterprises – Consulting Services (www.carwashplan.com). You can reach Bob via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.