Economic and Regulatory Climate Timing for Truck Wash Start-Up Decisions

When is the best time to start a truck wash? Well, there are all sorts of reasons behind the timing of opening a new truck wash, and if you don’t time it right, you could lose a lot of money, in fact I’ve seen brand-new truck washes go bankrupt because they either didn’t complete their construction on time, or got caught in an economic downturn right as they were opening. In that case they were unable to make their payments on their business loans, and the rest is history.

Indeed before retirement, I was in the truck wash business and we had both mobile truck washing units to clean fleets, and fixed site facilities at truck stops. It was amazing the nonsense we had to go through with regards to environmental rules. No, we were not hurting the environment – in fact, our company was a champion of environmental methods, and often helped municipalities, counties, and states with their own NPDES permitting. Rather, everyone was so worried that something might or could happen in the future, that the paperwork got absolutely out of hand, and usually delayed the projects.

In fact, at one time I estimated that even when the construction was completed, it could be as much is 18 months more just to get the environmental impact report final signoff so that we could open and operate the business. This must be taken into consideration for those who have a solid business plan and wish to start a wash. Now then, back to the issue of economics. Right now the economy is starting to improve, this would be an excellent time to start a business of this type as sales for new trucks are very robust, and the freight loads are increasing each and every month, and quarter by quarter.

More trucks on the road means more trucks need to be washed, and that’s good news to keep the volume high to get a proper return on investment. Obviously, the number of trucks you wash per day multiplied by the price point will give you your total revenue. Therefore, if you want to be successful, you must wash more trucks. That sounds rather obvious, but some people miss that. When the economy is tough, or fuel costs are very high, trucking companies cut back on their truck cleaning. In other words, rather than washing each truck every week or every other week, they may only wash their trucks once a month or every third week.

Now then, no one knows for sure what sorts of nonsense environmental activists may come up with or bureaucratic nightmare one might have to go through before opening their truck wash, but it is a deciding factor, and it should be therefore considered when running the numbers, expect delays. Further, in the current economic climate, things seem okay for the trucking and transportation sectors, but we aren’t out of the woods yet completely. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.