How to Open a Truck Wash

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Man washing the inside of a truck's hood.
Man washing the inside of a truck's hood. (Image: RalphCoulter/iStock/Getty Images)

Trucks are a critical part of the business distribution network. From delivering consumer goods to transporting gasoline, trucks rack up miles through a variety of weather and road conditions. Inevitably, these hard-working vehicles are prone to dirt and grime buildup. While a mop and bucket can be used to clean a large truck, it is a difficult process. Many professional drivers and truck companies use truck wash companies to clean their vehicles quickly and efficiently. You can open your own truck wash with a good location, some basic supplies, a business foundation and a little marketing.

Things You'll Need

  • Location
  • Power washer
  • Ladders
  • Scrub Brushes
  • Vacuum ceaner
  • Water de-ionizing system

Find a suitable location. Look in the industrial section of your town, or near a place where trucks are frequently located. The best locations are often near an interstate, truck stop or truck mechanics. When selecting your location, make sure you have sufficient space for trucks to easily maneuver and to form a line during busy times.

Prepare your location. Create a spot for washing a truck and clearly outline the path to and from this location on the pavement. The easiest method is to have a truck enter from one side of your land, stop for washing and then exit from an alternate side. The goal is to prevent backups or accidents by keeping trucks moving forward. Consider adding a large metal structure or building so you can wash trucks in all weather conditions. For additional servicing options, install a pit or ramps that give you easy access to the bottom of the truck for lubing and undercarriage cleaning access.

Obtain equipment and supplies. You will need a power washer, ladders, scrub brushes, a shop-type vacuum cleaner and cleaning chemicals. For professional results, get a water de-ionizing system that allows a spot-free rinse. If you use a "two-step" cleaning method, purchase acid-based soap solution and an alkaline neutralizer to help pull heavy dirt and grime off a truck easier.

Offer interior as well as exterior cleaning services. Considering the amount of time truckers spend in their rigs, cleaning the cab interior is very important. For this part of the operation, supplies are similar to those used to clean the interior of an automobile. Keep in mind that most drivers switch trailers regularly; that is, they often just drop off a trailer and pick yup another. Thus, many drivers will want only their truck's cab washed -- the tractor portion. Trailers are generally kept clean by their owners.

Establish the legal and financial framework for your company. Consider setting up an S-corporation to protect your personal assets and limit your legal liability if a truck accident occurs at your business. Obtain a merchant account so you can take credit and debit cards. Many company drivers must use their fleet credit cards to purchase truck services, so you need to accept credit card payments to increase your customer base.

Put up your sign and start washing. Place signs prominently near your business to attract customers. Consider distributing advertisements at truck stops and nearby businesses with lots of truck traffic. Perform a quick, yet efficient service and you will build a loyal customer base quickly.

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