The Impact of COVID-19 Effect on the Carwash Industry



The COVID-19 pandemic and its direct impact on businesses, especially small businesses, caught many off-guard, to mention the smallest amount. But, was our industry better prepared by coincidence compared to most others, especially within the areas of contactless transactions and services? From my viewpoint and normally, the solution has been an optimistically cautious “yes.”

Did carwashes across the country stop working, change plans, alter service offerings, reduce staff and make other hard choices that several retail and consumer-facing businesses had to make? Yes. Does the lower traffic counts during the spring and summer months this year make fewer cars on the road in need of washing? For several carwashes, including Darwin carwash businesses, this answer was also “yes.”

But, there’s a consolation for those modern, cutting-edge, and technology-embracing carwashes in 2020. This industry was once considered one within which key economic indicators, like unemployment and income, drove general demand and market performance, so if nothing else, this pandemic has reinforced the necessity for such advancements as contactless payments and consistent revenue with subscription-based programs so as to stabilize business when needed most, consistent with our research.


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In July, we interviewed Stu Crum, True Blue Car Wash’s CEO. The interview confirms many industry professionals’ early observations on the pandemic and its impact on the carwash businesses.

“We planned for the worst. We actually thought the underside was visiting fall off … [but] that actually hasn’t happened,” said Crum.

Carwashing — specifically express exterior — is proving to be resilient within the face of prolonged economic concern and virulent disease, in step with several insiders I’ve got spoken about within recent months. These factors et al are causing investors to lean in with consolidation efforts.

Of course, while many carwashes were ready to weather the storm this year thus far, others, including many full-serve carwashes, were forced to shut down or significantly change. I spoke with one California full-serve operator in April who expressed frustration over an absence of communication with local officials.

We’re here to assist inform all carwashes, irrespective of how they’re impacted from these uncertain times. Additionally, to our popular Top 50 U.S. Conveyor Chain List, we’ve got also included several articles during this issue to assist keep you informed and educated on operating a carwash or detailing business during unprecedented times. It’d still be an extended road to normalcy, but early reactions support optimism for continued carwash growth.