The trucking industry is huge and offers great opportunities for mobile fleet washing businesses. Since most commercial transportation involves trucks and there are millions of trucks in the US, there's a big demand for truck washing services.

Keeping trucks clean doesn't just look good, it can also extend their lifespan and reduce maintenance and safety issues, helping them last longer, which is why these services are important.

When customers see clean trucks, they feel more confident, and it shows that the business takes care of its vehicles. This is why mobile fleet washing is a good business to get into.

This blog will help you whether you're starting a mobile fleet washing business or refining your current business structure by focusing on understanding costs, pricing, and planning. We’ll share tips on how to assess your pricing strategy to help you operate, plan investments, and set prices so that you’re one step closer to creating a successful business in this growing industry.


Understanding Your Costs and Expenses

To set the right prices for your mobile fleet washing business, you need to look closely at all the expenses involved. Pricing isn't just about what you should charge your client. You also have to think about the business side of it. Fuel, mileage, water usage, labor costs, utilities, insurance, taxes, payment process fees, and even marketing costs should be taken into account when planning your pricing. 

How often you clean the fleet also matters (which we’ll get into in more detail later). Cleaning a fleet every week will be a different cost than cleaning once a month. And don't forget about the costs of chemicals, specialty products, spare parts, and equipment. These can vary depending on what you use. By carefully thinking about all these costs, you can make sure your prices match the work you do.


Setting Your Mobile Truck Washing Schedule

Setting the right prices and service frequency when you start a new truck washing business account is important to laying a strong foundation for the success of your business. 

Looking at different timing for washing fleets, such as every week, every two weeks, or once a month, can help you set expectations for both you and your customer. From our experience of more than 50 years, we've found that washing fleets every week is usually the best, though not every client wants that. It's smart to set prices based on how often you wash their fleet, typically using pricing that encourages people to want to wash their fleets every week. 

When a fleet is washed regularly, it's easier to keep it clean, and will take less time per wash to maintain the same level of clean. When a truck is washed at random intervals, or spend an extended amount of time (and miles) between washes, it becomes more difficult to keep it clean, meaning it can often take more time, energy, and chemical to get it back to the level of clean that meets expectations.


What Factors Matter When Setting Prices?

Often, it's best to physically go to the customer's location to see their fleet in person and do a "demo" wash to figure out how difficult it is to wash their vehicles and what level of clean they expect. Comparing an older garbage fleet to a brand new polished tanker fleet can be nearly impossible over the phone.

During your demonstration, wash their vehicle how you would normally wash it - don't detail it unless that's the expectation level you and the customer have determined. You want everyone be pleased with the end result, including a consensus on the level of service provided and expected. 

The variables are endless, but below are some factors you should take into account before quoting a wash:

  • How many vehicles do they want washed? 
  • Will all the vehicles be parked and available to wash at the same time?
  • Will you set a minimum charge or number of pieces to wash?
  • Will you assess a trip fee for extended travel distances?
  • What types of vehicles are being washed? 
  • What level of clean is expected? 
  • How often do they want them washed? 
  • Is there water located on-site?
  • How close is each vehicle to the others? Is there space between to evenly wash the sides?
  • Are you expected to move their vehicles to get a better clean? (This could potentially involve additional insurance requirements).
  • Are there special requests? 
    • Do they expect aluminum brightening? 
    • Do they want the engine bay cleaned? 
    • Do they want trailer washouts?
  • Is it a different type of vehicle than the norm that requires hourly pricing instead of per-wash? 
    • Concrete, cement, tar, and asphalt can be much more involved than typical cleaning
    • Is it 'heavy', 'industrial' 'construction' or 'agricultural' equipment? How you wash a crane or a farm tractor is much different than an 18-wheeler or box truck.
  • Is the fleet polished or parts of vehicles polished?
  • How will you manage water runoff and compliance with the Clean Water Act?
  • Do they expect you to reclaim the water? 
  • What day and time of the week do they expect washes? Many want evening and weekend washes, and you only have so much time.
  • What do other mobile washers charge?
  • Is there a stationary, retail public wash nearby? What do they charge?
  • And many more!


So, How Much Should You Charge For A Truck Wash Service?

The short answer? It depends. As a business owner, you should also understand your target hourly or job revenue, including your desired profitability based on your output and labor situation.

Your location, local competition, the level of clean desired, and many other factors, such as those listed above, impact pricing. Do you have to bring your own water? Does the customer expect a white-glove level of clean, or do they want a 'maintenance' wash? Are you washing a few old trailers or an entire fleet of polished tankers? How much does it cost you, the business owner, to do the wash? 

For example, for a maintenance-level clean for a nearby fleet, you could charge $30 each time for a weekly wash, which adds up to $120 for the whole month. If someone wants their fleet washed every two weeks, you could charge $65 each time, totaling $130 for the month. And if they want it done once a month, you could (and should) charge more, like $150 for each wash.

The specific numbers depend heavily on your location. Some places might start around that $30 for a regular wash, while others could easily be over $100 in the same situation but a different area.

The idea is to show fleet owners that getting their fleets washed every week saves them money in the long run. It's like a win-win because they save money and you get more business.  This way of pricing fits with what people expect and what fleet owners need, which is good-quality cleaning, often. Having a clear plan for pricing like this can really help you get and keep clients who see the value in keeping their fleets clean regularly and allow you the stability of regular income.


The Final Takeaway

Not every fleet that wants a wash should be your customer. If their current provider is doing a terrible quality wash at $10 a truck, and they expect you to do a detailed wash at the same price, there's a huge chance you don't want them as a customer - you'll lose money. 

To run a successful mobile fleet washing business, you need to know how to set prices and understand costs well. By starting with what it costs you to clean their fleet, adding in the external factors, and taking into account local competitors, you can begin to set your pricing. 

By making sure your prices match what clients want and what others in the industry charge, and by building good relationships with clients, you can be sure your business will stand out. It's important to plan carefully and execute those plans well to keep doing well in this growing industry.

If you’re looking to purchase detergents for your business that can both help you improve your fleet washing efficiency, then get in touch. We have multiple combinations, concentrations, and sizes including touchless detergents. We purposely do not sell online – we want to speak with you and make sure we offer the best fit for your specific situation. One size does not fit all, and we want to help you get the best wash! 

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