Case Study in Pricing – What Should a Fully Automated Truck Wash Charge?


Let’s say you have an automated truck washing system, an expensive one and you want to get a lot of business to keep it busy? And, what if you could wash a big rig in about 10 minutes? Well, that is 6 trucks per hour if they are all full semi trucks, and if you are cleaning box vans and smaller fleet vehicles you won’t be into the vehicle for more than 5-6 minutes. Well, then you can wash a ton of vehicles per hour right, sure, but you need the volume to clean up. Okay so, let’s talk about price points shall we?

It’s important not to put your price too high. The market has already spoken due to the competition, and thus, an automated wash should be around $20 each or less, in bulk $15, maybe $12, small box vans $10 in quantity. I don’t know anyone who’d pay $50-60 for a truck wash by a machine, they would only pay that much for a hand wash for a full-on decked-out Peterbuilt or million dollar motor coach at a truck wash. If the truck wash was hand washing then the prices could be up at the Blue Beacon price points, but I wouldn’t lower them unless they were for fleets and then 25 to 40% off of their prices.

Seriously, think about this for a moment, we are in a recession, look at the fuel costs, what do you think that does to transportation, whoops, did you vote for Obama, I hope I didn’t offend you, but if you did, you are getting what you wanted, so smile and suck it up.

Now then, can you charge more for some types of trucks, but does it really make sense to take that sort of business? What about the oil services industry. Indeed, the oil service fleet safety industry trucks may pay more, but they’ll gum up an automated system and you could have other challenges too, things sticking off of them jamming in your mechanism I bet, amongst other challenges. It’s just a bloody mess really.

Lastly, you must ask yourself a very serious question, namely; what is your exact operating cost to wash a single truck with your unit? What is the real per unit cost, not including any overhead costs? Now then, obviously you can charge less money than it costs to actually wash the vehicle, and there’s going to have to be quite a bit of gross revenue in there for you to cover your fixed costs as well. But at the same time you must realize that a truck wash has an intrinsic value to the customer, and if you go too far beyond that, they won’t be interested in partaking in your services.

Further, you are limited by the competition, and your ability to produce excellent customer service as well. If you are at or just above your competition your service has to be absolutely impeccable, and I would submit to you even if your price is very low, and beats the competition by a mile, you still must have great service, and good quality work, or no one will come back. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this, and my case study here in choosing the best price point for your automated truck wash, the types of vehicles you target to clean, and all the real challenges of running such a business. Think on it.

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