Setting Up Your Dog Wash for Success!

Dog getting a bath

A woman washes her dog in one of the easy-access wash stations.

Ten years ago, the idea of a dog wash was a novelty, but it’s becoming more and more popular. When someone visits the dog wash, they tell their friends, who in turn tell their friends.

“We like that it gets a lot of people talking about your site,” said Gary Baright and Jim Laffin, of Foam & Wash Car Wash in New York. They came to tour the Kleen-Rite Dog Wash before building their own. They see a lot of families having fun together at the dog wash. Besides washing the dog, customers can vacuum the car, run through the car wash, and buy dog treats from the vending machine. And if it weren’t for the dog wash, they might not have been there at all.

Customer Benefits

When customers use the dog wash, they don’t need to worry about expensive grooming services or making a mess at home. It’s an effective profit center for anyone in the car wash industry. The Kleen-Scene took an interest in the different ways dog washes are being set up across the country.

Each small dog wash room at Foam & Wash in New York includes heating and air conditioning. The setup accommodates one dog tub per room, and this privacy helps keep the dog at ease. Besides the occasional barking, Baright and Laffin have not seen altercations between dogs as they come and go.

“The owners have them under control,” they said. “The people who wash and take care of their dog are responsible enough that we haven’t had any issues.”

Cleaning up after the dogs doesn’t pose an issue either. Foam & Wash provides cleanup bags and they have a nearby grass area for the dogs. To make sure that the dog wash room doesn’t get smelly, there are disinfectants, squeegees, brooms, and dust pans available to customers. The employees spray down the room with high pressure sprayers and mount automatic air fresheners.

“More people are responsible than irresponsible,” Baright and Laffin said.

Easy Setup

One of the best things for dog wash owners is that the cost is very minimal. “It’s not like a self-serve car wash bay in the wintertime. If you have 7 or 8 bays, you’re heating the floor and weeping all the water,” they said. Other than heating and cleaning the small room, there’s no real cost to hold it. Vacuums cost money when they break down, but there are less replacements to worry about at a dog wash. The room will still be there and ready for customers to use it.

In Virginia, Harry Dietrich designed and opened Pet Wash 24, a self-serve dog washing business, in a strip mall. It is unique because Dietrich does not have an accompanying car wash and his dog wash is unmanned.

Active in the American Legion, Dietrich got into the dog wash concept as a way to help retired veterans. He wants to turn a dog wash over to a veteran and use the money to start another.

The doors open automatically from 6am to 11pm, 7 days a week. Customers can use a credit card to access the building during the other hours. Music plays inside to calm the dogs, and the wash has security cameras. Dietrich sweeps up every night, but otherwise the wash is automated and very easy to manage.

Location, Location

Terry McDonald, of Weiss Guys Dog Wash in Phoenix, Arizona, has his own unique approach. Essentially, the lot consists of self-service car wash bays turned into dog

Outdoor dog wash

Dog washes can be set up indoors, or outdoors like the one above.

wash bays. McDonald removed the booms and hoses and added pool fencing to each side of the bay. A roof blocks out the sun. This outdoor setup works well for the hot and dry Arizona climate. Attendants are on site daily to make sure the bays are clean.

“People love it. On Saturday and Sunday there are people waiting outside to use it,” McDonald said. “Customers will take their dog to run around at the park, and then come over to the wash.” He has an ideal location being right down the road from a dog park.

There are many ways to start up a dog wash. Many people are starting or expanding their dog washing business across the country.

“If someone’s on the fence they should do it,” Baright and Laffin of Foam & Wash said. “It’s not a big investment. If you have the room and you have the people there, there’s no reason not to do it.”