Plenty of options for working in the Lincoln Car Wash |

LINCOLN, Neb. – “Well, these cars never seem to stop coming. Let these rags and machines hum. “

These are lyrics in the 1976 song “Car Wash” by Rose Reece.

Or it could be a fitting description of the current Lincoln car wash market.

Full-service car washes appear to be either under construction or under development across the city.

Jet Splash recently opened a new car wash on 16th Street and Pine Lake Road and is building another on 40th Street and South Street.

Rocket Carwash has a new location under construction in Williamsburg near 40th Street and Old Cheney Road and is planning another on the site of an abandoned bank branch it bought near 84th Street and Nebraska 2 Street.

These are among the 15 Nebraska locations announced by the City + Ventures of Omaha-owned company. Rocket Carwash is also planning 85 additional locations in new markets in seven states.

In addition to new locations for Jet Splash and Rocket Carwash, new full-service wash systems are also being built as add-ons to convenience stores, for example at the new U-Stop near 70th Street and Pine at the beginning of the year. Seestrasse was opened.

Matt Toombs, founder of Lincoln’s Jet Splash, said the car wash boom was in large part due to the influx of outside investment.

“There’s a lot of money going into the industry,” Toombs told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Robin Eschliman, a local commercial real estate agent who co-hosts the “Grow Lincoln” radio show, said car washes have become popular with some national real estate investors because they generate “passive” income.

“The investor (s) get the rent while someone else handles the business,” she said.

This passive income has become more constant and predictable over the past decade as car washes have shifted to a membership model where car owners can pay a monthly membership fee and then have their vehicles washed as often as they want.

Toombs said most Jet Splash members are washed once a week or less, but there are some customers who come almost daily.

He said the membership model enables car washes to have consistent income year round, which is “good for the operator and good for the customer.”

While only a small proportion of people use car washes on a regular basis, most vehicle owners use them at least occasionally. A 2019 study by the International Carwash Association found that 83% of car owners said they had used a full car wash at least once in the past year, the highest percentage ever recorded in the annual survey since early 1996.

Kent Thompson, president of Thompson Realty Group, said consumers currently have a lot of disposable income and are willing to spend on “wants” like car washes until something more important shows up to compete for their money. With full-service car washes you also save time without having to do the dirty work of washing the car yourself.

Jet Splash is the largest player in Lincoln when it comes to full-service stand-alone car washes. It built its first in 2003 and added a new location every couple of years when the opportunity arose.

The fact that the building on 40th and South – which will be its seventh location – is being built so soon after the opening of 16th and Pine Lake is in part an acceleration of construction plans to keep up with the competition, but it’s still mostly about opportunities.

Toombs said he had been looking for a location in central Lincoln for a long time, and when the US bank cleared its 40th and South location, he jumped in.

He called the area a “car wash desert” and said there should be a good opportunity to attract members who live or work in the area.

Eschliman said that when it comes to real estate, car washes are turning into cafes and pharmacies, and adopting a model of opening stores in a given area that are far enough apart that they will do so with their own existing locations. They’re also always willing to spend more to get prime real estate locations, she and Thompson said.

They are also increasingly going to locations close to their competitors.

Two of Rocket Carwash’s planned new locations are near existing Jet Splash locations. Toombs said a new car wash in these areas is likely to generate new business, but not enough to keep some off the existing locations.

However, he admitted that the Lincoln market is likely to be underserved when it comes to full-service car washes.

“I would say there is definitely room for other people, but it’s just a matter of number,” Toombs said.

He admitted that he doesn’t know what the magic number is, but it is likely to come sooner rather than later.

“If we continue at the pace we’re pushing for the number of washes built in Lincoln, we’ll find out.”

About Stephanie McGehee

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