Car Wash EBITDA & Valuation Multiples – 2023 Report

The report below presents EBITDA and revenue multiples for car washes in Q3 2023. Our research team compiled this information using proprietary data, expert interviews, and private equity networks. (Sources)

The results of our study are in the tables below, which we have broken down according to prominent types of US car washes as well as respective value ranges for both EBITDA and revenue.

EBITDA Multiples for Car Washes, Q3 2023

Company Type EBITDA Range
$500k-1M $1-5M $5-10M
Detailing 4x 5.1x 6.8x
Express Exterior 4.3x 5.5x 7x
Full Service 3.7x 4.3x 6.1x
In-Bay Automatic Car 3.9x 4.8x 6.3x
Self-Serve 3.1x 4.0x 5.7x

Revenue Multiples for Car Washes, Q3 2023

Company Type Revenue Range
$500k-1M $1-5M $5-10M
Detailing 2.3x 2.7x 3x
Express Exterior 2.8x 3.2x 3.5x
Full Service 1.9x 2.1x 2.4x
In-Bay Automatic Car 2x 2.3x 2.7x
Self-Serve 1.8x 1.7x 2.3x

The section below outlines the current market for buyers and sellers in car wash M&A, charting the movement of EBITDA multiples for car washes, and providing our team’s projections for how the market is likely to change going forward.

The State of Car Wash M&A

The car wash industry is a unique beast in the world of M&A; on one hand, the industry itself has been experiencing steady growth over the last decade, averaging about 2-5% CAGR annually. Similarly, M&A deals in this sector have seen a surge in deal volume, increasing 18% since Q3 2020. On the other hand, this growth is decentralized with larger companies only making up ~20% of the total market. There are no major national car wash chains, meaning that this growth is being experienced independently across smaller companies. 

The sharpest increases our team noted were amongst “express exterior-only conveyer” washes, which experienced a 1.4x increase in EBITDA multiples since Q1 2020. Our team attributes this growth to an increase in vehicle ownership, miles driven as people return to office, as well as a recent shift in car wash business models which prioritize subscriptions and membership plans over the traditional “pay-per-wash” model—greatly increasing customer retention and stabilizing revenue.

The chart below displays the rise and fall of EBITDA multiples for car washes over the last few years.

Car Wash EBITDA Multiples, Q1 2020 – 2023 (Current)

EBITDA multiples for full-service and self-serve car washes decreased by ~0.8x as customers explored alternative options. Despite this decline, our team identified niche applications such as washing ATVs and boats, which remain unaddressed by other models. This niche demand may sustain these businesses in the long run, although they might be less appealing to potential buyers.

Our experts have made the following predictions about what’s next to come for car wash M&A:

  • Roll ups are likely. Because car washes are so fragmented, the market is ripe for acquirers to start forming national chains by picking up many small car washes and converting them. We therefore expect a high number of add-on deals to occur in the next several years.
  • Subscription/membership models are likely to generate higher multiples. Because they now have a proven track record of stabilizing recurring revenue for car washes, business owners are likely to begin using this method across the board, which will likely lead to higher valuation multiples for car washes.
  • Competition for deals will increase. This surge in deal volume over the last several years indicates a larger number of strategic and financial buyers interested in this vertical, leading to a more intense auction process. Business owners considering selling their company will want to begin speaking with an M&A advisor early on to ensure the best payout.

Read our rankings of the top M&A firms in the U.S.

Selling Your Car Wash

Business owners often find selling a car wash company particularly stressful due to the intricacies of the process. I understand that stress well, having sold multiple businesses to strategic and financial buyers alike; it’s hard to determine next steps.

If this feels relevant to your experience as you start the process of selling your business, I’d be willing to talk and offer advice for a few minutes. You can reach me at the link below or through the contact page on this site.

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