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Car wash businesses are collapsing due to the high cost of living

By Tshablira Lebakeng

Carwash businesses are collapsing due to the high cost of living, with customers now washing their cars at home.

Maa Bee car wash in Orlando is a high-class car wash. While your car is washed, you can braai your meat or order food at the restaurant. There is music playing, and sometimes they even have a live DJ. The car wash also has high-end equipment for cleaning cars.

“Business used to be good. We used to wash 30 or 40 cars in a week. Even the food side of the business used to be good” said Lugile Maphumulo (39) who has been working there for three years. He is one of two workers who remain employed at the car wash. There used to be six of them.

He said customers never used to complain about their prices. But now it’s a different story.

“They always asking for a discount, but we can’t give people discounts because everything is expensive, products are expensive. “said Maphumulo.

Maa Bee Car Wash
Maa Bee Car Wash. Picture: Tshabalira Lebakeng.

To make a profit, they must make at least R1800 a day. This is made even more difficult by the fact that there are smaller and cheaper car washes always popping up near them.

Twenty-two-year-old, Earl Tlhagane owns one of these small car washes. He says even they are struggling despite taking down their prices.

‘’ I started this car wash because I wanted an income. I didn’t have a job after I finished my school. Before it was good, now we had to decrease our prices to make our customers come back. But they don’t,” said Tlhagane.

He said another problem is customers asking for their cars to be washed on credit, but never pay. His staff has been reduced from four to two.

“I couldn’t afford to pay the other two workers. Sometimes I work alone. I think as small businesses, we need help from government. I even can’t pay rent for the car wash space. I thought things will change this year, but nothing is changing.’’ said Tlhagane.


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