Starting in business for yourself can be a very daunting proposition and in today’s credit crunch climate, every new car cleaning operation needs all the free help and advice they can take, to keep their business growing profitably during the first three to six crucial months.You can pre-determine the success and profitability of your new car wash, valeting, detailing or specialist detailing business by working through our simple guides and making professional and not emotional decisions when deciding how, where and when to get started.This article looks at how you can evaluate the opportunity.Remember – Always Do Your Research Thoroughly – Before You Start!Whether you have even taken the brave decision to leave your current employment, follow your dream and go it alone or interested in the car care industry because of redundancy or lack of other work opportunities, the key to any successful start up car wash operation is to do your research first.Make sure that there is a demand for the type of car cleaning business you hope to operate in your area you want to work in, before you start creating long drawn out business plans, buying chemicals and equipment or having leaflets printed.One of the most important aspects is to determine if you are entering a specific market segment that has room to grow, or is already over-supplied within your area.To understand the status of each specific market segment, you need to determine who your main competitors are, estimate their current volume of business, and establish the percentage of market that is already taken (and why).Only then will you arrive at what the market potential is for your new business that exists today.The role of continued market growth has to be seriously considered as well – as it’s very easy to have too many suppliers and too few customers.First take a trip to a number of local automated, jet wash or hand car wash and valeting centres to see how their operation works and determine each businesses benefits and customer base.Spend some time at each operation and take make notes on the volume and type of cars that are cleaned and the services they are offered. Even if you are thinking of opening a mobile car valeting business, this gives a good indication of how people treat their cars (often through lack of choice) and how you can improve on the service they are currently receiving.During your assessment you might discover that most of the businesses have no redeemable benefits and no value added proposition, but rather they are “just another car cleaning business.” This gives you an opportunity to do it bigger and better, with more care and customer service!By using an online service such as a mobile car cleaning company your compiled information and search, within a 5-mile radius of where you’d like to focus your business, to see who else is competing in your car cleaning sector.At the click of a button you can find out details of all car wash openings and other news results and information for any given area in the country. Although these are not specific and exact figures, they still can be very helpful in making rough estimates of the opportunity in your area and how these businesses have faired since opening (i.e. are they still trading – if not why not?).You can check at any given time whether other car wash operators have applied for planning permission to open a site within the area. If they have already deemed the area has “significant market potential” this means that you can piggyback on their research and take advantage of their belief in operating a profitable business there.By using all the data available, you can estimate the percentage of the market that is being served by the existing car washes and specifically for the type of car wash business you are considering. When you’ve arrived at that number, you will then know what portion of the market is truly non-competitive.If that number alone gives you the volume you’re projecting for your business, then your analysis is finished. However, if that number does not give you the volume you want, to make the returns that you need, there is more research work to be done and decisions to be made on the realistic potential of the business.