Most detail shops that offer auto detailing to private car owners want to be on a major street where they can bring in new customers. However, many cities have municipal codes and zoning ordinances for auto related businesses, which they do consider detail shops to be. Often they have zoned specific areas that are quite small for auto services, and therefore a developer or land owner will put up a building and call it an auto center. Let's talk about this for a moment shall we?
Just because something is considered an auto center doesn't mean it is the best location for a detail shop. Whereas, it is true that you will get referrals from other auto related businesses, and therefore a boost in customer base and synergy from being in an auto center, there are also some drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks is lack of parking - if you own a detail shop that is in an auto Center you need to reserve lots of parking.
More often than not the other companies that do auto maintenance, painting, upholstery, and other such things will get backed up and have cars waiting which they plan to work on weeks off into the future. Each one of those cars takes up space, that means your customers have nowhere to park, or you have nowhere to park the cars you are waiting to work on, or the cars you just completed. If you spend all your time shuffling around cars this is time that you take away from your business.
Indeed, if you doubt what I'm saying you can ask anyone in the industry, and they will recommend the same thing. I've gone to cities where our franchisees were not located and talked to the owners of detail shops, and I ask them things like; "if you had to do it all again, what would you do different?" They will often tell me, that they wish they were not in that auto center, or that they could find a different space where there was more parking. Some of them are on 5 to 10 year leases, and they just can't pack up and leave that easily.
Therefore, if you are considering setting up a detail shop, and you find yourself looking for service bays in automotive centers, you need to keep a careful eye as to how many assigned spots that you get to have, and how hectic it is during the business hours. You also need to make sure there are not a lot of junky cars in the parking lot, because this turns off your high-end clientele who have expensive automobiles and want them detailed. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.