2014 Tops in the Industry Rankings
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Babe Ruth, legendary baseball player
Babe Ruth, or the Sultan of Swat, claimed many a record as he batted his way into the hearts of Americans. Along the way he snagged records for career home runs, slugging percentage, runs batted in and more.
Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player and hitter of all time.
When this slugger gives you advice, you listen. And that’s exactly what chains in the fast lube industry are doing — edging closer to the next home run.
Every year, we undertake an extensive research program to identify, rank and examine the growth of the top auto service chains in the nation — and around the world.
Before we examine the rankings, however, we first have to define the terms we use in this study. For starters, what exactly is a “fast lube” facility? Well, we classify a fast lube as any business that derives the majority of its sales from quick, convenient oil changes and other automotive preventive maintenance services. Businesses that merely offer oil changes as an additional service (i.e. a tune-up shop, mass merchant retailer, tire store, etc.) fall into another category.
We do not require a fast lube to meet the traditional architectural definition of a quick lube, however. That is, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a roll-in, roll-out multi-bay shop with a pit/basement system. A converted muffler shop with 10 bays and nothing but lifts would qualify as long as the primary focus of the business is providing customers with quick oil changes and other maintenance services. By our way of thinking, it’s still a fast lube.
While this definition is broader than that used by some entities, we maintain that if a majority of a facility’s income is derived from quick oil changes and other maintenance work, that facility should be called a fast lube.
What about facilities that have dual profit centers, like a carwash/fast lube, co-branded facilities like Midas/SpeeDee or tire stores that also have lube bay or two? To clarify this gray area, we categorize these facilities as “oil change-plus” shops. This category also includes muffler shops, auto repair shops, mass merchant retailers, etc. All these places will change oil, but it’s not their primary business model.
The second term we must define is a “chain.” For our purposes, a fast lube chain is any six or more fast lube facilities owned by the same company/individual/business entity and/or operated under the same or similar signage. That’s why a brand like Valvoline Express Care, which is actually comprised of individual owner/operators who have entered into an agreement with Valvoline to use Express Care signage, is grouped together as a chain.
Further, we frequently run across independent lube operations that might own six or more of these branded facilities. To avoid double-counting those shops, we group them into a separate listing we call “Associated Lube Chains.”