Quick Lube vs. Oil Change-Plus
As mentioned last month, this column will look at the difference between the quick lube and the oil change-plus segment of the industry. This installment will focus on the “quick” part of the quick lube.
One of my favorite stories is that of an old scholar who lived during the time of the Roman Empire. Late one evening the scholar was returning home when he accidentally took the wrong road. Soon, he found himself standing in front of the city gates, and when he knocked on the gates, a voice from the dark called out to him, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” The old scholar paused and then replied to the voice in the dark, “How much does the Roman Empire legion pay you to stand in the dark and ask these questions?” After thinking about his reply, the voice answered and told the scholar the amount he was paid. The scholar then replied, “I will double your wages if you will stand at my gate every day and ask me, ‘Who are you, and what are you doing here?’”
Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I, and what am I doing here?” For many in this industry, we find ourselves at a crossroads trying to decide what we are going to be — a quick lube or an oil change-plus? Is there a way for a shop to be a quick lube, not do all the additional services and make a profit? The answer is yes, there is.
To quote the late Darrell Royal of the University of Texas, “Dance with the one that brung ya.”
In other words, it may be time for you to decide what you are going to be — a quick lube or an oil change-plus? You may ask yourself, is there is still a demand for the “quick” in the quick lube industry?
It is interesting. The quick lube industry grew from the demand in the late 1970s from the average consumer for more conveniences and faster service. The self-serve fuel business also came from a need for more convenience, faster service and better pricing.
Currently, the Internet has improved upon our ability for more convenience in taking care of our daily needs. The Internet makes many things faster, more efficient and less expensive. It wasn’t long ago that if you wanted to do your banking, you had between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to get it done. Now, we can do our banking when and where we choose, and never have to go to the bank. In fact, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is looking for alternative means of revenue because fewer people use the USPS for mailing. Instead, we use the Internet for everything from writing notes to paying our bills. Why? Because the Internet is faster and more convenient than mailing the same information.
Scientists who study the habits of society have been saying for years that the trend toward more convenience and faster responses is growing, not shrinking. So it begs the question, why are segments of our industry moving away from the quick part of the quick lube?
Many veterans of this industry remember when it was common to advertise service in 10 minutes or less. What happened? Have we stopped being quick? Have ticket averages become the only statistic of measuring success?