Program Spotlight: Lube Stop
There are numerous oil and lube shops throughout the country and no two are exactly alike. Each fill their own particular niche in the automotive service industry. Some are national and others are regional chains. Of course, there are a smattering of local shops in every city and town. Scattered across Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa, are a collection of oil and lube shops with an innovative take on what it means to have great customer service. Over the last 30 years, Lube Stop has built a reputation for being on the cutting edge of oil and lube services.
The first Lube Stop store opened in 1985 in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, the company has expanded to 50 locations across three states with ambitious plans to spread into new markets. To date, Lube Stop shops have performed over eight million oil changes.
In spite of Lube Stop’s progressive business model, the company’s core values nod at a simpler time.
“At Lube Stop we care deeply about the people under the hood, behind the wheel and in the back seat. We’re people taking care of people,” remarked Lube Stop president, Tony Cammerata. “We have a great deal of pride in being a family orientated organization and it’s the culture we have built and continue to foster, Lube Stop doesn’t service cars, we serve customers. They should leave with the confidence they made the right choice and their vehicle was well cared for. We need to provide our customers with good value, which means doing it better than the last person. That confidence and trust that everyone wants in a service provider needs to be earned. Correspondingly, we want to earn their loyalty and patronage. At Lube Stop we’re not just selling oil changes, we’re selling feelings.”
Lube Stop’s people first philosophy not only applies to their customers but to their employees. The focus on making Lube Stop a great place to work has lead to employee retention for many Lube Stop stores. Some employees have even worked for the company for over 20 years.
“The long tenure of many of our team members speaks to our culture. Not only do they enjoy what they do, they are dedicated to the business and committed. It’s about a sense of belonging and being a part of something special,” Cammerata said.
Most Lube Stop stores are small, efficient operations with two- or three bays. Five to seven team members staff each location to provide plenty of coverage. Lube Stop’s in house employee training is ever evolving and state of the art. This includes a variety of online training videos for micro-learning sessions that can be viewed from the shop, at home or on mobile devices. A new hire’s training begins with a general orientation and the basics of oil change procedures. From there, the worker is educated on everything from customer service to profit and loss analysis.
“It’s important we develop good business people and our store teams aren’t micromanaged. No matter their role with Lube Stop, we want everyone to have a sense of ownership and empowerment to do the right thing especially, with regards to our customers,” Cammarata said. “Our customers are more educated than ever before which undoubtedly, has helped us. This has pushed us to stay one step ahead of the curve. This has forced us to be better educated and to know the answers to today’s vehicle service questions before they’re asked. With OLM, TPMS, oil filter and housing design changes, light advancements etc. we need to be more than oil experts.”
Like other oil and lube shops across the country, Lube Stop has had to constantly adapt to the ever changing automotive industry.
“Vehicle engineering and technology has improved dramatically and oil and other fluid chemistry has advanced greatly. The business has grown far beyond just oil changes and into full vehicle maintenance centers,” Cammarata said. Evolving to provide a wide range of vehicle maintenance services was necessary to both meet the needs and demands of our customers as well as to maintain our profitability. Just as cars will continue to improve, the quick lube business must continue to adapt as well. I think our company and the industry have been very good at doing this in recent years.”
In addition to the usual gamut of synthetic, synthetic blend and conventional oil changes, Lube Stop offers transmission, coolant and power steering fluid changes as well as filter, wiper and bulb replacement. Some locations, most notably in Illinois and Iowa, offer a wider range of mechanical repairs. The Ohio stores provide free emissions checks for their customers. As the importance of environmental responsibility has risen in the national consciousness, Lube Stop has begun offering greener, re-refined oil in their proprietary EcoGuard oil change service.
“In today’s environment, sustainable business practices should be part of every company’s strategy,” Cammerata said. “I feel a good number of customers expect it, and, rightfully so.”
The Lube Stop experience is focused on getting customers in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Though the company no longer advertises a 10-minute oil change, the goal is still to get clients on their way in as little time as possible. Though most people view an oil change or other automotive service as an unfortunate necessity, Lube Stop aims to make sure each customer feels well taken care of and valued. In order to accomplish this, each Lube Stop location works together with a sense of urgency to give each vehicle the best quality service possible in 12- to 15 minutes.
“Our goal is quick, confident and complete service for the customer,” Cammerata said.
Recently, Lube Stop underwent a corporate transition as the company was acquired by Argonne Capital Group in 2014. With a long-term investment strategy, Argonne has left Lube Stop’s management team to run the business while providing the overarching guidance to grow the company and allow Lube Stop to reach the next level of success. With all of the changes and growth, the company still looks to their core values to provide the formula for future success.
With 30 years of successful oil and lube services behind them, Cammerata and the rest of the leadership at Lube Stop are committed to maintaining the culture that’s gotten the company to where it is today.
“Culture, family and environment are words we use a lot to describe our company. I think it speaks volumes about what we have. A lot of time is spent at work and with each other so we want it to be fun and enjoyable for customers and employees. These things are only possible with a work force that’s engaged, responsible and dedicated to the business. Lube Stop is truly powered by people,” Cammerata said.