Give 'em the Luxurious Treatment
What makes your lube shop different from the competition? What about your shop is going to make customers choose you over the other guys time and time again? What is going to set you apart from the many other options your customers have?
Is your oil brand better than what’s offered in the area? What percentage of customers choose your shop over the competition based primarily on the brand of oil you sell? There probably are customers who come to you exclusively based on the oil brand you sell but that alone isn’t enough to depend on for a thriving business in a competitive marketplace.
What about your location? No doubt, some locations are better than others but all locations can be managed to improvement. If you are lucky enough to have a great location with wonderful traffic patterns that may help you sustain your business but it will never encourage much growth beyond what is already there. I am sure you want more than that.
How about the quality of the service you provide? Things like friendliness, competently trained techs, a high level of store cleanliness and well-maintained equipment are important to improving and growing your business. I don’t know of anyone who would doubt that.
If you really want to give your customers the best reason to return to your shop offer them something that is viewed as an intangible by many but is something everybody wants in their life, luxury.
A Life of Luxury
Many people dream about living a life of luxury and who would blame them? What items do you think about when you think of luxurious products and services? How many different types of products and situations can the word luxury be applied to? Well, women wants to have luxurious hair, the affluent typically drive what are considered the most luxurious cars available, vacationing at a luxurious resort in the Bahamas is surely preferable to staying at the Super-8 in “Pookerville” right? So, what exactly is luxury? There are many ways to describe it but for our purposes, here is the path to the type of luxury that will make you the superstar lube shop in your local area. Follow along with me and imagine this life for yourself:
1. You wake up on a beautiful, sunlit morning in a nice comfortable bed. Next to your bed is your incredibly sumptuous bathrobe to help keep the chill away as you go through your morning routine.
2. You make your way downstairs to your private barber who is patiently awaiting you.
3. As you lean back in your leather barber chair, your barber applies the fresh, hot towels to your face, loosening up your beard stubble and allowing the hand-blended, hot shaving lather he prepared to help give you a smooth, comfortable shave.
4. Once the shave is finished, your personal barber applies your favorite custom-blended aftershave lotion before proceeding to tidy up your professional hairstyle with a quick trim.
5. As you saunter over to your breakfast area, you see your personal nutritionist has recommended a delicious breakfast for you. Your personal chef has prepared it and it’s piping hot! You never know exactly what to expect for breakfast but you know it will be gourmet.
6. Once done with breakfast, you make your way to your exquisite private bath for a quick shower. Of course, you find the water already running at the temperature you find most comfortable. Warm, freshly laundered and thick bath towels await you.
7. After your relaxing shower, you head into your private dressing area where you see your stylist has a splendidly tailored selection of business clothes available for you to wear. From your collection of over 200 silk ties, she has chosen three of which you get to make the final selection for today.
8. Your luxurious morning isn’t over yet. You start down the stairs again for a single, quick morning mimosa before heading out the door to your rare, hand-made Italian sports car. Typically you would have your personal driver on hand to ferry you to your destination while you attend to business in the back of your “roller” but today’s mid-morning business meeting is on the bluffs. Thus, you give your chauffer the day off because you like the drive as you row through the precision gears and listen to that multi-valve, high RPM whine from your choice of today’s transportation.
9. Upon arriving at the front of the exclusive bistro you hand your Italian masterpiece over to the valet.
10. After a light lunch you finish up business arrangements with your fellow lunch guests and it’s off to the links for 18-holes and some friendly bets. Your custom golf attire awaits you in your private dressing area of the club. Of course, your private caddy has your custom clubs all ready to go.
That is what most of us would describe as life fit for a king. Of course, all it takes is money (and a lot of it) but money isn’t what provides the luxury. What provides the luxury is the personal at your service. So why do people find that type of treatment so luxurious? It has to do with decision making.
Decisions are the single thing weighing on each of us. Hundreds, maybe thousands of stupid, little, meaningless decisions must be made every day, all day, by regular folks like us. For example, which bill do I pay this week and which one do I put off until later? Which way should I go to work this morning? What will give me the best opportunity to get there on time? Where am I going to eat lunch today?
Just imagine not having to make any of those decisions on a day-to-day basis. Instead, you have a phalanx of professional servants who are each well qualified in their areas of expertise to make those decisions for you. To me, that is the pure definition of a life of luxury.
Now, how can this mental exercise be applied to you, your lube shop and your customers? It’s simple, give your customers the life of luxury.
When customers drive up to your shop, immediately greet them upon their arrival. Someone should be expecting them and prepared to greet them. Doing this means customers don’t have to drive up and because no one is there have to decide which lane is going to be the one to move first. If they guess wrong and have to be jockeyed around the lot that is not a luxurious experience.
During the service if your techs are constantly asking the customers questions that require unnecessary decisions that is not luxurious. For example, “How much air do you want in your tires?” This question requires a dedicated decision on the customer’s part. Instead, ask something like, “We typically set your tires to your car’s recommendations. Is that what you would like us to do today?” While this question still requires the customer to make a decision, the decision you’re asking them to make requires a simple, yes or no response.
How about, “What kind of oil are you using today?” That could be a mind-boggling question to many customers and loaded with stressful decision-making requirements. Do you mean what brand or what viscosity or maybe you’re talking about conventional versus synthetic oil? This could easily be the most uncomfortable part of the entire oil change for the customer. Instead say something like, “We generally install the manufacturer’s recommended oil for your vehicle. Is that what you would like for us to do for you today?” Typically, the customer will say yes. Before installing the oil, find or explain (if necessary) the benefits of synthetic oil and ask if they’d like it. Again, this is a simple yes or no process. No head-scratching or stressful decision making is needed on the part of the customer. Serve your customers. Help them live a quick lube life of ease.
The competence of your technicians will develop their trust and confidence in you to the point they will know your recommendations are in their best interests. When you get a stream of customers who regularly say things like, “You guys are the experts. Whatever my car needs, just do it,” you’ll know you are providing true luxury to your customers!
Make it happen every day with every customer!
KIT SULLIVAN is a partner in a multi-unit, Florida-based quick lube company. A 20-year veteran of the industry, Sullivan has more than 28 years experience in sales and management training. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org