Advice Over The Decades

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We have gotten some great words of wisdom from operators over the last 30 years and have chosen a few that really stood out to share with you. The size and memory of computers may have changed, the price of items and the variety of products may have changed, but good advice almost always stands the test of time.

In the Early Days

David Dutcher, 1987

On motivating employees

“Motivating employees to accomplish business goals does not have to be a frustrating or difficult task. The fast oil change operator need only give personnel the same detail and care as the business plan, budget, operational procedures and customers.”

Dee Chandler, 1987

On advertising

“In order to know how to advertise, it is important to understand it and to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the various media. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that good ads are not just dreamed up. They are the product of a rational, methodical thought process within which creativity functions.”

Joe Haggard, 1992

On success

“Each specific favorable action taken is like a single stroke of the dice on the sandpaper. The more elements of success that are performed, the more the odds of success are enhanced.”

Keith Rabalais, 1992

On resources

“After all is said and done, we should remember that our natural resources, whether virgin or recovered, are held in trust by us and should be used for the benefit of society as a whole. It is our responsibility to manage these resources in a manner that is both environmentally and economically sound.”

Barbara Pate Glacel, 1998

On teams

“Good teams simply don’t happen. Individuals must learn to be good team members and team leaders. Only then do they produce the quality results that teamwork allows.”

Joe Haggard, 1998

On the little things

“A sincere compliment will earn more repeat business than a hundred dollars’ worth of coupons. It costs nothing and takes no time and zero effort to install a shot of ego gratification and make the customer feel good. It’s something that comes right out of thin air but means more to the customer than how well you drained their oil. Ego gratification is a highly marketable product and should be installed on the customer just as surely as a new oil filter is installed on their car.”

Joseph Rosales, 1998

On return customers

“Making your service more memorable to your customers takes some thought and may even cost some money to upgrade certain aspects of your operation. However, if you make the right impact on your customers. More of them will come back more often for your services.”

Dave Prange, 1998

On the present

“It is sometimes easy to forget today. A friend passed the following saying along. I hope you like it:

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift.

That’s why it is called,

The Present.”

Joe Haggard, 1998

On risk and reward

“Nothing of value is attained without some degree of risk or diligent effort. To fail only because of the fear of trying or the unwillingness to put forth the effort is a tragedy. I’m often fascinated by the sheer waste of human potential that is so rampant in our society. Everyone is capable of accomplishing so much more in their lives if they would simply try.

“Worrying about the risk of failing is really pretty silly when you think about it. So what if the deal falls through or the stock goes down. You will probably eat the same food tomorrow and sleep in the same bed tonight. Life is more fun when you simply try. It gets great when things pan out. Why not give it a go and see what happens. You might just make the world a better place.”

In Lube Talk

Brett Martin, manager of Flash Lube Oil in McComb, Mississippi, 2013

Q.: What do you offer your employees in terms of training?

A: I personally train each employee when he or she starts with the company. In the past, I will admit, I use to pawn the training of new hires off on one of my technicians. However, I learned quickly that this is not wise. Some technicians like to pass on their bad habits. I now have a shop full of technicians that I have personally trained, and there is absolutely no question of what is expected of them.

Scott Morrison, president of City Garage in Dallas, Texas, 2012

On daily outlook

“Only spend your time on positive elements of developing and growing your company. Remove the negatives and naysayers from your business life.”

Adam Sturdivant, director of Operations for Avis Lube in Midland, Texas, 2012

On inventory management

“The quickest way to lose a customer is to not be able to perform the services they need. Not having an air filter or wiper blades, or not having the oil a customer desires, all encourage the customer to go where they can have their needs fulfilled.”

Johnny Alto, owner of Alto’s LubeXpress in Sherwood, Oregon, 2004

On cleanliness

“If you are getting comments from your customers about how nice your shop looks, how well everything is organized or how professional your staff looks, you are doing something right. If you are not receiving positive feedback, it is time to make some changes.”

Rick Rocha, owner of Royal Lubes in the Hanford, California area, 2004

On oil change intervals

“I believe we must keep in mind our basic business philosophy, which is based on manufacturers’ service recommendations. Therefore, we must respect what the manufacturers recommend, even though we may disagree.”

Randall Simpson, president of The Lube Center, Inc., in Frederick, Maryland, 2007

Q: What do you believe is the single-biggest issue facing the fast lube industry right now, and what is your operation doing to overcome that issue?

A: An article on AOL brought up examples of certain quick lubes that were dishonest by not performing services customers had paid for, and also for pushing services that were not needed or recommended by the manufacturer. These types of articles and accusations bother me greatly. We need to realize what a great opportunity we have in our industry and that people are looking for a facility that can do all their preventive maintenance work for them with professionalism and integrity. We need to be the best at what we do. If we do that, our industry has nothing to worry about.

Sean Krassman, owner of The Oil Drop in Alberta, Canada, 2011

On limiting customer comebacks

“Limiting customer comebacks all comes down to staff education. First, make sure each employee knows how to perform the services correctly. Second, ensure attention to detail is very high on each vehicle serviced. Skipping steps to save time can lead to disastrous results. From an owner’s perspective, this type of behavior cannot be tolerated and must be addressed swiftly to set a precedent within the company.”

It’s truly amazing how much the industry has changed over the last 30 years, but how the great advice written in the pages of National Oil & Lube News over the last three decades sill holds true. We hope that you found these bits of advice helpful and look forward to sharing more over the next 30 years. 

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