Beyond Quick Lube Service: Expanding into New Services

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Jacklyn Patulo

As with many industries, the oil and lube business isn’t what it used to be. Advancements in technology have allowed for increased fuel efficiency, long-lasting parts and improved mechanics. Vehicles are out on the road longer than ever, with less automotive maintenance needed over longer distances and time.

But these improvements don’t mean fast lube services have fallen to the wayside. Far from it. The U.S. automotive oil change and lubrication industry includes nearly 5,000 companies with combined annual revenue of an estimated $5 billion, according to First Research’s Automotive Oil Change Lubrication Services Industry report.

The question is: How do automotive oil change businesses tap into a larger market to respond to the challenges created by longer intervals between oil changes? By expanding your business to new services to capture additional revenue.

In a recent survey of Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) members, respondents shared the type of services their businesses dabble in. Aside from oil change services, these businesses also offer:

·       Carwash

·       Tire repair/replacement

·       Light automotive repairs

·       Full-service automotive repairs

·       Vehicle emissions testing

·       Window and glass repair/replacement

·       Gasoline/service station

·       Convenience store

Carwash services were offered by 41 percent of those surveyed, making it the second largest service category behind oil changes. People may be taking longer between oil changes, but many still enjoy a clean, shiny car.

Offering additional services beyond traditional oil changes may seem superfluous, but it’s an easy way to attract consumers to your business and boost revenue. It’s not only an expansion of your business, but also a growth of brand awareness, customer reach and promotion of services.

Before deciding whether or not to add extra services, examine key factors:

·       Is your shop equipped to handle a new service?

·       Will this service add convenience?

·       Does your shop have the means to perform a new service well?

·       Will you actually make an increased profit from this service?

And remember to talk to your customers to gauge their interest. If new services aren’t desired, there’s little point in squandering resources on it. Be honest with yourself in the best interest of your quick lube shop’s future and potential for growth.

If you decide it is the right time to diversify your services, you need to determine the best way to execute your plans. If you do too much, too quickly, you risk burning out, spreading your resources too thin and creating a financial flop. Take into consideration these logistics:

·       Location: In your area, is there a void to be filled with additional automotive services? Or maybe there’s opportunity beyond your local community. Expanding your current footprint or opening an additional location can boost your clientele.

·       Demographics: Are you reaching the widest, largest group of consumers possible? Consider the profile of your typical customer and determine how you can expand beyond that.

·       Ecommerce: Maybe your facility offers a small collection of products to customers onsite. Is it time to sell your products online? An online store is an easy way to expand your reach to consumers.

·       Partnerships: Oil changes are what your business does well, but maybe you don’t know enough about a particular type of service to begin offering it yourself. Find another business to form a partnership. A joint venture with complementary or related businesses allows you to expand your reach without investing a lot of money in new infrastructure and overhead.

Don’t forget: To get any new endeavor off the ground, it will take investment — in time, expenses and training. Once you develop your strategic growth plan, follow through and commit to the new vision for your quick lube shop.  

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