Running a Shop

Keeping The “Quick” in Quick Lubes

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As spring turns to summer, owners, operators and technicians at quick lube facilities all know what that means — the first several weeks of warm weather will bring in customers by the droves. Just like spring cleaning around the house, the onset of warm weather is a time of refreshing and renewal. And, happily, that’s when folks think about that oil and filter change and other services that will keep their car or SUV in top condition for all those trips to soccer practice, the lake or longer vacation road trips.

The challenge, of course, for the quick lube shop is to maximize throughput while affording each customer the care and attention their vehicle deserves.

Certainly “hustle” is an important part of the equation, as technicians work to make up for those slow winter days when few customers wandered in against the elements. Multi-tasking is important, so that the technician can be performing other services while oil is draining.

But equally important is to highlight those services that can be performed quickly and profitably, while providing good value to the customer. Perhaps, no task fills this bill better than replenishing and fortifying all of the various fluids in today’s cars, vans, cross-overs and SUVs. Gone are the days when ATF was the right fluid for power steering systems. The diversity of fluids in modern cooling systems poses challenges that can’t all be met just by topping off with “the green stuff.”

Start with the engine oil itself. With today’s extended oil change intervals recommended by the automakers, motorists have this additional reason to postpone needed oil changes, and few, if any, recognize that their style of driving is typical of the “severe service” mentioned in their owner’s manual — if they read the manual at all.

The point is, even though you’re providing high-quality oil with your service, you’ll likely see the old oil draining out is pitch black, well past its ideal service life. Knowing that it may well be a long time before their next visit to your shop, it would be wise to recommend the addition of a supplemental oil additive that will help prevent engine-damaging rust and corrosion well into the future. With cars lasting longer than ever, it would be prudent to recommend adding a high-mileage oil treatment that will help minimize leaks and counteracts the effects of oxidation.

Likewise, you can choose from a variety of fuel system additives that can clean fuel injectors, improve fuel economy on long vacation trips and help your customers’ cars pass mandated emissions testing. Did you know that there’s actually an EPA-compliant product that can cleanse catalytic converters, restoring their ability to reduce harmful emissions for far less than the hundreds or thousands of dollars it takes to have a catalytic converter replaced?

A quick check of the vehicle’s coolant often indicates the coolant has not been flushed and refilled, perhaps since the car was new. If your inspection reveals rust, oil or gasoline contamination, or other indications the coolant has outlived its usefulness, a flush and refill service is in order. Remember too that the proper concentration of antifreeze raises the boiling point of the coolant, providing protection against boil-overs in hot summer bumper-to-bumper traffic. Supplemental cooling system additives enhance the coolant’s ability to prevent the formation of rust and corrosion, especially in the hot summer months when demands on cooling systems are the greatest.

Even a quick cleaning of mass air flow sensors with the proper chemical is an important service that adds value to your customers’ visits in a very short period of time.

The list goes on and on. Brake fluid flush and fill, including uprgrading vehicles that were born with DOT 3 brake fluid to DOT 4 fluid for added protection against boiling during trailer towing season; power steering replenishment; windshield washer solvent; transmission fluid flush and fill; or even renewing glazed headlight lenses can be performed quickly and profitably in a quick lube environment.

So as the lines form in front of your service bays, remember the “quick” in quick lube. It will benefit your customers, your employees and your bottom line.

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