What to Do “In Between?”

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This is the time of year when quick lube shops find themselves “in between.” Labor Day is about to appear in your rear view mirror, summer vacations are largely over, kids are heading back to school and fall weather is sneaking up on us. As such, managers and operators of quick lube locations find themselves “in between” — in between the summer travel season and the several-months-away winter driving season.

So, absent these obvious seasonal conditions, what can quick lube shops promote and how should they promote it?

Actually there are two ways you can approach this situation, and they are interrelated. Fall is a great time to offer system-specific service packages. These packages can apply to cooling systems, transmissions, battery/starting/charging systems, fuel systems, etc. Such packages can represent the opportunity for the quick lube shop to bundle multiple tasks that can be performed quickly and profitably by technicians, while offering excellent value for the customer, all in a quick lube environment.

This one-two sales approach allows you to offer services that are easily sold as a package, while taking advantage of pre-packaged service kits offered by suppliers who understand the business model of the quick lube industry.

For example, you could offer a complete fuel system service/conditioning that could include fuel injector cleaning, intake valve deposit cleaning and fuel treatment that will offer continued cleaning and enhanced performance throughout the fuel load. Look to a quality manufacturer that offers kits that combine the products needed for such service. This simplifies inventory management and provides a service road map for your technicians, while the customer benefits from bundled services.

Or, consider offering a cooling system flush/fill/cleansing package that renews and protects vital cooling system components, from radiators made from aluminum and plastic, to heater cores, to water pump bearings and seals. Once again, you can look to manufacturers to pre-package the products needed to perform this comprehensive service, and you have the opportunity to advise your customers that you can offer professional-quality chemicals and services that are far more effective than products offered in the DIY market.

Or you can think bigger, offering a driveability enhancement package that combines a comprehensive fuel system service along with a catalytic converter cleaning service. This often-overlooked service opportunity allows your shop to restore catalytic converter performance and life expectancy. This type of product can provide as much as a 50 percent improvement of the converter’s performance, allowing motorists to get their car to pass emissions tests without the extraordinary expense of replacement of one or more catalytic converters. Cleaning the converter can also help extinguish the dreaded Check Engine light, which can be annoying at the least and can prevent a car from passing emissions testing.

Other systems certainly lend themselves to being the subject of service packages, and savvy manufacturers offer product kits to make this process even easier. Offering bundled packages will help draw in customers who may also purchase other needed services, such as battery service, transmission service and even headlight restoration service.

So while there’s no obvious seasonal selling proposition at this time of year, it is a good time to recognize the need for providing services quickly that will fit into the compact schedules of soccer moms shuttling kids from school to practice to home again, or the busy businessman or woman who cares about their car but needs to pack needed services among various business appointments and obligations.

This is the time of year when being “in between” can be a very good thing for quick lube shops.

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