Serving through P.R.I.D.E.
SHOP STATS: Fast Change Lube & Oil Location: 20 total in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia Founder: Kevin Davis Average Daily Car Count: 20 Average Staff Size: 5 Average Number of Bays: 2 Ticket Average: $87
Since opening its doors in 1994, Fast Change Lube and Oil has always had the same mission statement in mind: “To serve with ‘pride’ in a manner consistent with our values, honoring God and others in all we do.” P.R.I.D.E. in this statement stands for: professionalism, respect, integrity, dependability and excellence. Serving as a pastor before establishing himself as a quick lube operator, founder Kevin Davis has always had a passion to do good for his community and others.
“My heart is always to give and help others,” Davis says. “I’ve been entrusted with this business, but I’ve wanted to utilize it to help others.”
Twenty-five years later, he now oversees 20 shops in four states, serving as the chief operating officer and the visionary who grows and puts everything into place. And with all of his growth, he knew he could have a big impact on serving the community.
What started out as a simple idea has grown into an impactful campaign. From July to September in 2019, Fast Lube held its fifth annual Operation Soldier Care fundraiser partnered with Military Missions. This year, the company raised $40,000 for the nonprofit.
Davis details how the community service project began and how it’s not only helped the quick lube business, but the community and, most importantly, the soldiers, too.
Establishing the Mission
It all started back in 2015 when a friend of Davis’ at the town’s local radio station, WEEM Radio in Huntington, W.Va., reached out to the quick lube with the idea to send care packages to soldiers overseas. The friend knew he used to be a pastor at a church that took part in Operation Christmas Child, putting together shoeboxes filled with gifts for less fortunate children all over the world. His friend’s idea originated from this and the idea spoke to Davis personally.
“I’ve been beside the dads that get the news that their son isn’t coming home,” Davis says.
When they first started out, Davis didn’t even know with whom the quick lube was going to partner. He started doing some research to find an organization that lined up with the company’s values.
“Know who it is that you want to work with. Does it line up with what you are trying to accomplish? How much of the percentage is going to the cause?” Davis says.
In order to find what you are looking for, Davis says it’s important to first figure out what your cause is; find out who aligns with your vision that’s already doing it and who needs support; and then find out how you can work together to reach the common goal.
This is when Davis found Military Missions. The nonprofit hosts a slew of volunteers that help gather, pack, and send care packages to soldiers deployed overseas. The care packages are filled with everyday items we take for granted that these soldiers didn’t have access to, such as socks, baby wipes and toothpaste. This nonprofit lined up with Fast Change Lube & Oil’s mission, already had a process of executing that mission, and an added bonus: 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to the overall efforts.
From the time the idea was born to finding the right people and putting it into action, Davis estimates it took 30 to 60 days to put everything together for the care packages. They succeeded in planning and execution, but the first year wasn’t a complete success. Davis felt like the company had failed, or at least it wasn’t what he thought it would be. Nonetheless, he kept going.
“Failure breeds success,” Davis says. “Failure is not a bad thing; failure is only bad if you give up.”
Learning as You Go
During the first year, the fundraiser collected a lot of items but realized a lot of people didn’t have items on them and would have rather given money instead.
“We really weren’t set up to take money at that time,” Davis says. “It was kind of an inconvenience for people.”
And during this process, Davis discovered it cost about $10 to $13 to ship the care packages alone, so not only was taking monetary donations more convenient, but it was also a “godsend” for shipping costs, as Davis likes to put it.
“We went from a few items and some money to a lot of items and a lot of money,” Davis says.
In the second year of installing the service project, the quick lube raised $5,000, followed by $11,000 in 2017, $30,000 in 2018, and $40,000 in 2019. Each year, it has has capitalized on this number from their innovations and looks to hit $50,000 in 2020.
When they first started out, they only had a month or two to plan and execute the entire project. Now once they get done with one campaign, they start planning for next year’s event. Davis says if you are on a time crunch, at least give yourself two to three months of time before. But don’t let the time scare you. Davis says starting is the hardest part.
“Done is better than perfect,” Davis says. “If we wait until something is perfect, we will never start.”
Showcasing the Value
During the service project, it’s up to each quick lube employee to get the word out, starting with the salesperson at checkout asking every customer if they’d like to donate $1. One thing Davis sees customers asking is where the money is going and if it benefits anyone at the shop.
As a pastor, Davis always thought someone would do something because of the fact that they are helping someone, but he discovered that in order to get people to buy-in, they needed to see the value right in front of them. To do this, employees started asking if the customer knew a soldier personally, making it feel more local.
And to add monetary value, the quick lube even gives out a coupon for a discount on an oil change. This year, the quick lube gave everyone a coupon for an oil change during the campaign, instead of just the ones donating money.
“A lot of people want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’” Davis says. “If you are adding value to people, you are adding value back into the business.”
The same goes for employees. You have to show them the value of why they are participating in it, too. The first year the service project was installed, Davis went out to the Military Missions facility to see it for himself, and he was shocked by the response.
“I had people coming up to me, thanking and hugging me with tears in their eyes,” Davis says. “It gave me a different vision and I started promoting more.”
He then took 50 employees to the Military Missions facility to help pack the care packages to send out to the soldiers, and he said it really got a lot of team buy-in. Last year, he brought in Matthew Bradford, who is the first blind double amputee to reenlist in the military, to thank the team for their efforts and inspire them to do even better next year. Davis says it really excites them and gets them pumped up.
And he even creates a little fun competition to motivate managers. On each daily manager report, it will show the amount of money each store has raised compared to one another. Davis likes to call it more of a “co-opetition” rather than a “competition.” They are working together; not against one another. He’s constantly looking for ways to promote the event within his business and not just outside of it.
Overall, Davis tries to motivate his employees to serve in every capacity. He always asks new employees who they serve, with their answer always being customers. Wrong. Instead, Davis says they are serving not only customers, but employees through benefits, a paycheck and a safe place to work; and they are serving vendors by buying their products, giving them business, and providing their employees with jobs.
“We try to teach that serving mentality,” Davis says. “We are always looking for those opportunities to serve.”
The Overall Effect
Because of their efforts, they are no longer just another business name in town. it’s made a big name for them and has made them a part of the community. Other fundraising events the quick lube puts on has grabbed the attention of the local news station. Broadcasting what Fast Lube has done for the community has had customers say they will now only go to their quick lubes, even having customers drive across town to give them their business.
But Davis argues if businesses are just doing something like this for a quick turn on their investment and to get something back, it won’t be as successful. Davis never went into this with the intent of getting something back, he always wanted to give back to his community and follow the business’s overall mission to serve.
“You have to go into it with the mindset of giving and it will succeed,” Davis says. “It’s the 60-40 rule: Give 60 percent; only take 40 percent back.”