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You don’t need me to tell you this, but no two businesses are the same. Sure, there can be a whole lot of similarities—market demographics, shop space, services offered, general operational and leadership philosophies, etc. But even if everything aligns on paper, it rarely plays out the same in the real world. 

I can tell you that, personally, this is a very interesting and enjoyable part of working on a publication like National Oil and Lube News. All our stories, in some form or another, look to the same end result; they all push for business improvement, whether it’s through sharing trends that are critical to the decisions you make or tangible business strategies that can help streamline processes, cut costs, create efficiencies, or help you grow. 

In the end, all of it is unique. Yet, all of it is still universal.

This month’s cover story highlights a handful of business owners who have found unique ways to accentuate their key differentiators within their markets. They’re unique—but replicable at the same time. Sure, you may not open a coffee shop within your location, like Dustin Olde of Lube and Latte in Colorado, but you too can find a way to better connect with your customers who are looking for more than just an oil change coupon. By that, I mean that the takeaway isn’t about the benefits of adding a barista to your team; it’s ensuring that your team and your operation is set up to provide your customers with what they need the most. It’s a valuable lesson, and in listening to the three business leaders in that piece, it’s easy to see why their creative thinking and problem-solving skills have led them to the success they’ve had.

Our cover story also utilizes data from our 2020 NOLN Operator Survey, which is a very large project the NOLN team takes on each year. The full report can be found and purchased at noln.net/2020survey. We’ve taken a slightly different approach to it this year, expanding it to include far more cross-tabulation of results and comparisons across the industry. In all, we feel it will be a more valuable resource to you in your business. Special thanks to our associate editor, Matt Hudson, for leading the charge on this, and to Valvoline for its support as the survey’s sponsor. 

As we push into another month amid uncertainty in the marketplace, I hope the stories in this month’s issue (and the survey report) can help provide you with some fresh ideas and approaches to keep pushing forward. After all, that’s the goal—regardless of the path we need to take to get there. 

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