Designed with the Future in Mind
When picturing a store for the future, many elements may come to mind. Perhaps it’s a store that only exists in virtual reality. Maybe it’s one of those stores that attaches to an online account, meaning you don’t have to check out at a cash register. Or, it could be that a truly futuristic store would encompass many unexpected yet effective components.
In terms of the quick lube market, FullSpeed Automotive is preparing for the future in a slightly different way. The automotive services franchisor announced a “Store of the Future” model that brings a new perspective to the classic quick lube approach.
Ron Stilwell, Chief Development Officer at FullSpeed, says that nothing was left to chance in the development of this new store model.
“Most automotive aftermarket facilities have looked the same for decades,” Stilwell says. “They all seem to be tan and brown, and they all have brick at the bottom. They’re all the same kind of shape. Most of them have a tower of some sort, and they all look the same.”
Stilwell explains that there were five elements that were prioritized in the development of this model. They include: the exterior, the service bays, the lobby design, value engineering, and technology.
Define the Identity
FullSpeed looked to fast-casual restaurants, other automotive concepts, and even airports for inspiration. Overall, the automotive services franchisor wanted to establish a modern and upscale feel for its stores.
The model will first be rolled out to Grease Monkey and SpeeDee Oil Change locations, which are two brands under the FullSpeed Automotive umbrella. Stilwell says that these brands lend themselves well to the design elements due to their franchise opportunities.
This model was designed specifically with the idea that elements can be incorporated into any existing store as well as a new one. FullSpeed is working with franchisees that are in the design phase and who are wanting to revitalize existing older buildings by adding these “Store of the Future” elements.
“As a franchisor, we really feel it’s important that we are instantly identifiable, that we’re separated from the others. and that we provide a quality experience,” Stilwell says. “All of that is great, but you have to be able to do that in an affordable manner and you have to make sure that the model works and that the franchisees can be successful.”
Promote, Inform, and Impress
In an effort to promote new quick service lanes, the “Store of the Future” will incorporate overall cleanliness to the utmost degree.
“A lot of garages and bays in the past have been dirty and not well-kept because the customers aren’t in there,” Stilwell says. “This new approach that we’re doing has a very clean and well defined experience for the guest if they stay in their car while they are having their oil change.”
Stilwell also believes that having a consistently clean and visually appealing environment creates a better work space for team members. This could help with recruitment and retention in today’s industry, with many automotive shops finding it difficult to staff locations.
For the customer experience angle, this store model has considered the perspective of the actual customers themselves.
“We tried to think about the entire experience from what the guest would see while they’re sitting in the car.” Stilwell says.
The hope is to establish a clean, comfortable, and unique environment for the customer. In addition to screens showcasing additional shop services while the customer gets their vehicle serviced, the “Store of the Future” houses a lobby that people wouldn’t mind spending a little extra time in if necessary.
“Some of the research that we did shows that the guest is really looking for a better experience.” Stilwell says.
Stilwell explains that customers prioritize speed and quality. In an effort to help establish the latter, the lobby designs were inspired by airport lounges. They offer space for customers to plug in electronics, get comfortable, and have an added sense of privacy.
“If they are in a quality environment, they have a much better impression as to the type of service that’s being done on their vehicle.” Stilwell says.
Another component of the “Store of the Future” is technology, naturally. Stilwell explains that FullSpeed is working closely with technology in several different ways, including the development of tech that could help speed up overall operations.
Stilwell sees the advantages of using technology to provide insight to the customer, the brand, and to help reduce any mistakes that are made in the field.
The idea of technology helping to improve efficiency especially stands out to Stilwell, as he explains that it will keep FullSpeed’s brands relevant to multiple generations of customers. Speed is at the core of the future of quick lube locations in a big way.
“The younger people growing up are used to instant everything,” Stilwell says. “From instant oatmeal to this, that, and the other. Everything is instant, so speed is more and more important.”