Articles by Lauren Henderson

5 Days in 5 Minutes

We loaded our roller briefcases with emergency shoes, Band-Aids, back up batteries, business cards and granola bars before heading for Vegas. Any other week this would be a strange way to pack for Sin City but during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) these are survival tools.The bright lights of Vegas lit up the dark Nevada sky as we touched down on the evening of Monday, November 2, excited and ready to hit the trade show floor. We didn’t care anymore that what was supposed to be a 4.5-hour flight from Lubbock, Texas, to Las Vegas had turned into a
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Dear Customer, Let Me Upgrade You

Freezing temperatures and unpredictable road conditions can make driving in the wintertime stressful on both you and your car. Motor oil is designed to lubricate, cool and protect the engine from wear, corrosion and extreme temperatures. The only problem is, without the proper preparation, regular motor oil has a hard time adapting to the frigid temperatures of winter and can leave your engine running without lubrication. Over time, this will have an adverse effect on the life expectancy of your engine.When cooler temperatures arrive, conventional motor oil is thick and difficult for the engine to circulate. This results in
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5 Days in 5 Minutes

We loaded our roller briefcases with emergency shoes, Band-Aids, back up batteries, business cards and granola bars before heading for Vegas. Any other week this would be a strange way to pack for Sin City but during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) these are survival tools.The bright lights of Vegas lit up the dark Nevada sky as we touched down on the evening of Monday, November 2, excited and ready to hit the trade show floor. We didn’t care anymore that what was supposed to be a 4.5-hour flight from Lubbock, Texas, to Las Vegas had turned into a
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2015 Operator of the Year

“It started back in 1987,” said Ron Morrow, owner of 17 Grease Monkey franchises and six quick lube/carwash combination stores in Colorado.Morrow was referring to his start in the fast lube industry, but quickly it became evident his entrepreneurial spirit was ignited long before then.“I was born in Dayton, Ohio, but my family moved to Colorado when I was a real little guy,” Morrow said. “In elementary school I had three paper routes. I would deliver papers on two routes before school and one route after school. By the time junior high rolled around, I was involved in the
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2015 Best Looking Lube Results

In the quick oil change industry, having to look good all the time isn’t vanity. It’s the reason why customers choose one shop over another. In this business looking good isn’t about scoring a date, it’s about getting more customers in your door. You shouldn’t need more reasons than that to put making sure your shop stays looking good at the top of your priority list. Our annual Best Looking Lube contest highlights the grandest and most impressive fast lubes in the U.S. and Canada, and this year was no exception. We wasted no time choosing the judging panel
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Mom's World

“Oh, we could never work together,” is a sentiment shared by many couples but when Kim Johnson and her husband, Greg decided to purchase a franchise, it was because that’s exactly what they wanted to do. Kim, a former executive assistant, had recently come back “over the hill” — a phrase, Kim explained, that meant she quit her job over the hill between Silicon Valley, California, and Santa Cruz, California, to stay home with her new baby. In addition to being a mom, Kim taught 10-12 jazzercise classes a week while her husband continued his hourly commute over the
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Superheroes and Villains of the Service Bay

Some of the best stories are ones of good versus evil. If you’ve ever seen “Star Wars,” “The Dark Knight” or “The Amazing Spiderman,” you’ll agree. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your acting abilities — life isn’t a movie, and your quick lube isn’t a set. However, servicing some cars can feel like a case of Batman versus Joker — they’re out to get you. In keeping with tradition, we looked at the responses from the 2015 Fast Lube Operator Survey to find out which cars were the easiest and hardest to service this year. We’ve narrowed it
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The Strangest Vehicle Serviced in 2015

Ralo’s Lube and Auto Center in Marshall, Texas is used to their customer, David Sellers bringing them strange things to work on. From motorcycles to a 1937 Chevy pickup turned hot rod, the employees at Ralo’s are Sellers’ go-to-guys when his vehicles need service. Earlier this year, Sellers brought Ralo’s a vehicle to service with possibly the strangest story yet.One day, Sellers rumbled up to the East Texas lube shop in a red and black, tactical, Humvee with a futuristic flair. The crew chuckled, “Here he comes again.” But what Sellers brought them to service was deserving of some
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30 Years of NOLN: 2001-2005

We reflected on 15 years worth of National Oil & Lube News (NOLN) in the most recent July, August and September issues. We remembered marked moments, past Operator of the Year winners, challenges and triumphs. The year 2000 ended quietly for the fast lube industry with no major mergers or acquisitions, but that wouldn’t last long. Flip the pages with us on the years 2001-2005 as we continue reminiscing.2001Memorable Moments• No. 1 Song of the Year (according to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100): “Independent Woman Part 1,” by Destiny’s Child• No. 1 Movie of the Year, per box office gross
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Cookies and Clean Engines Never Lie

Have you ever tried to cook a recipe without the right ingredients? Before you know it, instead of chocolate chip cookies, you have oatmeal raisin crunch surprises baking in the oven — and let’s be honest, who really likes raisins or surprises in their cookies? That’s why it’s important to make sure you have the essential ingredients available before you start pre-heating, mixing and plopping cookies onto a baking sheet.The same goes for servicing your customers’ cars. You know the toll even high quality fuels can take on the longevity, performance and fuel economy of a car. Over time,
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Make More Money: Four Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Online Presence

Lately, I’ve written a lot about competition — particularly, how to set your business apart in the midst of it. I’ve explored what makes customers loyal, ways to make things more fun for your employees and the things you might be saying to customers and not even know. But what about your fast lube’s online presence, is it serving you like it should?An online presence is anything that can be found out — in this case, about your business — by performing an online search. According to Retailing Today, 81 percent of shoppers research online before making a purchase.
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Born Again: The Peter Max Corvette Collection is Given New Life

Last year, photos surfaced again of a Corvette collection of awe inspiring proportion. They pictured 36 cars, one from each year starting with the debut, 1953 ’vette and ending with a 1989 model. Covered in thick layers of dust, the cars were systematically lined up in a New York City parking garage. It looked as if they were crying out in unison for the adoration they so deserved. If you saw them — depending on the type of car lover you are — you either died a little inside, gasped with excitement or did both. If you’re a Corvette
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Add-Ons: Wheel Alignments

What if I told you six out of 10 cars rolling in and out of your bays could benefit from a wheel alignment. Would you be surprised? More importantly, would you be prepared to service those vehicles quickly?Alan Hagerty, product manager for Hunter Engineering Company’s quick check vehicle inspection systems said this isn’t just a “what if” scenario.“If you were to check every vehicle that came into your shop, you’d find there’s about a 60-percent failure rate for alignments,” Hagerty said. “That means if you have 10 cars going through your shop and one is getting an alignment, you
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A Backup Plan For Drain Plugs

Life requires backup plans. What is your contingency plan if three of your employees call in sick on the same day? Do you have several part suppliers in place in case your usual provider doesn’t have the part your customer needs in time? If your car gets a flat on the way to work, do you have a spare?What happens when a customer brings their car in for an oil change and you notice the threads in their oil pan are stripped? Do you have a backup plan?It’s a difficult position to be in. After all, you don’t want
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The Mullet Model

 “Business in the front, party in the back,” describes hair donned by the likes of Paul McCartney, Bono and Billy Ray Cyrus in the 1980s. Mullets aren’t in style anymore, but a business in the front, business in the back strategy for running your quick lube is.With other businesses taking a bite out of profits by using oil changes as loss leaders, it’s almost harder than ever before to stand out in the fast oil change industry. The chances of shops being able to only offer oil changes and still be successful are becoming marginalized.Adding select repairs and add-on
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A Matter of Facts

The open road is calling, and soon your customers won’t be wasting any time answering. As road trip season approaches and outside temperatures rise, you’ll probably notice more customers wanting oil changes, tire rotations and freon checks. But are these services all their vehicles need? Do you hesitate suggesting recommended services for fear of your customers thinking you’re selling them something they don’t need?Services like oil changes and tire checks are easier to sell because people have a frame of reference as to why they’re necessary. They’ve heard about the importance of an oil change since drivers’ ed, so
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Loyalty, It's a Game Changer

It’s no mystery, the fast lube industry has become increasingly competitive over the years. No one knows it better than you. What was once a simple business focused on oil changes is now a strategic game. If you can capture a consistent amount of repeat customers, winning that game becomes easier.Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi, coffee and soda are no longer reason enough for customers to visit your shop over and over. Almost every quick lube offers similar amenities. Consequently, they’ve become expected perks, not reasons to regularly return.Now, I’m not saying ditch the coffee pot — such a thing would
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The Number that Busts the Biggest Myth of the 21st Century

We’ve heard it, you’ve heard it — maybe you’ve even said or thought it — “Extended drain intervals are killing the oil change business.” Extended oil drains are the big bad wolves of the quick lube industry, but are your customers really driving more between oil changes? We think you’ll be surprised by the answer.Extended oil drains became a hot topic in the early 2000s. Auto manufacturers responded to drivers wanting cars requiring less fuss and produced vehicles with longer maintenance intervals. The fast lube industry sat by and worried, “What will happen when we see customers every 7,000-plus
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Remember What You've Got

In the digital age we live in it’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. We’re constantly looking at what others have instead of remembering what we’ve already got. We’re privy to every good thing that happens in each other’s lives — every gourmet meal, killer vacation, new car, new house, promotion — you name it. If it’s exciting or new we waste no time reaching for our phones, snapping a pic and pressing, “post” But not before we meticulously choose the filter that makes us — or what we’re up to — look the best.Social media
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Premiering 2017: Volvo Autonomous Vehicles

Count on creative directors, production teams and screenwriters to collaborate outlandish stories and project them on the silver screen. An alien stole our hearts in the 1982 classic, “E.T.” In 1993, terrorizing dinosaurs made it hard to fall asleep after watching the first “Jurassic Park” and in 2008 a lonely robot named Wall-E made us think about life in the future, whether we realized it or not. In 2017, Volvo will make history by doing something so exciting, theaters won’t be able to compete. A fleet of 100 Volvo XC90s will be launched onto the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden
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Three Ways to Make Your Quick Lube a More Fun, More Successful Workplace

Competition is a universal language — the Olympics have proven that since 776 B.C. Competition in your quick lube may be what you’ve been looking for to give your shop an advantage, but be careful. Unhealthy competition can easily become out of control and toxic to your company culture. Knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition is the difference between success, fun and the exact opposite.Here are three suggestions for creating a competitive work environment that’s fun and successful:1.         Get in the BoatI had a track and field coach who always said, “Get in the boat.” It was
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No Customers Allowed

You wouldn’t put a marquee that read, “No Customers Allowed” outside your quick lube, but you may inadvertently be saying it anyway. There are a few common mistakes that can drive customers away from your shop instead of inviting them to stop. If you’ve been wondering why you can’t get anyone to pull in your bays, read the following list and make sure you’re not accidentally telling them to “keep out.”Do you keep your bay doors down?After the winter most of the country had, it’s understandable your staff wants to stay warm and dry inside instead of having to
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Franchise Spotlight: Victory Lane Quick Oil Change

What do you get when you combine wanting to open a restaurant, Domino’s and a copy of The Wall Street Journal? If you think the answer is a newspaper ad for a pizza joint, you’re wrong. In the 1980s, this trifecta — and a little bit of luck — lead to the rise of Victory Lane Quick Oil Change.It was 1980 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Derrick and Jane Oxender were thinking about going into the restaurant business. One day while the couple tossed business ideas around — and considered how to fund the project — Derrick Oxender’s father-in-law
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Back IT Up

If you’re familiar with the stock market, you know what a stop-loss is. You may even have a plan in place with your broker. Stop-loss is a market order put into place to protect investors. It is a predetermined plan set up with a broker instructing them to sell a security once it reaches a certain price — a contingency plan. But your shares in the stock market aren’t the only things you need a stop-loss plan for.If something goes awry, it’s important to have a strategy in place for the technology in your business. Chances are you rely
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