ARTICLES

The Good Years: How to Determine When It’s Time to Sell and How to Prepare Your Business for Sale

You have owned your shop for the past several years, and you’re thinking it is time to retire. Your children have successful careers and have no interest in owning your shop. You are now considering selling your business. You need to get the best possible price for it. You’re considering placing a lube shop for sale advertisement in an industry news magazine, but are you ready to sell? Most likely, you are not prepared to sell at the highest possible price. You may have been a successful business owner for several years, but you might not have ever sold
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War

War. Merriam Webster defines it as, “a struggle or competition between opposing forces for a particular end.” Are you ready to go to war with your competition? Are you willing to attack, attack and attack until you have won not just a few of their customers but all of their customers. If not, this article is not for you. In the retail world, you are either gaining market share, or you are losing it. If you’re gaining, then your business has a future. If you’re not growing, it’s time to sell and get out while you have something to
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Building Your Rock Star Team

Store manager Michael is very frustrated because he is always short staffed. Some common thoughts he has: How can I manage my stores if I am always performing other people’s jobs? How can I lead my team if I am in lower bay or under a hood all day? Paul did not show up for work again today, so I am, again, working the hood with little relief in sight. I planned on training Mary, my new service writer, by showing her how I take care of our customers. Now this will need to wait for another day. Does
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The Plan

XYZ Fast Lube owner Bill is reviewing his first quarter results. He’s shocked to realize his customer count is down by almost 5 percent, while gross sales have increased 3 percent. With the additional ancillary services he has added, his average ticket has increased, producing the sale increase. With this increase, his business appeared to be healthy. With the increased sales, he has not paid attention to his marketing efforts. In fact, he has not really had any significant marketing efforts the past few months. Why spend the money on marketing when your sales are increasing? He found one
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Are you a Leader or Manager?

At the end of last year, I was surprised to hear from a few of my past associates. They reached out to me on Facebook (FB) by sending a friend request. After I accepted, I was surprised again to receive several special messages. Here are a few: Paul from Atlanta, Georgia (team member from 21 years ago): “Ray, I have never forgot what you taught me.” Carlton from Miami, Florida (team member from seven years ago): “Hi Coach, Merry Christmas.” Anita from St. Petersburg, Florida (team member from 32 years ago): “I saw you on FB as one of
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Your Brand is Changing

Just a few years ago, quick lube brands were built upon a fast oil change and other maintenance items. Automotive repair shops specialized in one major repair. If your vehicle had a shifting problem, you took it to a transmission specialist. If you needed brakes, you went to a brake specialist. If your car was running a little rough, you went to a tune-up shop. Tires and batteries were sold by national tire retailers and a few others like Sears. Their brand message was, “We are the specialist, and no one else can fix your problem.”The automotive service industry’s
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The Holy Grail of Retail

When I was young, my mother took me with her to an S&H Green Stamp redemption store to exchange the green stamps she earned for gifts. My job at home was to take the stamps she received from shopping at different retail stores and add them to her S&H Green Stamp books. Twice a year, we took the completed books to their store for redemption. S&H was the first loyalty program started more than a century ago. Today, most retailers have loyalty programs to increase their customer retention numbers because repeat customers purchase more and cost less to keep.
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Bonding With the Team: How to Start a Shop Fantasy Football League

Fantasy football. You’ve probably heard the term while channel surfing, or maybe you’ve heard a couple of your technicians talking about it on Mondays. You don’t really know what it is or how it works, but that doesn’t matter because you’re focused on more important things — things that will improve your business.Slow down. It’s time to get the play by play on an American hobby that will help boost your most important asset — your employees. That’s right, starting a shop fantasy football league could not only be the next thing you’re looking for to improve employee morale,
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Take Control of Your Technology

Joe is a multiunit owner of several quick lubes commuting to his office. At the beginning of every week he compiles a to-do list with the most important items he must get done that week. Today’s plan is to review their advertising results for the past quarter and make adjustments for the remainder of the year. This is a very important task, critical to the success of his business. Advertising is a large expenditure that delivers new customers while maintaining brand awareness with past customers. During his commute, an alert on his mobile phone went off telling him he
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What Business Are You In?

“We like to think of ourselves as a customer service company that happens to fly airplanes (on schedule, with personality and perks along the way). How may we help you?” —Southwest Airlines“Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.” —Stanley Marcus, president of Neiman MarcusWhat business are you in? If you answered automotive repair and maintenance, you might want to think about being in the customer service business. A great marketing plan with an irresistible offer can convince a consumer to try your service, but it is always the customer experience that brings them back.Most companies have excellent training programs for
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Super Customers

Who are you? Who are your customers? Are you the best service provider in your trade area? Are your prices at the top of the range or are you the low cost provider? Is your pricing strategy to be the good (lowest price), better (average price) or best (highest price)?They are all out there, and yes, there is a place for all three. There is a consumer for each one. You don’t need to be the best or the highest priced to be successful, but you must know and understand who you are before you start advertising.Are you Starbucks
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A Woman in a Man's World

As I’m walking through the mall trying to decide what to buy my wife for her birthday, I noticed a Victoria’s Secret store with large posters in the window. Wow, they would have some great items for her birthday. Selfishly I must confess, not only would she love these, so would I — much like as a young boy I would buy my mother chocolate candy knowing that she would leave most of the candy for me.As I walked through the store looking at the different intimate and sexy items, I found myself becoming very nervous. I was actually
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What Castrol's Nexcel Technology Means for the Fast Lube Industry

On October 8, 2015, Castrol launched a new technology they claimed would reinvent the oil change as we know it. The Nexcel system is a fully contained oil cell — that looks a lot like a battery — housing the engine’s oil and oil filter. Castrol claims an entire oil change can be performed in 90 seconds.As with all great innovations, word about the technology spread fast. You may have seen the USA Today article written by Nathan Bomey titled “Oil Change Costs May be Headed for Steep Drop.” Here are some excerpts from that article:“But — like other
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What Castrol's Nexcel Technology Means for the Fast Lube Industry

On October 8, 2015, Castrol launched a new technology they claimed would reinvent the oil change as we know it. The Nexcel system is a fully contained oil cell — that looks a lot like a battery — housing the engine’s oil and oil filter. Castrol claims an entire oil change can be performed in 90 seconds.As with all great innovations, word about the technology spread fast. You may have seen the USA Today article written by Nathan Bomey titled “Oil Change Costs May be Headed for Steep Drop.” Here are some excerpts from that article:“But — like other
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Your Most Important Customer is the One You Already Have

Where are you spending most of your ad dollars, on acquisition or retention? The easiest and fastest way to grow your business is to keep your current customers coming back. Here is what we know:• Existing customers are 60-70 percent more likely to buy from you compared to 5-20 percent of new prospects• Existing customers are 50 percent more likely to try new products compared to new customers• Existing customers spend 31 percent more compared to new customersIs your repeat customer count 60-70 percent or more of your total customer count? If not, why? Your current customer base is
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2015 Specialty Motor Oil Guide

As more and more vehicles roll off the factory floor and into your bays factory-filled with synthetic oils, and since more high-mileage vehicles travel up and down the road than ever before, oil companies are offering specialized oils to meet these needs.
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What You Need to Know About the 2015 Fast Lube Operator Survey and Oil Change-Plus Survey

This year we’re shaking things up. We want to make sure all of our readers know what’s going on and are familiar with the 2015 Fast Lube Operator and Oil Change-Plus surveys. In the past, these survey results have been available to everyone in the September and November magazines. This year, unless you complete the 2015 Operator Survey (here) or are a premium subscriber (here), you won’t receive the survey results.Here’s who, where, when, why and what you need to know:What: The Fast Lube Operator Survey results are usually published in the September issue. In 2014, the Oil-Change Plus Survey
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5 Ws of the 2015 Fast Lube Operator Survey and Oil Change-Plus Survey

We’re changing things up a little this year, and we want to make sure all our readers are aware of the changes with the 2015 Fast Lube Operator and Oil Change-Plus surveys. In the past, these survey results have been published in the September and November magazines, respectively. This year, unless you complete the 2015 Operator Survey questionnaire or are a premium subscriber, you won’t receive the results.Here’s the 5 Ws (you remember those from English class, right?) to help answer some questions you may have.WhatWhat exactly are we talking about? The Fast Lube Operator Survey results are traditionally
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A Little Fast Lube Magic

The 2015 International Fast Lube Expo (iFLEX), presented by the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA), was held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, March 8-11.More than 600 owners, operators and vendors joined AOCA for the annual event. The exhibit hall was a main attraction, with 89 vendors showcasing the latest and greatest products and services.Attendees at the “Managing Your Business by the Numbers” workshop learned invaluable tips and considerations for improving their bottom lines and their balance sheets. One attendee said, “Great content that paid for itself.”The presentations this year included more than 20 education sessions about every aspect of
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Now You're Looking Like A Genius: The 2015 Carwash/Fast Lube Survey Breakdown

Isn’t it funny how life is full of twists and turns? One instance that came to mind was my husband, Jason’s, fantasy football team this year. He has been in a league with friends for several years now. If you are in a fantasy football league, you know there’s always one in the bunch who is never quite satisfied with their team — they’ll make 60 or 80 add/drops or trades during the season. Well, that’s Jason.During a trade early in the year, he ended up with Tom Brady on his team, so I endured a couple weeks of,
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