Articles by Amanda Bowman

What to Expect at iFLEX and The Car Wash Show

Another month has passed, which means we’re inching ever closer to the Automotive Oil Change Association’s (AOCA) International Fast Lube Expo (iFLEX) that’s co-locating with the International Car Wash Association’s (ICA) The Car Wash Show.From May 9-11, 2016, Music City Center in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, will be flooded with fast lube and car wash enthusiasts alike. You can be there to experience it all, too.How Much You’ll PaySince iFLEX and The Car Wash Show are co-locating, you’ll get the benefit of having access to both shows’ education, networking and events for one price. For $189, you’ll be able to
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Saddle Up for iFLEX Co-Located with the Car Wash Show in 2016

Every year, people make resolutions they intend to keep: get in shape, lose weight, read more, travel. This list can seem never ending, and the resolutions seem to fade away as quickly as they materialize. One resolution that is never hard to keep is committing to improve your business by attending the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) International Fast Lube Expo (iFLEX).For this year’s expo, dust off your cowboy boots, bring a partner and dosey doe on over to where all the action will be – the new Music City Center in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, May 9-11, 2016.Just like
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The Not-So-Mysterious Method of Enhancing Customer Service

It was summer, and I was visiting my friend and former college roommate, Toni, in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Her parents own a local store for home schooling. During my stay, her mom said she was curious how employees interacted with their customers and how the overall shopping experience was. Since I traveled all the way from Texas and wouldn’t be recognized, I was tasked with being a mystery shopper to scope out the store.I walked inside, nervous about my mission at hand. Would the employees suspect I was secretly compiling information on my entire buying process? The
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30 Years of NOLN: The Early 90s: 1991-1995

A lot can happen in 30 years, so we’re continuing our look back by breaking down the past three decades of National Oil & Lube News (NOLN) five years at a time. The ’90s had everyone looking toward the new millennium, wearing Starter jackets and rocking Doc Martens (which have now graduated to the more refined-sounding Dr. Martens). However, NOLN was hard at work keeping up with the fast lube industry. So, set your Pogs down long enough to read about what went on from 1991-1995.1991Memorable Moments• No. 1 Song of the Year (according to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100):
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Take a Break This Summer

We’re in the thick of summer and traveling is on the hearts and minds of many people. This means your quick lube is going to be jam-packed with road warriors. My question is, are you going to join them?Typically, I’d go into a spiel about prepping your customers’ cars for summer fun. But, this time, I want to talk about you and your summer plans.According to a study on vacation time conducted by Oxford Economics, Americans are wasting $52.4 billion each year for not taking time off work. Unused vacation days are becoming an epidemic to many workers and
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30 Years of National Oil & Lube News

Quick lubes have been around for decades, promptly serving loyal customers and their cars. However, there wasn’t anything to help quick lubes learn how to better serve their customers, until 1986.The minds of Steve Hurt and David Arrington came together and realized there was a need in the fast oil and lube industry — a need for the spread of industry information and solidarity. Thus, in July of that year, National Oil & Lube News (NOLN) was born.What started out as a four-page, bimonthly, newspaper-style magazine has turned into a 68- to 100-page, highly stylized monthly publication.With NOLN’s 30th
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The Next Generation of Oils

Our culture is obsessed with updates, upgrades and revamps. We’re constantly bombarded by movie reboots, software updates and the “next gen” of almost everything imaginable. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Could you imagine still using the first version of the computer?Automakers update their cars every model year to either enhance design, include more safety features or lose some weight. There have even been updates to engine performance, ushering in the direct injection engine.To keep up with government regulations and consumer demands for greater performance with increased fuel economy — among other things — automakers need to
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Feeling Optimistic: Mid-Year State of the Industry Update

We’ve reached the halfway point of 2015, which means it’s time for us to get a pulse on how the industry is faring so far. I reached out to some operators to get their opinions on 2015 so far. Had they noticed any new trends and had our main topic of discussion from 2014 — the Affordable Care Act — made an impact on their business? Business is booming for some and slightly stagnant for others. “We’ve had a record-breaking year,” said Bev Cavinder, general manager of Oil N Go in Crown Point and Valparaiso, Indiana. “We’re up $20,000
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First Impressions: Automechanika Chicago

Automechanika — the largest trade show dedicated to the automotive aftermarket industry and high-end technical training — made its North American debut April 24-26 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, Illinois.According to Messe Frankfurt, producer of Automechanika, nearly 6,000 people attended and more than 450 exhibitors from 23 countries showcased the newest tools, equipment and products for the automotive aftermarket industry.“Our passion for the industry and the opportunity to bring the aftermarket manufacturers and suppliers together with the shop owners and technicians has fulfilled a dream,” said Dennis Smith, president of Messe Frankfurt North America. “We appreciate the support
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Paradigm Shift: Employee Incentives

“We will receive not what we idly wish for, but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.” — Earl Nightingale, self-help speaker and authorGood employees work hard to earn their paychecks. They show up early or on time, are diligent throughout the day, help clean up and even stay late occasionally to finish working on every car that drives into your bays. You want to reward them for being a vital piece in your quick lube business puzzle. Giving out cash bonuses is popular, but money isn’t always the main motivator
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Quid Pro Quo: Cross Promoting Your Business With Others

In February, I wrote about a few February-inspired promotion ideas you could implement to drive traffic to your stores. Speaking with our esteemed Quick Lube Advisor, Ragan Holt, he again emphasized the importance of a shop being able to promote itself.I received an email from a reader who was commenting on my “What You Can Learn From Other Industries About Customer Service” article in the March 2015 issue of NOLN, which you can view here. He mentioned his business offers Chick-fil-A coupons to his customers, which sparked the idea for this article.Connecting with other businesses in your area not
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A Mutualistic Relationship: How Warehouses Meet the Different Needs of Operators

Throughout life, you will have a multitude of relationships. Some of those relationships will end up with you and the other person benefitting from it. Some will end with the other person benefitting and you being hurt. It’s just the way it goes. I learned part of this lesson from my science class back in high school when the subject of symbiosis was brought up for discussion.There are different types of symbiotic relationships. The one where only the other person benefits and you’re left harmed is called parasitism. The relationship where you and someone else both benefit is called
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Reap Rewards With The BuyPower Business Card

“With great power comes great responsibility.” This phrase was famously uttered by Uncle Ben. No, not the rice maker, but the loving uncle of Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. Though Uncle Ben did have a point, sometimes with great power also comes great rewards.The BuyPower Business Card by Capital One isn’t just a credit card, it’s a rewards card that can help you buy or lease a new car for your business by giving you a percentage back on select purchases.“Card members get five-percent earnings on any parts, accessories or service at any of our GM dealers, three-percent earnings at
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Add Ons: Sniff Out a Sales Opportunity: A/C Oder Removal Treatments

Have you ever had a customer complain about an odor permeating throughout their car, and they have no idea what it is or from where it came? No matter how often they clean, the amount of Febreze they spray or trees dangling from their rearview mirror, the stench lingers. You changed their cabin air filter for them, but the odor is still hanging around like an awkward party guest who refuses to leave.There’s something else you can offer your customers who want to remove unwanted smells from their car by doing more than trying to cover it up with
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A Delicate Balance

Figuring out how to juggle your time at work and what you do for leisure can seem impossible. With an ever-increasing workload, which leads to even more stress, it’s hard to find (or make) time for friends and family. That’s why it’s important to have work/life balance.But the phrase “work/life balance” is becoming a cliché for some people, and they see it as something else entirely.“I like to look at this whole topic as work/life integration,” said Tiffany Mason, motivational speaker and author of “The Power of Adversity: A Guide to Finding Your Greatest Gift in Life.” “A lot
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More Than A Trade Show: Automechanika Chicago

You may have heard; there’s a new trade show in town, and it’s coming to the U.S. for the first time ever. That’s right. Automechanika is making its way to Chicago, Illinois, April 24-26 (Friday-Sunday) at McCormick Place West.Automechanika is the largest trade show and training event for the automotive aftermarket industry. It came about when a famous trade show was canceled.“The first Automechanika show took place in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1971 due to that year’s cancellation of the International Motor Show (IAA), giving this segment of the automotive aftermarket a new platform to showcase their products to the
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Most Famous Auto Care Brands in Each State

We’ve all seen those “by state” maps. You know, where they show the favorite drink, fast food chain, musical artist or movie of each state. Well, for the first time, we’re bringing you the most famous auto care brands in each of the 50 states. We realize a few chains have a plethora of locations in multiple states. To make it easier, we decided on the famous stores by where they have their headquarters. So take a look and see which auto care brand is famous in your neck of the woods. 
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How to Get Sued For Discrimination

Finding hardworking employees can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not well versed in the interviewing process. After all, you might be an independent owner who doesn’t even have a Human Resources (HR) department.If you’re charged with interviewing potential employees, there are certain restrictions regarding the questions you ask. Though they seem harmless and may come up organically in conversation, a potential employee might be able to sue for discrimination if they feel an answer they revealed to you caused them to not be hired.There are currently nine protected classes of employees: race, color, religion, national origin, sex,
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What You Can Learn From Other Industries About Customer Service

Customer service seems to be a hot-button issue in every industry. From retail to hospitality services to grocery stores, customer service is a major player in the success of a business.It’s important to look at what industries outside the automobile realm are doing to drive customers into their establishments. Let’s delve deeper into the subject.The Food Service IndustryA Pleasant GoodbyeChick-fil-A isn’t a typical fast food chain. It’s an establishment committed to service. On the Chick-fil-A website it states, “We have built a foundational commitment to service…” and I believe it because I’ve experienced it firsthand.If you’ve ever been to
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2015 Tops in the Industry Rankings: Music Edition

Music is a universal language. It speaks to everyone in some form or fashion. And just like language, music has its own dialects — or genres, to be more specific. This is how I perceive the automotive industry, anyway. An eclectic mix of genres all encompassing one major theme: cars. Whether your genre sticks to what it knows best, such as rock ’n roll, or goes off the beaten path, like country, the automotive industry plays on. Every year, we undertake an extensive research program to identify and rank the top auto service chains in the nation — and around the world.


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Today's Technology: The Cloud

For this month’s installment of Today’s Technology, we’ll be discussing the cloud. I’m sure you’ve heard someone reference this mysterious cloud before, but if you’re having trouble swallowing this technological phenomenon, let me break it down in easy-to-understand bites.What Exactly Is the Cloud?To understand the cloud and how it works, you need to know what service the cloud is replacing. Before the cloud, there were only on-premise platforms (also called hosted solutions) to save your information. That means a company would buy huge servers with storage space they thought would last for decades, have an in-house firewall program to
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Continuing Education

“All I have learned, I have learned from books.” — Abraham Lincoln, former U.S. PresidentLearning is a process that continues far beyond standardized education. Here at NOLN, we believe in enhancing our lives and ourselves by soaking up as much information as possible. The best way to gain information is by reading. In honor of our reading philosophy, we have compiled a list of books that might be beneficial to you, your life, your business and/or your employees. Much of the information gathered for this list came from Amazon.Book: “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business”Author: Gino Wickman“Traction” is
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February Promotional Ideas

Promoting your business is important, but it can be difficult when there isn’t a holiday or some sort of festivity to capitalize on. Luckily, there are two holidays in February where you can do a fun promotion to attract customers to your shop.Valentine’s DayThe most romantic day of the year is the perfect opportunity to run a promotion. Here are some examples of what you could do to get people to fall in love with your store:• Buy an oil change, have someone you love get theirs half off.If a customer comes to your shop on Valentine’s Day (or
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iFLEX Preview

“Of all the things I have done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them toward a certain goal.” — Walt DisneyJanuary has come and gone, but the goals you want to accomplish in 2015 are still at the forefront of your mind. If your goal is to create a stronger culture of service excellence, you won’t want to miss keynote speaker Dennis Snow at iFLEX this year. iFLEX will take place March 9-11 at Disney Coronado Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.Snow, author of “Lessons from the Mouse: A Guide
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Ensuring Information Availability Nationally and Globally

Car repair has been a time-honored tradition between fathers and sons, passed from generation to generation. Saturdays were made to be spent underneath a car, tinkering with the engine or some part of the undercarriage, and learning about the inner workings of a vehicle.I hear less and less about families bonding under the hood of a car these days, and I have a sneaking suspicion that advancing technology has a lot to do with it.Nowadays, you almost need an IT degree to understand how a car works. From onboard Wi-Fi, to DVD players and computers monitoring everything from brakes
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