Kit Sullivan

Kit Sullivan

KIT SULLIVAN began as a lube tech over 25 years ago and is one of the most knowledgeable and respected experts in the fast-oil-change arena. From location manager to general manager of a 50-plus unit chain, to owner of his own six-unit chain of lube shops, Sullivan has mastered every area of successful lube shop operation. Known for his excellent training seminars, as well as assistance in developing new products tailored to the industry, Sullivan is a popular consultant and can be reached at: quicklubekit@aol.com

ARTICLES

Labor Control

The secrets to maximizing your labor dollars

When it comes to running a successful and profitable quick-lube center, your outlay in labor dollars can quickly turn you from “in the black” to “in the red” if you fail to maintain control of your labor issues. Columnist Kit Sullivan explains.


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You’ve Been Branded

Squinting into the setting sun across the dusty desert plains, you notice a small figure coming toward you, growing larger in your vision as each moment passes. The soft orange glow of a glorious sunset bathes everything you see. Across the vast vacant expanse of sand, sagebrush and tumbleweeds, the ever-encroaching figure looms larger and larger in your eyes. You continue to gaze out, stealthily hiding from your place of obscurity, and details become evident: the rider’s duster is blowing back like a cape as he heels his steed in a continuous full gallop, both his and his huge,
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Two Ears, One Mouth

In our never-ending pursuit of happy and cooperative customers, who willingly listen to all of our varied service recommendations and such, we typically gain the experience of knowing exactly what most customers are going to say to us when we present them with our findings, right?


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Is The Doctor In?

Like a good doctor, a good automotive technician is always treating two 'patients': The customer and the vehicle. Skills with the car aren’t good enough; you’ve gotta have people skills, too.
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What Exactly Are You Servicing?

If someone were to ask you what you do for a living, what would you tell them? Would you tell them you are a technician? A mechanic? Manager of an automotive service center? Or maybe, would you simply tell them you perform oil changes for a living? Actually, your job is customer service. Everything you do to the customer’s car is done as a service to the customer.
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Glad to Be Back: Now, Let's Clean Up

Hey there. I had to step away for a moment. I’m glad to be back. Let’s get right to it! Today’s vehicle manufacturers are making engines that are more sophisticated and efficient than ever before. The levels of performance, efficiency, durability and longevity are far more advanced than they have ever been. While these engines are designed using cutting-edge technology and sophisticated computer controls, it is the lubricants inside these engines that are tasked with ensuring performance. Cleanliness is the word of the day when it comes to maintaining these newer engine designs at their optimum performance levels. Yesterday’s
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The Littlest Detail is the Biggest Thing

Why is it that some quick lube shops can effortlessly do non-stop fast-oil changes, along with a healthy dose of extra services, and do it all in a timely, mistake-free fashion, while others struggle to just get through a few oil changes without running into issue after issue — problems that slow down the whole operation — never allowing them to really get into the groove of a great day? It all has to do with the rhythm of your crew and how well they work together. There is no doubt, every person on your team must be tuned
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The Top Five Presentation Killers

The name of my column is “Making it Happen,” and that is exactly how consistently successful presentations unfold — someone makes them happen. A successfully planned and executed presentation is no accident. Certain techniques and procedures will allow you to maximize your success with each potential customer. There are five basic but simple-to-correct mistakes that are quite common in just about any failed presentation, and if you think you may not be getting the results you want from your customers, you are probably guilty of one or more of the following “Presentation Killers,” presented here in reverse order: 5.
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Put the Manage Back in Management!

Are you one of those hard-working, dedicated managers who personally makes sure you are providing your customers with the best you have to offer? The thinking goes something like this, “No one in the shop is as concerned as I am about quality service and customer satisfaction, so I will talk to every customer.” Do you also try to perform all the major extra services yourself — like coolant or transmission flushes — just to ensure you won’t get any comebacks? What about handling all the billing and cash-out transactions? Are you the only one allowed in the drawer,
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Go Back to the Beginning: Training and Re-Training the Smallest Details

Do you find that when you watch your crew as a single entity, they just don’t seem to have it all together like they used to? Do you find yourself frustrated that some, or maybe all of them, have seemingly picked up little bad habits or tiny deviations from the way you want things done? This is the most visible example of the slow erosion that can take place in your shop over time, if you let it. The problem here is most people think of training as a one-time affair. Once an employee has been taught how to
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Back to Basics

A few years ago I returned to the “bell-to-bell” daily grind of operating a lube shop as my partner and I began our latest adventure in the wonderful world of quick lube craziness. Prior to this new chapter in my life, I served as the corporate director of Training for a very large multi-unit chain for about seven years. My time there was wonderful, and the exceptional and consistently high level of managerial skill, talent and positive attitude utilized on a daily basis by all of the supervisory staff was truly an amazing achievement, considering what unfortunately and all-too-commonly
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Be an Active Participant!

When you got up this morning, went through your morning ritual of whatever it is you do to start your day and went in to work, were you excited to be doing so? Or, were you just kind of drudging along in mental cruise control, in a near zombie-like state, doing the same thing you do every morning on your way to work?You know, leave the house at the same time. Take the same roads to the store. Have the same mindless conversation with the same clerk at the same convenience store you stop at for the same-size cup
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Mind Over Matter

For this month’s column, let’s dig into a subject that’s more subtle and esoteric than most topics: The troublesome male ego — the root cause of most disagreements in the world today.Now, whether you agree or disagree with that provocative statement, it will still benefit you to grasp and understand how this subject is one that can either be your friend or your foe when it comes to maintaining a happy, productive shop filled with positive employees and eager-to-return customers.Don’t Trick YourselfThe male ego (ME), by its very nature is a competitive mind-set. There is typically one overriding priority
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Get on the Customer's Wavelength

Much has been written about different sales pitches and techniques over the years, and while nearly every customer service program or presentation technique is probably effective to varying degrees, that is not the entirety of what you need to consider to be proficient at taking care of your customers. Personally, I believe a very well thought-out and detailed presentation is by far the most consistent and best-producing method there is. Just getting out there and winging it may produce some spectacular results on occasion, but it will never consistently produce the winning results a well-constructed presentation can — no how and
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Funnels to Success

In the quick lube profession, a funnel is a pretty standard piece of equipment in nearly every shop, and for good reason. Most shops have several in varying sizes and lengths and with a variety of shapes made for each specific purpose.No matter what the shape or size though, all funnels have a singular function they are used for: They ease collecting, gathering or combining fluids and putting it all in a very specific, sometimes hard-to-reach, location. They also prevent the user from spilling excess fluid outside of the intended introduction point. You don’t realize how necessary and useful a
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Work On Machines, But Don't Be a Machine

Anyone who knows me personally and who has had the pleasure of working around me over the years knows I am forever preaching the benefits of meticulous planning, well-thought-out and specific presentations and training your team members to such a degree of skill that they have a machine-like ability to give any presentation about any product or service you offer to any customer at any time.It takes a tremendous amount of effort on your part. However, the results are well worth it: Steady and consistent higher-than-typical ticket averages, a higher percentage of happy customers and increasing car counts.If your
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Improve Your Presentations Instantly

Everyone is always looking for the easy answer; the tricks and tips that are going to make your job just that much easier. There are many out there to choose from, and some are very effective. Others, not so much.Here are the top four techniques that most technicians miss in their presentations that will instantly give you a better closing ratio as well as a higher ticket average.1. Learn and Understand the Difference Between Wants and NeedsMany sales techniques and trainers over the years have espoused the idea that if you satisfy your customer’s wants, needs and desires, then
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Additives: Opportunities for Success

Let’s face it. Every lube shop from here to there is looking for any reasonable way to increase their ticket average, thereby increasing the bottom line and profit margins for the shop.  While there are many shops around the country that post excellent ticket averages and car counts on a consistent daily basis, there is certainly no reason why even those shops could not prop up tickets another $5 daily with a concerted effort to increase additive sales.  The beauty of additive sales is many-fold:·       Easy methods and training to use most products·       Does not require any specialized tools
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Make it Happen

  OK, how about some back to basics stuff this month? Everybody needs a refresher from time to time — that is what keeps a superstar a superstar and what makes a superstar out of someone who is merely good.  I am going to talk about some basic, tried and true techniques that will help anybody achieve a better level of success with their customers.  If simply telling your customers what they need was all it took for them to agree to purchase everything we recommended to them, this kind of stuff would not be necessary, but unfortunately, it doesn’t
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