ARTICLES

Teresa Wanderstadt: In the Owner’s Chair

Davis, California, is a small city on the outskirts of Sacramento. It’s just far enough away from the capital that life in Davis moves at a more relaxed pace. On the corner of F Street and Covell Blvd. sits the local SpeeDee/Midas Oil Change and Auto Service center. Behind the counter, or perhaps under a hood, you’ll find owner Teresa Wanderstadt. Wanderstadt is one of the few female owners in an industry that is overwhelmingly male. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, less than 2 percent of auto technicians are women. However, Wanderstadt never
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Changing Oil in the Energy Corridor

The fourth largest city in the United States, Houston, Texas, owes much of its size and success to the massive energy industry hub it has become. Huge multi-national corporations populate the city’s towering office buildings, and no fewer than 25 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here. Most of these companies are, in one way or another, connected to the oil industry. With so much of the city’s livelihood centered on what is by far the world’s largest and most profitable industry, it’s no surprise Houston plays host to many wealthy captains of industry, oil magnates and even foreign royalty.
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Nailing the Presentation

The presentation — it’s one of the most essential and, in many ways, most difficult parts of working in the oil and lube business. In addition to actually servicing customers’ vehicles, one of the most important jobs of an oil and lube tech, and the primary job of any service advisor, is to make the most out of the short face time they get with each guest who walks in the door. Maximizing the effectiveness of the presentation each and every time can make the difference between a thriving and profitable oil and lube business and one that struggles
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Moving South: Grease Monkey Expands to South America

Growing companies are usually seen as successful ones, and innovative companies often think outside their “borders” to achieve this growth. Grease Monkey is a Denver, Colorado-based quick lube chain, but has been looking to expand its market share internationally. With locations already in Mexico, China and Saudi Arabia, the company was looking to expand into South America — opening its first store in Medellín, Colombia, on November 1, 2016. With a population of nearly 2.5 million, Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia, making it an ideal location to pioneer a new automotive service business. In Colombia, as
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Fleet Accounts: Landing the Big Fish

For many oil and lube shops, fleet accounts offer a steady, consistent flow of business that helps to smooth over the ebbs and flows of individual customer traffic. Fleet accounts can add both stability and growth to a business’s bottom line. Across the board, fleet accounts make up, on average, about 10 percent of oil and lube shop sales. However, many shop owners don’t know where to begin when it comes to finding these elusive accounts. Often, the biggest potential accounts in town already have contracts with big national auto service chains, leaving smaller chains and individual shops to
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Safety in the Shop: Protecting Against Slips and Falls

While the most common injuries in the oil and lube shop environment are small nicks and cuts with a few minor burns or bumped heads thrown in, the most serious injuries often come from slips and falls. In fact, oil and lube facilities are far more prone to these types of accidents than most workplaces. Oil and other slippery substances are plentiful and just waiting to cause a tech to lose their footing. Open pits are ready to swallow any worker who takes a careless step. When you think about it, it’s almost surprising these accidents don’t happen more
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Keeping Your Shop Organized

Speed is the lifeblood of the oil and lube industry. The shorter the interval between a car entering and exiting the service bay, the quicker the next vehicle can be attended to and the more tickets can be racked up in a day. Furthermore, the quicker a customer can get in and get out, the more likely they are to come back. With only so many hours in a day, every oil and lube shop should aim to maximize the number of vehicles they can handle in the time they have. Doing so will increase each customer’s satisfaction while
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Safety in the Shop: Guiding in the Vehicles

It happens a hundred times a day in each and every lube shop in the country. Technicians driving or guiding vehicles into the service bays and then back out again. It can become so routine and so repetitive that complacency starts to creep in, and when it does, accidents happen. Customers vs. EmployeesWhen it comes to bringing cars into and out of service bays, there are two kinds of shops: those that have their customers drive the cars in and those who do the driving themselves. You’d think practice would make perfect and that lube shops that do their own
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When High Performance Means High Profits

A lot of the men and women in the oil and lube business are car people. They enjoy tinkering, driving and, of course, horsepower. It’s part of the reason they’ve chosen this line of work. The same goes for many oil and lube customers. While many car guys (and gals) do their own oil changes and maintenance, there are quite a few who take their weekend toys to the same shop as the family minivan. These restored muscle cars, classic rides and performance machines offer a golden opportunity for lube shop operators to add a bit extra to the
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After Hours with Ric Savage

While most of us have hobbies and pastimes that we enjoy in the precious free time we have outside of the 9 to 5, few can boast as interesting a collection of side projects as Ric Savage. His day job, if you can call it that, is as a spokesman and outside sales rep for Solid Start/True Brand. Savage has been in the industry for 19 years, having got his start as a Jiffy Lube store manager in Pennsylvania back in 1997. From there, he became an OSHA manager for Jiffy Lube before going on to run an independent
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Safety in the Shop: First Aid Kits

There’s no way around it, working on vehicles can be a dangerous business. There are many ways mechanics and lube techs can be injured while on the job. In fact, across the nation there were 15,680 nonfatal injuries and illnesses to auto mechanics that involved days off work in the year 2005. These injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises all the way to serious burns, head wounds, eye injuries and nearly everything in between. Even in the most safety conscious oil and lube shops, injuries can and will happen from time to time. Being prepared for this
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From Asset to Liability: The Fall of Used Motor Oil

In the not too distant past, the sale of used motor oil to recyclers was a reliable and convenient source of extra income for oil and lube shop operators. Today, however, many owners report that not only are they no longer able to sell their used oil, but they’re having to pay someone to come haul it off. This dramatic reversal has many oil and lube shops in a pinch. Not only have they lost a revenue stream, but they’ve also gained an expense! This raises a number of questions: Why the sudden change? How long can we expect
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Technician Profile: Jacob Alviso

While the customer may always be right (whether they really are or not), the heart and soul of any business is the people who work there. These are the ones who invest their time and energy to make sure things are done right, not just to make a paycheck, but because it’s the right thing to do. The oil and lube industry is full of men and women who go above and beyond the call of duty to give each customer the best possible experience while building a solid foundation for their company. Jacob Alviso of Sandy, Utah’s, Little
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SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s automotive service stations were on the decline across the country. This was in spite of the ever-increasing American appetite for automobiles and the open road, for interstates and summer trips. The demand for auto service was at an all-time high, and the market was ripe for new oil and lube businesses. Sensing opportunity, two high school friends, Gary Copp and Kevin Bennett, who were both 26 at the time, founded the first SpeeDee Oil Change in December of 1980 in Metairie, Louisiana, just outside New OrleansThough neither was much into automobiles, the
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A New Lease On Life: Alternative Uses For Lube Buildings

You’ve closed shop at your oil and lube facility. Now what? The building is highly specialized with its basement, massive bay doors and drive-through design. What are some options to give new life and purpose to a property built with only one thing in mind?There are a variety of reasons why owners decide to move on from the oil and lube business. Maybe it’s time to retire, the business hasn’t been profitable or any number of other reasons. Whatever the cause, your building needs a new purpose. If you’re looking to sell or rent your facility, the most obvious
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Safety In The Shop: Maintaining The Lift

Few tools are more essential to an auto maintenance facility than the lifts used to raise the cars so service techs can work on them (the exceptions, of course, are shops that use pits to access the vehicle’s underbellies). Without lifts, car maintenance and repairs might be far less efficient. But efficiency, and the monetary benefits thereof, are only one reason to make sure your shop’s lifts are well-maintained and functioning as they should. The other, of course, is safety. Your employees’ lives, and your business, depend on the safe and smooth operation of your lifts. InspectionsSome auto shop owners
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No Service Required

As a business, it’s important to maximize both your client base and your per-transaction dollar amount. In the auto service industry, it’s also your job to keep your customers’ cars in the best condition by pointing out when they need various types of service. In short, when a client comes in for an oil change, but their car could use a brake job, too, trying to sell them the extra service just makes sense. But what do you do when that customer’s car really does just need an oil change? It may be a rare occurrence when there is
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Protecting Your Business By Preventing Employee Theft

It’s an unfortunate fact that employee theft is one of the leading causes of profit loss for many businesses across a wide range of industries, including oil and lube shops. The reality is you’re far more likely to be victimized by one of your own employees than by someone you don’t know. In fact, an employee is on average 15 times more likely than a non-employee to steal from a business, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Across the country employees account for a staggering 44 percent of theft losses from stores — a percentage that is
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The Great Starbucks Giveaway

How to incentivize employees and customers is a constant question for many oil and lube shop owners. Though there are a seemingly endless number of potential answers, most miss the mark in one way or another. Maybe it’s too complicated, expensive or there’s some other issue, but it always seems to be something. Perhaps this is one problem, though, that does have a silver bullet.A certain national chain of coffee shops based out of Seattle may have the perfect solution for rewarding employees and/or customers for their service and patronage. Admit it, everyone goes to Starbucks at least once
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Safety in the Shop: Protection You Can Wear

In our previous article highlighting the importance of safety in the shop, we discussed the unique oil and lube shop hazard that is the oil change pit. Managing this potential danger is an essential component of keeping service techs safe on the job. However, there are a wide variety of other possible sources of injury that lube shop operators should be on the look out for, many that are shared with other industries and with simple, affordable solutions.Aside from the basic incentive of keeping workers safe, shop safety has the added bonus of providing the business owner with cheap
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How to Raise Your Prices Without Chasing Away Customers

As time marches on and the economy drifts on through the doldrums of a global recession, business owners in virtually every sector are constantly crunching numbers to make sure they’re in the black. The same goes for the owners and operators of oil and lube shops across the nation. With costs on a steady upward trajectory, sooner or later you’re going to have to increase what you charge to continue fielding a profitable business. So, how do you pull the trigger on higher prices without upsetting clients used to paying a certain amount for a specific service? After all,
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What's on the List: The Multi-Point Inspection

The multi-point inspection is a mainstay of the oil and lube business and offers operators the opportunity to sell add-on services that may be vital to the shop’s bottom line. But, chances are, if you went to ten different shops and looked at the items on their inspection checklists you’d get ten unique sets of inspection points. So, what are the best strategies for maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of your inspection process? What items should be on the list? Of course, the answers will depend on each oil and lube owner’s goals for their inspections. The following are
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Program Spotlight: Lube Stop

There are numerous oil and lube shops throughout the country and no two are exactly alike. Each fill their own particular niche in the automotive service industry. Some are national and others are regional chains. Of course, there are a smattering of local shops in every city and town. Scattered across Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa, are a collection of oil and lube shops with an innovative take on what it means to have great customer service. Over the last 30 years, Lube Stop has built a reputation for being on the cutting edge of oil and lube services.The first
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Safety in the Shop: Improving Pit Safety

Today’s workplace is a far cry from the dangerous factories and sweatshops where manufacturing began. Yet, accidents still happen. The difference is today there are infinitely more systems in place to protect employees from workplace accidents. OSHA regulations, laws dictating workplace conditions, the ever-rising minimum wage and the 40-hour workweek are some of the results of the workers revolution. The modern oil and lube shop is largely, a safe place to work but dangers still remain. Some of these include hazardous materials workers may come into contact with, burns from hot car parts, eye and head injuries and falls
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Employee Recognition: Winning the Hearts of Your Workers

Owners and managers in a thousand different businesses across many industries share a common lament: good help is hard to find. And, if you can find it, it’s not easy to keep. This is certainly true in the oil and lube world. High turnover rates and low employee morale and motivation, cost oil and lube shops money each year. The time and effort expended in hiring and training new workers to replace those lost along the way can take a serious toll on the efficiency and profitability of any company. To protect your business from this, it’s important to
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