In September 2012, Avery Graham and her brother, John Graham decided to merge their skill sets and build a fast lube service from the ground up. Avery, with a degree in business administration, majoring in marketing, communications and management, from Vancouver Island’s Camosun College would handle the day-to-day administration work, marketing, networking and customers. John would use his eight years of experience working in the oil change industry to train the staff and service delivery.
This genius pairing was born and raised in a family with a passion for the automotive industry. A factor that probably led to the quick success of Mobil 1 Lube Express in Duncan, British Columbia and a second location on the mainland, in Port Moody, British Columbia.
Avery, the business savvy sister, jumped into the fast lube business feet first. She worked tirelessly with John to build and open the first store in Duncan.
“John and I designed and built the Duncan location,” Avery said. “We hired an engineer to help design our state-of-the-art facility with unique features and an inviting West Coast signature look.”
The three-bay facility features bulk oil fill points and waste tanks plumbed into a lock box located on the outside of the building, making it convenient for suppliers and customers, as there is no interference when the shop is being serviced. This design — although adding a slight cost to the building — also reduces the risk of leaks or spills. The location is equipped to handle the special processing that fleet vehicles require.
“Being able to work with other local, major corporations to accommodate their fleet vehicles has definitely helped our business,” Avery said. “It is not something every fast lube shop may be interested in accommodating, but we believe it really is an added value for our customers.”
While the building itself stands out from any other fast lube location in the area, Avery noted the aesthetics of the shop aren’t the only thing that makes them stand out.
“We try very hard to set our stores apart from other fast lube operations by providing a high level of customer service and by taking an educational approach with our customers,” John said. “We pull fluid samples and explain to our customers about specific fluids and why it is important to their vehicle. We provide the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance intervals and then let them decide if they want the service now or simply have the service noted as a recommendation. Our customers really appreciate we give them the knowledge to make the best decision they can, without pressuring them.”
Aside from providing their customers with a high level of service, Avery and John also pride themselves in community involvement. Since opening their Duncan Mobil 1 Lube Express location, they’ve put a significant emphasis on being active members in the community. The franchise has sponsored more than 700 local events and has a special heart-warming story concerning one of their customers.
Within the first year of opening the Duncan location, John and Avery found out one of their customer’s four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of enterovirus that attacks the nervous system and causes temporary paralysis. As a result of this diagnosis, the parents were not able to work as their daughter was hospitalized in Vancouver. Avery and John knew they wanted to help the family and immediately began raising awareness in the community with social media. They converted their print and radio advertising to let the public know their Mobil 1 Lube Express in Duncan would match all cash donations. In addition to collecting donations from customers, they also encouraged everyone to support the bottle drive and to drop their donations off at the shop. The response was overwhelming and the family is now back at home.
“We are really proud of the way we’ve been able to give back to the community,” Avery said. “New businesses in new markets tend to naturally struggle during their first few years. So we feel very privileged to be able to be the ‘new kids in town’ but still be able to give back. We attribute our financial flexibility and community involvement to the support we receive from the head office of Exxon Mobil’s unique Mobil 1 Lube Express program and ENEX, Imperial Oil’s Vancouver Island distributor. The Mobil 1 Lube Express program does not require we pay franchise fees or royalty payments, which in turn allows us to reinvest our money into helping the community and growing our business.”
Not even two years after opening their first location in Duncan, the siblings expanded and opened their second Mobil 1 Lube Express location in Port Moody, BC. The 30-year-old building — previously run by a different fast lube operator — was in receivership and needed to be rescued. Avery and John completely remodeled and renovated the location for two months before the grand opening, but Avery noted opening this location came with its own challenges.
“We not only had to renovate the building at significant expense, but we also had to rebuild the trust of the community,” Avery said. “We had to heavily market and promote it to raise awareness amongst the community that we were a valuable, trustworthy and quality company.”
Now, about a year and a half after opening, the Port Moody Mobil 1 Lube Express location is showing strong growth. The repeat customer rate is climbing and the business was nominated for a Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce “Spike Award,” in recognition of their outstanding customer service.
Chances are, most fast lube operators would agree, gaining trust with your customers is the most important factor in the competitive oil change industry.
For questions or comments regarding the Mobil 1 Lube Express program, call 1-800-ASK MOBIL.