In life there are some things we know are inevitable. No matter how hard you try to ward it off, you’ll end up with a stain on your white shirt — usually right before an important meeting. “Just one more” is typically a bad idea and the child who didn’t need to “go” when the family caravan made a pit stop at the gas station will need to “go” five minutes after it’s left.
There are some things in the quick lube industry that are highly likely, too, especially when it comes to the importance of the products and services your warehouse or distributor offers. Successful operators know the products and services they offer their customers are a direct reflection of their businesses.
Something that seems simple like replacing an oil filter can wreak havoc on an engine in a hurry if the oil filter is poor quality. Operators also know it is crucial to their sanity that their warehouse or distributor be a one-stop shop for the majority of their supplies, and a wide variety of choices is nice. Good operators have a strong understanding of what they can and can’t afford. They know pricing is important and they’ll agree selecting the right warehouse or distributor for their business has been central to their success. We’ve broken down this supply chain equation for you.
Let’s talk products:
You don’t need what you won’t sell. The right warehouse or distributor will agree with you and will work to find the right products you need to keep your customers on the road.
“An operator will rely on a warehouse for products that are specific to their area of expertise or the areas where they’d like to grow their business,” said Keith Healy, director of product management for Mighty Auto Parts.
If you’re an operator looking for a warehouse or distributor to partner with, Mark Goldberg, president of Fast Track Quick Lube Supply, says make sure you consider the quality of their products.
“Ask yourself about the quality of the parts and services you need. Make sure you connect with someone who has good, quality products because you’re really hanging your reputation and name on the products you’re using. We’re really careful about only selling products from manufacturers that produce consistent and quality materials for that reason,” Goldberg said.
Next, decide what products you primarily need. Do you need fluids and filters or equipment and tools?
“We describe what we do by explaining that almost anything under the roof we can supply, install and service. A lot of our customers are moving toward adding brakes and other services but are wondering where to go to get the lifts and brake flush system machines they’ll need. A distributor like us is their one-stop shop for that,” said Mark Bonner, sales director for Premier Lube and Equipment Repair.
Let’s talk services:
What additional services will you need from your warehouse or distributor? If things like access to a network of industry professionals, fast shipping and competitive pricing are important to you, choose a partner that can fill those needs.
“Think about the customer service experience you want and expect from your warehouse or distributor. Will you need things like additional training or do you have that covered? We offer same day shipping to operators who get their orders in by noon central standard time. Is consistent, faster delivery something that is important to you? Of course price and making sure it’s something you can afford is an important part of the puzzle, too,” Goldberg said.
Getting the correct training is just as important as getting the right product and equipment to use on the vehicles that visit your bays.
“Training is paramount being able to compete in a highly competitive industry,” Healy said.
Kristen Moser, business development leader for Premier Lube and Equipment Repair, suggests the operator who is looking to get the most bang for their buck uses a distributor that provides training that coincides with their products.
“Partner with someone whose company brings experience to the table. Find a teaching company with a lot of knowledge and ability to train while still offering products that are supported with science,” Moser said.
Make sure the training provided is versatile and fits your company culture. This way you’ll be covered for any situation and it won’t matter if you don’t have the time to jump on a plane and get training on a new product or service you’re considering.
“Training webinars are always good options, but so are individual calls to stores and collective training sessions. We ask our customers to tell us what they need and then we construct a program that will fit those needs,” Bonner said.
Make sure your shelves are stocked with the right products and have the ability to offer services that make you competitive in the market. Good training and quality products are imperative to providing your customers and their vehicles with quality workmanship. The right partnership will give you an edge over the competition.
“Take the time to find a company that cares just as much about your profitability as they do their own,” Bonner said. “A distributor that wants to nurture long-term relationships will be more beneficial than the one with the lowest prices."