iFLEX 2023: The Quick Lube Perspective

July 1, 2023
The annual expo shed light on topics that impact this industry.

There were blue skies above the Las Vegas Convention Center and bright ideas inside during iFLEX 2023. Held May 8 through May 10, the trade show floor was abuzz with plenty to see and do.

The Education Sessions from the Automotive Oil Change Association were an especially bright spot for those in the quick lube industry. NOLN attended several of these sessions. Here’s an overview as to what was discussed.

Tech and Law

Joanna Johnson, policy advisor for the AOCA, led the session “Preserving and Expanding Opportunities: AOCA Responds to Big Changes in Law and Tech.” Her presentation outlined many topical touch points relevant to today’s industry.

This included recognition of increasing challenges, such as access to vehicle data, regulations regarding the EVs and fuel cell vehicles, automaker control over elements like in-vehicle messages ("maintenance required, visit your dealer") and more. Johnson encouraged shop owners to have an awareness of how it all impacts them.

"Doing nothing is just not an option,” Johnson said.

Johnson shared it may be worthwhile for shop owners to invest in tools that read trouble codes. She pointed to the Hyundai/Kia oil drain pan assemblies defect investigation being conducted by the AOCA. She encouraged shop owners to get everything in writing when it comes to defective part situations and report to NHTSA when a warranty is denied due to “outside influence.”

As for the idea of a blended vehicle fleet, Johnson said three factors must work together: vehicle tech, infrastructure, and safety. She said while initial alt-fuel vehicle tech has been met, infrastructure and safety regulations have not. The AOCA has an EV task force and continues to investigate vehicle technology while understanding that ICE vehicles will remain for a long time.

Johnson mentioned the Right to Repair movement and its importance to the aftermarket. The AOCA government affairs committee works to propel the messaging in this arena, and members investigate OEM denials of warranty coverage.

"On a level playing field, what you do, your business model, is the best,” Johnson said of quick lubes.

Johnson also offered several reminders to shop owners: recycle used oil filters, maintain good housekeeping (including dumpster areas), have spill prevention control and countermeasure planning in your shop, ensure safety in the walking and working areas, and participate in heat illness/injury prevention.

Financial Basics

Kevin Davis, director of leadership and training with Oil Changers and founder of The Quick Lube Expert, led the “Getting Geared Up for Financial Success in the Quick Lube Business” session.

He told the audience to “identify your end zone” in relation to what’s important to their shop. This could mean growing car counts, increasing sales or getting labor costs down. To get to the end zone, the shop’s current position needs to be determined first. This means having a goal for growth and communicating it to team members.

"Success in the quick lube industry is going to be getting back to the basics," Davis said.

He offered various insights into how shop owners can get on the path to growth. For example, when it comes to increasing car counts, he said customers tend to focus on elements of curb appeal, the speed of service, quality of service, value for dollar, repeat customer percentage and social media reviews.

He recommended tackling increased sales by performing complete vehicle inspections. He relayed the phrase "Every customer, every car, every time" to drive the point home.

Davis also recommended putting together a “playbook” to build a quality team. This playbook should include clearly defined job descriptions, policies, standard operating procedures and expectations. He also firmly relayed the importance of execution, otherwise the goals won’t be achieved.

Industry-Wide Topics

The “AOCA Talk Live: Hot Topics that Impact Your Business” session was a question-and-answer style panel. Participants included:

  • Justin Cialella, Victory Lane Oil Change
  • Dave Everett, Dave Everett Consulting
  • Tom Staker, International Director of Training and New Services, FullSpeed Automotive, Grease Monkey and SpeeDee
  • Jacobe Krizman, Premier Oil Change
  • Kevin Treder, Oil Changers

Due to the nature of the panel, there were a wide variety of industry-related topics brought to the forefront of the conversation. One area that got quite a bit of attention was how to best strategize for bringing in new employees.

Staker said the first few days make all the difference. He suggested an all-encompassing written onboarding approach that includes details such as where the employee can store their lunchbox, what they should wear and more.

"That onboarding the first day is the most important day in their career with you," Staker said.

Cialella said that expectations should be set before the first day, and it all starts with the job description and subsequent interview process. It’s important to set the standard early.

"You also don't want them to be bad ambassadors to your business," Cialella said.

Staker also said a good strategy may be to assign the new employee a mentor who is well-established in the shop. Everett agreed with this sentiment as well.

"There's little things that we take for granted because we've done it for so long,” Everett said. “That new person isn't going to have a clue."