Quick Lube Q&A: Jeff Smith of Service Champ

May 1, 2024
Jeff Smith, vice president of key accounts for Service Champ, outlines trends and opportunities with service diversification.

As a shop owner, have you considered diversifying your service offerings? Perhaps you already have—or maybe you just want to learn more about service diversification overall. Regardless of where you’re at, the topic is something familiar to quick maintenance providers. But how do you know if it’s the right move for you? Where should you start?  

For this Quick Lube Q&A, NOLN spoke with Jeff Smith. Smith is the vice president of key accounts for Service Champ. Service Champ is a quick lube distributor, and its portfolio includes multiple brands and a multitude of product types. Smith shares his thoughts on opportunities for service diversification.  

NOLN: Jeff, can you tell us about your job and what your daily work looks like?   

Jeff Smith: Our customers come first. I start every day by reviewing the results from the previous day, particularly how we did in meeting our customers’ needs. Typically I’m focused on our fill rate, meaning the rate we are getting customers' orders filled on time, in full. This has been a fantastic story for Service Champ, given our fill rate is running approximately 98.5% every single day. 

NOLN: How do you keep a pulse on trends in the quick lube industry—and what are some that stand out to you?  

Jeff Smith: Honestly, you will not know what is going on unless you get out in the field and spend time with the folks in a shop. The shops that aren’t impacted by the slightly lower car counts in certain markets are the ones that are doing additional services. You have to see it firsthand and talk to folks.   

NOLN: Service diversification is a topic of interest for some shop owners in today's industry. What are the ways in which you're seeing this approached by shops?  

Jeff Smith: The shops that can effectively explain the feature and benefits of either an upgraded service or an added-on service are seeing really good growth. Meeting people where they are and helping explain the benefits gives the shop owners a chance to provide more context to customers. Beyond that, the shops that are embracing diversification and willing to consider additional services are reaping the benefits. People want to go to one spot to have as many services done as possible. 

NOLN: What kinds of service diversification options are out there?  

Jeff Smith: Everything from tire sales and full A/C service to having the shop team do a full-court press on selling items like cabin filters or a fuel system treatment. 

NOLN: How does Service Champ support its customers in service diversification endeavors?  

Jeff Smith: This is a great question and one I’m proud to answer! The first thing we do is listen to the needs of what the customer needs and find out areas that they can use help with. We want to be partners and understand our customers. Sometimes this means helping customers in a shop waiting room have a better experience all the way, equipping the store with new gear and facilitating training on their new services.

At Service Champ, we have a saying: We never say “no” until we “know.”  Our default reply is to say, "Yes, we can help with this," and that’s why our partners trust us. 

NOLN: Have you seen an influx in interest for service diversification? Why or why not do you think that is, and do you think that interest will increase as time goes on? 

Jeff Smith: Definitely. We have seen an uptick. Shops are trying to be “stickier.” They want to do more for each customer. And frankly, this is what many customers want, too. It provides convenience for many customers. I do think this interest will increase given the way of the world and that the shop owners that have adopted service diversification are experiencing growth.   

NOLN: What about the perspective of quick lube shop customers? What are you hearing about the kinds of services they're interested in?   

Jeff Smith: Lately, quick lube shop customers are interested in air conditioning service and brake work. Both of these services are relatively quick and generate large tickets. 

NOLN: From your perspective, what are some of the biggest challenges for quick lube providers in today's industry?   

Jeff Smith: The challenge I hear about most is having the proper inventory on the shelf. If a provider is missing a small item and then has to wait for a delivery, it can erode profit margin but also inconveniences a shop's guest by longer wait times.

People go to quick lubes because they are quick, so having what people want when they want it is important. After all, this is the quick lube industry not the lube industry. 

NOLN: What are some opportunities for success?  

Jeff Smith: I’d emphasize two areas for success: If a customer has to wait on a service, make it a pleasant wait and visit to your shop.

Beyond that, focus on educating the shop team so they can speak to how the added services can benefit a customer—both of these will help customers have a better experience and create growth opportunities. 


Courtesy of Gold Flat Express Lube & Car Wash
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