The Best of Multiple Worlds

May 1, 2024
Myriad business offerings help drive success at a Golden State quick lube.

At Gold Flat Express Lube & Car Wash in small Nevada City, California, customers can knock out just about all their errands in one stop. Have the oil changed, grab something to eat at Port of Subs, get the car washed, gas up, and then roll on with the day. 

Here’s how the multi-tiered business model came about and why the business is as well-traveled today as it ever was. 

The Backstory 

Back in 1996, the business was a Port of Subs sandwich shop that included a mini mart with a lube shop, reports Monica Johnson, general manager for Hunt Convenience Stores based in Chico, California. 

In October of 2022, Johnson’s boss, Joshua Hunt, bought the business, which was “already an established go-to place in our mountain community,” Johnson says. 

Since the business sits on a route many people use when they go camping in Tahoe or Reno, the lube shop, car wash, sub shop, gas, and convenience store combo was a hitone that put even greater convenience into the convenience store concept. 

While Johnson manages the convenience store and another manager handles the Port of Subs, Hunt hired an experienced lube technician, Mario Garcia, to run the lube and car wash aspects of the business. 

“I came into the industry when I was 13my dad taught me everything I know,” Garcia says of his start in the automotive industry.

And still, none of his prior experience prepared him to navigate so many businesses all rolled into one. 

“I’d seen a quick lube with a car wash before, but this was the first time I’d seen a sandwich shop in the same location,” he notes. 

The Challenge 

Of the business’s many functions, the quick lube and the car wash represent the two balls Garcia must keep in the air each day as shop manager. 

When asked what’s the most difficult thing about his job, Garcia says, “It’s the staffing issue, just like it is everywhere.” 

The tricky difference for Garcia is that Gold Flat Express Lube & Car Wash requires technicians in both areaslube shop and car washto function. 

“Everybody suffers from people not wanting to show up,” he says. “And we must have two people in the car wash because we still scrub each car before it goes through the wash.” 

So, if a car wash employee goes MIA, his guys in the shop have to go over and get the cars through the wash.

“And we don’t always have the manpower to do that,” he adds. 

The Takeaway 

While having multiple business offerings in one location may sound tricky to manage, it also has a tremendous built-in upside: Customers don’t have to take detours around Gold Flat Express Lube & Car Wash to get everything they need. 

“It’s cool because customers say they’ll just go eat a quick sandwich while we do their service,” Garcia notes. 

In addition, the car wash can be a major plus that gives the team at Gold Flat Express Lube an excellent way to cross market its services. For example, Garcia says that every spring the business offers a free wash to every customer who comes in for an oil change. 

“It’s a no-brainer and it keeps the car count high,” the manager finds. 

Something else that keeps the car count high is that Hunt, the owner, has deep ties to the local community. People know him. And he has invested heavily in his team at Gold Flat Express Lube and in making the business the best and most updated that it can be. 

“Josh grew up in Nevada City and he has a lot of happy memories with his grandparents here,” Garcia adds. 

Johnson chimes in, “We are very excited that the improvements and upgrades to services that the community has grown to expect from this site will only make it more of a one-stop-shop to meet even more of their needs.” 

Between all the sites’ offerings, Johnson says the business can offer the local community specials, promotions, and loyalty programs that others with a singular focus cannot. 

Even the petrol has its perks.

“We are in a unique position at this location since it isn’t a National Fuel brand, (so) Hunt's is able to supply its own fuel,” Johnson adds, which only adds to the unique combinations of promotions the business can offer its customers. 

Johnson and Garcia say another bonus of their business set up is that they can draw on intelligence from the Port of Subs and convenience store managers who also work there. 

“They have been in this community and have worked here for many years,” Johnson notes. “So, we have gained invaluable insight into what the community appreciates about the site.” 

The Aftermath 

Looking over the atmosphere at Gold Flat Express Lube & Car Wash today, Garcia says the business is miles ahead of where it was when he came onboard not all that long ago. 

Upgrades to the business have included complete interior remodeling, updated software for the lube shop, new gas pumps, the reestablishment of catering services and improvements to the online ordering mechanism at the Port of Subs, new vacuums at the car wash, and a seating area where customers can have a bite before they get out on the roadjust to name a few. 

“Now we’re well organized and have everything a shop needs when a customer comes in,” Garcia says of the express lube, in particular. 

“Customers love the business,” he adds. “They think it’s the best of multiple worlds.” 

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