We make decisions every day such as where to get dinner or where to run errands. Usually, we have a good idea of what we would prefer. Why we want those things is due in part to what we are made aware of as consumers.
To become a choice quick lube shop option, customers need to understand what services are being provided and what makes each shop distinctive. Standing out in the crowd is important.
Showcasing differentiating factors is a familiar concept for OilStop CEO Scott Hempy. The strategies that OilStop has implemented have helped its locations form loyal customer bases.
“For OilStop, we’re much more focused than maybe the average shop on quality of service and the reliability and trustworthiness of what we’re doing as opposed to the cheapest value,” Hempy says.
It isn’t always easy to communicate what’s special about a quick lube business to the customer. It’s one thing to get a customer’s attention, but it’s another thing to ensure the customer returns.
“I think it’s easy when you’re running a business to focus on profit margins and focus on efficiency metrics. Those are important and have a place, but if you’re missing the main thing (and) the main thing’s not being the main thing— which is serving and having it be our pleasure to serve—it doesn’t really matter how efficient you are,” Hempy says. “It doesn’t really matter how profitable you are. Because at the end of the day, guests aren’t having that feeling of loyalty and wanting to come back. They’re going to be bought by some other promo and go down the street.”
Hempy says that part of navigating this challenge involves understanding the customer’s needs.
“I think the biggest challenge is really what is the consumer shopping for? What’s the guest who’s coming in looking for?” Hempy says. “One of the areas that I feel like there’s a lot of competing noise in is coupons, discounts and promos.”
Hempy says OilStop aims to communicate the value of a service experience rather than enticing people with promotions and contributing to an already crowded marketing tactic.
“There are different ways to position a company,” Hempy says. “There’s value position and there’s the service offering … I think focusing on the service offering scenario, we’ve tried to differentiate and that has helped us rise above some of the discount noise.”
Hempy says OilStop fully embodies its mission statement; “We will serve people with excellence, humbly, with a servant’s heart.” It was established by OilStop founder Larry Dahl.
“One of the lines Larry used to use a lot is, ‘Always, always do the right thing,’” Hempy says.
Don’t Apply Pressure
Hempy says establishing trustworthiness, reliability and credibility begins when technicians “grab the greet.” This action is executed in a timely manner to ensure that guests feel at ease.
“You feel a sense of calm as a guest, and I think that’s what we’re trying to emulate with grabbing the greet,” Hempy says. “We don’t ever want a guest to sit and wait for us to acknowledge that they’re coming to our house and we want to serve them.”
OilStop technicians also give a no-pressure statement to assure the customer that they will not be pushed into any services. Hempy says staff are trained to be just as happy with a no as they are with a yes.
“We never want to take advantage of that knowledge gap because we know something they don’t know,” Hempy says. “We want to inform. We want to make sure our guests are getting the information from us and are not getting persuaded by us.”
Stay on the Same Page
To ensure consistency during a guest’s experience, regardless of which location they are visiting, Hempy points to two teams at OilStop.
“We’ve got a dedicated training team and a dedicated internal marketing team, which are two teams that I don’t think a lot of companies invest in or have time for or put effort into,” Hempy says.
When it comes to the training, Hempy says team members are trained to be intentional with words and actions across locations.
“We don’t want the technician ... recommending something in just any old words,” Hempy says. “We want it done in a specific way that makes (guests) feel like there’s not pressure, it doesn’t feel like a sales pitch and (makes) sure it’s clearly communicated.”
The internal marketing team maintains communication with all OilStop technicians, managers and home office employees to ensure the mission statement is built upon every single day. Hempy says strategies for doing so include everything from manager awards to everyday callouts, which don’t go unnoticed by customers.
“Something that guests hear in the bays sometimes is somebody yells, ‘Code 1’ to somebody else,” Hempy says. “That’s basically saying, ‘Good job serving that mission statement.’”
Prioritizing customer care and embracing the OilStop mission ensures that customers will keep returning for years to come.
“The things we hear [about] most from guests who’ve been with us a long time are the attitude and the energy of the team,” Hempy says. “You pull in there and it feels like people are happy to be there. It feels like there’s an energy.”
Hempy says quality experiences are valuable to customers these days.
“I think we all, as consumers, kind of miss feeling like we’re being taken care of [and] feeling like someone cares,” Hempy says.
OilStop ensures customers are cared for by making each interaction about more than just the service being rendered. Hempy says it’s ultimately about making the customer feel comfortable.
“These things aren’t always measurable, but the feeling you get when you pull up and they offer you a cold water while you’re waiting, you feel appreciated. You feel like you’re appreciated, and you’re being thought of. To me, that is the best marketing there is.”
Differentiating your business and communicating those differences to your customers can help you stand out amongst competitors. It may involve extra effort but according to Hempy it’s worth it.
“It’s important because not everyone does it,” Hempy says. “It’s kind of an overlooked piece of the puzzle that to me and our team is the most important piece of the puzzle.”
But the work doesn’t stop once you get the customer in the door, Hempy says. In many ways, that’s when the real work is just getting started.
“It costs a lot to gain a customer in the oil change business. I think it’s what you do with them once you have them that matters a lot more than necessarily just the acquisition spend on the marketing or the advertisement or the coupon,” Hempy says. “How do you retain? How do you drive retention? I think that’s the focus that maybe gets missed sometimes.”