Hempy: Serving Your Community (Lessons from Larry Dahl)

June 3, 2024
Have a greater impact on the community that surrounds your shop.

Good companies provide a positive experience for their guests. Great companies become a part of the fabric of the communities in which they operate. Great companies are able to find a greater purpose and mission in serving the community around them. By serving the community around your business, you will establish strong roots in your community that will help your business thrive.  

Growing deeper roots into the community that you serve requires building relationships both inside and outside of your store’s four walls and a spirit of generosity to the community you serve. 

Being a part of your community starts with the guests you serve every day. Creating a culture that welcomes every guest with a smile and a team that desires to get to know those guests on a personal level allows you to build meaningful relationships with those guests. We all want to shop where we feel known and are not just an invoice number. 

Shortly after I joined the Oilstop team, I went on a tour to visit all our stores. While on this tour, Kenroy, our Oilstop manager in Tucson, shared a story about building a relationship that resonated deeply with me. Kenroy and his team had been changing oil for a regular guest for many years.  

Unfortunately, earlier that year, our longtime guest had passed away. When the reminder light came on next, this late guest’s wife had needed to bring her car in for service for the first time. Kenroy had built a 15-year relationship with her husband, so he stopped at her window, got on one knee, and they began sharing stories and memories about her husband. They both ended up sharing both laughter and tears as they remembered her husband together. 

What Kenroy did certainly wasn’t in our process or script. He prioritized building personal relationships with each of his regular guests, so his reaction was a completely normal human reaction. By focusing on building personal relationships with your guests, you become a consistent part of the community. Another wonderful benefit is that your guests will keep coming back! 

It is also important to build relationships outside of the four walls of your store. This can look different in different communities. At Oilstop, we regularly encourage our managers to attend chamber of commerce meetings, visit and network with other local businesses, and attend local community events to represent our company. By participating in events in the community, you will create opportunities to grow your business and help others grow their businesses. Some of our best marketing campaigns at Oilstop have come through cross promotions with local businesses. 

Another key to becoming a part of the community you serve is having a spirit of generosity towards your community. Finding a cause in your community to help support through your own donations or through fundraising efforts helps connect your operation to your community. At Oilstop, we often will run a campaign where we ask every guest at the end of their service if they would like to donate $1 towards a specific cause.  

If they donate, our company will match that donation. Through this program we have donated funds to many local and national causes, including the Jimmy V Foundation, Maui Wildfire Relief, The California Wildfire Fund, and World Vision. Giving generously to those in need is both the right thing to do and helps connect your shop to your community around a common cause. 

For 35 years at Oilstop, we have tried our best to be active and engaged members of the communities we serve. Oilstop’s founder, Larry Dahl, focused on building personal relationships with our guests, with other local businesses, and being generous to those in need in our community. Being generous with the community ensures your quick lube is a part of the fabric of the community you serve. If you are interested in joining our mission at Oilstop or want to talk more about how to serve your local community, please reach out to me at [email protected]

About the Author

Scott Hempy

Scott Hempy leads the team at Oilstop Drive-Thru Oil Change and Happy's Drive-Thru Car Wash. Oilstop and Happy's are rapidly growing their footprint of oil change and express car wash locations across the West Coast, combining convenience with an outstanding emphasis on guest experience. Prior to Oilstop & Happy's, Scott was the founder and CEO at Filld, a SaaS-based software solution for last-mile oil and gas delivery companies. He was recognized as a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 class of 2016 for starting Filld.