July 23, 2020—Dan Lindahl has been the general manager at The Gunny Lube in Gunnison, Colo., for about eight years. In that time, he's seen a part of the industry transition from mostly conventional oil changes to a majority of synthetic blends and full synthetics.
The shift started in the late 1990s, at which time most oil changes still came with conventional oil. The change happened over the ensuing two decades. As an example, The Gunny Lube today performs about 41 percent of its oil changes with a full synthetic, 39 percent with conventional and about 20 percent with a blend.
“Living in the community we do, there are a lot of older vehicles," Lindahl says. "And that's all they've ever used and all they ever want to use. When that comes up, I do stress with them the importance of getting them to change regularly. That’s the most important aspect.”
Many shops have different mixes in sales, and there are multiple reasons for the overall move toward synthetic. Customer demands for higher quality oils, industry shifts toward efficiency and manufacturer recommendations all play a part. But at the shop level, it often comes down to the sales pitch in the bay.
On thing Lindahl has found helpful is a visual display in the shop that features three jars representing the molecular makeup of conventional, synthetic blend, and full synthetic oil. The conventional jar is filled with gravel. The blend contains gravel and silver beads. The full synthetic representation is only silver beads, uniformly lined up to represent the more refined, higher quality oil.
“This is the equivalent, on a massive scale, of the difference between conventional and synthetic,” Lindahl says. “And a lot of times they'll say, ‘I can see why that synthetic lubricates better.’”
When customers do get sold on the synthetic oil change package, it naturally helps to boost tickets, and this has become a crucial sales item that's already in most shops' inventories.
For more from Lindahl and other operators on their strategies selling synthetic oils, stay tuned for a feature story in National Oil and Lube News.