Lookin’ Good, Inside and Out

March 1, 2024
Shop aesthetics and heart help keep the car count high.

“Living the dream, one car at a time.” That’s how owner Doug Edgman describes the experience of running his shop, Doug’s Pro Lube, in Monett, Missouri. 

Monett is a small city of under 10,000, situated in the Ozarks between Joplin and Springfield. 

Edgman’s sunny disposition may be the byproduct of personal temperament. But it could also be the result of the inviting vibe the oil salesman has cultivated at Doug’s Pro Lubea pleasing aesthetic that keeps a steady flow of customers coming through the doors of the three-bay business each time they need an oil change. 

The Backstory 

In 2006, Edgman and his wife, Ramona, bought the quick lube business. 

When Edgman’s own banker wanted more money down than the couple could pay, a friend suggested maybe his bank could help. So instead of the $50,000 Edgman’s bank required, he was able to get the loan with just $5,000 down. 

“The day we were set to close was Friday the 13th at 5:01 p.m.,” Edgman remembers. “And the banker said, ‘You wanna move it to another day?’ And I said, ‘Dude, if I can overcome Friday the 13th, I can overcome anything.’” 

Closing complete, Doug’s Pro Lube opened with five employees, a number he set his sights on after realizing the previous owner had too many. 

“He had eight people for 25 cars a day,” Edgman says. “There was a bench sitting out in the shop and two or three would sit there and watch the others work.” 

After paring down the number of employees, the Edgmans started cleaning up the business. And this is where aesthetics became a consistent calling card of Doug’s Pro Lube. A calling card that clicked with customers in the local community. 

The Challenge 

At purchase time, the Doug's Pro Lube building needed some work. 

“The building was totally gray outside, with a red roof. The waiting room was a Mohave tan, the walls were tan, and the counter was red. It was boring and it always looked dirty,” Edgman describes. 

So the Edgmans made the walls red, the counter black, and changed all the shop’s dated oak finishes to diamond plated aluminum. 

“Kinda snappy,” the owner puts it. “And we got new furniture.” 

Outside, they also relied on polished good looks to grab the public’s attention from the road. 

Edgman recalls, “We cleaned it up and painted it and made it look totally different.” 

Aesthetic challenges overcome, the owners turned their attention to operations. Because they knew that in order to be successful, the beauty of Doug’s Pro Lube had to be more than skin deep. 

The Solution 

As much as the Edgmans rely on aesthetics to help make Doug’s Pro Lube successful, they keep their eyes continually focused on customer experience. 

“Customer service is my No. 1 button,” Edgman stresses. “Your name is all you’ve got.” 

It’s a button he has learned a great deal about in every job he ever had before opening Doug’s Pro Lube. 

“Basically, I’ve been in an interview for this job my whole life,” he says, remembering a prior role as a parts manager at a Chevrolet garage, along with work experience at a parts store and an RV company. 

To most effectively pair up aesthetics with customer service, Edgman also put an eye to ingress and egress. 

“Our people meet them in the parking lot before they make it to the waiting room. It’s inviting,” Edgman says of the experience. 

Another reason Edgman excels at creating an inviting customer experience is his ability to put himself into his customers’ shoes and to understand their needs. 

“Let’s say the customer is your grandma and she’s 82 and still driving,” the owner imagines. She’s met in the parking lot, shown into the business, and when her quick maintenance is complete it’s easy for her to leave. 

“We back her car around to the back so all she has to do is get in and drive away. No tripping or getting into the wrong car,” Edgman says. 

He adds, “I’m blessed to have my crew, and they buy into the customer service approach. And business is way easier when you know how to talk to your customer.” 

Another inviting move at Doug’s Pro Lube is that customers are remembered on holidays. 

“On Mother’s Day we give roses. On Father’s Day, gun oil,” Edgman says. “And on Valentine’s Day roses again.” 

For Christmases in the past few years, the business has given out $1,000 worth of $20 gas gift cards. 

In Monett, Edgman also paid attention and noticed that heavy-duty vehicles in the area needed his services. 

“My quick lube is a little different because we’ll do dump trucks and semis and fire trucks,” he says. “We have one bay for heavy-duty.” 

Doug’s Pro Lube is impressive from the backend, too. 

Starting out, the business’s point-of-sale system was Sage Microsystems, now DRB Systems. 

“When they download our daily information they send out messages to our customers. My cashier gets email addresses if customers will share them, and we’ll email them a coupon for the future – maybe a deal for $10 off a tire rotation or $5 off wiper blades,” Edgman shares. 

And if they don’t get an email address, Doug’s Pro Lube keeps in touch through snail mail. 

The Aftermath 

The same quick lube building that once saw 25 vehicles a day coming through its bays now sees 50-70 almost every day. 

“Keep laying the bricks,” Edgman says of his consistent emphasis on delivering excellent customer service. “Keep giving people what they need, and they’ll spend money.” 

His approach has clearly paid off: the business that pulled in $300,000 a year when he bought it now pulls in nearly five times more. 

“Who would’ve thought a small town boy could buy a quick lube on $5,000 credit? And this year we’re looking at doing $1.5 million,” he scratches his head. 

As much as being a quick maintenance provider, Edgman and his team have become trusted advisors. 

“We ask people questions and we show them a way to do what needs to be done,” he says. “We build the customer rapport. We don’t just take your money because you came inwe plant a seed and it will grow.” 

Some customers are easier to deal with than others, naturally, but Edgman doesn’t let that get him down. No matter who pulls in for service, his approach is consistent and customer service is No. 1. 

As he puts it, “We don’t take advantage of anyone.” 

The Takeaway 

The beauty of doing business at Doug’s Pro Lube has been cultivated from the inside out. 

Aesthetically pleasing? Most definitely. At the cost of customer service? Never. 

“You can either be a hero or a zero,” Edgman says of courting business and keeping it. 

Another Edgman pearl of wisdom: “Honesty is honesty.” 

“A lot of business people don’t look at the customer that way. They see them as a dollar sign, in some respects. But give them what they need and they’ll come back.” 

Ever putting himself in his customers’ shoes, he closes, “You know how you see a picture of food at a restaurant and you go in for that hotdog and it looks like an elephant sat on it? I tell them, ‘I want this big beautiful hotdog on the picture.’” 

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