Signs of the Times

Aug. 1, 2018
A Missouri Jiffy Lube uses humorous messages to draw in customers. It started with one sign that garnered a lot of positive feedback from customers.

Missouri Jiffy Lube Uses Humorous Messages to Draw in Customers

Who actually pays much attention to the messages on the marquee outside most businesses these days? Typically, these are used to announce a special, a sale or some other service. Much like the billboards on the highway, these are in the background, but one lube shop manager thought maybe it was time to send a different message — one that was sure to catch the eyes of drivers.

Instead of the usual, “brake flush” or other service as the message, last summer Cody Baumert, location manager of Jiffy Lube on Providence Road in Columbia, Missouri, posted “The Catalina Wine Mixer of Oil Changes. –Huff and Doback.”

That humorous message was noticed by customers, and with approval from MFA Oil, which owns the Jiffy Lube location, Baumert continued with similar fun and silly quotes and pop culture references. With help from other employees, the sign’s message is regularly updated, referencing movies, the Olympics, The NCAA Tournament and other events in the news.

“I just decided to do something different when I started coming up with the goofy stuff last summer,” Baumert said. “I like to put up a crazy movie quote or some pop culture reference instead of the normal business message. I think this has been a way to grab attention of those who are driving by. I mean the customers already know what we do!”

Baumert, who has worked with MFA Oil for three and a half years, has been at the current Jiffy Lube location for about two years. He noted that many of the other businesses in the area had the usual messages and decided to do something different. He made sure to have the support of the operations manager as well as the franchise owner, Ed Harper.

“I made sure they were both on board,” Baumert said. “They thought it was funny. At times they didn’t always get it, but we made sure we made it fun.”

The humor certainly plays to Baumert’s appreciation of modern comedies that feature Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

“That goofy stuff stuck with me,” Baumert explained. “I must have seen ‘Wedding Crashers’ 200 times and just got the inspiration.”

While those movies have no shortage of quotable lines, some aren’t appropriate for all ages, but Baumert admitted he keeps that in mind.

“Without a doubt, you have to play to your audience,” he noted. “My job is to make them laugh and not offend anyone in the process. That’s the last thing we’d want to do. So instead, I try to come up with something that everyone will appreciate — and that is a hard thing to do these days. We want the good press for these messages and certainly no bad press. The last thing I’d want to do is put a message up there that would offend someone.”

As for customer reaction, it has been positive. The original “Catalina Wine Mixer” message garnered much attention and has clearly stuck with some customers even a year later.

“We do have customers who stop in, comment on the sign and sometimes even laugh about it,” Baumert said. “That is the whole reason we do this. And we continue to try to appeal to one demographic or another. Last summer ‘Game of Thrones’ was on TV and Ed is a big fan, so we had some quotes from the show. That really stuck out.”

Sometimes the references do go over people’s heads — including some of the staff.

“Yeah, I have to explain it at times, but for the most part everyone from the staff to the customers has been super supportive,” Baumert said.

The signs garnered local media attention as well, so the good press has certainly been there. However, the goal still remains to catch the attention of drivers.

“I think of this as a way of being noticed by those who may come back another time,” Baumert said. “I understand not everyone needs an oil change every day, but this can be something simple to draw back customers on another day. It is way of making them remember we’re here and ready to serve.”