As 2018 kicked off, Jiffy Lube launched a new brand extension. It's called Jiffy Lube Multicare. With the Multicare brand extension, Jiffy Lube is focusing on rolling out brake, diagnostic - and eventually tire - services to its customers.
"Jiffy Lube Multicare is not a rebrand; it is more of an extension," said Steve Ledbetter, president of Jiffy Lube International. "That's been a core idea. What Jiffy Lube is known for is speed, convenience and a quality service every time. We are taking that same brand equity through more of a complete automotive maintenance process for the consumers. As vehicles continue to last longer, more items tend to have intervals that are lining up with what we refer to as 'wear-maintenance.' We realized we needed to leverage not only our brand strengths, but also our capability and credibility to do more for consumers. We believe that Jiffy Lube Multicare is the flagship for us to do that."
Jiffy Lube's journey toward Multicare didn't happen overnight.
"Several years ago, we took a view of the longer-term trends in the industry. We recognized as things were moving and the car was changing, consumers' needs were also changing," Ledbetter said. "This left us with an opportunity to look at how we maximize our four-wall space and provide for the needs of the changing vehicle and changing consumers."
One of the first things Jiffy Lube looked at were services that its technicians could perform competently and ones that fit with its model while not eroding its core brand strength. The signs pointed in one direction - to "wear-maintenance items."
"If you look at the core elements of brakes and tires (what Jiffy Lube terms wear-maintenance items), they have similar intervals and are things that people don't want to have to go to other places to get taken care of," Ledbetter said. "We can enhance convenience for our customers by allowing them to get all those services done at any of our service centers that participate in Jiffy Lube Multicare. Multicare focuses on brakes and diagnostics today, but we are moving into the tire space, as well."
Diagnostics is a central part of the Multicare extension, but diagnostics can be an awfully broad term.
"With diagnostics, what we are trying to do for consumers is to be able to assess what the problem is," Ledbetter said. "But, that doesn't mean that we can absolutely solve their problem. If their check engine light comes on, for example, we want to have enough capabilities to tell them, this is your problem and either, we don't solve that or we can solve that."
As Jiffy Lube continues to evolve into offering more services, it will continue to have one thing in mind - its core competencies.
"As we move into the future, there are things we won't do," Ledbetter said. "If we feel that certain services don't meet any of our core competencies and they will begin to clutter what we do best, we won't touch them. We are never going to drop an engine, and we are never going to rebuild a transmission. Those are big services that technically don't make sense with our footprint, don't make sense with our brand and don't make sense for us to go build the competencies to go execute them efficiently."
One area where Jiffy Lube will likely be venturing in the near future is into tires.
"Our Multicare tire piece is coming," Ledbetter said. "That piece is not currently at every one of the stores, but the desire to go into tires is continuing to grow. Once the system has proven that tires is a good business for us to be in - which we believe it is - then it will become a requirement of Jiffy Lube Multicare. That won't probably be in 2018, but I can see that happening as soon as 2019."
Jiffy Lube currently has approximately 1,000 stores at the point to qualify for Jiffy Lube Multicare, and Ledbetter said he expects Multicare to be implemented in approximately 75 percent of the Jiffy Lube network.
It's a large task to roll out new services in more than 1,000 stores while achieving a consistent value exchange and customer experience. One way that franchisors can help franchisees roll out new programs is with a strict set of requirements and processes, and Jiffy Lube Multicare did just that. The Multicare requirements fall into four general categories: technical, training, equipment and signage.
"There are requirements to have a dedicated core bay for the core services," Ledbetter said. "There are equipment requirements, such as a high-capacity, low-rise lift, so we can adequately work on the vehicle when doing tire and suspension work. There are also other pieces of equipment that will be required to effectively do the services in the Jiffy Lube Multicare business set. Those have to do with the ability to do brake work and the ability to put on, install and repair tires."
National media messaging will need to be replicated at Jiffy Lube Multicare sites, so customers see a consistent brand message across the board.
"Signage that has Jiffy Lube Multicare branding, uniforms and in-lounge point-of-purchase elements are all things that will be a requirement for shops to participate in the Jiffy Lube Multicare program," Ledbetter said.
Then, there is the training requirement.
"We have the largest training platform in the industry," Ledbetter said. "All of our training is based on ASE requirements and is developed from there. It has also allowed us to make sure the people who execute the services in the service centers and those who are in contact with customers all achieve consistency. Consistency is even more important in this Multicare model."
More technical services require more in-depth training, so any technicians performing brake service, for example, will need to complete the brake training module, which is based on an ASE A5 requirement.
"Training is probably the cornerstone of making sure that we do this right," Ledbetter said. "If we don't know how to do these new services, execute them and control our workflow, there's a good chance we are going to fail on a consistent value proposition to the consumer."
You can expect to see the Jiffy Lube Multicare brand extension in both new constructions and existing Jiffy Lube centers.
"We have a conversion mechanism that is taking our current four-wall space and making sure it is ready to transition to Multicare," Ledbetter said. "That comes with all the required operating procedures, required branding elements and required equipment. However, new stores that are opening will all be Jiffy Lube Multicare service centers. Our belief is that the future of this business is heavily dependent on being able to provide a one-stop shop for the majority of things that consumers need. Without the Jiffy Lube Multicare element, we won't be able to do that."
As with any progress in a new business model, there is a required investment.
"The investment is going to be spread between the franchisor and the franchisee; however, we have put programs together to provide funding support to get into the heavy expense elements like signage and equipment," Ledbetter said. "The things that these packages won't necessarily cover are the investment in people's time to train their crew. At the same time, we have expenses associated with ensuring a consistent and efficient deployment at the service center. We have programs to help offset and support a majority of that."
If there's not a Jiffy Lube Multicare center in your market, chances are, there will be one soon.
"Part of the reason we are going down this path is that we believe our footprint is not where it needs to be," Ledbetter said. "It's not just the current service centers being in different spots, either. We believe we have some real growth opportunities. To make those growth opportunities make sense for me, my franchisees and for future customers, the expansion of the business model has to take place. We see that there are 500-plus sites where we can take advantage of our brand strengths and take advantage of our competition head-on to really set the pace between us and them."
The Quick Lube Industry Pioneer Weighs in on What the Future Holds"The automotive aftermarket is a great place to be in," said Steve Ledbetter, president of Jiffy Lube International. "You are seeing a lot of dollars pour into the automotive aftermarket, and there's a reason behind that. Those dollars follow very logical, analytical trends. The automotive aftermarket is a place that has resiliency, in my mind. It's a place where you want to be, but it's a place where you want to be at the right spot."
According to Ledbetter, the automotive aftermarket is here to stay, but the way you are going to win is going to be different.
"You have to do more," Ledbetter said. "You have to provide excellent service, and you have to do it in a value exchange that works. People are getting smarter about how they shop. They are getting smarter on who and why they want to do things, so the value of customer service, the way it's delivered, the way you speak to people and the way your image is upheld are all very important things. If you get those wrong, then you've got a major problem."
Just as the quick lube industry has changed since Jiffy Lube first pioneered it, it will continue to change.
"Think about the quick lube industry back in the late 80s and early 90s," Ledbetter said. "It's different now than it was back then. We saw a proliferation of quick lube guys moving from just quick lubes into other ancillary services, like radiator and transmission flushes. These ancillary services are still needed, but things are being changed by OEM requirements."
Longer vehicle life is also pushing change in the industry.
"As vehicles last longer, they are needing more wear-maintenance items," Ledbetter said. "It's a natural fit to get into those things, so you can help vehicles last longer when your core business is arguably on the decline. While it's still a good core business - and it will be for some time - you will need to expand and reinvent yourself."
With autonomous and electric vehicles on the horizon, how is Jiffy Lube addressing this changing aspect of the market?
"Hybrid and pure electric vehicles are on the radar as emerging items, but I wouldn't classify them as risks," Ledbetter said. "They have elements that we can take advantage of. They all have parts that wear: brakes, tires and other lubricating elements."
As it's always done, Jiffy Lube will be looking to see if there's a value proposition on the horizon that makes sense for its business.
"What are we doing about autonomous and electric vehicles? We are watching them," Ledbetter said. "There may be some areas where we explore charging stations as a value proposition at some of our shops. We have a couple of benefits: footprint and brand."
Ledbetter said he thinks an evolution in vehicles further justifies the evolution of the business model from just a base quick lube business.
"Jiffy Lube pioneered this industry. We believe we can pioneer 2.0, as well," Ledbetter said. "We just need to make sure we don't lose who we are. We need to be able to expand just enough to utilize our four walls and provide what our consumers and their vehicles need."