Vendor Speak

Each year we ask vendors to chime in on important issues in the fast lube industry in this annual feature. Their responses vary, as do the products and services they offer fast lube operators. Read on to learn what they’re speaking about this year.


BendPak

Max Glassburg, creative content writer
805.933.9970 • www.bendpak.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

In the quick oil industry, operators are always searching for tools and equipment that expand their service offerings and help increase ticket average, boosting profitability. Wheel and brake services are simple add-ons that have been adopted by many of the nation’s leading oil change companies and require a low-rise pit lift. Typically, these lifts have been rated for light-vehicle service only. As the popularity of trucks and SUVs continues to grow, a lift with a 6,000-pound capacity may not be enough. BendPak recently took the open-center design that made our P-6 pit lift so revolutionary and made it stronger. Our P-9000 is basically the same low-rise lift with a 9,000-pound capacity.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

A: The increasing popularity of electric vehicles has the potential to disrupt oil-change services. In the future, there’s a chance that engine oil changes could be a forgotten ritual as electric vehicles (which obviously don’t require engine oil) take over the market. While oil changes might not be possible on EVs, electric and combustion vehicles will always have one thing in common: wheels. Getting familiar with wheel, brake and tire services now will prepare you, and your business, for the road ahead.


Chevron Havoline

Dave Schletewitz, NA Consumer Sector manager
800.822.5823 • www.havoline.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

A challenge fast lube operators face is measuring and increasing customer satisfaction; improvement here leads to greater customer retention, referrals to family and friends and positive social media reviews that influence new customers researching new service facilities. Ultimately, this will increase sales and car counts.

A related challenge is delivering consistent, excellent customer service while managing employee turnover. Industry research on the DIFM consumer indicates that trust, knowledgeable employees and friendly/courteous employees are among the top factors in choosing a service facility. So, customer satisfaction is highly dependent on employees and the need for ongoing employee training. Chevron offers its customers comprehensive, consultative training that can be tailored to the customer, be that face-to-face situational training at site-level from experienced experts, similar but regional train-the-trainer training or our online mobile-enabled training that is always available to service technicians, greeters and mechanics no matter when or where they’d like to take the training. We focus on improving the customer experience from the greeting to the bill out, improving product knowledge to be able to speak confidently to the choices a customer has and improving transparency and trust while educating and selling the consumer the services their vehicle needs.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

An opportunity we see for the industry is in the area of local marketing and off-site advertising. Professional installers always want to attract the new car owner (from dealerships) and grow new car counts. Unfortunately, many are doing the same old thing they know and feel comfortable with, direct mail — which is not keeping pace with trends. Some may not see or understand the value of off-site advertising; for others, it may be too complicated, they may feel they don’t have expertise or there is too much work/planning involved. Others are not be spending enough of their annual sales revenue on marketing/advertising to make a difference. Who is the customer they are trying to target anyway? First, you have to define that customer, then develop an integrated, off-site communication/advertising plan to reach them.

DIFM consumers are using their phones to find and learn about you nowadays, which points to mobile friendly websites, search engine optimization (SEO), digital (search), social media reviews and establishing digital relationships. The opportunities we see for the industry are providing some transparency (industry benchmarks) for how much installers are spending and should be spending on marketing/advertising, conveying the quantifying the value of off-site digital advertising linked to acquiring new customers and challenging operators to come to terms with the fact that the pain of doing the same old things they have been doing is greater than the pain of change. The competition for new customers is fierce, but business owners must keep pace with market trends.


Devon Industries, Inc.

Kelly Lykins, president
800.468.1970 • www.devonlube.com

What is the solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Saving an operator time is one crucial element that Devon offers. Knowing the quick lube industry as well as we do, getting a new location or a remodel up and running and open for business is key to our customers’ success — as well as ours. This also holds true for replacement items and new products.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Customers are expecting more and more. Keeping a facility looking up-to-date and modern is going to be more important, especially for millennials.


eGenuity

Dan Nelson, vice president Sales
800.600.4955 • www.egenuity.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Affordable and effective marketing has always been a challenge for operators. eGenuity has been a front-runner in this area for several years with products like email marketing, customer loyalty programs, gift cards and online shopping carts, to name a few. eGenuity recently released the ezOtto customer app, which will assist in obtaining and retaining customers. The ezOtto app allows customers to view their static sticker, view recommended services, view service history, view gift card and loyalty point balances, purchase gift cards, schedule appointments and view store information. It also allows the operator to send push notifications to all ezOtto app users on-demand. It is not hard to see why the ezOtto app is a must-have marketing tool for all operators as we close out 2017 and head into 2018.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Moving forward, customer service in the way of easy and convenient information sharing is a big opportunity for operators and the industry. Providing customers with the information they need in a way that is convenient for them to access is customer service that is expected — if not demanded — heading into 2018. eGenuity provides its operators with a variety of products that helps them provide excellent customers service via sharing of critical customer and vehicle information. The ezOtto customer app, email marketing, DripDrop marketing, online fleet management and online customer and vehicle management are just a few of the products that assist operators in providing excellent customer service. And, it is all at their fingertips, easy and ready to use.


ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants Co.

Herbert Steurer, Passenger Vehicle Lubricants brand supervisor
800.667.6680 • www.exxonmobil.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

People are driving less, keeping their cars longer and extending oil drain intervals, meaning that projected industry growth for operators is less than 1 percent for the next several years. The biggest growth opportunity lies with synthetic motor oil, where Mobil 1 is the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand. For operators to grow in this tough industry, we know they need to offer their customers choices. Operators can provide customers with a high-performance lineup of synthetic-blend or full synthetic products that meet or exceed their OEM requirements that fit their personal driving habits and offer real value for the money.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Driven by the need to meet government fuel-efficiency standards as well as new engine designs and features (e.g. turbochargers) that put engine oils under more punishing conditions, OEMs are switching to lower-viscosity oils, which require synthetics. That’s why today, approximately one in five cars requires a synthetic oil change — with a projected increase to about one in four by 2020. We know that synthetic motor oil is the biggest opportunity, with annual growth expected to be ten-times industry growth over the next several years. Mobil 1 makes up 45 percent of the full synthetic market share, which is more than double that of our next biggest competitor.


Integrated Services, Inc.

Steve Barram, CEO
800.922.3099 • www.ints.com

What is the solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Second to cost of goods, labor is the largest controllable expense for most fast lube operators. LubeSoft has long been the leading solution for helping operators manage inventory and cost of goods. Now ISI is partnering with Shiftboard, a respected provider of labor scheduling solutions, to help you better manage labor costs. LubeSoft is integrated with Shiftboard’s cloud-based scheduling system to help automate preparation of your work schedules two weeks in advance. The schedule creation algorithm uses a variety of factors including car counts, technician certifications, employee availability, open/close, minimum staffing, among others; and schedules may be further refined manually. Work schedules are accessible to employees through an intuitive smartphone app, where they can indicate availability and even trade shifts. Shiftboard was first implemented earlier this year, and already, more than 50 sites are enjoying the benefits of automated schedule creation, labor savings and an improved employee experience.

When coupled with LubeSoft’s new real-time fleet transaction validation and fully integrated, EMV-certified payment card solution, ISI is extending the value and reach of LubeSoft to support the ever-evolving needs of our customers.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Even though it may be several years before the true impact of electric vehicles materially impacts our industry, it is important to begin planning for the change. Electric cars don’t require an oil change, air filter or fuel filter, but there are still many services the fast lube can offer, such as coolant management, brakes, tire rotation, cabin air filters and wiper blades. We expect new amenities like in-bay charging and refined eco-friendly messaging will be important to reach drivers of electric cars. If we approach the coming shift in vehicle population as an opportunity, the fast lube industry will be poised to further strengthen its leadership in the automotive service industry.


ITW Professional Automotive Products

Joe Farr, director of Sales – Quick Lube/WD
800.378.7891 • www.itwproap.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

ITW Professional Automotive Products is focused on providing customers who use our products a solution to help grow their businesses.

• Training
Our Tech U Web Based Training Program provides quick lube employees in-depth training on critical systems such as the fuel system, oil system, coolant system, transmission, power steering system and wiper blades. Knowledge equals confidence. Confidence equals professional results. After taking our Tech U Training, employees are more knowledgeable and, thus, more confident to talk with customers, educate them about services needed and answer their questions. For owners/operators this yields increased sales and greater customer satisfaction. To get started, go to: www.itwproap-u.com

• Increasing sales take rate percentages
Most owners/operators do not manage their business by product or service category. Doing so is a good gauge to help identify opportunities. We work with owner/operators to help increase sales of critical categories. A good example is the fuel system cleaning service category. Most locations only sell a fuel system cleaning service to, on average, 1 percent of their car count. A fuel system cleaning service is the most profitable service they sell. Based on a location averaging 30 cars a day, 1 percent of car count buying a fuel system cleaning service equates to roughly $10,000 profit per year per location. Therefore, every 1 percent incremental increase in fuel system cleaning service sales yields the owner/operator $10,000 in incremental profit. We have a track record of working with owners/operators and their employees to increase fuel system cleaner service sales to 10 percent of car count, which equates to $100,000 profit annually for the owner/operator per location.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Our industry needs to unite to combat fraud. Too often, I find myself helping owner/operators fight fraudulent claims where the consumer neglects the maintenance of their vehicle until there is a problem, goes to a quick lube, buys a service and comes back a week later, blaming the owner/operator for damaging their vehicle. At ITW Professional Automotive Products, we have perfected the claim process to help protect the owner/operators liability when it comes to fraudulent claims. Additionally, this is also tied to training. Our industry has to do a better job of educating consumers on proper vehicle maintenance. Doing so will increase sales and mitigate claims.


Lubegard by International Lubricants, Inc.

Mark Roach, Sr., vice president Sales & Marketing
800.333.5823 • www.lubegard.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

From working various shows around the country, I think one of the chronic problems that operators and service techs face is figuring out what is the correct transmission fluid to use for each vehicle. Lubegard addresses that problem with our just-released 11th edition OEM ATF and Conversion Chart. Not only do we inform the operator of what the OE fluid is, but we also provide total fill capacity and service fill capacity levels along with other vital information. We also show our OEM whole fluid equivalent, as well as our conversion product equivalents that meet and exceed the OE requirements, but at a fraction of the cost of OE fluids.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

The opportunity of the future is to educate and train the service techs on the proper fluids to use. Our OEM ATF and Conversion Chart is the most sought after reference guide in the professional transmission repair industry. Having this chart in every single service shop will serve as a problem-solver and a time-saver that will make each center more profitable and produce fewer comebacks. In our brand new 11th edition, we included a detachable Quick Reference Guide that can be mounted as a handy wall chart. As we all know, knowledge is power. Our easy-to-read reference chart will empower all service techs to do a more professional job, produce more satisfied customers and generate more profits for the operator.


MAHLE Aftermarket Inc.

Rick Greer, business development manager, Filters
800.338.8786 • www.us.mahle.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

MAHLE offers strong coverage for European applications, not normally supplied by the local filter delivery service. These applications represent about 8-12 percent of the marketplace, with most European vehicles using synthetic oils. This offers the service center a great upsell opportunity, a new customer, possibilities for word-of-mouth referrals and dollar savings away from dealership-type pricing. This is a win/win for the customer and service center.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

While cabin filters have been around about 20 years now, the sales are spotty at best. Technicians are required to make a tough sell to the consumer while generally hitting the many topics of services. The customer can feel overwhelmed and far behind the drive-in price that lured them into the center. It would seem that an industry effort to find a price zone of expectation, where this filter is the norm to change, rather than $59-$89 range.


Penray

Randy Fowler, vice president of Sales and Marketing
800.323.6329 • www.penray.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Since 1951, Penray has been committed to partnering with customers to help keep cars, trucks, buses, boats and service vehicles in operation with professional-strength products. We offer a comprehensive suite of over 150 products from brake cleaners and lubricants, to functional fluids and installer service kits all engineered for the professional maintenance and repair technician. We take offering a “one-stop shop” product line for all of your chemical needs further by also providing product training, POP and sales tools to help you turn customers into repeat customers.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

More and more manufacturers are expanding their lines to include vehicles that run on alternative fuels and energy sources. As these alternative fuel sources become mainstream, there will be new opportunities for expansion of services with electric and compressed gas- or hydrogen-powered vehicles that will require different kinds of training, inspections and services, such as system integrity and leak checks.


Phillips 66 Lubricants

Bill Brown, director of Marketing Operations
877.445.9198 • phillips66lubricants.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

European vehicle manufactures are continuing to diverge in their requirements and specifications, which makes supplying the proper lubricant more difficult than ever as operators are being forced to carry multiple oils for a fairly small, but lucrative, part of the vehicle maintenance market.

Phillips 66 Shield Euro-Tech and Shield Euro-Tech+ help solve this issue for operators by providing two fluids that cover a majority of the European vehicles in the United States. The Euro-Tech line is formulated and approved for European gasoline engines, while the Euro-Tech+ line is designed for diesel vehicles; an added benefit is that both products are produced right here in the United States.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Introducing RPM from Phillips 66 Lubricants, a premier oil and lube industry solution that helps you bring customers back and get new online reviews and referrals automatically. Marketing in this age of digital and social communications is a challenge for all of us. The idea of curb appeal now moves beyond the street front to the pages of Yelp, Google and other onsite review apps. It’s no longer about yellow books or a good service call — it’s about your online reputation. Building customer loyalty is a tremendous challenge, and for lube shop operators, it can be overwhelming. Phillips 66 is introducing RPM to assist in driving customer loyalty and more monthly revenue.

RPM can be a powerful marketing solution that supports the growth of repeat and referrals in your business. When you combine our high-quality premium oils with the service bay support tools offered to the independent operators, you have a winning combination.


PM Attendant

Ash Bullard, vice president Sales & Marketing
866.576.8957 • www.pmattendant.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Most shops are already taking advantage of one of the industry-specific computer systems. The problem is the expense and accessibility of these systems. PM Attendant offers a unique solution because it is the only one that is Internet-based. This allows operators a lot of flexibility in choosing the computers or tablets they want to use in their shops. They also have access to their systems anytime, from any place. All of this is done with a set price of $169 per month per shop.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Information is becoming more readily available for the shop. The challenge is accessing that vehicle-specific data in a quick and reliable manner. There is an opportunity for the shop to integrate this information into their workflow to maximize profits while still providing fast, quality service to their customers. PM Attendant is actively engaged in streamlining this process.


Sage Microsystems

Bob Sampson, president
800.724.7400 • www.sagesystem.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Car manufacturers and oil companies are both extending oil change intervals with higher-quality engine oils. Longer intervals simply mean reduced car counts. To compensate, operators must increase ticket averages by ensuring all services recommended by the manufacturers are being performed and/or by expanding the types of services offered. Sage’s Service Maintenance Schedule is colorful, with red, yellow and green graphics of gauges that clearly show customers the services that are recommended by their manufacturer at the exact time they are due. Operators simply activate the gauges for the services they perform at their shop. These gauges can also include severe service and/or preventive maintenance recommendations to maximize sales opportunities. This simple “per your owner’s manual” approach to selling significantly increases the services sold and does not leave customers feeling like they have been oversold.

For those operators who have chosen to add more repair-type services to increase ticket averages, Sage has integrated an Epicor ISE repair interface into the QuickTouch point-of-sale system. Epicor allows operators to easily reference all parts and labor time requirements for all types of more complex repair services. They can build estimates, automatically place orders with their local parts houses and then transfer the entire estimate into the QuickTouch system with the touch of a button. This solution allows our customers access to the right tools for the repair business without having to buy and manage two software systems.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

First and as discussed above, using the “per your owner’s manual” and gauges techniques to sell services due, operators should make sure for every vehicle that is due or overdue for a manufacturer’s recommended service, a sales presentation is made.

Second, our industry was built on oil changes, filters and fluid services. With intervals increasing, operators can expand the types of services they offer to increase ticket averages. Light repair services are profitable, fairly easily added to the service mix being offered and are needed by all the same cars that stop in for the fluid services. Even electric cars need these services. Examples include brakes, tune-ups, tires and, if not already doing them, fuel filters, cabin air filters and belts. Additional training may be required for techs, but the revenue upside makes it a potential equalizer for the extended service intervals.


Service Champ

Tony Sims, vice president of Marketing
800.424.3458 • www.servicechamp.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

Managing inventory is a key consideration for your business. If you don’t have enough on the shelves, you lose sales, but if you have too much, you’re needlessly tying up cash. Our customer-centric supply chain solution provides a platform that is tuned specifically for the needs of the quick lube operator. The combined elements of great product breadth, low minimum order, same-day shipping, fast transit times and an extremely high fill rate makes Service Champ the best in the business for any one-stop-shop system available. We work to optimize your inventory, which helps optimize your cash management and supports your sales.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

Thoughtful foresight from creative men and women brought about the oil change industry. That same grit, now more than ever, must be employed by clever men and women to meet the future head-on as the industry continues to metamorphose. Staying focused on your core value is imperative, but testing the waters through a more holistic car care offering can build upon your existing platform, thereby providing insight to current and future growth trends that may be advantageous. This may mean investigating a plethora of options such as carwash, vehicle inspection, expanded services like tires and brakes or being more accommodating to the newly emerging electric vehicle market, should it exist in your geographic area. Regardless of the service or audience, adapt and profit by creating an atmosphere that invites those customers in, rather than a mindset that boxes them out, simply because they are slightly outside of your wheelhouse.


Shell Lubricants

Don Moser, North America Marketing manager
815.534.5673 • www.pennzoil.com

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

The oil category is becoming more and more complicated with increasing numbers of OEM specifications; currently, there are more than seven different OEM specifications for 0W-20. The oil industry is having to blend a wider variety of engine oils with expensive formulations to meet many OEM requirements.

SOPUS products, the makers of Pennzoil, Quaker State, Shell Rotella and many other Shell branded lubricants and fluids, has a vast portfolio. The portfolio allows our customers to customize their lubricants and fluid category to fit their client base. Our proprietary category management approach enables operators to minimize excess inventory by analyzing the vehicles in their market area and carrying only the products they need for their customers — eliminating products that are slow movers or product duplications. There is no need to over-buy or over-stock items that do not have meaningful benefits to the consumer. Good category management, along with proper store personnel training, can free up operating capital while ensuring operators have the right products for their customers.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

The way consumers are purchasing and consuming goods and services is rapidly changing to an online world. More than ever, today’s consumers want convenience and ease of shopping; operators in this industry must adapt to survive. It won’t be long before you can ask a voice device in your home to change your oil, 10 min later your door bell rings and someone is changing your oil without you ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Don’t say it won’t happen — the likes of big box retailers did not think they would ever be under the threat they are today, and now, they are in a big way.

The industry needs to start innovating immediately, thinking differently about what consumers really want and how they want it, to stay in the game. Look for new types of players to enter into the car servicing space. If you don’t believe me, look what Uber did to the taxicab industry. They’re now innovating further with things like Uber eats. Let’s face it; not many of our customers really enjoy spending their time at the local lube bay or tire shop. If operators in the industry don’t evolve on their own, some player will drop in uninvited to the game — and then, game over. Remember how new players like Red Box crushed Block Buster; Amazon came after Big Box retail; and the taxi industry got uberized. What will be our story in five years?


Solid Start

Amber Kossak, CEO
877.290.3950 • www.solidstart.biz

What is a solution you offer to a problem operators are facing?

There are many questions and concerns operators may have. Some issues may depend on where they are located, how many locations they have and even the new technology we all face. However, one common problem we believe everyone understands is declining car count. Therefore, there are two things on everyone’s minds: How can we grow our car count, and how do I continue to increase ticket averages when I am only seeing customers an average of once or twice a year.

Times are changing, and we need to keep up with new engines, oils, filters and vehicles. One solution we recommend is training and education. To help increase car count and ticket average, it is important to be customer-service driven. We all operate our businesses a little differently, but we still operate with the common goal of keeping and gaining new customers. They say one satisfied customer tells five people about the good service they received. However, a dissatisfied customer tells 10 people about the bad service they received. Who doesn’t want a good referral?

When you are presenting a service to a customer, education is key! If you are educated about the products and services when speaking to your customer, they will trust you. Therefore, create value in what you are offering, and remember, it is up to the customer to say yes or no. In order for them to say no, they have to be given the opportunity. With new technology and extended oil change intervals, it is vital for customers to understand the difference between normal and severe driving conditions. This could make the difference in you seeing that customer one more time in a year. Other services may be able to be offered, depending on their driving habits and what trips are they going on. Therefore, know your customers, their vehicles and the owner’s manuals. Increase your value, and help educate your customers.

What do you see as an opportunity for the industry in the future?

With the industry changes, one opportunity we have is a stronger community. We have several organizations we can pull from that offer support like the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA), the Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA) and the Car Care Council. The AOCA has proven very helpful in offering regulatory support that everyone needs. Not all operators have a large organization or a 20 Group, so having the support from an association proves very helpful. These organizations have a community where you can learn, ask questions, make friends and not feel alone in this ever-changing industry.