There’s no doubt that providing quick lube service in your shop is a highly profitable venture. But if you’re offering quick lube without a good inspection process, you’re leaving money on the table.

Saab on lift

If a customer arrives for an oil change, pays, and leaves without having a conversation about additional work or future repairs, you’re letting money as well as a potential lifelong customer get away.

It’s been estimated that 80% of vehicles have something that needs to be fixed. Whether it’s a worn down brake pad, a seriously corroded muffler, or a neglected fluid, simply asking to complete more repairs will lead to higher profitability and customer retention. However, it’s all about the process. Check out these pros and cons of offering a quick lube service in your shop:

Pros of Offering a Quick Lube Service

It’s Profitable…When Done Right

Often, customers will go to the chain lubes for the small stuff—oil changes, air filters, etc., then go to full service dealerships or independents for more serious repairs. By offering quick lube, you keep all the repairs in house and reap the benefits of quick, profitable oil changes. And while the customer’s car is on the lift and the inspection has been completed, your service writer has the opportunity to discuss other repair and service options with the customer.

It’s a lot easier to sell profitable work like an A/C service, a wheel alignment, or a transmission flush when the customer’s car is already in for service.

Higher Customer Retention and Long-Term Sales

Quick lube services build trust with the customer, therefore increasing customer retention.

  1. On the customer’s first visit, the service writer should go over the inspection with the customer and focus on the good. This helps build trust with the customer, as the customer is on the lookout for shops that try and sell service(s) the customer doesn’t need.
  2. On the second visit, the service writer can talk about items that will need work in the future. The customer is reminded that service is needed, but doesn’t feel pressured to buy or suspicious of motives.
  3. By the third visit, the customer is comfortable, the service writer has some rapport, and an upsell is likely.

Of course, a quick lube isn’t going to generate repeat visits all by itself. Repeat visits require:

  • Oil change stickers to remind customers when they’re due for another service
  • Postcards and emails to remind customers about upcoming standard maintenance, as well as to offer coupons as an enticement to return
  • Personalized holiday cards, birthday cards, and thank you cards from the service writer to build rapport with the customer

Getting Started Is Usually A Minor Investment

In the end, everything most shops already have everything they need to offer quick lube services. If there’s an empty or underutilized bay, a lube tech, and a good process, quick lube can get off the ground. A successful quick lube will facilitate its’ own growth.

Repair shop Volvo

Cons of Offering a Quick Lube Service

Growth Can Be Slow

Like working out or eating healthy, it might take a while to reap the benefits of offering quick lube service. One quick lube customer a day, for example, might be all the shop can muster. However:

  • One new customer a day works out to 30 new customers a month, or 90 new customers a quarter.
  • If only 50% of these new customers are retained – and the retained customers return only once per quarter – one customer a day will grow to two customers a day in six months (one new, and one returning).
  • In 18 months, a quick lube that starts at one customer a day, retains only 50% of these customers, and has customers returning once a quarter, will grow to nearly eight customers a day (one new customer and seven returning).

In a relatively short period of time, a quick lube can lead to exponential growth…especially if the shop can do a good job of attracting and then retaining new customers.

Technician Resistance

When implementing a quick lube service, technicians can often resist. Lube work doesn’t pay particularly well, and a lot of techs dislike performing inspections all day without tackling bigger work. Shop owners and managers can tackle technician resistance by offering bonus time off and incentives for volume, but it’s important to get techs to buy into the benefits of a quick lube.

If technicians understand the potential for shop growth – and how that will benefit them personally – resistance is reduced.

Customers Are Wary Of Quick Lube Upsells…

Last but not least, it must be said that major quick lube chains (which shall not be named here) have done a great disservice to the industry. By focusing on high margin, low value maintenance and service work, the cheap oil change chains have trained customers to be skeptical of service writers advising repairs.

Still, despite the skepticism of many consumers, a great process can prevail. If upsells aren’t happening as often as expected, it’s a good idea to evaluate every step of the process

  • Are customers being given sufficient time and reason to build trust in the shop?
  • Are service writers building rapport, or rushing thru quick lube work to focus on larger tickets?
  • Are techs completing detailed and thorough inspections, or checking as many boxes as they can in one stroke of the pen?

Orio parts boxes

Conclusion – Quick Lube Works

It might seem obvious, but Quick Lube helps shops grow. If a quick lube wasn’t profitable, it wouldn’t be available at national repair chains, nearly every franchise dealership, and tens of thousands independent shops across North America.

Still, a quick lube isn’t for every shop, and it certainly isn’t “easy.” Success requires an investment, a careful process, trained staff, and a commitment from shop management.