No Customers Allowed

You wouldn’t put a marquee that read, “No Customers Allowed” outside your quick lube, but you may inadvertently be saying it anyway. There are a few common mistakes that can drive customers away from your shop instead of inviting them to stop. If you’ve been wondering why you can’t get anyone to pull in your bays, read the following list and make sure you’re not accidentally telling them to “keep out.”

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Do you keep your bay doors down?
After the winter most of the country had, it’s understandable your staff wants to stay warm and dry inside instead of having to deal with the outside elements. But, vehicles still need their oil changed, no matter the weather. Closing your bay doors when you’re open is a surefire way to decrease traffic. Customers assume you’re closed or not able to service their car when your bay doors are down. As a result, they’ll drive right past your business.

Unless there is a situation where you must shut your doors completely in order to keep the elements out of your bays, encourage your employees to prepare for them and only shut the doors two thirds of the way when absolutely necessary.

Do your customers know what time it is?
Not having a clock in your waiting room or in the customers’ sight line can make five minutes feel like 15. Let a clock do the bragging for you by making sure one is visible, whether your customer is browsing through a magazine in your waiting room or waiting in their car. You want them to know how fast you are, not wonder how long it’s been.

Do you start cleaning up before the end of the day?
I get it. At the end of the day, everyone is ready to clean up, close up and get home — including you! But don’t allow your eagerness to end the day unintentionally drive customers away. If you or your employees begin to end the day in front of a customer, it can make them feel unwanted and guilty for being there. If that is the feeling they have when they drive away — no matter how good of a job you did — they probably won’t return.

Do you post a lot of shop signs?
Too many shop signs can make a customer feel like you’re hard to do business with and make them leery of bringing their vehicle to you for service. Avoid posting multiple signs saying things like, “No Checks,” “Don’t lean on the counter,” and “No customers allowed in the shop.” If something becomes a problem with a specific customer, you can address them professionally and individually instead of potentially turning off everyone who comes to you for service.

Do your employees have side conversations in front of the customer?
Camaraderie among employees should be encouraged. It instills a healthy work environment and is an incentive for them to show up on time and ready to work. However, remind them to keep side conversations to a minimum when they are in front of a customer. Talking about “drinks last night” or “March Madness” could make certain customers feel uncomfortable. Customers who relate your shop with feeling uncomfortable won’t return.

Are you guilty of any of these things? If you are, don’t worry. The good news is they are all easy to fix! Keep in mind, the customer is king, and you will attract more than you know what to do with! And that’s a very good thing!

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Spring Training

The sun is shining, snow has melted, birds are chirping, grass is growing a brilliant shade of green and the frigid air has been replaced with warm a breeze. Yes, it’s springtime. Do you know what that means? No, not spring cleaning, though that is important. It’s time for spring training!

After the tumultuous weather much of the U.S. experienced during the winter, it can be easy to feel off your game. Have your technicians take a cue from professional sports and practice ’til it’s perfect to improve their stats.

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Run Drills

Every major sport, from football to soccer to baseball, has players run drills to fine-tune their athletic abilities. In baseball, infielders and outfielders will practice catching pop flies to work on their hand-eye coordination and practice tracking that white baseball while staring up toward the sun.

This spring, have your technicians fine-tune their oil changing abilities by running drills of your own. Set up a practice area for them so they can work on replacing oil or air filters. You could also time your employees on how fast and efficiently they clean the customer’s windshield and then have them try to beat that time.

Practice New Plays

In basketball, coaches come up with different plays for their team to run to keep their opponents second-guessing themselves. However, if they continually run the same plays, it becomes predictable and the competition will soon catch on, giving them the advantage.

Adding a new service to your menu is like adding a new play to your game. It takes time to adjust and have the entire team be able to run it as a unit. Adding a new service will diversify your play calling and keep your competition on their toes.

Preseason Games

Preseason games allow teams to assess every player in each position without a potential loss counting against their record. It’s a great way to let players show off their skills and get real life experience in a low-stakes situation.

Running drills allows your technicians to hone their skills, but giving them real life experience lets them put those skills to work. If practicing on paying customers gives you pause, consider setting up an after hours oil change “game” where you use the crew’s vehicles to practice on while your technicians show off their A game.

Spring training is a great way to shake off the cobwebs from winter and get into peak condition. Run drills, practice skills, learn new plays and get your techs game-day ready.

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What We Learned About Leadership From “Remember the Titans”

4014_c121-2-6George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.; our history books are teeming with great leaders. And as it happens, so are our theaters. As we settle in with popcorn and the lights dim, we sometimes learn a little something about effective leadership.

Coach Herman Boone, portrayed by Denzel Washington, and the rest of his on-screen football team in the 2000 film “Remember the Titans,” are a prime example because as we settled in with popcorn and the lights dimmed, we learned a little something about effective leadership.

To watch the trailer click here: http://video.disney.com/watch/remember-the-titans-trailer-4beb46cbf80a9207ce46f149

Lead by Example

“You been doing your job?”

The challenge was issued after a particularly taxing three-a-day practice, escalating into a heated exchange.

“See man, that’s the worst attitude I ever heard,” said Bertier, the team captain, setting up his counterpart to deliver this succinct truth: “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.”

As an operator, you are the neck of your business. You have the ability to turn the head any way you’d like it to go. If you want your employees to greet customers enthusiastically and respectfully, make sure you do the same. If you want your team to be punctual each workday, make sure you are the one turning on the coffee pot in the morning. If you want shop problems to be dealt with calmly, promptly and respectfully, remember to do the same in the face of a complaint or angry customer. If you want to find your business facing the right direction, it’s in your power.

A Nugget of Truth

“I may be a mean cuss, but I’m the same mean cuss to everyone.” –Coach Herman Boone (Washington)

While you won’t find “be a mean cuss” in any managerial self-help book, there are two important leadership qualities buried in this line delivered by Coach Boone: consistency and equality. From starting quarterback to third-string bench warmer, Coach Boone was going to treat every player the exact same way and every player knew what to expect from him. Be consistent in both your reprimands and your rewards, and employees will never wonder about results of an action. By the same token, consistency is part of good employee DNA. Good employees do their job to the best of their ability on a daily basis with each car and each customer. It’s also part of being a good follower.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. And maybe…I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”

With this quote, Boone gave us the work place version of “I love you, but I don’t have to like you right now.” It won’t ever be perfect, but respect for time, for opinions, for personal property, for all things and in all things, including disagreements. It will go a long way with all parties. Teach your team to reach for respect first.

Being a leader has its own unique set of joys and challenges. Should you find yourself in need of a little direction, it may be possible to find the truth you’re looking for somewhere between the opening and closing credits of a good movie. And if that doesn’t work, you can always, always, remember the Titans.

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Dear Service Writer,

After years of routinely getting my vehicle’s oil changed, I’ve learned a few things about myself and what makes me want to return to a specific quick lube. I’m writing this letter to tell you I care that the technician servicing my car knows what they are doing but — more often than not — you determine if I return the next time I need my car serviced. That’s a powerful position to be in, so use it to your advantage!

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While you may not think the time you take to greet me with a smile, ask to pet my dog in the back seat or look up directions on how to reset my service light — I forget how to do it every time — is significant, I do. I like that you don’t just look at the sticker in my window, write something down on your clipboard and trudge away. Instead, you take the time to confirm with me the type of oil I’d like to be poured and confirm several times that I don’t have any other questions or concerns. If I’m not sure or forget what type of oil my car requires, you refer me to my vehicle’s owners manual and we find out the answer together. Even though you may have sneaked a peek at my windshield, it’s OK. Referring to my owners manual assures me my car is being fed the correct oil.

I know it’s impossible for you to know everything, but when the situation arises, you turn “I don’t know,” into an opportunity to go above and beyond. There’s nothing more frustrating as a customer than to ask a question and feel like you’re getting a half-baked answer. Instead of just making something up or guessing, you take the time to find one of your co-workers on the floor who can answer my questions. You taking the time to do that instead of blowing me off says a lot about the quality of care your shop provides. I don’t care that you don’t always know the answer to my questions, I care that you know how to find out what the answer is.

I appreciate you explaining to me what was done to my vehicle and not just rushing me out of the bay doors to get the next person in line over the pit. The work order I receive is great! It’s color coded and easy for me to quickly understand before I file it away in my glove box. Before I go on about my day, you tune in to my needs and take the adequate time to answer any lingering questions I have.

You’re respectful of my time while still fitting all of these things into my service experience, and I know talent when I see it. You’re in a more influential position than you may realize. To me, you’re the face of the company, owner and technician. You’re the person who relays and explains the health of my car to me. When you do a good job, I’ll more than likely assume that everyone else on your team did, too, and chances are I’ll continue to visit you every few thousand miles.

Thank you for being professional, thorough and patient with me. You’re the primary reason I keep coming back, so continue representing your team well!

Sincerely,

A Satisfied Customer

P.S. Don’t be afraid to throw in a joke or two — funny always wins me over.

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Take a Step Towards Reaching New Customers

photo-1422728221357-57980993ea99Taking the steps to broaden your business and reach new customers is a little scary but mostly exciting. When you’ve spent significant time (We’re talking 50 plus years) in any industry it’s guaranteed you’ll see the best and the worst, the highs and the lows. If you do a good job you’ll become a voice for the industry, an icon of sorts. But maintaining a leadership position means that you must constantly evaluate what you can do to keep your business relevant.

That is what the brands Bar’s Leaks​ and Rislone​ have recently done by launching new advertising campaigns to engage their younger audiences and broaden their customer demographics. You can check out what they’ve done and get some inspiration of your own.

It doesn’t always mean reinventing the wheel. There’s a reason you’ve been successful so far. Stay true to your company values — they’ve served you well — but don’t be afraid to take a small step today towards reaching new customers. You may be surprised at the new faces rolling into your bays.

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Throttle Back: Tips for successfully balancing work and life.

mac-glasses“You cannot imagine the craving for rest that I feel — a hunger and thirst. For six long days, since my work was done, my mind has been a whirlpool, swift, unprogressive and incessant, a torrent of thoughts leading nowhere, spinning round swift and steady.” — H.G. Wells


Wells penned those words in his novel, “When the Sleeper Wakes.” Though written in the late 1800s, that sentiment has stood the test of time. Finding work/life balance is hard. When it’s time to throttle back, here’s how:

1. Track Your Day
You’ve heard the saying, “Time is money.” So why not budget your time like you do your money? Knowing where you’re spending your time will shed light on where you can save it.
Start by breaking down your day on a piece of paper. Record what you do throughout a normal day. From the time your feet hit the floor to the time you put them up, write down what you do.
Next, look at the day you’ve tracked and keep these questions in mind: Where did I waste the most time? What tasks can I consolidate? Am I completing my daily to-dos in the most efficient order?
If you’ve been feeling crunched for time, hopefully you find error in your ways and time in your day. Track as many days as you need to get the most realistic picture of your week. Write down a routine that maximizes your time and stick to it.

2. Say No
There’s freedom in the word “no.” Things that seemed quick and easy when you committed to them usually end up taking the longest to complete, robbing you of your time. Before agreeing to take on another responsibility, consider where it will fit into your day. Be realistic about how long it will take. Be selective about the “extras” you take on.

3. Say Yes
Learning to say “yes” is just as important as teaching yourself to respond with “no.” The temptation to be a one man show and take everything on by yourself is human nature, but the reality is, it’s impossible! For goodness sake, say “yes” when others offer their help!

4. Simplify
Take the confusion out of your processes. Make notes in your phone or in a notebook. I prefer to physically write my schedule down in a day planner. Do what works for you.
You’ll be amazed with how getting things out of your head and onto a piece of paper streamlines the day.

5. Recharge
Take some time for yourself. Do one thing daily that is for you and only you. Maybe it’s taking the dog on a walk, going to the gym before work or waking up early enough to enjoy a cup of coffee and read the paper. Regular time for yourself will help you not get worn down as quickly.
Periodically, allow time to recharge for a longer stint. Know what you need to feel renewed. For some, that means spending time relaxing at home. For others, it means an adventurous trip with friends.

Do you struggle with maintaining the work/life balance? How do you throttle back in order to keep moving forward? I’d love to know. Send me an email: lauren.henderson@noln.net

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Confessions of a Millennial

photo-1416339306562-f3d12fefd36fHi, my name is Erin, and I am a millennial, a bona fide member of the generation responsible for YOLO, the popularity of Justin Bieber, hashtags, social media oversharing and something called a selfie stick. For that I deeply apologize. I’ve heard a lot of industry buzz about how to sell to this up-and-coming group of consumers and have listened to presentations about how to go about it. Research and power points presentations aside, here are a few things I know to be true about my peers that can be used to your advantage.

We Like Convenience
It’s something we’ve grown up with. We’re talking about a generation that’s been shouting a number at a speaker box to order food since we were old enough to scream for a Happy Meal. We like convenience; therefore, we like you. Ten minutes to have my oil changed? You mean I don’t have to sit for an hour at the dealership? It’s one of the greatest advantages of the fast lube. It’s even right there in the name. Fast. Before we know it, our oil has been changed, tire pressure checked and we’re back in the Chik-fil-A drive-thru line.

We are Obsessed with our Phones
I was on a flight last month, sitting between two strangers close to my age. We were getting prepped for take-off and the three of us were frantically emailing, texting and posting long after we’d been asked to power down. The flight attendant came by, and the three of us, as if we were still sitting in our respective high school econ classes, dropped our phones in our laps and tried to play it cool. We were clearly waiting until the last possible second to turn off our phones. It’s a strange addiction, made even stranger by the fact that we rarely use them to talk. We post pictures, look up directions, text like nobody’s business, tweet, play Clash of Clans and when that pesky light appears on our dashboard, we turn to Google to find a place to have our oil changed.
If you don’t already have a digital presence, a mobile responsive website, or at the very least, updated and easy-to-locate contact information on your page, now is the time. Maybe it’s even time to consider a mobile marketing strategy or going paperless in favor of texting or emailing oil change reminders with coupons. We like a good deal just like everyone else. If we can flash our phone instead of clipping a coupon, all the better.

We Don’t Know Very Much About Our Cars
It’s sad, really. Barring those of us who work in the industry or have a real passion for cars, most of us have no idea what’s going on under the hood. We gas ‘em up, drive them until the gas light comes on (sometimes further) and pray we don’t get a flat or have something illuminate on the dashboard. Next time you see a millennial pull up to your bay, before they bury themselves into the digital recesses of their smartphone, explain to them what kind of oil their car needs, where they can find their correct tire pressure and how to check their oil. Consider it an educational opportunity. Teach us a thing or two, be friendly and personable and believe me, we’ll post, tweet, write a Yelp review or tell our friends about it. You’re also likely to earn yourself a loyal customer.

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February Promotional Ideas

photo-1418338249065-dfea5ee97c3ePromoting your business is important, but it can be difficult when there isn’t a holiday or some sort of festivity to capitalize on. Luckily, there are two holidays in February where you can do a fun promotion to attract customers to your shop.

Valentine’s Day
The most romantic day of the year is the perfect opportunity to run a promotion. Here are some examples of what you could do to get people to fall in love with your store:
Buy an oil change, have someone you love get theirs half off.
If a customer comes to your shop on Valentine’s Day (or make it Valentine’s Week; February 9-14), give them a coupon to share with someone they love. That person then comes back to your store within an allotted time frame with the redeemable coupon for a half-priced oil change.
Feel the love: Half-price oil changes from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
If you’re in the loving spirit, promote half-price oil changes for a few hours (or the whole day if you’re feeling extra generous), on Valentine’s Day.
Perfect Pairs
If you offer other services besides the standard oil change, this would be a good place to offer a discount. Bundle an oil change with a tire alignment and balance at a lower rate than purchasing the two separately. Mix and match any combos you can think of to help entice customers to purchase more services from you.
To make your customers feel appreciated, you can simply hand out a rose or a piece of chocolate (make sure it’s wrapped) after a service has been completed. Small touches can make a big impact.

Presidents’ Day
Presidents’ Day celebrates the birthdays of two of the greatest presidents in history — George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Presidents’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February, which falls on the 16th this year. Here are some ways you can incorporate a Presidents’ Day promotion:
$6 Off an Oil Change
Since Presidents’ Day honors Washington and Lincoln, discount the price of the denomination each one is featured on — the $1 bill and the $5 bill, respectively.
Military Gets a Discount
It’s an honor to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for the United States. Offer a discount to veterans, active duty and reserve military servicemen and servicewomen. Better yet, get some other local businesses involved and put on an event. See if a food truck or restaurant will cater in an area of your parking lot, have music and balloons and make it a must-attend event. Contact local news outlets to report on the store beforehand for maximum exposure.
Unable to put together a big event? Handing out miniature American flags can be a fun freebie, too

Incorporating promotions into your shop can be as easy as giving out chocolate and miniature flags or as extravagant as a full-on party. Remember, don’t think of promotions as just an expense. They’re a great way to get new customers — or those who haven’t returned in a while — into your shop. Once they’re there, you can turn them into repeat loyal customers with your outstanding service.

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Merry Christmas Giving

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This time of year we’re reminded how exciting it is to receive but we also remember the magic there is in giving. As a company, it is important to give back to the community that allows you to do what you do year round.

Quality Lube Oil Change in Auburn Hills, Michigan is working to make this holiday season even brighter for those in their community. This is the 12th time the shop has collected toys for local children in need and offering discounted auto services to those who donate.

If you’re looking for some ways to give back this holiday season, here are some other ideas:

1. Host a food drive. Have customers bring canned or non perishable food items to you. You can just host the drive or offer extra incentive to them for donating by offering a discount on services.

2. Volunteer. Get your team together and volunteer your time at a local homeless shelter, food pantry or other organization.

3. Write. Provide customers with the pen and paper and while they are waiting for you to service their cars they can write a letter to service men and women. Then, take up all the letters and send them off when you’re ready.

4. Donate. Give customers the opportunity to donate to a local cause and match their contribution.

We’d love to know what you do to give back during this time of year, comment below.

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Shell Announced as BMW Recommended Oil Supplier

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On November 4, 2014 Shell announced that it was chosen as BMW’s only recommended global supplier for aftermarket engine oils. The BMW brands included are: BMW, BMW i, BMW M, Mini and BMW Motorrad.

Beginning in 2015, Shell’s premium motor oils will be available to customers at dealerships in more than 140 countries including China, Germany, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We are honored to become the BMW Group’s recommended supplier of aftermarket engine oil. We look forward to jointly supplying, distributing and marketing these oils, as of start 2015,” stated Mark Gainsbourough, executive vice president for Shell Lubricants.

What do you think of this development? As always we welcome your thoughts and comments below.

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