I had an enlightening conversation with a guy in my local community business booster club. He is a fellow small business owner and had just expanded by purchasing a quick oil change business in our city. He was very pleased, as he explained to me that it’s a very profitable business due to very low labor cost.
“Really?” I asked. I would have thought that certified, trained automotive technicians are expensive skilled labor resources. He explained to me that he doesn’t use technicians. He said all he had to do is hire “kids” and give them a day’s training. It’s not hard to drain oil or pour in new oil he said. He told me that most customers don’t know anything about oil, and all they need is one of three basic oils that he bought in bulk very cheaply. He did stock “premium” oils for people that insisted on a particular brand and type of oil, and he had a healthy markup on these “call” oils. He also bought bulk inexpensive filters and parts that he said cost a fraction of what original parts so he had a much higher profit margin.
He went on to tell me that he paid mostly minimum wage to his workers. They received a commission on all upsells, whenever they convinced a customer to flush his transmission oil, or change the rear axle fluid, they made a few bucks more. With only a day’s training they were productive and profitable from day two. When I asked some questions he admitted that his turn over was high, his average oil “technician” stayed with him for only six months, but it was so cheap to find another “kid” that he didn’t bother worrying about his turn over.
Well, since he was in my club, next time my wife’s car needed an oil change I went to his shop. It was interesting, I didn’t even get out of the car, I drove into the building over the pit where they drain the oil and change filters under the car and stayed in the car. They did provide a cold soda for me. The guy servicing the above ground part of my car tried to convince me that it was time to service my automatic transmission fluid and filter, but the owner’s manual didn’t call for that for 20,000 more miles, so I declined.
When I signed the credit card slip they handed me a long form, a checklist with all of these “Safety” items they said they had checked. Brakes, tires, and lots of other stuff. When I got home I thought about it. Knowing that the guys where barely trained non-technicians, how could they have known what to look for on the brakes, cooling system, etc? I had no confidence at all that anything more than an oil and filter change was accomplished.
I wish my friend well, he’s a good businessman and I’m sure he’ll be successful in his new endeavor. As to me, I’m not taking my beloved M35 to his shop. My Infiniti dealer offers a service called
Further, I know that any parts and fluids going into my car are genuine Infiniti items, designed for my car. They always get the job done in less than an hour and when I get my car back, it’s even been washed for me! And the best part is, the price for all of this genuine grade service is very competitive with the price I paid at my club acquaintance’s shop. Really, for me, this is a no-brainer decision, right parts, right fluids, genuine Infiniti trained technicians and a free car wash. Infiniti Express Service is great, too bad the company that built my wife’s car doesn’t have anything like it. I guess we’ll look at Infiniti for her next car.