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Business Operations

Oil and lube brand recognition

October 11, 2010
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As a small business owner you do everything you can to stack the deck to ensure profitability.

Why, then, would you not take advantage of branding, one of the biggest competitive advantages available to an automotive service retail business?

Branding instantly provides recognizable premium imagery to everything from your signs, building and uniforms, to your product offerings, customer follow-up and reminder mail programs.

Branding is an option
Branding is a viable answer, whether you go all the way and become a franchisee of a well-known chain, or if you simply align with a brand to borrow its already-strong recognition with consumers looking for premium service and premium products.

Borrowing the equity of an established brand is one of the surest ways to fast-track a new business.

Today, the ability to hit the ground running is crucial, whether you are starting a new venture or adding a new capability to an existing business.

One attractive option for installers is to take advantage of the people, experience, recognition and marketing muscle of a known brand.

The savvy businessperson will take advantage of all the help that’s out there, whether it’s related to operations, human resources, accounting, purchasing, marketing or IT.

Consumer confidence
In the consumer world there is a brand fact of life and that is this: consumers in many cases are becoming active supporters of brands, not just buyers.

Building consumer confidence is the key.

  • You don’t do that with minimum specification products.
  • You want to hitch your business wagon to a proven leader.
  • You want a sign that consumers instantly recognize.

Beyond the consumer recognition, tying in with a brand can bring help in many other areas.

There is no better service a brand partner can provide than showing the business owner how to be more profitable.

Brand imagery
Now, more than ever, it’s important to not just offer products and services, but to offer solutions.

In this way, upselling is not a dirty word. Premium upselling not only creates a relationship with the consumer that goes beyond the profit from one oil change, it adds an extra level of quality and satisfaction to the experience.

Premium brand imagery means nothing unless the operator can deliver premium service. Again, suppliers can play a key role in helping train an operator’s personnel in everything from performing special services to marketing those services most effectively.

But, make no mistake, uniting with a national brand means more than simply putting up signs. It means becoming part of a promise that lives in the mind of consumers. Operators need to do their part in fulfilling a promise that pays dividends.

Branding power can:

  • Influence customer preference;
  • Impact the bottom line;
  • Help command fair price;
  • Help slow market share erosion; and
  • Help rally employees.

You don’t have to be affiliated with any program, but you should at least consider brand power as part of your business plan.

In the end, choosing to put brand power to work for your business can enhance not only the appearance of your business and the number and variety of products you can offer, it can help your business planning and can be an instant identifying point for consumers.


John Wesley is senior vice president and general manager for Valvoline’s DIFM (do-it-for-me) business and is responsible for the Ashland Inc. division’s distributor and installer business in North America. He is a past president of Valvoline Instant Oil Change (VIOC), and can be contacted at info@valvoline.com.