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Up-sell at your lube in 5 easy steps

October 11, 2010
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Maximizing the revenue generated at a quick lube business, without going over the line and leaving customers with the feeling that employees are trying to oversell them, is truly a balancing act.

It is also critically important to customer retention and ultimately, the success of a business.

Customers are aware
Being successful at maximizing revenue-per-customer has to do with:

  • The image of a business;
  • The range of products and services offered;
  • Pricing;
  • Quality of products;
  • How the products and services are presented; and
  • How customers feel about the owner and employees.

Yes, the work needs to be done properly and in a timeframe that is acceptable to the customer, but that is the base expectation.

Simply meeting that minimum expectation is not going to overly impress most customers.

There are five distinct components to consider in order to simplify the process of maximizing revenue and reach above and beyond expectations.

  1. Range of products and services
    A customer’s car has many service needs and a lube business is not going to maximize revenue per car if it only offers a few service items.

    No matter how good a job the shop does of checking and presenting a particular product or service with every customer, no business can sell enough of any one product to make the sales numbers increase at the end of the week.

    The percentages of cars coming into a business that need a transmission service on a given day are just not high.

    Lube owners need to offer an appropriately broad range of products and services to accommodate the actual needs of a customer’s vehicle.

    By doing this, lube shops will be providing customers with a more convenient service offering because they have the option of having more work done on their car at one shop.

  2. Presentation technique
    There are many ways to present a service or product to a customer. However, you shouldn’t sell products, you should present information.

    No one really likes being sold to, and most people working in the service sector of the car-care industry do not like to sell. Stop trying to sell and learn to properly present information.

    A couple of points that will make presenting easier and more effective are:

    • Always make sure to review the customer’s service history at check-in and prior to the service review. If the information is kept on a computer, print it out and use it as a reference point.
    • Always use the manufacturer’s recommendations as a stronghold on which to base a presentation to a customer about recommended services.

    In the customer’s mind, the manufacturer built the car and has the final word on what needs to be done to maintain it properly.

    If they choose not to do what the manufacturer recommends, then they are not saying no to the owner or employee, they are really saying no to the manufacturer.

  3. Consistency
    Never try to pre-judge a customer’s willingness and ability to purchase additional services for their car.

    Lube shops may occasionally get the customer who immediately asks workers not to try to sell them anything, just change their oil. And the shop must honor that customer’s request, but employees must still do their job and advise them of services which might be needed.

    With that particular customer the owner or workers might want to simply tell the customer during check-out that notations were made on their receipt highlighting the services that might be needed based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

    Explain that if they need the services in the future, the shop would be happy to perform them.

    However, owners and employees need to be consistent in advising a customer of additional services or products they may need.

    Customers will appreciate it and the shop will be providing a more valuable and comprehensive service.

  4. Focus on revenue
    The next hurdle to achieving maximized revenue is keeping the focus on the activities which generate higher revenue, and measuring statistics that objectively tell owners important information about how the lube is or is not accomplishing goals.

    Experience shows that most operators are not achieving their revenue potential because they are simply not focusing on the activities that cause revenue to grow. Even with a limited range of services and only marginal technique, if an operator and his or her staff focus on revenue generating activities, increases will occur.

    Don’t oversell a customer to generate higher revenue, but focus on activities that will lead to proper and complete servicing of a customer’s car and subsequently, higher revenue-per-car.

    Focus is a critical element to achieving higher revenue-per-customer. Owners must:

    • Talk about it;
    • Show their staff how to check the vehicle for needed services;
    • Train their staff on how to qualify the customer; and
    • Explain how to properly communicate and present to the customer.

    If the staff hears the owner talk about speed of service they will try to work faster. If they hear them talk about excellence in customer service they give better service.

    And if they hear the owner talk about properly and completely servicing a customer’s vehicle they will check and present more.

  5. Measurement
    Measurement gives the owner the information needed to determine if what the business is doing is producing the desired results, and gives the owner a tool to help better plan his or her service model.

    On the surface, focus and measurement may seem similar but owners can have a focus on something and yet, if they don’t measure it, they won’t really know if the business is achieving it.

    If it’s not measured, it can’t be managed.

    In addition to the obvious measurements like sales, car counts and specific categories of sales, owners should also be measuring how long customers wait for services at their facility.

    Customers waiting over an hour for an oil change are not likely to purchase additional services, which will keep them at the facility even longer.

    Customers have limits on time and money. Be proactive in helping to manage the time aspect for a customer, so the money aspect is less of a consideration.

    Measurements will help the owner and employees understand current performance and projected improvements. Measurements must be clearly communicated amongst the team.

    Review these numbers with employees on a weekly basis. Let the staff know how they are doing as a team.

    Putting it all together
    Make sure the staff is giving every customer the opportunity to purchase the products and services they need to keep their car in peak operating condition.

    Offer the appropriate range of services, plan and practice presentations, and make it easy for customers to say "yes."

    Be consistent and focus on making sure the lube is giving the customer a complete picture of vehicle maintenance. Talk about it, and don’t forget to measure it.


    Joseph Rosales is the founder and president of Customer Service Solutions, Inc., which offers consulting services and improvement solutions for fast lubes, car dealership service centers, and more.