Timing the advisement of an oil change… Will you WASTE the CHANCE, or add $200+ to the RO?

In a session with a client last week, something I had been trying to teach everyone for a long time suddenly became brilliantly clear to both of us…and it’s going to mean a HUGE difference for his shop this year.

I call it the “first quarter” of the sales “game” concept. It’s the difference between a $15.00 oil change and a $350.00 average ticket!

The idea is this: when a person comes in for a quick service like an oil change, it’s important that we understand that we are dealing with an entirely different customer than the one who comes in on a tow hook, or who is seeking a diagnosis for whatever sound, smell, noise, or light that’s flashing on their dash.

The customer with the broken car KNOWS that he’s in for a process, perhaps even days. On the contrary, the oil change customer (think “fast-lube”) has an entire agenda already planned out for their day, and leaving their wheels with you for the rest of it just isn’t in the plans. So when there is a serious issue with the vehicle — be it a raw fuel link onto the exhaust or 3 broken wheel studs on the driver’s front — if you want the opportunity to capture that work at YOUR shop, there are a few things I’ve learned, (and that we teach) that you may like to adopt.


  1. Tell the customer that you are going to perform a complete inspection on the vehicle when you first sign them in.

    It’s a courtesy, but it’s non-negotiable. If they try to refuse, simply advise them that you aren’t trying to “sell” them anything, but that due to the fact that the car is in your bay, you have certain responsibilities…one of which is to do your best to inform the customer of any and all needs (especially of a safety nature) and that your “regular customer” actually want and expect this valuable service, so it is policy.

    (Remember that letting them dictate that you do not do the inspection could open you up to legal liability if they then leave your shop and something falls off the vehicle and they have an accident or incur some expense!)

  2. Be SURE that you begin asking questions about the HISTORY of the vehicle, and WHICH services have been performed as far as the PM goes!

    This is to open their minds to the sale and remind them that owning a car is much more than knowing where to put gasoline and where their keys are!

  3. Get the vehicle pulled around and out of sight of the waiting customers IMMEDIATELY (even if you aren’t ready for it in the bay yet)!

    Customers want to feel that they are the only thing that matters to you, the second they show up…  Waiting will create doubt, feelings of neglect, and will delay the process and lower your sales!

  4. Make SURE that your technician INSPECTS the vehicle FIRST, and that the customer receives the ADVISEMENT on what he finds within 15 MINUTES of signing in!

    If we wait til we have already filled the vehicle with new oil, and put the wheels back down on the ground, it’s TOO LATE! The customer is already thinking about the rest of their afternoon…their appointments, promises, shopping, etc…and whatever you say will bounce off their ears like they are filled with concrete. You MUST advise them RIGHT AWAY, BEFORE the “wheels are back down on the ground.”

  5. TAKE the Customer OUT INTO the BAY to SEE what’s needed!

    Next to #4 above, this is the biggest mistake made in shops every day…people think telling someone about their needs is the same as SHOWING them…this is simply WRONG.  It will never work as well if you do it like that.)  We have found that by SHOWING the customer WHILE they are SEEING it with their OWN EYES, it is literally 5 times MORE effective in capturing the sale NOW.

Ok…now you have the 5 MOST important KEYS to CAPTURING the SALE in your Oil Change operations.  The only question left now is:  Are you a good enough LEADER to MAKE IT HAPPEN EVERY TIME?

It’s changes like these that can turn around your Average RO and start to make you some real money…and the good news is, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

One last thing…I know there are some of you out there who want to make small changes like these to turn around your Average RO, but you can’t find the right people to make it happen, or can’t find right customers who appreciate service like this or spend money.

I know because I’ve seen and helped hundreds of shops in the same situation…you’re not alone, and you’re not out of luck.  Take a look at some of the other ways we help shops like yours and then drop me a line…I’m here to help.