Archive for : ISI Expert

Are You Prepared?  How To Operate Without Your POS System

One question that many Lube Operators fail to address in their Disaster Preparedness Plan is: How do I run my shop if and when the POS Computer system goes down? I have been in a store during a power outage and the crew immediately stops working. They all had a befuddled look on their faces as if to say, “What do we do now?”

If you don’t already have a plan in place to continue running your operation without the POS system, get one. The day will come when you will be glad you have taken the time and effort to create such a plan and trained your staff how to use the plan.

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New Oil Labeling Requirements

Effective July 1, 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s new oil labeling convention took effect in many states. * The regulations require oil distributors to include adequate oil descriptions on their invoices to operators. They also place responsibility on the operator to ensure invoices carry the appropriate language for the consumer.

What does this mean specifically for operators? Basically, it means many operators need to “clean up” their oil descriptions.

I have worked with hundreds of operators and have seen countless variations of oil line item descriptions on customer invoices. Some invoices simply describe “MOTOR OIL” without brand name or SAE viscosity grade classification. Others include only limited brand detail like “Rotella” without distinguishing T Triple Protection, T5 synthetic blend, or T6 Full Synthetic. These and countless other examples do not fulfill the requirement to fully inform the customer as to the oil installed in their vehicle.

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Standard Operating Procedure: Why Consistency is Key

There is a reason for the way we do things in the Fast Lube Industry. Consistency. Customers need to feel comfortable knowing they will get the same quality of service each and every time. That is why we all need Standard Operating Procedures in place. One statement I always hated to hear was: “They didn’t do that last time!” Consistency should be a bell weather mark in our stores.

We established the 3 “E”s in our Standard Operating Procedures. This means everythingis done to every car each and every time. This builds consistency and in return, the customers know they will get the exact same service every single time.

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In-Car vs. Waiting Room Quick Lube Service

My first ever visit to a quick lube was in August of 1969 while serving in the United States Air Force. I was traveling from Colorado Springs to Champaign, Illinois in my new Triumph TR-6. While traveling across Nebraska, I needed an oil change. In some now forgotten obscure town I noticed a facility that I would later realize was a quick lube. It was housed in a military surplus Quonset hut. The facility had a dirt floor and a single narrow trench rather than a pit. Little did I know then that this concept would become my life’s career seven years later. If someone reading this recognizes this fast lube facility, please call me. I want to thank them.

The quick lube facility did not include a waiting room. I remained in my car for the service.

Seven years later when I opened my first facility, we had a waiting room and included an interior vacuum with our oil change. Two years later we decided to make a fundamental change to our service. We abandoned the interior vacuuming and modified our facility to become a drive thru, keeping customers in the car. What resulted was enlightening. We found the following benefits as a result of this shift.

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Inventory Management

Back to Basics: Inventory Control and Cost of Goods Sold


A basic rule of business overlooked by the typical lube store manager: Inventory is not product available for sale but a financial investment waiting for a return.

Far too often I talk with store managers who view inventory as an inanimate object. They think of inventory as an oil filter, a quart of oil, an air filter, etc. In reality, the oil filter should be thought of in terms of $1.68, the quart of oil as $2.80 and the air filter as $3.68. Once we begin thinking in these terms, it is much easier to understand the financial consequences of managing inventory. Effectively controlling inventory plays a critical role in the operation of a lube center, impacting earnings and the return on your investment.

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