Starting a Mobile Oil Change Service

NomadAdvertisingLLCNomadAdvertisingLLC Posts: 3subscriber
edited January 2015 in Selecting a Business
Hello All,
I am planning and researching Mobile Oil Change Service as I hope to open one hopefully in 2009.  As one step in my research, I wanted to know if any SuN member has opened or know someone who has open a Mobile Oil Change Service.
*Did you (or your friend) succeed or fail?
*How did you (or your friend) market?
*Were people willing and interested in choosing your service rather than the quick lube places?
*How did you handle winter (the cold)?
I may be asking a lot of questions, but I know how helpful the SuN Community is.  Thanks in advance for all the valuable input.NomadAdvertisingLLC8/13/2008 11:27 AM
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Comments

  • NomadAdvertisingLLCNomadAdvertisingLLC Posts: 3subscriber
    Thank you.  This was great input.  I had thought of some of your points already, but it was great to hear that they work.  Thanks again!
  • NomadAdvertisingLLCNomadAdvertisingLLC Posts: 3subscriber
    Craig,
    Thanks for the input.  I love the idea about the Contract Discount.  As far as disposal is concern, several auto shops nearby accept waste oil drop off for recycling.  I still need to contact them to make sure they don`t mind the volume of oil I hope to bring by.  Truth be told, after all is said and done, it is in my 5 year plan to buy my own oil recycling machines and recycle my own oil.  That way, I can save use some recycled oil and some new in each oil change.  But I need to keep on task and plan for the other more pressing issues in order to start this up.
    Thanks for the input, its great.
  • shoemakerspshoemakersp Posts: 0subscriber
    It just occured to me to start searching around for forums discussing the mobile oil change business. It is easy to start thinking you are sailing alone here. I don`t know if you are still looking at this, but I have been in business since April of 2008. I would concur with everything that the above posters said about fleets. I planned to devote 50/50 to fleets and large businesses, but I am finding (at least in my area) that fleets are THE place to start. I still like my employer businesses, but they are slower and more work to get moving.
     
    It looks like you are coming from an adverstising background, that is very good. I found that there are so many levels to marketing this that I had not anticipated. One is getting in the door with the Human Resources and then there is finding a way to market in their business that is not disruptive.
     
    The fleets are easier in the sense that you are dealing directly with the customer, but harder in that it is an all or nothing deal. With individuals you can hope for a few early adopters to spread the word.
     
    If you are in an area that this is new (like here) be prepared to start very slow. I hope to be able to pay my own bills by my anniversary. I have yet to pay myself. I will grant you I have learned alot about my own motivation in this process, but getting people to use it has been much tougher than I anticipated. That said I am convinced it can and will work, it is just a major shift in peoples thinking and that takes time. Keep in mind that I am East coast boy starting a business in the Midwest, so everything feels slow.
     
    The biggest thing I can speak on is the cold. This has been the coldest winter I could imagine. I have worked on a -14 day and I have worked on a -30 windchill day. The main key is to dress warm, warm the cars thoroughly and be prepared to take 3 times as long. I am not going to sugar coat it, it sucks, but I am a bit bull-headed when it comes to giving in. I work outside, the trailers you can pull inside are too big and most lots I work in are already running out of space. Another upside with fleets is that many have shops and may let you work inside!
     
    I started with my suv and a trailer, but I am going soon (as soon as the bank calls me) to buy a used 1 ton van. I HIGHLY recommend a van, buy used if you want to see a profit, but buy a van. I have been hitching to this trailer for 10 months and I could scream. It is hard to take to networking gigs, tough to gain access to many lots, and keeps me out of parking garages. Also it very hard to heat. I set up a propane heater in the front, so that I can take breaks, but that does nothing for my tools. I am hoping that with the van I will at least be able to warm things a little on my way to the jobsite. When it gets extremely cold the air hose couplers start to leak too.
     
    I have a TON of advise I could add to this, but I will wait to see if anyone is listening:-) Check out my website
  • WebJunkyWebJunky Posts: 8subscriber Member
    speaking of which, i just saw a poster today in corporate setting (a flier rather) advertising something similar. a car detailing service while people are busy working in their cubicles and their cars sit outside in the parking lot.  very nice local concept and you can have your own immediate market nearby.  you will have to think about what you can do to keep your neighbor from doing the same....because word will get out sooner or later that you are making bank!
  • NomadAdvertisingLLCNomadAdvertisingLLC Posts: 3subscriber
    These posts are gold!  Thanks...please keep them coming!
  • OilgutOilgut Posts: 0subscriber
    I have been in the Mobile Oil Change Business for 8 years here in Central Texas... I can tell you that it is a GREAT business to be in! www.freedomoilservice.com
    I haven`t been affected by the current economical situation at all!! And Business is still growing.
    When are you thinking of launching your business??  >> That is important because you need to be pre-marketing for at least 3 to 4 months ahead of opening so that you hit the ground running...
    Focusing on fleet business may sound great but one thing you have to consider >> Most companies with fleets don`t pay out right away... They pay every month at a set date or 30-45-60 days from service completion. >> Some companies have fleet services that you must register with to take a special card like GE Capital and many other like them.
    I am not saying not to go for them >> I am saying that you could starve if you focus on them.
    Why?? How much money are you going to have to spend in materials and supplies and ectra insurance in some cases before you see a return?? At some points I have $15,000-20,000 floating out there waiting to come in... But my regular privately owned clients pay right away!
    How do you get the most long term clients in the shortest amount of time?? I will tell you how to pick up 25-40 NEW clients a days....
    Have 1/4 page fliers printed up in at least 2 colors and then go knock on doors... It is not a very popular thing to do >> Most people want to pay a load of money to advertisers and wait for the phone to ring >> But that won`t work ( It tried that and It would have been more productive and fun to just burn a few thousands buck in the fireplace)
    Why does door knocking work?? Because you start out by building report with your potential client with face time... (Critical)
    Many people will say that you spread yourself too thin by going for the private owners and not the fleet guys... Why would you do that?? Well... Think about it... What else are you going to do between those fleet clients?? You are going to need fillers and those fillers pay right away!! CASH IN HAND!!
    I love cash flow!! That is what is going to make your business grow!!
    Another way to market is what I am doing this weekend... Set up a booth at a local trade show... I have one set up this weekend at a local "Home & Garden Show" >> Why H&G? Because every year they get about 10,000 visitors that walk through and they all drove to get there!! Every Single one of them is a potential client and they are GOING to use a service "Like" mine >> So why not ask them directly to give mine a try?? I fully expect to pick up 200 new clients this weekend and that is looking good since I picked up a couple of dozen just talking to other exhibitors that set up there also. These shows work very well but when you are started out you need to keep you focus on growth every day... Good traffic trade shows happen 3-4 times a years in most markets so they can`t be the only marketing tool in the bag... Door knocking can be done every day and one thing you are going to have is time... You have to use that time like you use you money... You have to make it work for you.
    I can tell you a lot more... but it is probably better if you just ask questions...
    James
    www.freedomoilservice.com
  • lumbermanlumberman Posts: 0subscriber
    Nomad, Shoemakersp, Oilgut,
    I too have been looking into this a bit.  What advise do you have regarding essential startup equipment (other than a vehicle), vendors/suppliers, and any angles on "greening" the service?
    Thanks!
  • OilgutOilgut Posts: 0subscriber
    lumberman
    What kind of start-up investment are you looking to make?
    If you are on a shoestring budget... well... buy case oil and start a filter stocking agreement with a local supplier until you get a cash flow to reinvest back into you business....
    If you have a little to invest to get an on board dispensing system >> Ebay.... Search for someone that is selling because you will usually find a generic setup pretty cheap....
    If you are serious and going to hit the ground running and want the very best... buy or build a pressure/vacuum system similar to Sage Oil Vac.
    As far as Suppliers and vendors >>> you are pretty much going to have to go with whatever is local... some people can make the drop shipping work but I like to have a personal relationship with my suppliers... it help for when you are making bids on contracts and such.
    Green?? I guess you are talking about environmental concerns??
    I sell my waste oil to recyclers.... tell you the truth >>> Most people here in Texas are more concerned about how much my service cost rather than how "Green" I operate.
    Another Idea for startup is to ask you local supplier what equipment they can supply you with if you agree to buy you materials from them instead of their competitors.... Many of them will supply pumps, tanks, reels, guns etc...  They won`t have a clue when if comes to a mobile service but they can set up a warehouse or garage so that you can store and resupply your service truck.
    James
  • froggiefroggie Posts: 0subscriber






    My son and I have been operating our own `ON SITE LUBE` business since







    1988.  This is our 21st year.  The important aspects of this business are as follows:








     








    1.  The money market is not fleets - there are already too many people doing








         this.  The most profitable market is what we call `retail`.  This means pro-








         viding the service to individual automobile owners on a regularly scheduled








         basis at their place of employment.








     








    2.  We can do this by: A. Getting permission from owners of large office








          building to come onto their property and B. working out of an enclosed








         (heated) mobile oil change trailer large enough to drive the vehicles








         into for servicing.








     








    Copy this link and paste to have a look at  `lubeguys.com` 








     







    Fred



     
     



    froggie3/3/2009 5:41 PM
  • OilgutOilgut Posts: 0subscriber
    Hey Froggie!
    Good to hear form another fellow mobile guy.
    I have only been at it for 8 years and I work with my wife... It is much nicer than employees...
    I am not sure where you are working at but her in central Texas >>> There is not any competition so I find that there is a great deal of money and demand from fleets... In my market I have not really gone after any business in over 5 years but I see slow steady growth every year simply from referrals... Granted I am not in a huge market... The Population in my area is about 150K in the city limits and about another 150K in the county. I do agree that you make a higher profit margin on the individual owners but if you include travel time between the units... The difference is negligible.
    Basically the way I have my schedule structured is to start out at about 6:00 to 7:30 AM at my first fleet where I generally service between 5-15 units and then move on to some individual owners until about lunch time and I might have a few small fleets scheduled right after lunch if they meet back at their office... Then I hit a few more privately owned units until the after noon when fleet vehicles start making there way back to the yard and I usually set up to get them as the return until I have all the ones I was scheduled to service....
    On the average day I service 15 to 30 vehicles and it is usually about half and half (fleet/private)
    The Main thing to remember... When you are out building your client base.... Don`t swing for the fences every time... You will make a LOT more money if you focus on the retail private owner and work the fleets in as you go...
    As for working "in" an enclosed trailer... No way I would do that here in Texas... I set my rig up so that I can service 6 to 8 vehicles arranged around the rear of the trailer. My wife does the vehicle moving, paper work, and customer service and I do the "dirty" work. We have worked out a very effective and efficient method of operation... We can service up to 12 units per hour with a high degree of accuracy (If the client doesn`t want to come out and talk).... Of course I have my rig set up for speed and efficiency also... I built it myself and it is base loosely on the Sage Oil design but with a LOT of tweaks and modifications... I carry 300 Gallons of Fresh Oil (4 types) and I have a 215 Gallon Waste Oil tank.... I don`t have any pumps which reduces a lot of maintenance and repair issues I had with my last rig and I have my air compressor setup to pull a Vacuum (at the touch of a switch) on the waste tank (down to 29-30hg) to suck the oil out of the drain pan.... I run my compressor once a day for about 30 to 45 minutes to charge the system with air pressure and vacuum and I don`t have to listen to it the rest of the day! (nice!)>>> So I installed a nice stereo to listen to...LOL...
    Oilguy
  • froggiefroggie Posts: 0subscriber
    Oilguy,
     
    I don`t think you understand our system. 
     
    We don`t go to a person`s place of work to do an individual`s vehicle.  We contract with owner`s of large office buildings (500 to 5,000 employees).  We put together a one page flyer that explains the procedure and includes the schedule for the entire year.  The employer then  E-mails this flyer to everyone so that they know how to use the service and which days we will be there.  Then, the employer E-mails a reminder of the service two days before each visit.  We only move our rig once a day and we usually get between 15 to 30 cars each visit and because our rig is large enough to carry over 250 gallons of oil, 200 air filters, 100 cabin filters, 250 oil filters and over 100 assorted windshield wiper blades our average ticket is around $42.00.  By working inside our trail, we can assure the property owner that there could never be any oil on the ground (big no no in most parts of the country) and we can operate all year round regardless of the weather.  We do service fleets but we require a minimum of 25 vehicles per visit.  We currently service a local fleet of 52 service vans - twice a year.  We can do these vehicles in one day and by providing air filters, wipers, and cabin filters our sales for the day are around $2,700.00 for eight hours of work.  We normally only work 4 to 6 hrs each day, take off 2 weeks at Christmas and 1 week in the summer, we also take off every other Friday.  Our sales are around $150,000.00 a year.  How are you doing?
     
    Fred 
  • OilgutOilgut Posts: 0subscriber
    Froggie...
    I understand....
    Nice Rig by the way!!
    I am in a MUCH different environment here in Central Texas... We don`t have large employers here in town outside of Texas A&M University and I tend to stay away from there because it is too chaotic.
    I have a couple of deal with employers that set it up that way but they only employee 10-30 people and I usually service 30% of those plus the company fleet if they have one.
    My service rig is set up completely different than yours...I like yours but I like the speed of working on the ground... I understand the environmental concern and it is an issue that I deal with... However My first client was TxDot (State Road Dept) and they have a large number of off road, big industrial truck, and heavy equipment that has to be done on the ground... I also service farms/ranches and all the equipment that they use... Like I said >> Different Business environment
    You average ticket sounds pretty good... Last year mine was a little over $55  >> Keep in mind that I do a lot of light and heavy diesels equipment which tends to drive the average ticket up a lot.
    I also do air - fuel (diesels) - wipers....
    This last year we finally started taking a vacation.... Very much needed!!
    This year we are doing a 4 day weekend every month to get away and recharge...
    No doubt that this is a great business to be in >> I love the flexibility and security of it.
    Where are you located?? I couldn`t get your link to work...
    OGOilgut3/9/2009 6:02 PM
  • yuccakevyuccakev Posts: 0subscriber
    This is a brand new business for my wife and I. We started our company in Feb this year. Talk about a slow start! It seems that is is time to be more aggressive in finding customers. Word of mouth is going to be the best method of advertising and has been working already, but that process starts very slow and takes time to build momentum. I am just at a loss on how to approach prospective clients. Every one I talk to thinks that this is a great idea, now how do I turn that good idea into active customers?
  • OilgutOilgut Posts: 0subscriber
    Yuccakev
    At this point in your business... You have way more time than you have money... So here is what I suggest... It works really well for our company EVERY time we do it.
    If you haven`t already done it... Have some business cards printed up and during business hours make it a goal to talk with 100 people every day... Secretaries... Janitors... business men.. fleet managers... whoever you see.
    What do you say??
    Well... Tell them that you have a brand new business in town called xxx and what we do is xxx and you just wanted to give them a card... >> This will get you through the first 5-10 seconds and then you have to do something else... Step 2 >> Ask a question.
    "Do you change your own oil or do you take it to the store?"
    By this time they are either going to engage you in a discussion or shut you down... Remember >> You are out to hit you goal of talking to 100 people and NOT trying to get that one person to become a client because if you try to "talk" everyone into becoming a customer >> Well,, you are going to sound desperate and it is very off putting.  If you understand that they are just a number, then you won`t get down about a rejection...
    NOW... If they ask YOU a question... You chances of them becoming a client have just gone up about 50% >> People ask question for a couple of reasons... They are trying to qualify you to see if you are someone they can trust to do business with... or they are looking for enough information to make a decision...
    Think of it as a game... Start with a stack of 100 business cards and don`t stop until they are gone...
    #2  Another way to get business... Print 1/4 page fliers with at least 2 colors... I like Black and Red... But that is just me. Repeat that same process but this time do it after 3:30-4:30 at people homes... Yes Knocking doors... Canvassing... Whatever you wanna call it... It WORKS!!
    If you do this will will pick up at least 15-20 new clients every day... What is also important about this method of marketing is that you build a report with the person from the first second you meet them face to face and you will have better quality clients that will give you referrals than if you throw money at the tv, radio, & print advertisers
    #3 Trade Shows
    Why?
    Because everyone that gets there drove!
    I have set up at Home and garden shows... Gun Shows... Auto shows... RV & Outdoor shows... Etc.. And they ALL work very well!!
    For Example: 2 weeks ago I set up a simple booth at a local Home & Garden Show... They only had 4000 people walk though and I probably only passed out cards to about 500 of them because I ended up in a bad location >> However I ended up picking up a 140 unit fleet that I start servicing in 2 weeks... They provide all their own oil and I just show up and service them... Outside of that I will probably end up with about 150 new clients and the referrals that they end up sending me...
    Now after you get going and you are out servicing vehicles... How do you insure that you keep them coming back??
    Well you can`t leave it up to the client to call you again... So you take the lead and call them... "This is xxx with xxx Oil Service and I just wanted to call to remind you that your next oil change is due... Would you like to schedule an appointment for Tuesday or would Wed be better?"
    Bam! They are clients for life!!
    Don`t believe me??
    I will challenge you to try it for 1 month and then report back... It can be intimidating at first but if you push through and do it >> You WILL be busy!! I can tell you that those first $1000 day can be very exciting!!!
    James
    Freedom Oil Service
  • slopoeslopoe Posts: 0subscriber
    Does anyone know the EPA guidelines for operating one of this type of business? Also has anyone had to deal much with them? thanks josh
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