The oil change “pie” is being split up in more pieces now than ever. Dealers once again want the oil change business just as muffler and brake shops are turning to oil changes and maintenance items to boost their profits. This has taken its toll on car counts at many fast lubes around the country. Many owners are trying to figure out way to keep the net profit from slipping away when doing fewer cars. Most operators are coming up with ways to profit more per car by adding services varying from cabin air filters to windshield repair

Some in the past have said that you cannot have a high ticket average and high car counts, but we have proven that old adage wrong time and time again. And it is never too early to start improving on your ticket average even if you are happy with the car count your lube has now. If you already have a strong car count a higher ticket makes you more profitable. If your car count is slipping then you can strengthen your net profit by having a higher ticket average.

When trying to improve your ticket average, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

One of the first things necessary to achieve high ticket average is “buy in” from the customer. The customer must believe you have their best interest in mind. Usually the easiest way to accomplish this is to take the emphasis off of the dollars and focus it on the service aspects of your business. It may seem rather odd, but it is what I have found works the best. Trying to teach sales skills to the average lube tech is usually unsuccessful. Hiring “sales” people at lube tech wages is not likely to happen either. So why try and Getting lube techs to “sell” anything? They really don’t want to and feel uncomfortable when you force them to put the sell on.

And donʼt forget customerʼs perception. No one wants to be “sold” anything, but everyone likes to buy things. We love to buy things. In fact buying things makes us feel good. We work hard and deserve to be rewarded, and buying things is how we reward ourselves. Just donʼt sell it to us, we want to buy it. So donʼt sell your customer, educate your customer on what his car needs to be properly maintained.

So if you are not selling there can be no overselling. Create a comfortable environment for the customer. Educate customers on the maintenance and upkeep of their vehicle. You never ask them if they want to buy something. You simply let them know the service intervals recommended by the manufacturer and make it easy to say “no” to your services. If these things are done properly the customer will make informed decisions on taking care of their vehicle. If the relationship has been developed properly everyone wins. The simple fact is that people are more likely to spend money if they are comfortable with your shop and employees.

Fast lubes, like many other businesses are so reliant on repeat business. By focusing on your customer service skills you are encouraging relationship building over sales. Again, the more comfortable they are, the more likely they will be to do whatever service you recommend.

A reasonable ticket average typically starts around $45 and goes up from there. Just so everyone is comparing apples to apples, we consider ticket average the net dollars after discounts divided by number of oil changes.

You can draw a straight line between ticket average and customer confidence, perceived value and level of customer service the shop provides day in day out. The more comfortable with you and your service the customer is, the higher the ticket average. Our lube shop customers average well over $50 per car because they provide complete customer service, not because they pressure customers for sales.

The trouble nationwide is that people want to take care of their cars, but have trouble deciding whom they should trust to do the work. If a fast lube builds trust and confidence with their customers by educating them about services and recommending only those that are necessary, then the ticket average will improve. But they must first trust you. We in the fast lube industry must overcome the stigma caused by a few but well publicized cases of “mechanic fraud.”

Be up front with your customers and they reward you many times over.