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What Oil Change Franchise Owners and Managers Need to Know About Designing a Fast Lube Shop

Quick, convenient and low cost. This is what consumers want wherever they go. Have you noticed how many fast lube shops are available everywhere one goes? Some have oil changes with a carwash, a coffee house or even a diner. Location is key to any business, especially an oil change franchise.

Thinking about opening an oil change franchise? Start searching online or speak with a realtor. Location is the number one priority for a fast lube business. A shop should have easy access both in and out, be noticeable with easy to see services and prices.

Another consideration is urban development. Will the oil change franchise receive adequate business? Will traffic be a problem? Is there a street hindrance such as a median or no U-turn nearby which prevents future customers from entering your business or exiting into traffic patterns?

Once a site is established, the shop design is next. There are two ways to design, depending on the city’s building codes and land development: basement or use mechanical lifts to access cars for servicing. Some owners say a full basement is better because lifts slow services, and customers may choose another fast lube instead.

If a basement is used, the designer must decide how many bays the shop will include. Shop owners must research the building size before offering ideas to the building designer. More efficient oil change franchises have multiple bays to service more than one car at a time, offering the ability to service more customers and offer more services. Full basements with catwalks also serve as storage for supplies, bulk oil, cleaning supplies and a break room.

However, to minimize safety hazards, precautions must be installed. Since a basement has open pits, install easy-slide pit covers so customers and employees do not accidentally fall through. The sliding covers are four feet long and slide over each other down to the pit so mechanics need only open the area they are working on. When the automotive service is completed, the covers slide back into place, closing the pit.

Floor type is another safety issue, and should be included in the planning of any oil change franchise. A floor should have rough resistance and have an abrasiveness texture to it. Keeping an organized and clean shop is also just as important. Small spills should be mopped immediately, while a thorough cleaning of the shop should be done every day after business hours.

Convenience and efficiency work hand in hand for the most successful oil change franchises. The flow of traffic in and out of the shop should be an owner’s next consideration. The design of the shop should be convenient for the customer as well as the city traffic. The most efficient and convenient set up is the “one way in, one way out” design. Cars pull into the entrance of the bay and drive out the other side.

After the structure of the oil change franchise is finalized, the next consideration is organization of supplies. Air and oil filters, oil bins and transmission fluids, rags and cleaning supplies can all be stored so it maximizes time on task. Utilizing a basement for all supplies is most efficient. Shelving installed near the mechanics work area will maximize time spent gathering oil and supplies to service the vehicles. Label all shelves with the specific air and oil filter types. This will not only save time for mechanics, but also for restocking items and taking inventory.

Store bulk oil in overhead tanks to pump oil out using gravity; it helps to use all the oil in the tank. Buried tanks tend to waste more oil and need to be filled more often. Tanks that are above ground should have a secondary containment area around it as well.

Although there are many ways to design oil change franchises, efficiency and convenience should be at the top of the list.

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