If you missed iFLEX 2021, you missed a lot of knowledge and industry training provided in the educational seminars hosted by the Automotive Oil Change Association.
Speakers updated attendees on ongoing legislation and government issues, service advisories, and best practices for operators of all sizes.
Two industry veterans laid out a blueprint for winning shop cultures as part of one education session. The strategies were based on communication, integrity, and empowerment for your team.
“The example we set as a leader, as an owner, it matters. But we need to ask ourselves, what type of example are we setting for our team?” said Amber Kossak, CEO of Solid Start.
It’s not only important to set an example, but operators should be effective in spreading good values and habits. It’s crucial not only to grow a positive culture throughout the operation, but it is the way that an owner’s values get to the customer level.
Oil Changers President Eric Frankenberger put it like this: As an owner, operator, or manager, who is your most direct customer? It’s the team members who serve drivers.
“If you want them to exceed expectations when a guest comes into the store, then you have to exceed their expectations,” Frankenberger said.
Frankenberger and Kossak told stories about how they try to uphold and spread cultural values in their organizations. It’s not an easy task; there’s a lot of practice involved, and operators need to put in the time, even when their management duties are pressing, Kossak said.
“No matter the stress that you’re going through as an owner, a leader, a manager, you have to take yourself out of the equation and spend time on your people,” she said.
That means taking special care of employees in times of need. Frankenberger recalled a story from years ago when he was working through a serious injury that required him to re-learn how to walk. The company stood behind him, offering resources and helping him to succeed all the way up to his position as company president.
Through that kind of effort put into communication, a strong shop culture can permeate throughout large and small operations. Kossak repeated a truism that her father often said that underscores the strive toward excellence.
“If better is possible, good is simply not enough,” she said.
The opening education session on day two of iFLEX 2021 reviewed some of the big governmental affairs issues facing the quick lube industry.
AOCA policy director Joanna Johnson gave attendees a primer on the major enforcement legislation, including the Right to Repair law that passed in Massachusetts and the resulting action by the Federal Trade Commission aimed at curbing dealer and OEM tactics that discourage independent servicers.
“You have incredible competition all of the time,” Johnson said. “But unlike other segments of the industry, you also face anti-competitive behavior.”
Research and reporting from the AOCA led to the FTC’s announcement that it would step up enforcement against deceptive tactics that might push consumers away from independent facilities.
Johnson also reviewed current research into Hyundai and Kia engines that are prone to rod bearing failures, as well as multiple cases of OEMs and dealers attempting to blame lube shops for failing to properly install drain plugs.
“They are problem engines. There is no exception,” she said. “They all come down to this.”
Johnson cautioned operators to be diligent if an OEM or dealer attempts to blame a lube shop for these kinds of failures. Be sure to get written documentation of the dealer’s position, citing relevant technical service bulletins, and be sure to conduct your own inspection of the vehicle, in particular the drain plug.
“If you get a claim from the dealer that the plug is out, you’ve got to inspect it,” she said. “Do not assume they are telling the truth.”