Seriously thinking of starting my own small business

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Jul 21, 2003
I just talked to someone with a similar business model for this windshield glass repair. He was spending a lot of time driving and that cut into profits. Couple that with no-shows, trying to find people at their workpalce to bill them, he went to a fixed location and is doing better now.

If you decide to go via this route, get their credit card # and bill them before you show up (if that's possible). If they are a no show, make sure they know that you are going to bill them for the full amount.

I would charge more than 19 dollars. Time is money and you are saving someone the hassle for coming to them. I'd say that there should at least be a 10 dollar premium over a Jiffy Lube basic oil change. You may want to tack on environmental disposal fees and a gas surchage fee-these fees are easier to digest by a customer if they are delineated separately instead of rolled up in the price.

Good luck!

PS Don't forget that many cars have a plastic shield under the car and some are a fairly time intenstive to removfe the first time you encounter on (VW TDI is an example).
Oh and another thing...I'd buy the oil in bulk, by the drum. If customer wants it out of the bottle that'd be an extra charge.

As for what type of oil, your base charge should be for the bargain stuff-SUPERTECH or equivalent. Most people who don't do their own oil change are clueless anyway and SUPERTECH works just fine for a 3k interval.
I think it's a good idea. There is an outfit like that here that several people in our office use. HOWEVER, they mostly use it on the government vehicles, so the business is more sure to get paid (No chasing individuals to get a rubber check. Just bill the State).

I also would charge more than $20. Jiffy Lube (around here) charges more like $30 and you're going to be even more convenient because you come to the customer. Honestly, I don't think $20 will pay the true expenses of the business unless you're doing a lot of fairly large "batches" of cars, i.e. go to the office complex and change 20 cars at a time.

Good luck!!
Hats off to you for pursuing your dream! I'm still formulating my business plan

One thing you'll have to consider (if you haven't already) is insurance costs, which can take a real bite into your revenue. Being a BITOG enthusiast, I'm sure you'll do a competent job, but people are lawsuit-happy these days.

Good luck!
I did similar to this a few years back, with some of my widowed aunts. But I left my car at their house and drove to my shop. Did the work, and then drove back. Only problem I would have had is if I had stripped the threads on the plug, or if I spilled all the oil, or other nonsense errors, I would have been stranded without a ride.
I don't think that you will find it economical to go to people's work/residence and only bill $20 or so per visit. Also, unless you are doing a large enough volume to be able to afford to stock up on a wide range of filters you will have to be buying, at near-retail prices, filters as needed to do the jobs which will mean more trips to the store for supplies.

You will also have disposal and possibly licensing issues to deal with. Liability insurance is yet another issue.

If you want to play part time mechanic, better to have the people come to you. If you are going to go to the customer then you really will need to have a wider range of services offered in order to get your average sale up high enough to cover the travel time, supplies purchasing time, etc.

There is one in the Cincinnati area, don't remember the name. I've seen their trucks. I also googled it and came up with but it is a franchise operation. 23k-33k, it says. I think it would be a real time saver for some but might be hard to get it going. If it is spare time though why not give it a shot. Might also make up a checklist of things to advise owners on, like tires, fluids low, and anything else you might spot. Not to push like JL but just being observant. Good luck.
Just do a search or google mobile oil change franchise.
LubeNgo, oilextreme, oilbutlerinternationl, oilchangeguys...... all pop up.
Some offer territories, advertising, business contracts, and business development assistance.

The convenience of having the oil changed whenever/whereever should be a surcharge to the customer compared to a quickeelube.
You'll also need to perform all the quickee lube "free checks" of all the other fluids...... I personally wouldn't do it for $40 using a mineral oil.

This mobile oil changes work best if you have multiple vehicles maintained at one location. Fleet oil changes will definitely be more profitable then deadbeat $20 oil changes.
I charge close friends and family more if they expect me to change their oil at their place.

I also teach people how to change their own oil/ATF/ them select their tools/buckets/funnels/wrenches....which has a higher profit margin but no repeats!

Or, cater to the wealthy. Pickup/dropoff/washcar/fillup.....and charge through the nose.

Start your own business---yes, do it.
Run the newspaper ad once and see what happens.

But, think it out.
Get your oil changed at a dozen or so different quickee shops(in one day) and see what they give/charge.... Save the receipts and info(services supposedly performed), and then compare what you can offer, how much time you want to invest, how much driving you want to do, how much BS you want to deal with.

And, invest in a pela extractor or oil removal pump.
Mobile OCIs through a drain plug takes too much time. Plastic engine covers hiding filters and
plastic underbody covers hiding drainplugs take too much time.
You will have to charge more then $19.95 to break even. You will have to be bonded and or insured. If not, if you change oil on someones vw jetta tdi as an example, and you make a mistake, or if he wants a new engine and has a plan to sabotage your work to get a free one because his needs rebuilt, you better have $8000.00 in the bank for a replacment. Never say never.
About the only people who will buck up for the extra expense might be a person who has money to burn. What are you going to do to not make a mess or spill a drop of oil on a guys spotless concrete drivway? I worked at uhaul while in college. I had to put up with people who bought new homes, and the uhaul truck would stain their new driveway. You wont believe how upset they will be towards you. Maybe theres a solution for this like a tarp?
I am seriously thinking about starting a small business in my spare time. I want to own/operate an "I'll come to you" oil change business. I would probably use Exxon Superflo oil & AC Delco, Motorcraft & Purolator oil filters as my standard.

I would also offer my customers any other oil they preferred. For example, I might do a dino oil change for $19.95 & a synthetic change for $38.95. Oil changes are all I would do.

I would place ads in my local paper under the "services" directory. I think I'm going to give it a shot. I really won't have a lot of up-front, or inventory costs & if the business is a total waste of time & effort, I can just deduct my losses on next year's taxes.

Do the BITOGers think this is worth trying?
Thanks to all who responded. You raise some great points, some of which I had considered & some I hadn't.

I'm going to give it a go this summer. I'm going to start with the little old ladies at my church & go from there.

I would suggest working a summer at a lube shop. The knowledge you gain will be invaluable. Plus is looks better on your "resume" when you try to sell yourself.

Originally posted by C4Dave:
I would suggest working a summer at a lube shop. The knowledge you gain will be invaluable. Plus is looks better on your "resume" when you try to sell yourself.

This business would only be something for me to do in my spare time, as I already have a full time career. But, if I was wanting to try to do this for a living, I would definitely do what you suggest.


If you're serious, lets get together for lunch - I'll even buy.


Ted, I can't imagine seeing you holding the world's leading synthetic engine oil in your know, Mobil 1 ?
I've seen a couple of these businesses start up and go by the way side over the last few years.

Hats off to you for trying to come up with a business that you can make a living with.
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