Starting a VERY small oil change business!

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Hi folks, I've been really at wits end with my 9-5 these days, and I've been thinking about starting an at oil oil change service. I thought I'd get your thoughts and suggestions for what you figure the general public would like to see at a home operated shop. I'll be doing this on the side, so I dont plan on a lot of traffic. We live in a really good area, just outside of town, with a pretty dense bunch of houses, and decent neighbors. I've got a separate deck set aside for customers to wait, and we're in a wooded area in the country, so it'd beat a nasty old shop any day. I've got a few leads on good pricing for bulk oil, that doesnt require a huge purchase to start with. Is there anything you guys can think of that you'd like to see in a home garage that would make you feel good about coming back? I've got places that will except used oil locally, so Ive got that covered. I'm just looking for cool ideas, or suggestions. Thanks, Ryan
 
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probably a cheap but nice stereo, playing some kind of easy listening music, cleanliness, pot of coffee, maybe some National Geographic magazines, or something, few nice prints on the walls. evaporated milk to go with coffee is a nice touch, or a carton of half and half, in a little fridge, maybe some other kinds of refreshments.
 
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I don't think you are going to make much money doing this. Folks will not pay more than what the local quick lube charges and that will just cover your expenses. Quick lube places make their money on upselling services, frequently unnecessary ones. Without a hoist, or at the very least a pit in your garage, oil changes are going to take longer than it needs to. I know you don't want to hear all this negativity but it is better you hear it now than when you already have the service running. Also you have to ensure you are not violatinmg any zoning bylaws. One of your unhappy customers (believe me, you will have them, you cannot please 100% of your customers) will look into zoning to see if they can create problems for you.
 
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Scoobie raises some good points... I would also do air filters, rad flushes etc. All the "extras". You also need to calculate how many people are in your area and how often they would come etc. to see if its a viable business. Also don't forget about liability insurance and forming a private corporation that protects you financially. ;\) Be smart!
 
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 Originally Posted By: George7941
I don't think you are going to make much money doing this. Folks will not pay more than what the local quick lube charges and that will just cover your expenses. Quick lube places make their money on upselling services, frequently unnecessary ones. Without a hoist, or at the very least a pit in your garage, oil changes are going to take longer than it needs to. I know you don't want to hear all this negativity but it is better you hear it now than when you already have the service running. Also you have to ensure you are not violatinmg any zoning bylaws. One of your unhappy customers (believe me, you will have them, you cannot please 100% of your customers) will look into zoning to see if they can create problems for you.
I hate to be negative also, but I thought about all the above issues. Plus, stocking all the oil filters and disposing of old oil may be a pain also. I'm afraid you might make about a buck an hour when all is said and done. John
 
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 Originally Posted By: Captain_Klink
probably a cheap but nice stereo, playing some kind of easy listening music, cleanliness, pot of coffee, maybe some National Geographic magazines, or something, few nice prints on the walls. evaporated milk to go with coffee is a nice touch, or a carton of half and half, in a little fridge, maybe some other kinds of refreshments.
Very true. I've learned that cookies and refreshments will make up for less than perfect work. Not saying that about the OP, but refreshments go farther than I would ever believe. I think it's a good idea for money on the side. I like places where the owner is also doing the work. It usually guarantees a higher quality of work. If it were me, I would much rather take it to a small/home business than some national quick lube place. Good luck with it. Have you considered offering premium oils too? Maybe truthful advertising such as 5-10,000 mile OCIs vs the standard recommended 3,000. You may not get people back as quickly but you will get them back.
 
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 Originally Posted By: BuickGN
Have you considered offering premium oils too? Maybe truthful advertising such as 5-10,000 mile OCIs vs the standard recommended 3,000. You may not get people back as quickly but you will get them back.
*COUGH* *COUGH* Amsoil... *COUGH* *COUGH*
 
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It doesn't matter if this is what you want to do. You'll probably have a decent core group of customers that like not having to leave the neighborhood, so to speak, to get this done. If they want more time consuming services, they can leave it and not be far from their car. They probably won't mind having it done next Saturday if this Saturday is booked solid or won't mind leaving it to later in the day since it won't mean a protracted trip to wherever to get the car. Invest in a waste oil burner to heat the garage. Your total money probably won't change but, as was mentioned, your $/hr will be lower due to the lack of a pit. You would be like an electrician who only gets one job a year. It really doesn't matter how long it takes him as far as his wallet is concerned. It just makes him feel better about making less money. Lots of people start 2nd income ventures on a "Saturday only" type basis. They work harder since they don't have the venture capital to get the time saving machinery. Carpet cleaning is one such side venture. You have to develop it to the point where you're turning down business and every Saturday is booked to the point where investing in the $50k of pre-packaged van systems are possible and justified (confidence). It's the same for lots of stuff.
 
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You could make a pile of money if you could source rust-proofing oils like they use up here at Krown Rust control. You could talk people into it to save their car from rust and to make their repair bills cheaper because the parts come off very easy when treated with rust-proofing oils. It also extends the life of rubber bushings etc. making for a smoother ride.
 
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I think I would start up a mobile OC service before I did it at my house. getting your oil changed by someone else while your car is parked at work is THE ultimate convenience.
 
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We used to have an OC place in town here called The Boob Loob. No kidding. The "techs" were topless girls.
 

ryan2022

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 Originally Posted By: river_rat
We used to have an OC place in town here called The Boob Loob. No kidding. The "techs" were topless girls.
hahaha, I cant say that I wouldnt go there! Not sure how my wife would feel about doing that, but I might run it by her. I thought Id clarify. This is just running around money after work or on weekends. My goal is to make enough to take the missus on a trip once a year. so basically, If I did an oil change once or twice a week, I'd be well on my way. there isnt much in the way of jobs in the area, and I need something to keep my mind active, because the current job isnt cutting it. I just figured something low key, but done by the books would be a good way to go. As to the Amsoil thing, this is what actually spawned this. I'm becoming a dealer as soon as I get the papers. I wont be pushing it, just offering it. ; ) I'm pretty open minded about oil. I shouldnt need to keep stock of many filters/oil etc... I'm going to keep track of stock, appointment to appointment. the poster that mentioned zoning, thats a good point, I'm not sure on that one. I'm going to go talk to the ministry when I look into the liscensing costs. OH, and when I met my wife, she was a Starbucks girl, so she can make a wicked mocha. We're thinking a mocha on a porch in the woods, while your getting your oil change, might be a good way to bring them back. It may all fall flat though, we'll see. I'll keep you posted! Thanks for the input guys.
 
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Also be sure to check to see what regulations your town/county/state has regarding inspections of facilities that change oil and that sort of silliness. Many locales have "licensing" requirements for waste and fresh oil tanks, for instance. Like some of the other posters, I don't want to rain on your parade, but I think it will be difficult to make money doing this unless you're planning on also selling air filters/wipers and other stuff that the quickie lube places use to pad their profits. The actual oil change barely pays to keep the lights on. Good luck.
 
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 Originally Posted By: river_rat
We used to have an OC place in town here called The Boob Loob. No kidding. The "techs" were topless girls.
I'd get my oil changed every day, and inspect closely to make sure they were doing it right.
 
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 Originally Posted By: mpvue
 Originally Posted By: river_rat
We used to have an OC place in town here called The Boob Loob. No kidding. The "techs" were topless girls.
I'd get my oil changed every day, and inspect closely to make sure they were doing it right.
 
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The mobile oil change service sounds like a great idea. It solves the problem of your home's zoning, saves you money as you won't have to entertain waiting customers, and satisfies the customer as to why it's taking longer to get the OC done. Getting yourself set up with some decent legal coverage and the proper business entity would help take care of a lot of the rest. You'd still need to see what people would pay for that, and if that would even be profitable...
 
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My friend does vehicle maintenance/light repairs on the weekends out of his garage. He makes a decent sum every month. As long as you have a loyal customers who spread the word to others, you can have a very successful business.
 
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I used to visit the Peterborough/Lindsay area a fair bit, years ago. If I'm down that way again and you have this running, I'd stop in for an oil change. An oil change by a BITOGER? Who could you trust more than yourself? Good luck with this!
 
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