Mobile oil change businesses are very difficult to succeed
There have been many people who have come and gone in the mobile oil change business. It always looks easy from the surface and is relatively inexpensive to start with a minimal investment compared to most other companies. But most mobile oil change operators rarely make it past the first year. In fact, most don’t make it past the first few months. One has to wonder why such a good idea eventually ends up in failure. Let’s take a closer look.
First, the profits generated by oil changes are not enough to maintain a healthy business. After calculating the cost of goods from the total bill, there is seldom a net profit of more than twenty-five dollars with the typical oil change. And that figure does not include the gas used to drive to the actual location. You have to do a lot of oil changes per day so that you can make a decent profit to support your business and personal expenses. Most fast lubricants produce even less due to their substantially higher overload, but they make up for it in high volume. The most successful fixed locations are doing 60 oil changes on a bad day. A mobile oil change company, with one or maybe two people working most of the time, doesn’t have that luxury. The most a typical mobile oil change truck can do is ten oil changes a day and then the operator is exhausted. And even if a person could consistently do ten oil changes a day, they still have to generate those oil changes from somewhere. They do not magically appear. Do you have a plan for how to do that? Most start out thinking that corporate campuses will provide tons of business, especially if it is marketed by the companies there. In reality, that rarely works as advertised and you’ll be lucky if you get 10 clients in a year from a huge corporate campus. The bottom line is that the net per oil change is too low to make a viable business without a lot of volume.
Second, many mobile oil change operators are not very good salespeople. They are usually very honest and passionate people about what they do and you must love that, but I have found that most mobile oil change owners are terrible at the end of sales. They are usually the type who try to charge a lot less than the current market rate and think they can tell some people about their “amazing service” and wait by the phone. That never works. You have to go out and find them. You have to make a lot of cold calls. You have to talk to a lot of fleet managers and sell yourself first and then at your service. Most of those who work in the mobile oil change business do not fully understand this or are never really into this aspect of the business. It is probably the most important part not only in the mobile oil change business, but also in any business. I’ll take a chance and say that if you are a great salesperson, you will do well running a mobile oil change business or franchise. If you know cars but not sales, I recommend working for a new or used car dealership for 2-3 months and getting the experience. It will be difficult and scary, but that’s the fastest way to get good sales without a lot of “fluff.” Then open your mobile oil change company.
Third, you can’t underestimate the weather by limiting what mobile oil change operators can do. There are few states that have decent weather year-round. Half of the states are very cold for several months of the year and the other half are very hot for 3/4 of the year. Both are equally daunting. A fixed location can turn on the air or turn on the heat. Its operators work in a controlled environment. You don’t have that luxury. You may have multiple fleets planned for a day and it may be pouring rain that day. Have you thought about changing the oil at 0 degrees? Your hands won’t be able to grip that oil filter or wretched is as hard as a rock or you can’t feel them. Or change 150 degree hot engine oil in 100 degree humid weather in a vehicle where the oil filter is in the middle of a hot engine sump and you have to burn to get to it? Do you clean it up and skip it or burn to get to it? That will pass.
Having mentioned these three major obstacles, and there are more, I will say that it is not impossible. I have done it. But I wish someone had been honest with me before me and my partner spent over $ 80,000 in the mobile oil change business. We were sold many unrealistic hopes and dreams from Jet Set Life Technologies of great wealth using a flawed model involving extreme oil. They installed a nice van for us and their product is good, but their entire system is faulty from the bottom up. We found a way to make it work, but sadly 90% of mobile oil change company operators don’t. The success rate is very small. Understand what is really involved and if you think you can push yourself and not make money for 2-3 years then go for it.