There’s a profit to be made on oils and lubes if you have the right strategy in place
A market trend has started to form with the introduction of very low viscosity oil grades, designed to improve fuel efficiency and oil change intervals; opening up-selling opportunities for oils providing you can find exactly the right grade.
Mike Bewsey, Comma Oils Sales & Marketing Director, says that while 5w-30 remains a popular grade; this could be subject to change. “5w-30 products remain dominant as OE spec, but the future market trend as signaled in applications for the latest fuel efficient and hybrid engines is moving towards even lower viscosity oils in the 0w-20/- 0w-30 range” he said.
Chris Wall, Marketing Manager at Total Lubricants, concurs, saying: “It’s all about optimising engine efficiency: a balance between engine performance, engine protection and even fuel saving”.
Our oil experts suggested a couple of ideas that will sweep those products off the counter and into the customer’s hands. Bewsey advises technicians to offer top-up cartons when the vehicle is being serviced, so the motorist will have a litre of the correct grade handy for service intervals, by recommending a ‘top up’ with the correct specification. He said: “As far as engine lubes are concerned, the most straightforward and profitable method is to offer your customer the correct top-up oil for their vehicle. Sell your customer the appropriate 1 or 2 litre top up oil pack (s) at the time of the oil change service interval, and urge then to check their vehicle’s oil level regularly, whatever its recommended oil change cycle”. Steve Dunn, Sales Director of Exol Lubricants, agrees, suggesting that workshops should be stressing the importance of buying high quality oil grades to customers. After all, the last thing a technician needs is a dissatisfied motorist returning a few weeks later to find they have poured in the wrong formulation, causing damage to the engine. “Garages should ensure customers check their oil regularly and raise the awareness to some of the pitfalls of incorrect oils”, said Dunn. “By encouraging garages to promote the importance of good quality oil, motorists are more inclined to use premium products of greater quality that offer long- term benefits rather than a cheaper alternative”.
The influx of oils and lubricants available for petrol and diesel engines can cause a cloud of confusion among technicians when distinguishing the correct specifications for the job, particularly for businesses servicing a diverse range of vehicle models. To jump over this hurdle, most suppliers have a VRM look-up system in place to help choose the correct formulation first time round. Martyn Mann, Technical Director at Millers Oils, elaborated: “Our website has a facility called Which Oil? Users can enter the vehicle’s details in to find out the correct oil and quantity for the engine in question”, Mann continued: “We also have helplines where people can speak to a member of our technical team or alternatively, e-mail their query to us”. Similarly, Chris Wall from Total Lubricants says the supplier utilises a tool called ‘LubAdvisor’, what does what it says on the tin. He explained: “This easy to use tool allows technicians to look up the specific make and model in an instant, enabling them to make the right choice with confidence every time, with the information also available through industry cataloguing systems adopted by some of the big motor factor groups”. Les Downey, Managing Director of Lucas Oil adds: “The garage only needs the VRM, a PC and access to any one of a wide range of online tools and the specification is there on the screen. Alternatively, the motor factor can provide the advice”.
DEVELOPING ADDITIVE PACKS
Developing additive packs in house is a very expensive and time-consuming business, but as the number of VM-specific oil references grows it is necessary for oil blenders to either develop their own additive packs (which then need to be approved by the VM) or buy directly from additive suppliers. One company that buys ad packs in this way is SCT, which produces and distributes the Mannol brand in the UK. Jevgenij Lyzko from the firm says: “Our factory uses Infineum as additive supplier, as we highly trust their quality and professionalism”. He notes that his firm now produces various VM-specific lubes, which are easily identifiable by the black packaging, which have seen strong sales in the UK since being introduced two years ago.