Starting a mobile oil change business can be a good business idea, especially with the flexibility and profit attached with it. This BusinessZeal article will tell you how to initiate such a business.
➦ Starting Tip
A mobile oil change business enables you to go out and service a customer at his location. Capitalize the most on this USP, which a stationary oil change business lacks by providing quality and efficient service in order to stay ahead of competition.
If you are ready to get your hands dirty for a good amount of cash, starting a mobile oil change business is the vocation for you. A car owner needs to change and replace the car oil after every few months. However, given his busy schedule, it becomes extremely difficult for him to drop the car at the vendor’s place and collect it back. This is exactly why mobile oil change businesses have become extremely popular of late. All that a customer has to do is to tell the mobile oil business owner his address, and the work will be done. A trailer or van with the equipment will go to the place of the car, pump out the existing oil, and change the oil filter. The car owner will be then provided with a sticker notifying him about the date of his current oil change and the due date of the next one. This arrangement is extremely beneficial for the car owner as he saves a lot of time and effort. As all cars need oil change at regular intervals, if you provide quality service, you will get many repeat customers. Hence, this becomes one of the most lucrative businesses. If you want to know how to start a mobile oil change business, read the following points.
Conduct market feasibility research to understand the viability of this business option. See if you are able to start this business within your allotted budget or you need to avail a loan. If you are going for a startup, consider buying an existing business or becoming a part of a franchise. You will have to strategize your operations, marketing, planning, pricing, etc., based on the type of business you choose. Plan the money you will have to raise for this venture. If you are availing a loan, having a good business plan in place is a must. Calculate revenue projections to get an idea of the kind of profit you will book through this business. It is always better to ask a person heading a similar business from a non-competitive area to mentor you. You will also need a valid business plan if you opt for a loan.
Study the market to understand the composition of your target market and competitors. Understand what is the strategy implemented by successful businesses. Remember that you will not only face tough competition from other entrepreneurs, but also from big brands with chain stores and auto dealership. Try to gage their strengths and weaknesses. Being a small player, you will not be able to compromise on the price. Hence, you should try to provide prompt and timely service to keep up with the competition.
If you are planning to go for a start-up which requires buying new equipment, it will cost you higher than buying an existing business. You can get equipment that ranges between cost-friendly to explosively expensive. You will have to decide the budget for your investment and make the purchase accordingly. Most of the leading oil change equipment companies will have their agencies who will offer you loans. However, you will need to have a good credit score for this. You can also avail an SBA loan or get a bank loan. Sourcing finance from a credit union or family and friends will also enable you to raise capital.
Registration and License
It is important that you register your business name. Ensure that the name has not been used earlier by verifying it with the secretary of state’s office. You will also have to register as ‘doing business as.’ Inquire with your local and state authorities to know about the license, permits, and permissions required by you. You will need to take a sales tax license. Generally, you will not require a business license to start an oil change business. However, you should inquire with your state’s Environmental Protection Agency and Transport Department regarding the laws and regulations about transport, recycling, and disposal of waste oil which is less than 55 gallons.
Equipment and Oils
You will need standard or synthetic car oil and other fluids. You also need to buy a pressure/vacuum system from a known brand. You will have to get a drain pan for accumulation of used oil. A used filter container will allow you to store the used filters upside down to remove the leftover oil. You will also require dipstick tubes of various sizes, hoses, and barrel straws for vacuuming fluids. The control panel of the trailer will be mounted on a skid for air compression. Apart from this, you will have to get basic equipment like transmission flushing machines, windshield wipers and washer fluid, oil tanks, radiator flushing machines, air cleaners, etc. You will also need jacks, ramps, antifreeze, drop cloths, oil drain buckets, etc. You can keep adding to the business as it expands. Many equipment companies will offer free training sessions. Two of the most leading and trusted equipment companies are Lube ‘n Go and Sage Oil Vac.
You will need to buy a trailer or any other motor vehicle that can go from place to place for changing oil. You can buy it based on your requirement, budget, empty weight, operating weight, and the gallon capacity. You have the option of going for an open or close trailer. As you will be using this vehicle every day, it is essential that you buy it instead of hiring one. Also, do not get a secondhand vehicle at a lower cost because eventually you will have to expend a lot on repairs and overhauling.
Marketing and Promotion
Branding on your mobile oil changing vehicle is a good way to promote your business. Host a website giving details about your services, rates, online scheduling, etc., and ensure that it is optimized for SEO keywords. Don’t forget to mention your client testimonials. Take your business the social media way to have a lasting impression on prospective clients. Cold calling, door-to-door marketing, flyers, emails, posters at areas of high foot traffic, etc., should be undertaken to reach out to your prospective customers. You can set up a contact program where you call the customers at regular intervals and remind them about their oil change. This will also generate a lot of business for you. One of the wise marketing strategies for this type of business is to set up booths at local trade shows, exhibitions, consumer forums, etc., that have a good traffic. As thousands of people will be driving over a distance to reach there, a service like yours will be highly preferred by them. While they attend the exhibition, you can change the oil in their car. If you are going to put up signages, check the zoning restrictions in your area.
You will have to hire and train employees if you have more than one oil changing vehicle. It is also better that you recruit employees because your business will not suffer in your absence. You will have to provide them with uniforms and tools. There are companies who ask the employees to get their own hand tools to save cost. However, you will have to give them a proper training to avoid wastage of oil and problems to the customers’ cars.
As your business is heavily dependent on your mobile oil changing vehicle, it is important that you get a business auto insurance for it. You will also have to get an insurance for your garage and equipment. As you will be dealing with other people’s vehicles, it is better that you get a business liability insurance in case of reimbursement of any accidental damage to them. For a small scale entrepreneur, a hefty sum of compensation will take a huge bite from his income. Hence, this will help protect your personal assets and finances, if there is a lawsuit against your business from a customer for damage to his car. Try to consult an insurance expert to know what kind of insurance will be required by you.
Apart from the oil changing service, you can also offer total fluid replacements, tire rotation, and coolant changes. Other than this, you can also give allied services like filter changes and windshield wiper replacement. You can also venture into repairs and maintenance. You can also make the customers feel comfortable by offering them a place to sit and give them some coffee, while they wait to get their car back. You can become a vendor for oil change of many commercial fleet services as well as private clients. You can also have a contract with owners of office buildings who can put up a flyer about your services and entire year’s schedule. You can earn extra revenue by selling the used oil to oil recovery companies.
As you will be saving on the cost of leasing or buying an office for your business, you can utilize this amount for your capital investment. Remember that customer convenience and satisfaction is the key to a successful oil and lube business. You will be able to widen your customer base through word-of-mouth promotion. It is okay if you do not have an office, but you will have to allocate an area for vehicle and equipment storage. Appoint an accountant to look after your books of accounts; he will also be able to tell you about the taxes that you need to pay. Now that this BusinessZeal article has provided you a guide to start a mobile oil change business, go ahead and implement your business plan to rake in profits.