Oil Changes Bring in Business


Oil changes drive traffic through U.S. service bays and offer the best opportunity to cross-sell other services, according to market research company NPD Groups consumer tracking research.

NPD found tire rotations, air filter replacements and car washes among the top services purchased at the same time as an oil change. With consumers driving less and softer demand for automotive maintenance and repair, automotive service outlets need to maximize each service occasion, said David Portalatin, NPD executive director and aftermarket industry analyst. Service providers who are providing just the oil and filter service are missing out on significant revenue opportunities.

Oil change drain intervals continue to rise, according to data from NPDs 2013 annual consumer outlook survey.

Consumers are telling us theyre typically going 4,100 miles between oil changes, Portalatin told Lube Report. I think that is a little optimistic. One thing we see consistently over time is that the interval is growing. So a lot of consumers – whether to save money or its because they feel like they upgraded to a more premium offering like a full synthetic motor oil – do continue to extend that drain interval, regardless of whether its do-it-for-me or do-it-yourself.

NPDs Car Care Track, which monitors purchase behavior of the DIY and DIFM auto aftermarket and repair consumer, found that among customers getting an oil change, 24 percent also purchased tire rotations, 17 percent bought an air filter or cabin air filter replacement, 12 percent purchased a car wash or car detailing, and 11 percent bought wiper blades or brake service. The data was from the fourth quarter of 2012, Portalatin said.

Car dealers and tire shops are more effective at cross-selling tire rotating or balancing, NPC found. Repair shops get a higher percentage of brake service and a variety of repair and replacement-oriented occasions, such as steering and suspension, fuel system, electrical and engine work. Quick lubes are more likely to cross-sell air filter replacements with the oil change, NPD concluded, but lag behind other service channels in all other categories.

Portalatin noted that many U.S. consumers are still in cutback mode.

While there are certainly some sectors of the economy doing well, and a lot of consumers may be going out and buying newer cars – which by the way may need fewer service occasions – the reality is most consumers are driving the same car in 2013 that they drove in 2012, he said. Many of those consumers are still motivated to extract as much value out of that existing car as they can.

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