Paradox in Fast Lube Data?


U.S. quick lubes data showed a higher average daily number of oil changes but lower average total cars per day, along with an uptick in yearly sales per store versus a drop in net profits, National Oil & Lube News reported.

For the 2013 edition of its Fast Lube Operators Survey, published in its September issue, NOLN collected responses from 4,414 facilities representing all 50 states. As usual, the survey asked for metrics regarding quick lubes operations, prices, demographics, employees, sales, products and services.

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This year, however, NOLN did not break results into the more than and less than 30 stores per operator categories. Instead, NOLN determined that combined data from all respondents would provide a better representation of the U.S. quick lube industry. Another change to the 2013 presentation is inclusion of type of store ownership. Among quick lubes surveyed, independent facilities represented 35 percent and franchised facilities accounted for the other 65 percent.

NOLN noted that a number of factors stayed relatively unchanged from 2012. Service prices, however, did change this year. The reports editor Tammy Neal said that except for one player — pointing to the price of a standard, full-service lube oil and filter (LOF) service, which rose by less than 50 cents to $37.95 – change is the name of the game in the prices category this year.

The report explained that the average price of basic, low-cost LOF service (for those who offer it) is at an all-time low of $21.56, while last year it was $26.46. Meanwhile, those operators who offer rerefined, or green, LOF services (34 percent of participants) reported an increase in charge per service to $53.84, up $8.84 from 2012s number.

While the average ticket total increased to $65.78 in 2013 from $65.39 in 2012, the total cost of goods for a standard, full-service lube oil and filter change dropped to $13.08 from last years $13.73. NOLN cites lower oil prices as a possible cause, but notes that its tough to predict the exact reason.

NOLN highlighted the average the number of oil changes per day (32.9) is up by one full oil change from last year. Average number of cars serviced daily, however, dropped to 37.8. This means that operators are performing more oil changes, but fewer other services overall.

Yearly sales per store rose to $764,990 from last years $755,332. Net profit, however, fell to 11.6 percent from 13.9 percent in 2012. The portion of gross sales used for payroll is down to 28.5 percent, while last year it was 32.1 percent.

Data such as the number of bays per facility (3.4) and equipment costs for a fast lube ($75,064) showed few signs of change. Miles driven by customers between oil changes edged up to 4,601 from 4,574 last year, while miles driven between oil changes by vehicles equipped with oil monitors dipped to 5,073 from 5,321 in 2012. The per-gallon cost of highest volume bulk oil inched up to $8.39 compared to $8.12 a year ago.

More change is evident in the breakdown of motor oil sales. For example, full synthetic fell to 13 percent of all sales from 20 percent in 2012, high mileage dropped to 9 percent compared to 14 percent, and rerefined oil is now at 4 percent, which is half the amount it was at this time last year. Conventional motor oil made up 49 percent and synthetic oil was 20 percent, although those categories werent included last year for comparison.

Pennzoil came out on top as the most popular brand in fast lubes with 18 percent listing it as their featured motor oil brand. Mobil was just behind at 15 percent, followed by private label at 12 percent. Trailing were an assortment of brands such as Valvoline (9 percent), Castrol (8 percent), Shell and Service Pro (each with 7 percent), Chevron (6 percent), with all other brands accounting for the rest (18 percent).

In synthetics, Mobil dominated, with 40 percent of operators listing it as their top-selling synthetic oil. Coming in a distant second, Pennzoil held 17 percent. The remaining share included Castrol (8 percent), Valvoline (7 percent), Havoline (5 percent), Amsoil (4 percent), Service Pro and Shell (each with 3 percent) and all others (13 percent).

The complete 2013 NOLN Fast Lube Operators Survey report is available on NOLNs website ( Thanks to Chevrons sponsorship, Neal noted, anyone can access all the results for free.

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