During the year 2008 there were nearly 256 million registered motor vehicles in the USA, according to the United States Department of Transporation Research and Innovative Technology Administration Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Assuming that oil changes are performed every three months on average (some vehicles have oil changes performed more frequently and some less frequently), that equates to more than one billion oil changes per year in the USA! The oil change business represents a huge potential market.
Once the domain of trusted mechanics, automotive oil changes are now frequently performed at specialty oil change shops. These oil change shops have become quite common, with many cities having multiple chain and independent oil change shops. These shops, designed around the concept of fast oil changes without an appointment, still frequently require customers to wait for a short time due to the lack of scheduling. Even on the occasions when a customer does not need to wait for another vehicle to be completed, the customer still needs to wait while the service is performed. Mobile oil change businesses provide a service that saves vehicle owners from needing to bring their vehicle to a shop, wait while it is serviced, and then return home or to work. This time savings is particularly significant for businesses who may be paying an employee to drive to an oil change shop and wait for the service to be completed.
Many, if not all, of the same services that are provided at the chain oil change shops can be performed on site by a home-based, mobile oil change service but with much lower overhead. This lower overhead can translate into profit for the mobile oil change business owner.
The equipment that is required for this business can vary from inexpensive and “low tech” up to expensive and “high tech” solutions. Jacks or ramps, drain pans, drop cloths, rags, basic tools, and an inventory of oil, filters, windshield wipers, and other fluids will comprise the basic equipment for a mobile oil change business. Additional equipment or supplies can be added as revenue allows.
A motor vehicle repair business registration or license is generally not required for oil change businesses. States typically exempt specialty businesses like oil change shops and detailing shops from registration or licensing requirements.
The mobile oil change business enjoys repeat business from customers because all vehicle owners need their oil changed at regular intervals. This is an advantage that every business owner can appreciate. Commercial fleet accounts offer the advantage or repeat business for a large number of vehicles.
The mobile oil change business also offers the opportunity to increase revenue from existing customers by offering related services. Transmission fluid and filter changes, coolant changes, and windshield wipers are but a few of the related services that can be offered to oil change customers.
Cold calling on customers by going door-to-door at businesses and strip malls can be a quick way to secure new customers in one area. Not everyone will be up for this approach, but it can produce results with persistence.
Business cards and brochures can be printed and posted on community bulletin boards or in office parks, industrial parks or strip malls. This passive form of advertising in inexpensive but can still yield new customers.
Setting up a business website allows potential customers who search for local oil change businesses to find your mobile oil change business. A website also provides a place to display testimonials from satisfied customers, information about rates, and detailed information about the hours of operation and services offered.
Business insurance can be a good idea for many businesses, and the mobile oil change business is no exception. Performing repairs or maintenance on customer’s vehicles always carries the risk of accidental damage, either during the service or while moving the vehicle. Business liability insurance can help to protect the small business owner from claims for damage. Business auto insurance should also be carried on any vehicle used for business.
Storage, transportation and disposal of oil and automotive fluids should always be done in compliance with all applicable regulations and laws. Check with your state environmental agency and transportation department for information about local regulations. Consulting with an attorney is another option to make certain that your business is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Starting a home-based, mobile oil change business can be a profitable business that enjoys frequent repeat business from loyal customers. Entrepreneurs who do not mind getting their hands dirty at work can earn a respectable profit in the mobile oil change business.
United States Department of Transporation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Site accessed on 12 January 2011.
Startup Idea – Mobile Oil-Change Service. Entrepreneur. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.
Greg Stiles. Mobile oil change business delivers the goods. Mail Tribune. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.