Not long ago, I was discussing with an acquaintance the possibility of purchasing an oil change quick lube business. You see, he had discovered an oil change business in town which was for sale. Apparently the owner wasn’t making the kind of money he had hoped for, and the business wasn’t doing as well as it had been in the past. Some of this may have been due to the recession, or because the business owner had lost interest. Indeed the business owner was an absentee owner, and very rarely showed up.
I asked my acquaintance if he had gotten good intelligence on the ground, and if he had scoped out the business. Specifically, one of the problems with absentee ownership is employees will often pocket cash. I also wondered if the employees were dirt bags, or if they wore uniforms and were presentable. Further, I asked if the employees cared about the level of service they were giving the customers. And lastly I wondered if my acquaintance wanted to buy the business and also run it as an absentee owner – something I would recommend in our current economic conditions.
Well, it turns out that my acquaintance did go when and shop the business, by bringing in his automobile and carefully studying the employees, and talking with them. The quick lube business was staffed with several employees in their 20s, and one who was mid-30s. They did a decent job, and they were safe in the auto bays. But still, the business wasn’t pulling in the type of money it once had. My acquaintance asked if he should buy this oil change business and run it for a while, working hard every day, and then become a semi absentee business owner himself.
Would this be a good investment for someone to make right now? My acquaintance wants to run the business very closely for three months, and get the team working, motivated, and therefore pulling in more money. After that he wanted to step away from the business, and allow it to run itself using the business practices, procedures, and operational efficiencies which he put in place. He also wanted to develop a strong marketing campaign to get more customers in the door.
Here’s my advice to someone who is considering buying a oil change business, and hopes to run it on an absentee basis once they get it pulling in more money. It may be a little more difficult than just running the business for three months, setting it up, and motivating employees. Indeed, we are in a recession, and customers like to see the owner, and unless the workers and employees have some sort of profit percentage, or part ownership, it’s doubtful that anything will change – just because a new owner now owns the location. Indeed I hope you’ll please consider this.